MMS Blog

Posted by: Derek Korn 11. January 2017

Custom Cutters Quicker

Some machining applications require custom cutting tools that might have unique diameters, multiple stepped features and so on. Walter Xpress from Walter USA is the cutting tool manufacturer’s online quoting service that speeds the procurement process for custom tools. Once logged in, users input information related to tool type, workpiece material, feature geometry data (such as chamfer angle on hole), etc. Once completed, they receive a confirmation email 30 minutes or sooner containing price quote, approval drawing and 3D CAD model. Delivery time is said to be two to four weeks from receipt of order. This service is offered for custom solid carbide drills and milling cutters as well as indexable-insert models.

Posted by: Steven Kline, Jr. 10. January 2017

GBI: Metalworking December 2016 – 49.8

With a reading of 49.8, the Gardner Business Index showed that the metalworking industry contracted in December, but at a slightly slower rate than the previous month. And despite the continued contraction, this was the index’s highest level since June 2015, its last month of growth. The industry has clearly improved since November 2015.

New orders increased for the second straight month, and production grew for the fourth time in five months. While still contracting, the backlog subindex continued its steady improvement that began last June. This trend in backlogs shows that capacity utilization should increase in 2017. Employment increased in December for the second time in three months and at its fastest rate since July 2015. Exports continued to contract, and supplier deliveries continued to lengthen.


In our first issue of 2017, Modern Machine Shop launched a new monthly column called “The View from My Shop.”

The idea for the column is simple. Each month, a different guest columnist involved in leading a machining facility will offer an insight he or she has learned, applied, or come to appreciate in this work. The column will add to the voices in the magazine in the best way we can imagine to do so: by allowing our readers to directly contribute. As a complement to our regular case studies and application articles about machining facilities, the column will provide another outlet for showcasing useful experiences and perspectives from shops.

What should Congress and the president do to strengthen U.S. manufacturing? The National Council for Advanced Manufacturing (NACFAM) recently announced its manufacturing-related policy priorities as recommendations to the country’s elected leaders. If enacted and signed into law, NACFAM says these policies will go a long way to strengthening the nation’s advanced manufacturing sector by stimulating greater innovation, increasing productivity and expanding the competitiveness of American companies in ever-changing markets.

Topology optimization aims to selectively place material in the locations required by a part's function, a process that tends to increase its geometric complexity. This fact makes topology optimization a natural pair with additive manufacturing, which is capable of building almost any such complex shape. Additive powder-bed processes such as selective laser melting (SLM) can create high-resolution, optimized features that would be difficult or impossible to machine. By the same token, topology optimization helps designers remove constraints and take better advantage of the design freedom additive manufacturing offers.

The diesel engine support pictured above is one example of a design made possible by the combination of additive manufacturing and topology optimization.  Conventionally machined out of a metal block (left), the engine support connects the powertrain and chassis and supports a cooling system tensioner pulley. To optimize this part, researchers fed data about the support's load and other demands into a finite element model to come up with a lightweight, material-saving form (right) that would be difficult to achieve without additive manufacturing.