MMS Blog

Whether it’s for a toolroom, a job shop or a production house, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to acquiring a vertical machining center (VMC). Key preliminary considerations include the intended application and workpiece(s) and the needs of a shop’s various departments. And then there’s the research and data-gathering process.

In addition to characteristics like structure and stability, potential VMC buyers should be aware of machine spindle considerations.

Historically, single-sided abrasive machining was performed by lapping and polishing because fresh abrasive materials, such as silicon carbide, aluminum oxide or diamond, could be added while keeping the grinding pressure fixed. This approach enabled the process to create a consistent stock removal rate. According to Matt Huff and Timon Reamy, both part of the Stahli Lapping Technologies team (Lake Zurich, Illinois), single-sided abrasive machining with a grinding wheel now offers a more productive alternative.

They explain that flat honing (fine grinding) with planetary kinematics using cubic boron nitride (cBN) or diamond wheels is practical if variable pressure can be applied to adjust for dulling of the grinding wheel. Without means for this adjustment, a flat-honing machine cannot be operated solely by setting the grinding cycle time, because the stock removal rate will vary between grinding wheel sharpening intervals. Therefore, an in-process measurement system is needed so the machine control unit can increase pressure on the parts to compensate for a decline in the stock removal rate. By varying pressure, the grinding wheel can be held at the optimal sharpness point. This approach enables the wheel to be self-sharpening, thus minimizing the rate at which the wheel becomes dull. The newly released Stahli FH-602 machine now provides the necessary highly precise, highly accurate in-process measuring system for this process, the men say.

Bar-fed milling machines such as the five-axis models manufactured by Willemin-Macodel offer a number of advantages. These mills use a bar feeder in much the same way as a lathe. The bar feeder pushes barstock into the machining zone to allow the milling spindle to access five sides of the part. Then, the part can be gripped by a pivoting clamp and parted off the barstock to enable backworking operations to be performed on the final side. A chute receives completed parts from the backworking clamp.

Because components are produced from barstock, typical workpiece fixturing and setup hassles are reduced. This is particularly important when dealing with the complex geometries of medical components. Plus, the bar feeder enables long stretches of unattended operation when high production is needed.  

The slideshow above, based on our May 2017 issue’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features build preparation and project management software, metal 3D printers and hybrid machining centers.

Click through the slideshow for details and follow the links for more information on each item.

Officially unveiled in Whitestown, Indiana, during a May 5th ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rego-Fix’s new U.S. headquarters facility includes all the usual—office space,  a storage area, space for training and machining demonstrations, and so forth. It also includes some of the not-so-usual, such as workout facilities for employees. There’s plenty of space left over, too, as the company continues efforts to expand sales, service and support on this side of the Atlantic. The Swiss company had certainly outgrown its previous location here in the states, but at 20,000 square feet, this one is more than twice the size. It can reportedly accommodate more than twice the inventory of the previous location, even prior to the potential addition of a mezzanine level later. The lot has space to expand the building by another third if needed as well. 

Rego-Fix is perhaps most renowned for its 1972 invention of the ER collet, which has since become a staple in shops around the world. Other notable tool clamping milestones include the development of the PowRgrip, a clamping system that works mechanically rather than hydraulically or via heat, as well as the reCool system, which is designed to add coolant-through capability to existing turning tool stations. However, talking to representatives also clarified the importance of continued innovation during the time between major releases—that is, improvements to or novel applications of already established products and technologies.

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