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Posted by: Mark Albert 19. March 2015

Going to NPE, the big plastics show?

NPE2015: the International Plastics Showcase happens March 23-27, 2015, in Orlando. Be sure to check out the technical presentations sponsored by Plastics Technology at the magazine’s Knowledge Network at Booth 2602 in the West Hall.

Many of the topics are hard-core stuff for people in the plastics industry, but others appeal to the broader interest of managers in manufacturing. These include developing a skilled workforce, additive manufacturing, moldmaking and reshoring. For the complete line-up, click here.

A visit there is also an opportunity to get complementary drink tickets, a cool T-shirt and chances to win big prizes. Registering in advance is encouraged and it’s easy. Get the details here.


Posted by: Emily Probst 18. March 2015

The Importance of Properly Maintained Grinding Oils

Vomat systems provide micro filtration to particle sizes of 3 to 5 microns. 

An often overlooked variable of grinding precision tools is maintaining your grinding oils. This is important because coolants minimize friction and eliminate excessive heat at the point of contact between the wheel and the tool. During the machining process, grinding oils are contaminated by metal debris, dirt and decomposition stemming from extreme heat exposure. When coolants are not thoroughly filtered, it is necessary to change them often.

Optimally filtered coolants, however, have two main positive effects on the production of cutting tools: They improve grinding economy, and they enable tool manufacturers to produce high-quality products.

According to Steffen Strobel of Vomat, a manufacturer of fine filtration systems, the requirements for high-quality tools are constantly on the rise and, therefore, tools must be ground with much more precision. To achieve this, manufacturers are investing in modern machinery and climate-controlled production facilities. Given this kind of expenditure, there is no room for cheap compromises when it comes to coolant filtration, he says. The coolant must have a high degree of purity since coarse particles can interfere with the grinding process and prevent the manufacture of tight-tolerance tools.

To improve grinding oil maintenance, Vomat offers its FA series of fine filtration systems. The series is designed to provide full flow (non-bypass) filtration of clean oil, which is tailored to the needs of the production machines. The filter cartridges are automatically cleaned with 100 percent separation of clean and dirty oil. The filters’ capacity, combined with the on-demand backwash cycle, are designed to increase service life of the metal coolant. This not only prevents loss of tool quality, but also saves money on metal coolants, the company says. Coolants don’t have to be changed as often either.


Posted by: Derek Korn 17. March 2015

Two in One

Switzerland’s Reiden Technik is new to the U.S. market. Its five-axis machine tools are available through Cincinnati, Ohio’s Pilsen Imports, which also offers large Toshulin vertical turning machines and Colgar horizontal boring mills.

Reiden has developed an interesting concept it calls Double-Drive Technology (DDT). This features two separate spindle motors in one spindle housing to enable its RX series machines to effectively perform both roughing and finishing operations. A hydraulic circuit is used to engage the high-torque spindle motor via a bevel gear coupling while the high-speed spindle motor freewheels. When the hydraulic circuit is off, the bevel gear on the high-torque spindle motor retracts to enable the high-speed spindle to be used. Learn more.


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 16. March 2015

Video: Robot Changes Vise Jaws for Continuous Machining

If a robot can load and unload parts, why can’t it do the same for workholding? VersaBuilt creates robot systems in which the vise jaws that hold a given part inside the machining center also serve as the grippers enabling the robot to load and unload that part. Changing vise jaws as needed enables the robot to shift parts from operation to operation. If there are different jaws on the shelf for different part numbers, then this same jaw change can let the robot switch seamlessly from job to job.

VersaBuilt filmed this video of continuous unattended 3-op machining on a VMC using this system, with the robot switching jaws for the different operations.


Posted by: Mark Albert 13. March 2015

Diving into Innovation

Attendees at the recent MFG Meeting in Orlando had an opportunity to immerse themselves in the most important aspects of innovation as force for revitalizing the manufacturing industry.

Here are a few of the insights offered by the speakers and panelists at this event.

George Blankenship, former executive of Tesla Motors, Apple Computers and Gap Inc., make the point that innovative products succeed only if potential buyers and customers are engaged in a way that connects their core interests and values with the core features and benefits that differentiate a new product.

Talking about the Internet of Things, Rob Gremley, executive VP, Internet of Things and Service Lifecycle Management at PTC, emphasized that connected devices (which interact with everyone and everything across a global network) impose new models for how manufacturers create, operate and service them. Service (how these products sustain and renew their value to users) will require the boldest new thinking, he says.

Innovation, the drive to invent the new (new products, new methods, new ideas, new customer experiences) can be a powerful force. It saved LEGO, the global company known for its interlocking toy "bricks"). However, as David Robertson, Wharton School of Business, demonstrated, this force must be pointed toward a clear goal and led by managers guided by a clear vision.

The icon for innovation in manufacturing these days is 3D printing. A panel of experts put this development into perspective. Its power to complement and enhance conventional machining methods represents its greatest impact on manufacturing, rather than the likelihood that it will displace subtractive machining on a wholesale basis. Everyone is still learning what additive can and cannot do.

At the event, Hybrid Technologies Ltd. received the inaugural International Additive Manufacturing Award. Dr. Jason Jones, co-founder and CEO of Hybrid Technologies, accepted the award on the company’s behalf. In his comments, he related his experiences in the years-long effort to develop a practical method to combine laser metal cladding with CNC machining on the same platform. He said that the success of his company rested on bold new thinking for sure, but that persistence, patience, good luck and the ability to turn adversity into opportunity were equally important. Creativity, not knowledge, will distinguish the true innovators in this era, he said.

John B. Rogers Jr., cofounder and CEO of Local Motors (the company's Strati is touted as the world's first 3D printed car) said that manufacturing will look more personal—customers will have direct input on the making of the products they intend to buy. The real drags on innovation are not technical challenges, he said, but rather entrenched bureaucracies, closed-minded regulators and old-guard manufacturers protecting what they consider their turf.

Finally, some attendees took the opportunity to be immersed in innovation quite literally. As a novel fundraiser, a number of members of the Precision Metalforming Association, jumped into the hotel’s pool in their formal wear following the gala dinner on the list night of the event. They, and their wet tuxedos, were raising funds for the association’s PAC efforts.

Hosted by AMT—The Association for Manufacturing Technology, National Tooling & Manufacturing Association and Precision Metalforming Association, The MFG Meeting brings together the complete chain of manufacturing to discuss the current and future state of the manufacturing industry.


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