Posted by: Peter Zelinski 13. October 2014

Video: Miniature Jet Engine Made through Additive Manufacturing

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GE produced this video about a working jet engine model that was created through additive manufacturing and run in a GE Aviation test cell. The video briefly documents the manufacturing process that produced in this engine, a process that illustrates at least two significant points related to additive manufacturing. They are:

1. Design freedom. Because it makes parts that machining can’t produce, additive manufacturing offers the opportunity to reengineer parts and assemblies for greater performance. GE’s engineers started with a radio-controlled aircraft engine, but then they improved its components for additive manufacturing. (They also further improved them by making them from high-temperature alloys a radio-controlled engine wouldn’t normally use.)

2. Secondary operations. Additive manufacturing makes intricate parts, but it does not necessarily make finished parts. The video shows this. The parts that were produced additively (on an EOS M270 machine) went on to receive secondary machining and finishing steps. The same will almost certainly be true of any production metal part made through additive manufacturing.

Posted by: Mark Albert 10. October 2014

Air in Your Favor

Blasting coolant through the spindle and out the end of the cutting tool is a great way to clear chips. Haas Automation’s Through-Tool Air Blast option can be an advantageous alternative. This system provides high-pressure/high-flow air through the cutting tool to clear chips and keep the cutting zone cooler. This option is valuable when doing “dry machining.”

Dry machining is possible because many of today’s cutting tools use carbide inserts with advanced coatings that no longer need coolant to lower the temperature of the cutting edge and lubricate the cut area to prolong tool life. The primary cause of tool wear and damage for these cutting tools is re-cutting chips. Blasting the chips out with air addresses this problem. This is particularly beneficial when machining pockets and other internal features, where chips can collect

The Through-Tool Air Blast can also be used to blow chips and coolant from workpieces at the end of a machining cycle. The user simply programs a cutting tool with holes for through-tool air to move over the workpiece–blowing chips and coolant from holes and pockets–before the operator removes the workpiece from the machine. This saves the operator from having to blow off the workpiece manually, with an arm inside the machine and the door open.

The air blast option requires the Haas Through-Spindle Coolant (TSC) option. Because both options use the same internal channels and piping, the operator can switch between the two systems, based upon machining requirements.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 9. October 2014

Made in Milan: Bi-Mu 2014

Classic Ferraris along the Onda Rossa (Red Wave) made clear the connection between automotive production and the Italian machine tool industry.

A line of gleaming Ferraris welcomed those attending the Bi-Mu/SFORTEC machine tool show Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 2014, in Milan, Italy. On display at the Onda Rossa, or the “Red Wave,” the sleek vehicles made an immediate connection between the renowned automaker and the Italian machine tool industry.

Between the 1,060 exhibitors at the biennial show, 47 percent of whom hailed from outside Italy, some 3,000 machines were on display. New features included the CIS-RP&3D area, devoted to additive manufacturing, and Focus Mecha-Tronic, showcasing optimized machine management and connectivity. Pianeta Giovani (Planet Youth) attracted high school students keen on learning about careers in manufacturing, and there were educational sessions available for all attendees. The show also served as the platform announcing the launch of The Italian Additive Manufacturing Association (AITA) with Luis Galdabini—president of Cesare Galdabini Spa and head of UCIMU-Sistemi Per Produrre, the official sponsor of Bi-Mu—serving as the association’s first president.

News that Bi-Mu had been awarded “sustainable event” status by ICIM, the Italian independent certification body, for best ecological practices buoyed the spirits of all those attending the show.

Click here for a brief slideshow of things that caught my eye during the show. 

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 8. October 2014

Arcam Acquires Medical Manufacturer DiSanto Technology

DiSanto Technology moved into additive manufacturing recently, but it built its business on machining. The company’s Shelton, Connecticut, plant has about 55 CNC machine tools.

Metal additive manufacturing machine maker Arcam has acquired DiSanto Technology, the user of Arcam’s electron beam melting technology that we reported on in this article. DiSanto was a successful medical-industry machine shop before the company moved into additive manufacturing for producing surgical implants. Thus, with this acquisition, one thing Arcam gains is machining capacity and expertise. As the article at the link above points out, additive manufacturing and CNC machining go together, because the implants made this way have to be machined, and because making those parts creates the need for related components made through machining.

With this move, Arcam also essentially completes a North American supply chain for additively manufactured parts, because the company also recently acquired Canadian metal powder manufacturer AP&C. Arcam can now supply raw material, additive machines and finished products. Read the company’s own statements about the acquisitions of both companies.

Posted by: Steve Kline, Jr. 7. October 2014

August 2014 MBI Growth Rate Accelerates


Go here for more economic news from Gardner Business Media.

With a reading of 52.3, the metalworking industry grew in August for the eighth consecutive month and the 10th time in 11 months. The rate of growth rebounded somewhat from July, which had the slowest rate of 2014. The month-over-month rate has been in double digits five of the last six months, and the annual rate of change has grown faster for six straight months and is at its fastest rate since April 2011.

Both new orders and production increased for the 11th month in a row, and both of their indices grew at a faster rate than in July. Backlogs have contracted for five consecutive months, although this rate slowed in August. Despite the contraction, the backlog index was 33.5 percent higher than it was one year earlier, the fastest rate of monthly growth since July 2010. This indicates that capacity utilization should increase rapidly in the upcoming months and likely will average more than 80 percent in 2015. While employment in metalworking continues to expand, the rate of growth in August was the slowest of 2014. Exports have contracted faster as the dollar has strengthened, and supplier deliveries have been lengthening at a steady rate since September 2013.

Material prices have increased relatively steadily and significantly since August 2013. Prices received increased the last four months, the strongest period of sustained price increases by metalworking facilities since summer 2012. Despite all the good news, future business expectations fell to their lowest level since September 2013.

After contracting in July, future capital spending plans increased 22.6 percent over last August, the fastest month-over-month growth since November 2013. The annual rate of growth accelerated to 6.0 percent, its second fastest rate of growth since March 2013. 

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