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Posted by: Russ Willcutt 23. September 2014

Video: The HardFinisher from Praewema

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The German machine tool builder Praewema presented its new HardFinisher technology at the recent International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago. In the video above, you’ll see the twin-spindle HardFinisher perform the complete machining of workpieces with internal or external gears.

In grinding operations, the standard approach to machining these parts has always involved passing them through two independent machine tools; one for grinding the bore and the face, and the other for grinding the gears. The HardFinisher is designed to perform both operations on a single machine, the company says.

In the initial phase, or the “first clamping,” the bore and face of the workpiece is machined, involving either grinding, hard turning, or a combination of both. Gear flanks are machined in the second phase. Continuous-generated grinding or honing utilizing a dressable ceramic tool can be performed on workpieces with external gears. The grinding wheel is balanced automatically by a dynamic system that is integrated into the spindle, the company says. Depending on the batch size, either a universal diamond dressing disc or a diamond-coated dressed gear can be used. Workpieces with internal gears are machined with gear-shaped, diamond-coated tools.

Various automation systems can be integrated due to the unit’s vertical‚ pickup design, with the spindles handling both loading and unloading of the workpieces. A single spindle can be used, or both simultaneously, and measurement devices can be mounted in-line. Robots and/or conveyor systems can easily be attached as well. 


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 22. September 2014

Video: Re-Use Soft Jaws with Expanding Pins

When tool-and-die and contract machine shop Baklund R&D developed a workholding device to solve a challenge with one of its own jobs, the company realized it potentially had a solution that could benefit many other shops as well. The “Expandable Collet Pin” is now a standard product marketed by Baklund Workholding, a sister company to the shop.

The video shows how the Expandable Collet Pin facilitates the reuse of soft jaws on machining-center vises. The pin simply requires 1/2-inch holes to be drilled in vise faces (as Baklund R&D has now done throughout its shop). Whereas aluminum soft jaws are often considered disposable because of the difficulty with relocating them for reuse, the pin provides for secure and repeatable clamping. To secure the jaw, it expands within the hole as it is tightened—holding to 480 pounds of pull force and locating to ±0.0003 inch, the company says.

This solution evolved from a clamping challenge related to a large forging that lacked straight sides. After some initial ideas failed to hold the part well, Baklund R&D at last hit upon creating a 4-inch-diameter expanding collet pin to grip the component within a large bore that was a feature of the part. Watching how well and how consistently this collet held the part, shop owner Jon Baklund realized he could apply the same solution to workholding using collet pins scaled down to a smaller size.

In fact, because of the repeatable locating with the pins, jaws can be turned, flipped and accurately re-located. That means four different edges can be used to clamp four different parts with a single set of jaws. The video emphasizes this advantage.

The Expandable Collet Pin provides secure clamping by expanding within a 1/2-inch hole. Samples of the pin are seen here. (The tray was made through 3D printing, a part-making capability that Baklund R&D also employs.)


Posted by: Mark Albert 19. September 2014

Where Were the Counters of Cutting Tools?

Cutting tool manufacturers such as Sandvik Coromant made room in their IMTS booths to focus on the importance of data about cutting tools.

At IMTS 2014, I almost didn't recognize the Sandvik Coromant booth in the Cutting Tool Pavilion. There were only a few counters and tabletop exhibits of new cutting tool products on display. The focus of the booth was clearly on presentations about new ways to gather, apply and leverage data about cutting tools. Wide, open spaces were needed for these presentations.

I did a similar double-take in the Kennametal booth. Kiosks with computer screens outnumbered the shiny counters with a raise of new cutting tool products. The main focus in this booth was clearly on cloud-based resources for accessing critical cutting tool data.

No doubt the booth displays of other cutting tool manufactures may have had indicated a similar shift in their marketing strategy as well.

This shift is significant because it is clear evidence that the concept of data-driven manufacturing is becoming a reality. It also signifies that cutting tool data will be at the center of this revolution.

This development is entirely logical and compelling, for the simple reason that the physical cutting tool is the center point around which every metal removal process revolves. How well the cutting tool performs ultimately determines the success or failure of every machining operation.

This reality makes information about the cutting tool of extreme importance. The cutting tool manufacturers know this. The means to convey the best, latest and most complete information about cutting tools to manufacturers in a readily deployable format promises to unlock the potential for higher productivity, cost-effectiveness and improved quality across the board.

For example, cutting tool data is the key to better CNC tool paths in CAM programming and simulation. Data about cutting tool performance is critical to effective machine monitoring and measurements of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Cutting tool data integrates the tool supplier, the tool crib, the tool presetter, the CNC and the ERP system.

