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Posted by: Peter Zelinski 20. August 2014

Video: Racing Engine Oil Pump Gear Produced through Additive Manufacturing

Gears are expensive parts to make in small quantities. This video from 3D Systems describes how just one gear—for an oil pump—was critical to overcoming a problem with excessive oil pressure in a Mitsubishi 4G63 race engine for a car run at over 185 mph.

English Racing of Camas, Washington, knew that a change in gear size might solve the problem, but the team didn’t know how to get this gear. The complex custom part would have been costly to machine as a one-off job, particularly since one-off prototypes would also be needed to test and refine the design.

Metal Technology of Albany, Oregon, proposed additive manufacturing instead, growing the part directly from the CAD model on its ProX 300 direct metal sintering machine. This video shows the part not only being additively manufactured in this way, but also functioning successfully at full speed within the engine.


Posted by: Derek Korn 19. August 2014

Extreme Part-Off Demos at IMTS 2014

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Nothing beats a wild, live cutting demo on the floor of a trade show. Iscar will deliver this at IMTS in Booth W-1800 by bringing back an extreme, attention-getting part-off operation it first featured at IMTS 1994. Plus, it has added a second one that’s just as impressive, as you’ll see (and hear) in this video.

In 1976, Iscar released its Self-Grip part-off system and followed that up in 1993 with the upgraded Do-Grip system. The company says the Do-Grip featured a proprietary twisted design and was the first to enable a depth of cut deeper than the length of the insert. At IMTS 1994, the company demonstrated how this part-off system could perform under extreme conditions by chucking a railroad rail in a lathe and parting off slices of it throughout the show. The rail material is challenging to cut because it work hardens, the interruption is severe and the workpiece cross-sectional area varies, creating difficult cutting conditions that would cause most tools to fail. The Do-Grip tooling showed little sign of wear or damage.

Iscar revisits this live demo at this year’s IMTS, using its latest Tang-Grip part-off system. The company says Tang-Grip is a single-sided insert with a unique shape and pocketing technology to further improve insert security and tool rigidity yet maintain simplicity of use. In addition to the rail demo, this system also performs another challenging part-off demo using a sledge hammer head as the workpiece (this operation is performed at 350 sfm/0.004 ipr). Like the rail, the sledge hammer head material work hardens and the cut is interrupted. Plus, its hardness varies from 30 to 50 HRc.

These hourly demos are viewable on the large LED monitors in Iscar’s “Machining Intelligently” booth in the West Hall. Be sure to check out these impressive part-off operations for yourself if you’re coming to the show.


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 18. August 2014

Why Reshore?

Kent Bicycles, a United States-based company that currently manufactures bikes in China, will be building a plant in South Carolina so that it can serve American demand with American production. This Washington Post article details the company’s move. The article paints an interesting picture of reshoring, identifying the many factors that contributed to the move. According to Kent CEO Arnold Kamler, the reasons for reshoring include all of the following:

1. Shifting Opinion. In the 1990s, he says, offshoring was fashionable. “Made in the USA” was not. For a manufacturer to be regarded well by important commercial partners (retailers, for example), it helped to look to offshore production even for small cost savings.

2. Customer Encouragement. Related to Point 1, Wal-Mart recently expressed its new preference to Kent. The big retailer enouraged the bike maker to shift some production to the United States. Wal-Mart’s encouragement gave Kent the confidence to press ahead.

3. Foreign Demand. International business is doing so well that Kent expects to be able to sell all of its current overseas production outside the United States. Therefore, this shift in production will not subtract production from overseas. Instead, U.S. production is the alternative to an overseas increase.

4. Cost. Cost of labor in China is increasing. The difference between U.S. and Chinese labor cost is not as great as it once was.

5. Worker Commitment. Mr. Kamler found what he regards as a serious attitude toward production-floor work in Clarendon, South Carolina. Many of the workers he observed were single mothers basing their families’ livelihoods on this work. By contrast, he has noted what he views as an increasingly “apathetic” attitude among personnel in overseas facilities. He cites the distraction of cell phone use by production employees as a significant problem.

6. State Competition. State governments recognize the value of manufacturing and are pursuing manufacturing facilities. New Jersey and South Carolina competed for Kent’s plant. Part of the winning offer from South Carolina was the commitment to train Kent’s workers for free. 


Posted by: Mark Albert 15. August 2014

3DRV Road Tour Visits ITAMCO

This robotic deburring cell was one of the items that caught the attention of the 3DRV touring reporter.

Although we have written about ITAMCO in the past (read this article and this one), it’s good to see this precision machining company getting positive mention in a recent article posted online by Forbes. The author, TJ McCue, visited ITAMCO as part of his eight-month, cross country tour to investigate the impact of 3D digital technology and advanced manufacturing.

The article helps get an important message about advanced manufacturing and its challenges to a larger general audience that follows important developments in business. For example, one of the challenges reported by the author, who visited ITAMCO for a perspective on small to midsize manufacturers in America, is the difficulty of finding skilled employees locally to run advanced manufacturing equipment. Likewise, pointing to ITAMCO’s efforts to help structure and fund an innovative high school program is a good example of the radical solutions required. 

I spoke to Joel Neidig, the Technology Manager at ITAMCO about the visit by the 3DRV road tour. I’ve made several editorial visits to ITAMCO’s main plant in Plymouth, Indiana, so I was curious about how this visit was different from mine.

For one thing, TJ McCue arrived in his famous, distinctively decorated RV, which is serving as his home away from home during the tour. “He carries a 3D printer, 3D laser scanner and high-end camera and video gear with him,” Joel tells me. The RV tour is sponsored by Autodesk, Stratasys and other tech companies.

On the day-long tour, TJ asked the right questions about ITAMCO’s manufacturing operations and understood its significance, Joel says. “He was especially interested in the high school program and was eager to meet the students and instructor there.” Joel learned that, because TJ had taken shop classes himself as a student, he could easily see how different today’s programs have to be to meet today’s needs.

Now that the Forbes article has been posted, I asked Joel what kind of feedback he has received. All of it has been positive, he says, especially from the vendors working with ITAMCO. “Most of all, I'm glad to see manufacturing get this kind of positive attention. There’s definitely more interest from the public in manufacturing and how its image is changing,” he says.


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 15. August 2014

New This Year: IMTS Virtual Field Trip for Students

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Students who are too far from Chicago to be able to visit the International Manufacturing Technology Show in person will be able to experience IMTS in their classrooms thanks to “Technology Applied,” a new, online virtual field trip that will be filmed at the show. Teachers can register to access any or all of the show’s three 30-minute episodes, which will be broadcast on three consecutive days during the IMTS: September 10, 11 and 12.

The virtual field trip will be filmed, produced and hosted by the team that creates The Edge Factor Show. By taking an exciting look at some of the automation, equipment and processes demonstrated at IMTS, the episodes show students the technology they are likely to employ if they pursue manufacturing careers, and will also illustrate how science and mathematics are applied in manufacturing every day. CNC machining, additive manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing and racecar technology are some of the topics to be addressed, with content appropriate to grades 5-12. Learn more by watching the teaser above and by visiting the “Technology Applied” registration page.

Consider encouraging the teachers you know to register for this event. Thanks to the support of Sandvik Coromant, the lead organizer of the virtual field trip, registration is free for the first 1,000 teachers who sign up. Learn more.


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