I recently attended the opening day of DMG/Mori Seiki USA’s ninth Innovation Days event at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. This year’s event featured 45 machines—five of which were being introduced to the U.S. market—located in industry-specific areas seen by more than 3,200 attendees from 10 countries. Attendance was up 45 percent compared to last year’s event.
The new machines being introduced to the U.S. market included the five-axis DMC 85 monoblock and Vertical Mate 125 multi-process grinding machine shown below as well as the NVX7000/50 with large X-axis travel and NLX1500SY/500 and NLX2000SY/700 turning centers featuring the company’s Built In Motor Turret (BMT).
This DMC 85 monoblock at the event featured an automatic pallet changer that takes up less than 43 sq. ft. of floor space. The company’s Vertical Mate 125 is said to offer a simple, sturdy structure and affordable price enabling users to perform ID/OD and face grinding in one setup.
The event also highlighted the InvoMilling process developed in conjunction with Sandvik. An alternative to grinding, InvoMilling is a machining technique that enables fast, efficient production of spur and helical gears in multitasking machines and machining centers. The event also featured the “disruptive technology” demonstration shown below whereby in-process shaft hardening was performed on an NT4200 DCG turn-mill. The machine used a special high-rpm grinding process to generate the level of friction needed for localized heat treatment of specific part features.
One of the many event presentations highlighted the company’s C-frame MillTap 700, which the company says is a more robust alternative to conventional cross-table drill/tap machines. The MillTap 700 is said to offer more powerful milling capabilities and a larger table in a smaller overall footprint. Each day’s presentations focused on a specific industry—specifically, automotive, aerospace and gear production—while the fourth day welcomed 200 students for special programs and tours.
This demonstration showed how automation could be added to the MillTap 700 with dust evacuation for machining components made of graphite and other similar materials.
The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) was also on hand to present DMG/Mori Seiki University (DMSU) with its official accreditation for its CNC machining and maintenance training programs. The company says it is the only machine tool builder to receive this NIMS accreditation. Through a balance of on-site, web-based and classroom training formats, DMSU has established itself as a leading resource helping to transform entry-level machinists into the highly skilled experts that the industry demands. “We at DMG/ Mori Seiki USA not only pride ourselves on our machine tool technology, but also that we help our customers make the most of it through solid support and education,” says Rod Jones, DMSU’s chief learning officer who led the accreditation process. “We’re delighted to have received the NIMS accreditation because it proves our dedication to going beyond being a machine-tool builder to a respected industry educator.”
In Saint Paul, Minnesota, machine tool builder Matsuura officially opened its new U.S. headquarters with a ribbon cutting yesterday. The new 38,000-square-foot site houses a demonstration area for various vertical, horizontal and five-axis machining centers, along with service and engineering staff, conference and training facilities, and a dedicated spindle repair area.
Leading the team at the new site is Matsuura Machinery USA president John Schwartz, who appears at the far left (partially obscured) in this photo. Fully visible in the photo, from left to right, are Saint Paul mayor Chris Coleman, Matsuura Worldwide president Katsutoshi Matsuura, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner Katie Clark Sieben and Saint Paul Port Authority president Louis Jambois, all of whom spoke at yesterday’s event.
Would your shop purchase a CNC machine tool that would never be used to make a sellable end-use part? Russell Riddiford says he has seen a steady increase in the number of machining facilities choosing to do this very thing. He is the president of the U.S. business unit for ANCA. The machine tool in question is a CNC tool grinder.
Traditionally, these machines are sold to cutting tool manufacturers and regrinding services, and these companies still make up the largest market. Yet several factors have made in-house CNC tool grinding increasingly attractive for manufacturers that use a sizable volume of tooling. The machines have become less expensive over the years, and ANCA (like other tool grinder makers) has steadily improved its control interface to make the machine easier to use—to the point that a sophisticated understanding of cutting tool design is no longer needed, because that knowledge is built into the machine’s software. What’s more, the pressure to reduce inventories has led many manufacturers to take control of their tool inventory by controlling their own regrinding.
The shop that considers adding in-house tool grinding typically faces an investment decision unlike that of any machine tool the shop has purchased before, Mr. Riddiford says. A machine tool is usually purchased because the production demand directly justifies it. Either there is a new job demanding a new machine, or some existing job needs to be produced at a higher rate. By contrast, the tool grinder makes an indirect contribution to the plant’s machining. It does not directly produce any part number the shop is tasked with delivering. As a result, just figuring out which area of the shop will give up floor space for this machine can be a challenge.
Invariably, he says, any resistance or hesitation about the tool grinder fades. Usually this is because the machine provides the shop with a freedom it never had before—the freedom to quickly produce and experiment with custom tool geometries. By tailoring tools to its jobs, the shop is able to improve the effectiveness of its processes in ways that it might never have previously considered.
Mr. Riddiford notes that in-house tool grinding is actually one of two non-traditional markets for tool grinders that have grown more active recently. The other is manufacturing medical implants. The precise multi-axis grinding platform that is effective for producing drill and end mill geometries also happens to be effective for producing the complex geometries of artificial knees, heart valves and other implanted components. Here, he says, it is his company that is challenged to think differently about the machine. The company continues to allocate engineering resources to this market as the medical machining demand grows. For ANCA, the significant difference in this application is that, in this case, the machine is being used to make a finished, end-use part.
Josh Senour, CNC operator at BCI, is using one of the clinic’s two computer stations to complete his online health risk assessment. Employees can also review health-education books and DVDs in a nearby room.
Challenges sometimes spur atypical solutions. Bremen Castings Inc. (BCI) is a case in point. BCI has leveraged new foundry and machining technology to become a highly competitive supplier of machined ductile and gray iron castings to a myriad of customers. It is well-served by its willingness to try new manufacturing and management approaches. This business ethos has recently led BCI to adopt an interesting strategy to manage rising health care costs that’s rare for a company with under 300 employees: It established an on-site health care clinic to provide insured employees and their dependents free primary care, generic prescription drugs and, perhaps most importantly, personal health coaching to improve their overall wellness. Learn more.
Arguably the congressman most closely connected to additive manufacturing is Tim Ryan. There are 435 voting members of the House of Representatives, but he alone has the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) in his district.
Mr. Ryan recently spoke with me about both additive manufacturing and the skills gap affecting manufacturing in general. Partnerships are key to both, he says. A pre-existing partnership among local engineering institutions is a major reason he cites for why his region was chosen as the location for NAMII. And partnerships between manufacturers and learning institutions will allow the former to shape school curricula so that students develop the very skills that manufacturers will increasingly need. Read the interview here.