Key developments are making the value of cutting tool data prominent. These include the development of cloud-based networking, new standards such as ISO 13399 and MTConnect that promote interoperability and connectivity for cutting tool data applications, Big Data analytics, sensor technology and Wi-Fi capability, to name a few.

If the essence of data-driven manufacturing is a move away from decision-making based on guesswork, wishful thinking, unproven theories or emotion, to decision-making based on facts and figures, measurements and monitoring, mathematical calculations and scientific analysis, then the cutting manufacturers are clearly leading the way.


Posted by: Russ Willcutt 18. September 2014

Sandvik Coromant Breaks World Record While Supporting Industry

The completed mosaic is unveiled before an enthusiastic crowd. It measures 840 square feet, surpassing the previous record holder by 24.76 square feet.

Sandvik Coromant made history during the recent IMTS event in Chicago, breaking the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Largest Coin Mosaic.” The mosaic incorporated more than $65,000 worth of coins, which is the amount that manufacturing contributes to the U.S. economy each second, the company says.

The money used in the creation of the mosaic will be donated to The Manufacturing Institute, which is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers.

“While achieving this Guinness World Record is an enormous accomplishment for the industry itself, it is truly gratifying to know that the sum of the coins used, as well as additional donations from event sponsors, will benefit the growth of our industry and the future generations that strive to keep it alive,” says Klas Forsström, president of Sandvik Coromant. “The overall goal in creating this mosaic was to raise awareness about the vital role manufacturing plays in the U.S. economy and the advantageous career opportunities it presents our children for the future.”

To symbolize the importance of career development within the industry, the mosaic’s design illustrates a manufacturing worker holding a gear surrounding a globe, highlighting North America. A set of rising bar graphs further depicts the growth manufacturing has brought to the U.S. economy, while the words “Manufacturing Our Future” headlines the entire image. The final mosaic, comprised of more than 214,000 dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and penny coins, covered an area of more than 840 square feet, surpassing the previous record holder by 24.76 square feet.

Top Photo: The final coins are placed by representatives of Sandvik Coromant, including its president, Klas Forsström, third from left. Bottom Left Photo: The official certificate is bestowed by Guiness World Records to Mr. Forsström. Bottom Right Photo:  The mosaic is carefully measured by a representative of Guiness World Records.


Posted by: Derek Korn 17. September 2014

IMTS 2014: The Draw was the Technology

See video of Mark Albert, Pete Zelinski and me sharing impressions about this year’s big show.​

In this blog post, Pete Zelinski describes some of his impressions about last week’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). Some of these points are mentioned in this live IMTS wrap-up interview that he, Mark Albert and I were part of. Along those lines, here are a few of my show takeaways:

  • The draw was the technology. This year, exhibitors didn’t employ as many “gimmicks”—non-manufacturing-technology attention grabbers to attract attendees to their booths (racecars, celebrities, etc.). It seems exhibitors instead chose to leverage their new technology to entice visitors to stop in. You know, the stuff they need to make their operation more productive and the reason why they’re there in the first place. Given how busy booths were across the board, I’d say the concept worked. In fact, we applied a similar approach to our company’s IMTS booth design where we highlighted our strengths…the original content, data and manufacturing information we provide.
     
  • Five-axis equipment. 44 percent of the shops in this year’s Top Shops benchmarking group perform five-axis positioning or full-five-axis contouring work. Five-axis machines as well as indexing equipment to enable five-axis machining were evident throughout the show. And while contouring is the more alluring of the two five-axis operations, many shops find positioning workpieces in five axes to access nearly every side of a part in one fixturing exceedingly advantageous.
     
  • Machine looks. Equipment OEMs continue to develop more stylish machine tools. It costs more to make enclosures with rounded features instead of sharp corners. However, it’s appropriate that the advanced technology inside machines be wrapped in a more modern look. These certainly are not your father’s machine tools in terms of form or function.
     
  • Automotive. The automotive industry is hot these days, and this means a healthy amount of gear production. Technology for gear production was on hand in the show’s gear pavilion as well as McCormick’s South Hall, which featured multitasking machining centers that could also perform gear machining.
     
  • Automation (again). Pete mentioned the wealth of robots at the show. He’s right; you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting one. But there was also an increased presence of collaborative robots, robots designed to work alongside humans sans protective safety fences. These types of robots have the potential to change what a shopfloor looks like and how shopfloor processes are developed, and it will be interesting to see the degree to which industry accepts this alternate automation option moving forward.
     

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