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In the food and beverage industry, the plants that fill bottles and cans with beverages must be flexible and fast. Downtime at a beverage filling plant is costly, so it is imperative to replace broken parts as soon as possible. Jung & Co. Gerätebau GmbH, a Germany-based manufacturer specializing in stainless steel components, is using additive manufacturing to ensure that spare parts for beverage filling plants are available quickly and on-demand. The company uses an M2 Cusing Multilaser metal additive manufacturing machine from Concept Laser to deliver on this promise.

The M2 Multilaser system uses two 400-watt lasers to fuse layers of fine metal powder held in a bed inside an enclosed processing chamber. Each layer of metal solidifies as it cools, building up the component. This layer-by-layer process enables the production of part designs that would not be possible with machining, and can help reduce or eliminate assembly for complex components.

In many machining facilities, setup and inspection are operations that only employees at a certain level perform. Newer or less skilled employees don’t carry out these steps.

Is it possible to simplify these steps so that the distinction isn’t necessary? Can employees with less experience be equipped to perform operations such as these?

Does additive manufacturing belong in a machining business? asks Editor-in-Chief Peter Zelinski in his cover story to the March 2017 issue of Modern Machine Shop. Starting on page 66 of the digital edition, he shows how Imperial Machine & Tool, a fourth-generation family machine shop, answers “yes” to that question by integrating additive manufacturing as another production operation. Third-generation owner Chris Joest says that given the fact that every critical part made additively will also have tolerances requiring machining work, it makes more sense for companies to integrate additive and subtractive than for them to specialize in one or the other.

Also in this issue:

After Japan-based DMG Mori Co. acquired further shares in the German DMG Mori AG and reached a total shareholding of 76 percent in AG last year, the company’s president, Dr. Masahiko Mori, and DMG MORI’s CEO, Christian Thönes, seem to deliver on their promise to become leaner and focus on product quality and service. While DMG MORI once again underlined its technology innovation at the company’s recent open house at Deckel Maho in Pfronten, Germany, there were “only” three world premieres on display among the 80 machines showcasing the company’s range of product offerings, clearly a sign of the company’s consolidation efforts, including a reduced number of machines introduced to the market each year as well as the reduction of product offerings from 300 to 150.

With consolidating the product lines, the company has also closed its Dixi plants in Le Locle, Switzerland, Tobler plant in Chiba, Louvres and the factory in Shanghai, and is now operating 14 plants worldwide, Dr. Mori said at the open house press conference. The former Swiss-made Dixi machines will now be available as DMG MORI machines called µPrecision, which are available for DuoBlock, Portal and NHX 8000 machines. While the machines will be assembled in Pfronten, the skilled employees performing the 500-hour scraping process for the guideways to ensure an accuracy of less than 15 µm will remain in Switzerland, a DMG MORI representative told me during the event.

Laser markers are less common than they appear to be—at least according to the strict definition of that term. “Laser micromachining center” is a better descriptor for many of the units in the field today, says Geoff Shannon, manager of advanced technology at Amada Miyachi America.

This distinction may be semantic, but it can be eye-opening for those who have never considered applications beyond marking. The right system, particularly one with a fiber gain medium, can provide a less costly, equally capable micromachining alternative to milling, drilling, sinker EDM and more on parts ranging from surgical devices to tiny injection mold cavities, Dr. Shannon says. The fact that fiber laser markers have been “selling by the gazillions” in recent years increases the likelihood that many manufacturers are missing opportunities for new efficiencies and potentially even new work, he adds.

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