The February 2018 edition of Manufacturing Engineering is available as a digital magazine. Links to individual articles are below:
Five-axis machine tools represented a major advancement over earlier machines, with greater range of movement and the ability to create more complex shapes. Now, with increased automation and greater tool capacity, five-axis machines are becoming more productive than before.
As the move toward a more connected manufacturing industry gains momentum and manufacturers start collecting factory-floor data, the need for fast, efficient data analysis becomes ever more critical. Data collection and analysis tools are paramount in the digital manufacturing/Industry 4.0 era, and manufacturers are gearing up with new solutions.
New vertical machining strategies and technologies help reduce cycle time, increase metal removal rates, and maintain accuracy. There’s nothing quite like having “smart” vertical machining centers (VMCs) with the latest advanced CNCs.
As industry veteran Paul Cassella explains “Today, Swiss-type machines are more like machining centers and the parts are more prismatic. I’ve seen setups where the only time we rotate the bar stock is during cutoff. Everything else is being machined by milling, cross drilling, or other similar operations.” So how have Swiss-style machines evolved? And what advantages do they offer versus traditional machining centers?
Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, is a fast-growing field that offers many advantages over traditional techniques. It can create more complex parts than either machining or casting, can fuse different materials together, and is sometimes less expensive in low-volume or prototype applications. The consensus is that it is a niche technology for niche applications, not suitable for volume production, at least not yet. On the other hand, some companies are finding it lucrative to build businesses, practice areas or departments around AM.
Sleds used in Olympic luge racing may be simple devices, but controlling machining of their half-dozen parts can spell the difference between being a medalist or an also ran. The USA Luge Team relies on the equivalent of a brand new Millmatic III three-axis knee mill equipped with an Acu-Rite MILLPWRG2 controller from Lagun Engineering to have complete control over machining of its parts. The back story of how the USA Luge Team went from simply speeding down icy hills to building its own sleds with in-house machining begins with the elite sliders, called lugers.
K&G Manufacturing has learned a thing or two about precision machining in the 80 years it has been in business. One lesson the company learned long ago is that balanced toolholders are a key to customer satisfaction and achieving the best possible machining results. Located just south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, K&G has installed a new Tool Dynamic TD Comfort Balancing Machine from Haimer USA to provide balanced toolholders for its new 20,000-rpm CNC machines.
At Flexco Inc. finding a solution to speed up slot-milling with Chip-Surfer replaceable tip solid-carbide cutting tool from Ingersoll Cutting Tools has led to benefits in a host of other operations as well. Flexco, a manufacturer of belt conveyor components, estimates that retooling with Chip-Surfer replaceable solid-carbide tip cutting tools has saved about $200,000 a year overall on slotting operations and the company expects to save as much again on mill-turn operations.
With global operations in power systems; industry and infrastructure; and aircraft, defense and space, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group’s footprint includes 83,000 employees, $35 billion in annual revenue, and 300 companies—with 54% of its sales from outside Japan. The article headline refers to MHI’s role in the birth of Japanese manufacturing, three decades after US Admiral Matthew Perry forced the opening of Japanese ports to American trade, in 1852. MHI was founded as a shipbuilder in 1884 by leasing the Nagasaki Shipyard from the Japanese government.
ADVANCED MANUFACTURING NOW
If left on their own, material handling assets will slowly degrade and eventually fail, often at the most inopportune moment. But with a little planning, you can not only extend their useful life, you can also optimize performance. Automation assets typically evolve through four distinct stages: design, execution, support and optimization.
Fluence Analytics (formerly Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies), a manufacturer of smart industrial and laboratory monitoring systems, recently released the third generation of its ACOMP, an automated system that performs continuous, real-time monitoring and characterization of polymers for 3D printing and other uses during manufacturing and post-processing.
Computed tomography scanning (CT) seems like a dream come true for dimensional inspection. It both measures the outside of parts and reveals the hidden, from occlusions to internal cooling channels, without destroying the piece. Evolving from looking at human brains and hearts to measuring the complexities of turbine blades, it is part of the growing complexity of industrial metrology. But the story is more than that.
Throughout the years, the face of manufacturing has changed quite a bit, including SME’s name. In line with those changes, the level of the service, opportunity and impact of SME has grown quite a bit too. The impact SME is having can be seen with the ever-increasing number of students who are awarded SME Education Foundation scholarships every year.
A look at ECi Software and the types of software the company develops. M1 ERP software features an advanced inventory module that offers manufacturers functionality for managing complex inventories. Plus, a look at Vero Software launching a new direct modeling system that the company says will fill the gap between CAD and CAM, focusing on the needs of machinist programmers.
At the Georgia Institute of Technology, there’s both a whole lot of innovation and some major renovations going on at the university’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. Long known for turning out some of the best and brightest in engineering fields, Georgia Tech’s school of mechanical engineering is putting the final touches on some major changes to its Design Studio and Invention Studio, located in the university’s Manufacturing Related Disciplines Complex (MRDC) headquarters.
In millions of homes, these phrases are heard every day: “Alexa, play ‘I Love Rock n’ Roll’, turn on the lights, what’s the weather outside?” The age of the connected home is here. Many of us are already using smart devices for at least one of our legacy home standalone systems, such as our HVAC, lighting, security, entertainment or appliances. And implementation is growing as more retrofit devices are available, like smart plugs, smart switches and video doorbells. Our CEO recently made his stereo ”smart” with a $10 connector. The Internet of Things (IoT) is making our lives easier.
In the decade since the start of the Great Recession, industrial production (e.g. manufacturing, mining and electricity production) has been a political football for both the left and right. It’s time to stop playing that game, and a good way to start is to review some facts about these industries. We are, right now, at the peak of industrial production in the US.