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Posted by: Mark Albert 19. August 2016

Video: Plain Talk about Data-Driven Manufacturing

Much of the talk about the Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 and data-driven manufacturing can be confusing. In this video, I try to make it clear that for most shops, installing an Internet-enabled machine monitoring system will be the obvious and practical way to take the leap toward these concepts. The motivation behind this is simple—getting better data from networked machines will help shops make better decisions. That’s what makes data-driven manufacturing so compelling. 


Posted by: Emily Probst 18. August 2016

Additive Manufacturing Conference Announces Technical Program

The Additive Manufacturing Conference (AMC), presented by Modern Machine Shop and Additive Manufacturing magazines, has announced the complete lineup of technical sessions.The agenda includes presenters from Autodesk, DMG MORI, Optomec, EOS, CatterpillarITAMCO and more. The two-day event will offer attendees unique ways to connect with leading suppliers, end-users and researchers of industrial applications of additive manufacturing technologies.

Taking place alongside the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), at Chicago’s McCormick Place September 13-14, the AMC program includes 20 technical sessions examining design, material, machinery and applications technology used in metal additive manufacturing. Registration to the AMC also includes access to the more than 2,000 exhibiting companies at IMTS. Specific AM Conference topics include lightweighting, robotic additive manufacturing, combining additive and traditional manufacturing, software, automation and much more.

The AMC is dedicated to exploring the ways that additive technologies can be implemented in an industrial setting, offering technical insights on additive manufacturing technologies past and present, as well as the future impact and potential applications of emerging technologies.  In addition to the technical sessions, attendees will have access to the more than 20 sponsors who will be showcased in the exhibit/networking room, where continued conversations can be conducted in a more relaxed setting.

Registration is open for the Additive Manufacturing Conference. Full event details are available here.

Already registered? Follow @LearnAdditive on Twitter for the latest updates, and use #IMTSadditive to connect with others during the event. 


Posted by: Matt Danford 17. August 2016

Backing Tech with Technique

pencil with micro part balancing on it

Tool sharpness is critical to avoiding burrs on plastic parts like this, but that’s more a function of strategy than technology.  

Although technology is our focus, we editors of Modern Machine Shop are consistently reminded that even the most sophisticated equipment isn’t enough for success. This truism isn’t unique to machining or manufacturing, either.

Most recently, this point was driven home by an experience I had working on an article a few months back about Connecticut-based machine shop East Coast Precision Manufacturing, which specializes in small, plastic parts like the one above. Any good article needs good photography, but after trying for hours to focus on tiny part features to no avail, I decided my camera simply wasn’t capable of getting the right shots. So, I turned the parts over to Jeff Norgord, Creative Director at Modern Machine Shop publisher Gardner Business Media, hoping his extensive array of photography equipment would provide an answer.

As it turned out, the job didn’t actually require any specialized lighting, filters or lenses. The most important resource turned out to be Jeff’s own knowledge—specifically, knowledge of a photography method known as the reverse-lens technique. That is, Jeff mounted the 60-mm macro lens of his Nikon D610 camera backwards. All this required was a simple adapter (about $20) and some extension tubes (about $30).

That’s not to suggest the photography was easy—quite the contrary. Focus, aperture and other parameters were all set manually, and getting quality shots took significant experimentation, even with the reverse-lens technique. “It really maxed out my skillset,” Norgord says, adding that the pictures “were ultimately remastered with a good helping of Photoshop Kung Pao chicken.”

East Coast Precision has its own variety of “Kung Pao chicken.” According to the company’s Chris Marchand, the recipe consists of a solid setup, a steady hand, a patient mind, and a solid grasp of machining fundamentals. Again, of course, that doesn’t mean the work is easy—my article focused on chip control as a particular challenge for East Coast Precision. And I’m not aware of any technology that, by itself, would lead the shop to adopt strategies such as making tool sharpness a top priority. 

None of this is to say the right technology isn’t important. Indeed, the shop’s stable of equipment includes two Swiss-type lathes and cutting tools as small as 0.2 inch, and Jeff’s Nikon is far nicer than my own camera. Nonetheless, these very same machining resources can be found at plenty of shops, and Jeff’s camera and lens adapter aren’t unusual among even amateur photographers. In both cases, the true currency of success isn’t the technology itself, but the skillset required to use that technology as effectively as possible. 

micro part

Small parts call for small tools, such as the 0.023-inch drill used to cut a hole through the length of this Torlon 4203 component. However, small tools won’t last long without careful handling and proper use. 


Posted by: Derek Korn 16. August 2016

Tools to Help Traverse IMTS

IMTS is expansive, covering 1.3 million square feet of floor space at Chicago’s McCormick Place. However, there are a variety of tools available to help you prepare and plan for it. This article highlights three: Modern Machine Shop’s August and September issues, the show website and the Show Daily newspaper. These resources will help you more easily tool around at McCormick next month.


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 15. August 2016

Video: 5 Questions about Automation

Automation is a broad topic that we often picture narrowly. Say “automation,” and we tend to picture robots—even though the range of what automation might involve includes these devices and more. Similarly, we tend to imagine that automation refers to technology taking the place of people. In fact, productive uses of automation in manufacturing often involve people and technology working in parallel to complement one another. I had a chance to talk about automation—its importance, its value, and why it is succeeding now—in this video.


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