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Posted by: Peter Zelinski 31. July 2014

Numbers Describe Additive Manufacturing’s Advantage

Airbus says it is expanding its use of additive manufacturing in aircraft part production. The reasons why are the ones typically cited: less lead time, less material, less environmental impact. However, a statement from the company gives numbers for some of the savings its expects to see. The company says parts produced additively (such as the bracket in the photo) will be 30 to 55 percent lighter than the parts they replace, will use 90 percent less raw material, and will decrease energy used in production by as much as 90 percent. Read more here.

Posted by: Derek Korn 30. July 2014

Chat with the Young People at IMTS

The organizers of IMTS have traditionally offered “student summits” to enable students, parents, educators and the like to be introduced to advanced manufacturing technology. Beyond that, students can also benefit from tapping the knowledge of seasoned IMTS attendees. If that group includes you, consider engaging students when the opportunities arise as I suggest here.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 29. July 2014

Speakers at the Upcoming Additive Manufacturing Workshop

The Additive Manufacturing Workshop is a new event debuting at IMTS this year. The half-day workshop to be held September 9 will focus on the use of 3D printing technologies to make functional components and end-use parts. Speakers scheduled to appear include various people and companies we’ve covered in the Additive Manufacturing supplement to Modern Machine Shop. They include:

  • Craig Blue of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, speaking on the latest developments in additive at Oak Ridge. (It was Ryan Dehoff, who works with him at Oak Ridge, who was quoted in this article.)
  • Jon Baklund of Baklund R&D, speaking on additive manufacturing in the job shop.
  • Lou Young of Linear Mold, speaking on additive manufacturing for mold making.
  • Michael Hayes of Boeing, speaking on polymeric additive manufacturing in aerospace.
  • Greg Morris (pictured), formerly an additive manufacturing business owner and now Additive Technologies Leader with GE. He will answer questions about the promise and practicality of additive manufacturing.

For more about the Additive Manufacturing Workshop—and to register—go here.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 28. July 2014

Dollars and Sense

One way to save money on the shop floor is simply to use common sense. You may not realize it, but all the tiny delays add up to a ton of lost time, as do habits formed over the years that have gone unquestioned.    

Allan Arch, president of Southern Gear & Machine in Miami, Florida, began looking more closely at his own operations recently. Here are just a few of the changes he’s made:

  • After cutting his own barstock for years, Mr. Arch mentioned to his supplier what a time-consuming process it was. “Even though we had two saws running, it was basically a non-stop operation to get all of the barstock cut,” he says. His supplier offered to deliver the materials pre-cut. “They have saws that can handle a job that would take us all day in a matter of minutes. We’d just gotten used to the way things were and had never thought to ask if there were a better way.”

Southern Gear’s supplier can pre-cut barstock for a fraction of the cost, and in minutes rather than the hours required by the company’s own saws. 

  • Despite efforts to keep it orderly, the company’s tool crib had gotten messy over the years, so Mr. Arch and his colleagues developed an assignment for two of their summer interns. “As soon as they arrived they had a project to tackle,” he explains. “We showed them what we had, told them what we wanted and gave them all the resources they needed.” The result is a neat, color-coded storage area where it’s not only easy for workers to find the supplies they need, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep straight. “We literally saved months of lost time in the first few weeks that we had this new system in place,” Mr. Arch says.

Assigning interns to tackle revamping the company’s tool crib resulted in great experience for the students and an orderly system for the company.

  • Even better than an organized tool crib is a management system that makes tooling available to machine operators on the shop floor. New models do not require access cards, instead allowing users to obtain the tools they need by entering a password on a removable touchscreen. Southern Gear chose two Matrix Series 5 units—a “mini” and a “maxi”—from Ingersoll Cutting Tools for different areas of operation. “These devices bring the tools to the manufacturing area where workers can get to them easily while at the same time helping us monitor our stock levels, calculate CPU and estimate tool life.”

Tool management systems such as this provide much more than storage and convenience, also tracking stock levels and even tool wear. 

Read more about Southern Gear’s approach to streamlining operations in the August issue of Gear Production, a supplement to Modern Machine Shop magazine. 

Posted by: Mark Albert 25. July 2014

Useful Advice for CAM Software Users

In a new whitepaper, Mastercam calls useful advice for CAM software users “CAM Initiatives.” These initiatives are practical projects and procedural policies designed to help a machining company make more effective use of its CAD/CAM resources. Although primarily targeted to Mastercam users, many of these initiatives contain useful advice that benefits users of any CAM software system. 

Here are a few samples:

  • Say “no” to drawings. Don’t redraw parts until you are sure the customer does not have a usable CAD file to share. (They usually do.)
  • Fix what isn't broken. Empower everyone in the shop to be an improvement specialist.
  • Manage tool libraries. Find the cutting tools that work best in high-speed tool paths and use these tools exclusively where applicable.
  • Embrace five-axis machining. Follow this launch plan to ensure a successful transition.

Other initiatives have advice on 3+2 machining, programming templates, spindle probes, simulation and integrating safety habits.

For the complete whitepaper with all 15 CAM Initiatives, click here.

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