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Ron Shibovich, director of engineering for SMW Autoblok, says a diaphragm chuck for a turning center functions similarly to a human’s diaphragm that contracts and retracts to draw or “suction” air into our lungs. He says unlike standard chucks that rely on the wedge and master jaw linkage for clamping, a diaphragm chuck applies the principle of elastic deformation in expanding, contracting and using resistance to hold workpieces in place. Because diaphragm chucks don’t have sliding components, they don’t require lubrication and offer a more consistent grip force repeating to within 10 microns.

Mr. Shibovich explains that the accuracy and repeatability of these chucks make them well-suited for a number of applications, including:

An article we published several years ago begins with two companies that merged into one, literally coming together by knocking a hole in the wall that separated their facilities. Though they had occupied adjacent units in the same building prior to one’s acquisition of the other, there had been no exchange of manufacturing knowledge. That exchange (and the resulting benefits) didn’t come until after the two became one.

This story highlights the fact that manufacturers—and likely, many professionals in general—don’t often get a chance to see how other business operate, even if they’re right next door. That’s one reason why Modern Machine Shop emphasizes stories of shops using technology in real applications. It’s also why our editors travel frequently—to chase down those stories, and pull back the curtain on what’s happening next door and around the world.

During its annual Motion Meeting, Switzerland-based Studer, member of the United Grinding Group, unveiled an updated version of its high-production Studer S11 cylindrical grinding machine which looks quite different: the enclosure appears less sleek than the original machine, which was introduced in 2014, but offers distinctive advantages for automated production. It is specifically designed for top/vertical loading for interlinked production processes in which the machines are loaded and unloaded via portal cranes. It features an automatic loading hatch for top loading, an automatic sliding door in the front and generous openings on the right and left side of the machine.

According to Studer Managing Director Fred Gaegauf, Studer delivers around 20 percent of its machines worldwide with automation today. In the U.S., the percentage of automated machines is around 6 to 8 percent, with increasing demand, Studer Sales Director Martin Hofmann added. The level of automation demand is increasing because many SMEs increasingly demand “simple” automation solutions such as part loaders, and larger companies individually automate their machines in-house (such as Linamar, for instance).

Exechon is a joint-venture company comprising Injaz National, Lockheed Martin and Tecgrant AB (previously Exechon AB in Sollentuna, Sweden) that has introduced its new XMini robotic, five-axis machine tool aimed to produce a paradigm shift in automated aerospace manufacturing.

Demonstrated at the International Defence Exposition and Conference (IDEX, Feb. 17-23, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), the XMini merges the flexibility and high dynamics of an articulated-arm robot with the stiffness and accuracy of a rigid machine tool. Made using carbon fiber-reinforced composites, the XMINI can be taken apart and reassembled inside spaces traditionally inaccessible to machines or people, such as an aircraft wing box.

There wasn’t much time to examine the intricate lotus blossoms lining the halls of the show floor before a blaring speaker called the diverse pack of reporters to attention. Italy, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico—all these countries and more were represented among the eager faces of the international trade press, waiting with notepads and cameras ready for the week’s first formal appointment. All had been invited to Taiwan’s largest metalworking trade show largely to see technology innovations like the one touted by the man with the microphone: a networked cell with machines automatically adjusting parameters based on real-time sensor feedback.

Highlighted by the Far East Machinery Company (FEMCO), this cell was just one of many displays focused on data-driven manufacturing among the 5,340 booths comprising TIMTOS 2017. It also ranked among the most ambitious. Tellingly, however, even the more modest “smart” manufacturing exhibits assumed a certain level of technological capability among the show’s 55,000 attendees, the purported users of this technology. In short, simpler, commodity machines seemed rare, and automation was everywhere. Although there's promise in data-driven manufacturing for virtually any manufacturer (if only on the level of basic machine monitoring), these exhibits suggested its full potential may well be reserved for highly automated, technologically sophisticated operations. 

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