MMS Blog

Most hybrid machine tools rely on laser deposition to provide additive manufacturing capabilities. This strategy uses an additive head that sprays and heats metal powder to grow a part or its features.

In its OPM250L hybrid machine, Sodick takes a different approach. This machine tool combines high-speed milling via a 45,000-rpm spindle with direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), a powder-bed process that uses a laser to fuse metal powder layer by layer.

Even with this option, one side of the machine remains open to accommodate external automation that can run in concert with the machine’s own part changer. Regardless, opting to store workpieces in the machine requires users to sacrifice some of the tool slots. In return, however, they receive automated part loading without any additional software, machine options, floor space or anything else. After all, the integrated arm doesn’t need to do anything differently to retrieve work versus cutting tools. And, there’s no reason a separate robotic arm or other automation can’t be employed at the same time. The only requirement is that the user choose the Micro’s five-axis configuration rather than its three-axis configuration because the worktable must tilt a full 90 degrees to interface properly with the arm. As an added benefit, that 90-degree motion can serve to dump any stray chips.

This system isn't the only feature of the Micro that strikes me as unusual. For instance, the machine’s entire axis structure is aluminum, not steel, and the temperature-management system relies on an external rather than an internal chiller. Even the workpieces themselves are chilled via a system underneath the table that employs both water and oil. For more, visit the builder's website

Okuma America Corp. hosted more than 400 customers, partners and distributors at its annual 2016 Technology Showcase December 6-7, 2016, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The theme of the event, “Get Connected. Put IIoT to Work for You,” included learning sessions about connecting the CNC machine shop floor and using real-time data to empower decision makers. Attendees experienced viewing immediate machine status, specs and real-time cutting video of multiple machines located at the Partners in THINC facility and Okuma headquarters.

Real-time data enhances the manufacturing process and improves workflow and productivity, the company says. These benefits raise efficiencies, expand manufacturing capabilities and increase profits.

The problem is simple to define, but getting ahead of it can quickly become complex: “Manufacturers often focus only on equipment price when making [return-on-investment (ROI)] calculations and fail to evaluate the total life cycle cost or anticipated performance of the equipment.”

That’s how Makino's white paper, “High-Performance Machining Center ROI: How to Determine a Machine’s True Value” begins. The true cost of a vertical or horizontal machining center cannot be encompassed by its asking price. The authors, Vice President of Finance Tom Scherpenberg and former VP Tom Clark, argue that you have to consider operation, maintenance and decommission costs in any serious evaluation of the expenses and revenues generated by a particular machine.

It’s hard to convince the next generation of skilled workers that manufacturing isn’t a dark, dirty, dangerous job if a company is using its workforce to sweep and shovel material into drums and manually lift heavy loads just to perform machine maintenance. So how do manufacturers avoid this situation? One way is to look for the simple solution. In this case study, Cinbro found such a solution in a heavy-duty, 15-hp 1020MFS vacuum from Vac-U-Max.

Cinbro moves structural steel beams via a conveyor system through a cabinet-style blast machine where steel beads called “shot” remove rust and mill scale in preparation for welding or painting. Once the steel shot hits the beam, it drops down into an auger system that reclaims and feeds the material back into the blast machine for reuse. However, this process is taxing on machinery and inherent breakdowns occur.