Posted by: Peter Zelinski 22. September 2014

Video: Re-Use Soft Jaws with Expanding Pins

When tool-and-die and contract machine shop Baklund R&D developed a workholding device to solve a challenge with one of its own jobs, the company realized it potentially had a solution that could benefit many other shops as well. The “Expandable Collet Pin” is now a standard product marketed by Baklund Workholding, a sister company to the shop.

The video shows how the Expandable Collet Pin facilitates the reuse of soft jaws on machining-center vises. The pin simply requires 1/2-inch holes to be drilled in vise faces (as Baklund R&D has now done throughout its shop). Whereas aluminum soft jaws are often considered disposable because of the difficulty with relocating them for reuse, the pin provides for secure and repeatable clamping. To secure the jaw, it expands within the hole as it is tightened—holding to 480 pounds of pull force and locating to ±0.0003 inch, the company says.

This solution evolved from a clamping challenge related to a large forging that lacked straight sides. After some initial ideas failed to hold the part well, Baklund R&D at last hit upon creating a 4-inch-diameter expanding collet pin to grip the component within a large bore that was a feature of the part. Watching how well and how consistently this collet held the part, shop owner Jon Baklund realized he could apply the same solution to workholding using collet pins scaled down to a smaller size.

In fact, because of the repeatable locating with the pins, jaws can be turned, flipped and accurately re-located. That means four different edges can be used to clamp four different parts with a single set of jaws. The video emphasizes this advantage.

The Expandable Collet Pin provides secure clamping by expanding within a 1/2-inch hole. Samples of the pin are seen here. (The tray was made through 3D printing, a part-making capability that Baklund R&D also employs.)

Posted by: Mark Albert 19. September 2014

Where Were the Counters of Cutting Tools?

Cutting tool manufacturers such as Sandvik Coromant made room in their IMTS booths to focus on the importance of data about cutting tools.

At IMTS 2014, I almost didn't recognize the Sandvik Coromant booth in the Cutting Tool Pavilion. There were only a few counters and tabletop exhibits of new cutting tool products on display. The focus of the booth was clearly on presentations about new ways to gather, apply and leverage data about cutting tools. Wide, open spaces were needed for these presentations.

I did a similar double-take in the Kennametal booth. Kiosks with computer screens outnumbered the shiny counters with a raise of new cutting tool products. The main focus in this booth was clearly on cloud-based resources for accessing critical cutting tool data.

No doubt the booth displays of other cutting tool manufactures may have had indicated a similar shift in their marketing strategy as well.

This shift is significant because it is clear evidence that the concept of data-driven manufacturing is becoming a reality. It also signifies that cutting tool data will be at the center of this revolution.

This development is entirely logical and compelling, for the simple reason that the physical cutting tool is the center point around which every metal removal process revolves. How well the cutting tool performs ultimately determines the success or failure of every machining operation.

This reality makes information about the cutting tool of extreme importance. The cutting tool manufacturers know this. The means to convey the best, latest and most complete information about cutting tools to manufacturers in a readily deployable format promises to unlock the potential for higher productivity, cost-effectiveness and improved quality across the board.

For example, cutting tool data is the key to better CNC tool paths in CAM programming and simulation. Data about cutting tool performance is critical to effective machine monitoring and measurements of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Cutting tool data integrates the tool supplier, the tool crib, the tool presetter, the CNC and the ERP system.

Key developments are making the value of cutting tool data prominent. These include the development of cloud-based networking, new standards such as ISO 13399 and MTConnect that promote interoperability and connectivity for cutting tool data applications, Big Data analytics, sensor technology and Wi-Fi capability, to name a few.

If the essence of data-driven manufacturing is a move away from decision-making based on guesswork, wishful thinking, unproven theories or emotion, to decision-making based on facts and figures, measurements and monitoring, mathematical calculations and scientific analysis, then the cutting manufacturers are clearly leading the way.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 18. September 2014

Sandvik Coromant Breaks World Record While Supporting Industry

The completed mosaic is unveiled before an enthusiastic crowd. It measures 840 square feet, surpassing the previous record holder by 24.76 square feet.

Sandvik Coromant made history during the recent IMTS event in Chicago, breaking the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Largest Coin Mosaic.” The mosaic incorporated more than $65,000 worth of coins, which is the amount that manufacturing contributes to the U.S. economy each second, the company says.

The money used in the creation of the mosaic will be donated to The Manufacturing Institute, which is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers.

“While achieving this Guinness World Record is an enormous accomplishment for the industry itself, it is truly gratifying to know that the sum of the coins used, as well as additional donations from event sponsors, will benefit the growth of our industry and the future generations that strive to keep it alive,” says Klas Forsström, president of Sandvik Coromant. “The overall goal in creating this mosaic was to raise awareness about the vital role manufacturing plays in the U.S. economy and the advantageous career opportunities it presents our children for the future.”

To symbolize the importance of career development within the industry, the mosaic’s design illustrates a manufacturing worker holding a gear surrounding a globe, highlighting North America. A set of rising bar graphs further depicts the growth manufacturing has brought to the U.S. economy, while the words “Manufacturing Our Future” headlines the entire image. The final mosaic, comprised of more than 214,000 dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and penny coins, covered an area of more than 840 square feet, surpassing the previous record holder by 24.76 square feet.

Top Photo: The final coins are placed by representatives of Sandvik Coromant, including its president, Klas Forsström, third from left. Bottom Left Photo: The official certificate is bestowed by Guiness World Records to Mr. Forsström. Bottom Right Photo:  The mosaic is carefully measured by a representative of Guiness World Records.

