As difficult as it is to find skilled machining personnel in general, finding skilled grinding personnel is more difficult still. Meanwhile, many shops are doing more grinding than ever, as they respond to tight lead times by bringing grinding in-house. How can shops minimize their need for skilled labor in grinding?
In this article, Shane Farrant, national product manager for Toyoda Machinery USA, and Steve Earley, the company’s proposal engineering supervisor, suggest two ways:
1. In-process gaging. This is one of the most accessible ways to reduce human intervention in grinding, they say. Automatic gaging of the workpiece allows the CNC to respond to measurement trends resulting from the wheel’s changing diameter. With the process changing offsets on its own to maintain consistency, the wheel might not have to be dressed as often.
2. Universal grinding machine. This is a much bigger step, but potentially a valuable one. A universal machine makes it possible to switch between multiple grinding wheels in the same setup, so ID and OD grinding can be performed on the same machine, or rough grinding and finish grinding can be performed within a single cycle—with no extra handling or setup between these steps.
One step that might not be the answer is switching to a more expensive CBN wheel, they say. CBN’s effectiveness is material-dependent. It is good for grinding hard metals. In soft metals, the material might load the wheel to the same extent as a conventional wheel, resulting in a process in which dressing is just as frequent.
The NCMM offers students real-world experience in the business of operating a machine shop.
(Photo courtesy of NMCC.)
Most readers of this blog are familiar with Cardinal Manufacturing, the Wisconsin high school manufacturing program that functions as a student-run machining and fabrication business. Recently, I learned about a similar operation in Presque Isle, Maine.
Dean Duplessis is the manufacturing instructor for the Precision Metals program at Northern Maine Community College (NMCC). Like Cardinal, the NMCC program instructs would-be machinists by having them make real parts for real customers just like any job shop would. Dean says the program is non-revenue generating. Its customers pay for materials, tooling, shipping and the like. Its volumes vary from 250 to 1,000 pieces, and there’s a good deal of repeat work. All jobs have travelers, setup instructions, inspection instructions and so on, so students are fully accountable for all work.
NMCC doubles as a Haas Technical Education Center. Learn more about the program in this article found in Haas’s CNC Machining magazine.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Workshops for Warriors, a nonprofit organization providing skilled manufacturing training to recently discharged veterans, including many who have been wounded. While helping veterans, the organization is simultaneously helping manufacturers with challenge of finding qualified personnel. Read my take on this organization and see a slideshow of photos taken during my visit.
This week, Carl Bass, president and CEO of Autodesk, introduced CAM 360 in the exhibit hall at Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Attendees could watch milling programs created in CAM 360 machine parts on a Haas SUPER Mini Mill.
Cloud computing is a simple concept—use the web to engage software tools and do the related number crunching on remote processors, which provide almost unlimited computing power. Autodesk has applied this concept to its online design, planning and engineering solutions, which all share the same platform to create a unified, integrated and collaborative workflow. Autodesk CAM 360 will soon bring critical manufacturing capability onto this platform. This enables designers and engineers to download product designs and digital prototypes from a shared database, and then prepare CNC machining programs. CAM 360 is based on the high speed machining technology developed by HSM Works, acquired by Autodesk last year.
The company characterizes this programming capability as the industry’s first cloud-based solution for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). CAM 360 builds upon Autodesk’s existing suite of cloud-based offerings such as PLM 360, SIM 360 and Fusion 360. One of the most important benefits of using cloud-based solutions is access to the software and data on almost any device connected to the web. This approach enables the user to open files stored in a remote database and perform operations with virtually unlimited computing power. “By working in the cloud, the job follows you to any computer you have handy that’s on the web,” is how one Autodesk spokesman explained it.
At first, CAM 360 will provide the CNC programming capability most likely to be of critical value to designers and engineers who are about to move from digital prototypes to machined parts. This capability includes 2 ½-axis to five-axis positional (3 + 2) programming for CNC machining centers and two-axis turning on CNC lathes. A library of postprocessors will be accessible for preparing machine code. Additional CNC programming capability is available with a number of vendors who are Autodesk partners offering stand-alone CNC programming systems.
CAM 360 is expected to be generally available in early 2014 in selected markets, but a chance to preview and experience this product is possible at cam.autodesk.com.
The Recool system from Rego-Fix enables users to quickly replace the conventional spray-pipe coolant delivery system on their live tooling (left) to through-tool coolant delivery (right).
Through-tool coolant delivery is more effective at getting coolant to a tool’s cutting edge than spray pipes or nozzles. Knowing this, Rego-Fix has developed a retrofit through-tool coolant delivery system for live tooling on CNC lathes that is said to install in minutes.
The animation shown here demonstrates how simple it is to install this affordable system. Each Recool kit contains a special clamping nut with outer ring, a coolant pipe and a few fittings. The standard kit achieves maximum speed and pressure of 6,000 rpm and 300 psi, respectively, although higher speeds and coolant pressures are available upon request.