CECIMO's Fall 2014 magazine includes a table with current and potential applications for additive manufacturing.
CECIMO, the European Association of Machine Tool Industries, sees compelling opportunities for its members who venture into additive manufacturing of metal parts. A recent issue of the association’s magazine included this table of current and potential future applications for additive manufacturing in various industry sectors. It’s a handy way to size up what this technology can do now and what it might do very soon to fundamentally change how metal components are made.
Torque motors are commonly used in indexing tables on machine tools. This succinct article helps you evaluate this and other applications in which power transmission for rotation calls for the advantages of a torque motor.
Torque motors simplify integration, offer high performance, reduce the cost of ownership and have an extensive working range.
The article was composed by Brian Zlotorzycki, a product specialist at ETEL, a Swiss designer and producer of components for direct drive technology. ETEL is part of Heidenhain, a supplier of machine tool CNCs, encoders, touch probes and other products for precise motion control and measurement.
In the same way that a computed tomography (CT) scanner at a hospital enables healthcare providers to “see” inside a patient, industrial CT scanning technology makes it possible to nondestructively measure and inspect the inside of a workpiece. The method works by passing an object (patient or part) between an X-ray-emitting tube and a sensor, generating a point cloud that is then interpreted with software to create 2D images or 3D models. A medical CT scanner rotates the X-ray emitter around the patient, whereas in industrial applications it’s typically the workpiece that moves, rotating slowly on a manipulator table while the sensor records data at set intervals. (For a brief overview of how the technology works, see this video on how a moldmaking firm uses CT scans.)
But apart from the different configurations of the CT scanner itself, scanning a metal part and obtaining precise measurements requires different capabilities than scanning a human patient. Metal parts have a greater tendency to absorb the X-rays, a characteristic which can introduce artifacts and affect the resolution of the generated image, especially when scanning denser workpieces. To maintain resolution on dense parts, industrial CT scanning systems must operate at higher kV power than medical scanners. GE’s Phoenix VTomeX M scanner, for example, is equipped with a 300-kV microfocus X-ray tube and a temperature-stabilized detector array. (A medical CT scan is typically conducted in the neighborhood of 70 to 140 kV.) The company says that these features enable the system to scan faster and achieve scanning accuracy down to 2 microns on parts ranging to 500 mm in diameter, 600 mm in height and weighing as much as 50 kg (110 lbs).
This ability to scan dense parts more quickly was a key draw for Exact Metrology, which recently installed a Phoenix VTomeX M CT scanner at its main facility in Cincinnati, Ohio. Using the Phoenix scanner, the company says it is able to generate a first article inspection report—including internal dimensions—in less than an hour, faster than using a tactile or optical CMM. Exact, which provides 3D scanning services in addition to metrology equipment, plans to use the CT scanner to offer process control as well as customer R&D services. Possible applications may include light metal castings, electronic assemblies, thermoplastic molded and composite parts, in addition to various machined metals.
A number of years ago, I visited National Jet in LaVale, Maryland to develop this article describing its micromachining and micro-drill-manufacturing capabilities. Recently, I happened to learn that the company’s founder, JA Cupler, appeared on the game show “I’ve Got a Secret” back in 1964. This video shows the clip, which is interesting to watch for nostalgia’s sake and the drilling demo. During the demo (this starts around time mark of 6:00 if you want to skip ahead), a National Jet machinist drills a hole through a strand of hair (about 0.003-inch in diameter) using a 0.001-inch diameter drill.