A new collaboration between MAG Industrial Automation Systems and Dowding Machining LLC is poised to revolutionize manufacturing of wind turbine components with specially-designed CNC modules for the production of hubs and new automated technology for composite wind blade production. The Michigan-based venture—dubbed Astraeus from the Greek mythological “father of the four winds”—will use a unique new machine design to dramatically reduce the production times of turbine hubs, the large castings to which the blades are attached, to about four hours—a process that now typically takes 20 to 24 hours on the best production lines. In what will be the first implementation of MAG’s Rapid Material Placement System (RMPS), the new company will bring integrated manufacturing with automation and repeatable process control to wind blade fabrication—a process that has historically been manual, making blades prone to imperfections and weight variations, and exposing wind turbine manufacturers to warranty and replacement costs.
The new business unites MAG, a world leader in machine tools and aerospace composites, and Dowding Machining, a large-component precision machining operation, in an effort to make wind energy more cost-competitive as an alternative energy solution. “We’ve already seen significant interest in our capabilities from Asian and European companies,” says Jeff Metts, president of Dowding Machining. Plans for Astraeus include opening global facilities to supply worldwide demand.
The management and organization of Astraeus will be announced by the end of the year, with production expected to ramp up very quickly. “We plan on producing some of the components by the middle of next year,” according to Roger Cope, president of the Strategic Business Development Group of MAG.
MAG is a leading machine tool and systems company serving the durable-goods industry worldwide with complete manufacturing solutions. The company offers a comprehensive line of equipment and technologies including process development, automated assembly, turning, milling, automotive powertrain production, composites processing, maintenance, automation and controls, and core components. Key industrial markets served by these technologies include aerospace, automotive and truck, heavy equipment, oil and gas, rail, solar energy, wind turbine production and general machining. More information is available at www.mag-ias.com.
Dowding Machining LLC is a precision machine solutions provider for large components and is an affiliate of Dowding Industries, Inc., a woman-owned manufacturer of progressive die stampings, metal fabrications, and welded assemblies. Learn more by visiting www.dowdingindustries.com.