Posted by: Derek Korn 17. September 2014

IMTS 2014: The Draw was the Technology

See video of Mark Albert, Pete Zelinski and me sharing impressions about this year’s big show.​

In this blog post, Pete Zelinski describes some of his impressions about last week’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). Some of these points are mentioned in this live IMTS wrap-up interview that he, Mark Albert and I were part of. Along those lines, here are a few of my show takeaways:

  • The draw was the technology. This year, exhibitors didn’t employ as many “gimmicks”—non-manufacturing-technology attention grabbers to attract attendees to their booths (racecars, celebrities, etc.). It seems exhibitors instead chose to leverage their new technology to entice visitors to stop in. You know, the stuff they need to make their operation more productive and the reason why they’re there in the first place. Given how busy booths were across the board, I’d say the concept worked. In fact, we applied a similar approach to our company’s IMTS booth design where we highlighted our strengths…the original content, data and manufacturing information we provide.
  • Five-axis equipment. 44 percent of the shops in this year’s Top Shops benchmarking group perform five-axis positioning or full-five-axis contouring work. Five-axis machines as well as indexing equipment to enable five-axis machining were evident throughout the show. And while contouring is the more alluring of the two five-axis operations, many shops find positioning workpieces in five axes to access nearly every side of a part in one fixturing exceedingly advantageous.
  • Machine looks. Equipment OEMs continue to develop more stylish machine tools. It costs more to make enclosures with rounded features instead of sharp corners. However, it’s appropriate that the advanced technology inside machines be wrapped in a more modern look. These certainly are not your father’s machine tools in terms of form or function.
  • Automotive. The automotive industry is hot these days, and this means a healthy amount of gear production. Technology for gear production was on hand in the show’s gear pavilion as well as McCormick’s South Hall, which featured multitasking machining centers that could also perform gear machining.
  • Automation (again). Pete mentioned the wealth of robots at the show. He’s right; you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting one. But there was also an increased presence of collaborative robots, robots designed to work alongside humans sans protective safety fences. These types of robots have the potential to change what a shopfloor looks like and how shopfloor processes are developed, and it will be interesting to see the degree to which industry accepts this alternate automation option moving forward.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 16. September 2014

Impressions of IMTS 2014

The editorial staff of Modern Machine Shop just returned from a busy week at the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show, the largest manufacturing trade show in North America. Here are some quick, initial impressions of what made this year’s IMTS distinctive:

1. Attendance. The big story at IMTS this year was the number of people who came. Registered attendees numbered 114,147, up 14 percent from the previous show.

2. Additive Manufacturing. Attendees were hungry for information about additive manufacturing, specifically how additive manufacturing could be applied to part production. Exhibits of hybrid machine tools (machines combining additive manufacturing and CNC machining) were frequently mobbed, as were the booths of established additive manufacturing companies who are relatively new exhibitors to this show. An additive manufacturing workshop that took place in one of the largest conference spaces at the show was filled to capacity, and the Q&A portion of the program (which I moderated) had to be cut off after it went long. It turns out that the choice on the part of the show organizers to spotlight a 3D printed car at the show this year was particularly fitting.

3. Automation. I wish I had a count of the number of robots at the show this year. Articulating arms were in motion everywhere. Machine tool builders throughout the show made a point of demonstrating their ability to integrate with robots. Meanwhile, robot makers promoted their ease of integrating with machine tools. Even exhibitors related to cutting tools and workholding demonstrated robots in roles such as tool management and machine setup. If there is one thing that IMTS exhibitors as a whole seem to perceive, it is that IMTS attendees are aiming to achieve more integrated and less labor-dependent processes.

4. Oil and Gas Industry. Historically, the industries targeted at IMTS include automotive, aerospace and medical. Now, another industry segment has risen to take its place alongside these: the oil and gas sector. The strength of U.S. energy production has affected the shape and capabilities of manufacturing equipment, with exhibitors throughout the show offering large-bore turning machines and large-table machining centers, as well as workholding appropriate to this equipment.

5. Youth. The Student Summit, the area of IMTS dedicated to children high school age and younger, was a resounding success. I have not yet seen numbers on how many young people attended the show, but when I visited the Student Summit, I found it swarming with busloads of enthusiastic kids. Various IMTS exhibitors invested to create additional, youth-oriented exhibits for this special area of the show. Given the number of exhibitors participating in this way—and given the care, color and interest they put into their exhibits—the Student Summit has now grown in scope and significance to become like an additional pavilion of the show.

6. Young Professionals. This was the first IMTS at which I perceived a clear changing of generations in manufacturing. I’ve often maintained that manufacturing has skipped the so-called Generation X—people currently in their 40s. This was the generation discouraged from so-called “factory work,” so there aren’t many of us (I am an X-er myself) to be found in this field. But at IMTS this year, I saw plenty of engaged manufacturing professionals one generation younger than this. Established manufacturing professionals in their 60s are now being joined by up-and-comers who are in their 20s.

7. Buying Activity. When I talked to exhibitors at the show about the high attendance this year, they often responded with statements along the lines of “Yeah, and they are buying.” Attendees to the show this year came ready or nearly ready to commit to significant purchases. That would be consistent with own forecasting model, which predicts a surge in machine tool purchases next year. As one exhibitor explained to me, there has now been well over a decade of under-investment in U.S. manufacturing capital equipment. Manufacturing activity has been high for long enough, and the forward-looking prospects remain sufficiently strong, that it is now time to undertake major investments.

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