MMS Blog

Titan Gilroy of the “Titans of CNC” TV Show is building what promises to be a valuable resource for understanding both the basic points and the broader philosophy of CNC machining. His new Titans of CNC Academy website provides free access not just to episodes of the TV show, but also to brief tutorial videos aimed at teaching concepts ranging from the axes of motion on a machine tool to the impact of running at high feed rates. He says he aims for the site to be a resource for community colleges and other educational institutions preparing machining professionals, but I see the site as being just as useful for machine shops themselves that are performing their own formal or informal training of employees.

Certain companies are prominent on the site. Tutorial videos from Autodesk exist alongside the videos from the “Titans of CNC” team, and Haas Automation also gets significant play in the site’s contents. However, Mr. Gilroy’s promotion of the companies supporting his work does not detract from the applicability or the educational quality of the content, and in some cases—such as this discussion of ID clamping using an expansion clamp—it helps to know which company provided the tooling (Mitee Bite).

MTConnect is the open-source, royalty-free communication protocol designed to make it easier for machine tools and other pieces of shopfloor equipment to talk to one another and to other computer programs that process shop data. Sunnen says it offers the industry’s first MTConnect-compliant smart honing machines capable of communicating process analytics to other devices. This was demonstrated at last year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) via networked machines displaying process and performance data on monitors throughout the company’s booth on machine controls and wireless mobile devices.

Equipped with 5ME’s Freedom Gateway and Freedom Edge software, the machines can transparently report current state, cycle times, delay times, part counts, gaging data, events, and many other data points needed to evaluate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), future maintenance needs and process performance.

Most hybrid machine tools rely on laser deposition to provide additive manufacturing capabilities. This strategy uses an additive head that sprays and heats metal powder to grow a part or its features.

In its OPM250L hybrid machine, Sodick takes a different approach. This machine tool combines high-speed milling via a 45,000-rpm spindle with direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), a powder-bed process that uses a laser to fuse metal powder layer by layer.

Even with this option, one side of the machine remains open to accommodate external automation that can run in concert with the machine’s own part changer. Regardless, opting to store workpieces in the machine requires users to sacrifice some of the tool slots. In return, however, they receive automated part loading without any additional software, machine options, floor space or anything else. After all, the integrated arm doesn’t need to do anything differently to retrieve work versus cutting tools. And, there’s no reason a separate robotic arm or other automation can’t be employed at the same time. The only requirement is that the user choose the Micro’s five-axis configuration rather than its three-axis configuration because the worktable must tilt a full 90 degrees to interface properly with the arm. As an added benefit, that 90-degree motion can serve to dump any stray chips.

This system isn't the only feature of the Micro that strikes me as unusual. For instance, the machine’s entire axis structure is aluminum, not steel, and the temperature-management system relies on an external rather than an internal chiller. Even the workpieces themselves are chilled via a system underneath the table that employs both water and oil. For more, visit the builder's website

Okuma America Corp. hosted more than 400 customers, partners and distributors at its annual 2016 Technology Showcase December 6-7, 2016, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The theme of the event, “Get Connected. Put IIoT to Work for You,” included learning sessions about connecting the CNC machine shop floor and using real-time data to empower decision makers. Attendees experienced viewing immediate machine status, specs and real-time cutting video of multiple machines located at the Partners in THINC facility and Okuma headquarters.

Real-time data enhances the manufacturing process and improves workflow and productivity, the company says. These benefits raise efficiencies, expand manufacturing capabilities and increase profits.