Posted by: Mark Albert 26. August 2016

Grinding Continues to Break New Ground

Groundbreaking at United Grinding

With hardhats and shovels at the ready, this sign stands in front of the empty lot that will be replaced with the new structure it pictures.

The title to this blog post suggests what I believe is the significant story behind the news of United Grinding's recent groundbreaking ceremony for a new North American Headquarters to be constructed in Miamisburg, Ohio. Grinding technology is becoming more flexible and more capable (hard materials and tight tolerances are demanding this), grinding machines are becoming energy efficient and more compact, and automated grinding systems are attracting substantial investments (particularly in automotive). These are some of the trends that are moving grinding processes into new applications and markets, so it is no exaggeration to say that grinding continues to break new ground.

Because United Grinding is a leader in grinding technology and has been responding to these trends for many years, the new facility will support the growth of the company as well as advances in grinding processes. The new facility will cover 100,000 square feet and reside on approximately 15 acres of land near Ohio Interstate 75, about 2 miles from the company's current location in the Dayton-area suburb of Miamisburg.

According to Stephan Nell, CEO of United Grinding Group, the new Miamisburg facility will not only further enhance customer-centric activities, but will also boost operational agility and expand parts, rebuild, retrofit, automation and preventative maintenance offerings in the North American market.

Currently, United Grinding North America, Inc. has two locations, its headquarters in Miamisburg and one in Fredericksburg, Virginia. While the Ohio facility houses surface, cylindrical and profile grinding business, the Virginia facility services the tool and cutter grinding machines and measurement systems sectors. Field service representatives are based out of both locations. Operations now in Fredericksburg will be consolidated in the new Miamisburg headquarters building. In addition to current employees who will move to the new headquarters, the company says it plans to create significantly more jobs in the next five years.

“The consolidation of resources is a strategic move to increase efficiency companywide and support synergy across United Grinding’s various product lines,” says Rodger Pinney, CEO and vice chairman of the board of directors at United Grinding North America. “The move is a key component of our new corporate strategy for continued growth and market share strength that we introduced in 2012.”

Brands under the United Grinding umbrella include Mägerle, Blohm, Jung, Studer, Schaudt, Mikrosa, Walter and Ewag.

groundbreaking speech at UG

Rodger Pinney addresses the crowd of reporters and well-wishers at the groundbreaking, while local dignitaries and company officials seated nearby await the cue to do some digging. 

Posted by: Emily Probst 25. August 2016

TRAM 2016 Announces Conference Program

boeing plane

TRAM (Trends in Advanced Machining Manufacturing and Materials), the aerospace industry’s premier conference, has announced this year’s technical program. Taking place September 14-15 alongside the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, Illinois, the program consists of a day and a half of technical sessions covering smart machining, super alloys, near-net-shape primary processing, automation, future manufacturing technologies, adaptive control, intelligent fixturing and more.

The conference program is a collaboration between industry, academia and media to bring attendees the latest trends in aerospace manufacturing. Conference highlights include keynote presentations from Boeing and Jaguar, as well as 20 sessions from technical experts at leading OEMS, suppliers, MRO facilities and advanced manufacturing providers.

As an added value to conference participants, TRAM is co-located with IMTS. TRAM attendees have full access to the IMTS show floor, which includes access to more than 2,000 exhibitors. This year also includes an exhibit and networking room where sponsors and exhibitors will be displaying the very latest in aerospace technology.

The complete conference schedule is available here. For more information about TRAM, click here.

Posted by: Matt Danford 24. August 2016

Touch Probe Calibration: Does Your Standard Shape up?

touch probe

Spherical calibration standards, which are permanently mounted to machine tables at Dynamic Tool, are recommended for 3D measurement routines. 

Although they do very different work for very different industries, Dynamic Tool & Design and Integral Machining LTD both emphasized a similar point about touch probe calibration during recent shop visits. That is, the more closely an artifact matches the geometry being measured, the greater the precision of the resulting inspection routine.

