By: Ginger Gardiner 24. March 2017
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.
By: Steven Kline, Jr. 22. March 2017
With a reading of 56.0, the Gardner Business Index showed that the metalworking industry grew at a rapidly accelerating rate in February for the second month in a row, reaching its highest point since March 2012.
New orders increased for the fourth straight month and at their fastest rate since March 2014. The same was true for the production subindex. The backlog subindex increased for the first time in nearly three years, shooting up to its highest level since March 2012. The trend in the backlog subindex indicates that capacity utilization should increase in 2017. Employment increased for the fourth time in five months and at its fastest rate since June 2014. Exports continued to contract, but this subindex did reach its highest level since December 2014. Supplier deliveries continued to lengthen at a slightly accelerating rate.
By: Peter Zelinski 21. March 2017
Manufacturing software includes a range of different tools, but some of the larger problems impeding the advance of manufacturing live in the gaps between point-solution software products. Solving those problems means bridging these gaps, and one way to do that is through acquisition and integration.
I recently spoke about this with Mark Forth, industry strategy and business development manager with Autodesk. For discrete-product design and manufacturing, Autodesk offers a range of solutions, some developed and some acquired, extending from invention and shape modeling through production in various processes (both additive and subtractive) to inspection and validation. Toolpath generation for CNC machining is part of that range. And now, as a result of the company's efforts to achieve more seamless integration between these different solutions, that range has shifted from being a product portfolio to also being a platform, called Fusion 360.
By: Jedd Cole 20. March 2017
The slideshow above, based on our March 2017 issue’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features measurement and inspection equipment for a variety of applications, suitable for parts ranging from small to large.
Click through the slideshow for details and follow the links for more information on each item.