For the first time ever, the iQ500 micro-machining centre provides automotive suppliers with the possibility to manufacture headlight tools directly on the machine. The iQ500 is also the first choice for other high-end applications and makes jig grinding obsolete.

The iQ500 can perform reliable and fast milling as well as drilling and grinding of ultra-precision parts, while minimising tool wear in the process. For optical applications in particular, the new special high-quality Mirror Surface Finishing technology eliminates the need for manual polishing, thus achieving more process reliability and higher precision. The iQ500 also enables direct carbide machining to be carried out easily and in a stable manner.  

In high-precision cutting tool manufacturing, the iQ500 is now replacing jig grinders, which have otherwise been used in this field. Even pin chasing grinding processes can now be replaced with the machine’s optional i-chopping function. Milling and jig grinding are now carried out in a single setup without the usual loss of time and, above all, while achieving the highest possible degree of precision. Furthermore, the retooling errors that frequently occur when changing from one technology to another are also avoided.

Compared to its younger sister, the well-established Makino iQ300, the iQ500 can travel 50% further along all axes and therefore achieve unprecedented levels of precision and surface quality for large workpieces.  

Less reworking

The overall aim of the machine is the complete elimination of the need for manual reworking. The machine produces ready-to-use workpieces so that processes such as trimming, evening, spotting and polishing are no longer necessary.

This process stability, combined with an unrivalled level of machining quality, reduces lead times, ensures compliance with delivery dates and allows costs to be calculated – all factors that play a major role in making modern-day tool makers more competitive.

One step ahead in spindle manufacturing

It is thanks to Makino’s extensive experience stretching over several decades in the field of spindle manufacturing that the company has been able to develop a core-cooled milling spindle for the iQ series. At spindle speeds of up to 45,000 rpm, the low-vibration spindle retains an extremely stable temperature, even for processes where long machining times become a critical issue. The constant bearing preload as well as Makino’s patented Under Race Lubrication, which lubricates the inner race of the spindle bearing, guarantee perfect concentricity, enhanced rigidity and an exceptionally long spindle life. Excellent surface quality and long tool life are achieved through enhanced rigidity and extremely smooth running with a low spindle vibration of less than 1 µm at 45,000 rpm.

Excellent mechanical machine structure

The tried-and-tested C-frame construction is designed with no overhangs, with the Y-axis in the table and the X- and Z-axes on the column, ensuring consistently high cutting performance and surface quality along the entire range of travel. The iQ500 is manufactured and installed with the highest geometrical precision. In so doing, Makino pushes the boundaries of what is mechanically feasible in manufacturing, ensuring that straightness and perpendicularity are not just the result of any compensatory electronics. The machine has a high-quality Meehanite cast base and column, thereby guaranteeing highest precision throughout the machine’s working life.

Smooth running due to perfect motors and guideways

A feature shared by both the iQ300 and the iQ500 is that all axes are driven by special linear motors. The dual motor design with the motors acting in opposite directions ensures that unwanted magnetic forces eliminate themselves and have no impact on either the guideways or the table.

The special design of the roller guideways provides superior quality, achieving an X-axis straightness of <3 µm at a total travel of 600 mm. The roller guideways provide the agility required for such a machine, while also showing damping characteristics similar to those of a slide guide. The high degree of damping suppresses vibrations that would otherwise impair both surface quality and tool life.

Efficient temperature management
Since the milling spindle and axis drives are the major heat sources in machining, they are the most likely cause of inaccuracies, especially during lengthy machining processes.

Originally developed by Makino and then consistently improved, the core-cooling system of the motor spindle directly removes any heat that builds up in the core or the jacket of the spindle, thus preventing any negative thermal impact on the machine bed.

After only a couple of minutes of operation, the spindle reaches a continuous steady state, suppressing any further thermal distortion of the spindle. Regardless of machining time, the thermal behaviour of the spindle remains stable. This steady state is determined using tool length measurement systems that deliver an accuracy of ±1 µm between different tools along the Z-axis, irrespective of spindle speed.

For construction reasons the linear motor set-up creates a relatively high amount of heat, which in the iQ500 is removed in two stages: first, cooling oil directly absorbs the heat generated by the coils; second, the cast element adjacent to the motor is cooled down to a reference temperature.

The entire casting may also be optionally sealed and filled with a special cooling agent that circulates slowly through machine bed and column, optimally distributing the heat through the entire machine set-up. It is this detail that provides a very effective method of achieving the highest possible level of thermal stability during the long machining times that are quite common in tool manufacturing.

The combination of these iQ series features guarantees an unprecedented level of thermal stability for the entire machine tool, which is the precondition for achieving the highest levels of accuracy in regards of contour and surface quality.

Mirror surface finish at the push of a button

With the Mirror Surface Finish option, the operator can dress the tool directly in the spindle. Benchmark results for contour accuracy and surface quality on steel and carbide workpieces are achieved with the aid of this technology. At the push of a button, the machine produces mirror surface finishes of up to Ra <1 nm as well as a three-dimensional precision of ±1 µm, providing the highest possible level of repeatability. With this option, the machine provides a high-precision surface polish requiring no manual intervention – one of the main requirements in the optical goods industry. At the same time, this option drastically reduces tool costs, as tools can be reworked several times.

Integrated tool measurement systems providing micro precision

A standard feature of the iQ series is the Makino-developed hybrid measurement system for tool length measurements. A contact sensor takes measurements, with extremely low forces acting on the tools. Even highly sensitive PCD tools can be measured safely and reliably using Makino's hybrid measurement system, without running the risk of destroying the tool. Makino's measurement system provides greater measurement accuracy than laser measurement systems for small tools with a diameter of less than 0.5 mm. As an integrated option, the Makino hybrid system not only measures tool length but also offers the possibility of measuring spindle distortion prior to the spindle reaching its steady state.

Another option that Makino offers is the Precision Tool Image Measuring (PTIM) measurement system that is equipped with a high-resolution camera and can measure tool length as well as tool diameter and spindle distortion. By using PTIM, the operator can check the tool profile on the image provided by the camera. This system has a repeatability of ±0.5 µm.

Use of air turbines with no tool changer errors

The iQ500 can optionally be equipped with up to three air turbines achieving speeds of 80,000 rpm or 120,000 rpm. Turbines are changed and replaced automatically. High precision along the Z-axis is achieved by using temperature-controlled compressed air. These spindles drastically reduce machining times with the smallest of tools. Tool length measurement systems may also be used with this option. It is this combination of technologies that allows for air turbines to be used fully automatically, eliminating the noticeable tool changer errors that usually occur in this set-up.


Makino's iQ vertical machining centres fulfil the highest requirements in terms of accuracy and surface quality, especially when machining hard and very hard materials. The HSK-E32 spindle taper can take tools of between 12 mm and 0.03 mm. These machines give manufacturers from different industries – die and mould, stamping dies, optical and medical, and automotive – everything they need to tackle the entire range of high-end applications.

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