At Dynamic Tool, a 38-employee Milwaukee-area plastic injection mold manufacturer, this point came up as part of a broader discussion about a transition to conducting part measurements on machine tools (this June-issue feature article covers that journey). Although the company had long taken advantage of touch probing routines on its 13 workhorse hard milling and sinker EDM machines, the measurements were previously limited to indicating (that is, ‘zeroing-in’ workpieces). For these 2D routines, a ring-shaped standard of known dimension was more than sufficient to calibrate the probe. Since moving into 3D part measurements, however, the shop has installed spherical artifacts on its machine tables. Because the probe can contact the evenly round sphere from a far greater number of angles than the ring—angles that are more representative of how the probe will approach various features on the workpiece—the set of compensating offsets for tip diameter, deflection and so forth is more thorough.

The story at Integral Machining is similar. In this case, however, the 9-employee, Toronto-area precision machine shop opted for a ring over a sphere. The job in question came from one of the shop’s newer customers: microfluidics and photonics industry companies that often require meeting tolerances in single-digit microns, far more precise than anything the shop had seen prior to about 2010 (this July-issue feature article covers Integral’s journey into micron-tolerance machining).

In this particular case, such tight tolerances had been called out for a series of critical bore diameters that were proving difficult to measure repeatably on the shop’s CMM. The shop’s eventual solution was to supplement the datum sphere the shop had historically used to calibrate touchprobes with a 2.5-mm-diameter, cubic zirconia ring gauge with dimensions guaranteed to 6 decimal places. Granted, the sphere retains the advantage for 3D measurements. For this portion of this job, however, calibrating against the ring gauge enabled the shop to make even finer adjustments to account for the diameter of the probe tip—adjustments that proved critical to ensuring more accurate and repeatable measurements of the 2.5-mm-diameter bores.

Integral Machining’s cubic zirconia ring gauge proved better than the shop’s datum sphere for precise, 2D bore diameter measurements. 

Granted, I’ve attempted only to take a basic, “30,000-foot view” of this topic here. Boiled down to essentials, though, it seems to me that calibrating against the 2.5-mm-diameter ring gage was a better option for Integral Machining because this routine precisely mimicked the actual measurements that would be conducted on the 2.5-mm-diameter bores. Indeed, production manager Andrew Sweeting says he might consider using cylindrical artifact to ensure precision on a particularly critical outside diameter.

All in all, both shops’ experiences demonstrate that taking another look at probe calibration artifacts might be more than worth it for any shop encountering difficulties with precision or repeatability on a particularly critical measurement. 

Posted by: Derek Korn 23. August 2016

“Pay as You Go” Probing?

The tool-setting probe automatically measures a tool’s length when the tooltip contacts the probe axially.


Shops can benefit from on-machine probes in multiple ways. Setups can be faster by probing to establish the location of a workpiece fixtured on a machine so the part program can be aligned to it. Probing can also be used for process control, whereby cutter compensations can be applied based on part measurement data. Plus, a tool-setting probe can automatically measure tool length and tool diameter to further speed setup time for a new job.

Renishaw offers a new twist on the on-machine probing concept: minimizing upfront costs by using a “pay as you go” model, whereby users purchase a six-month credit token that enables unlimited use of a probing system during that period.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 22. August 2016

Is the Best Use of Additive Manufacturing in the Details?

Additive manfuacturing can make a part as if from nothing. Without tooling and without a pattern, the machine can generate a precise, solid, intricate form. But is “nothing” really the best starting point?

DM3D, a Michigan-based manufacturer of production AM parts, has recently been advancing a different idea. In some cases, rather than using AM to grow the complete part, the far more efficient use of additive is to start with a basic workpiece and grow the necessary details onto this part. “TransFormAM” is the company’s brand name for this idea.

The part above provides an illustration. This 25-inch diameter Inconel 625 component represents a jet engine casing. For a part like this to be grown entirely through AM would take something like 500 hours, says DM3D. An alternative is to begin with a cylindrical blank of material produced through forging or roll forming. When the company made the part this way, using AM just to add features and details, the additive cycle time was only 21 hours.

The company does this work on direct metal deposition machines with large travels allowing large starting workpieces to be brought inside. Learn more about this approach to AM.

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