MMS Blog

Read how complete form measurement data on complex bore interiors helps one specialist in precision tubular components hollow out an even more competitive niche. Read the full story on page 70.

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Most collaborative robots (cobots) use sensor technology to detect when they unexpectedly contact an object, be it a person or something else. They then immediately stop their motion to prevent injury or damage.

One step demonstrating the maturing of this technology is the development of end effectors designed specifically for those types of “human-friendly” robots. For example, Schunk’s Co-act line of grippers and actuators uses technology to prevent possible injury while gripping or when encountering a person while providing sufficient force so as not to mishandle a workpiece. Gripping force limitation can be activated for certain applications. Plus, gripper software evaluates and processes signals from the device’s environmental sensors, in essence, providing the gripper with artificial intelligence capabilities.

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Machine tools are finely tuned instruments capable of achieving high levels of precision. But the machine is only as good as its setup, and the accuracy with which it is installed is just as important as its build.

Machine tool builders have specified standards for what is acceptable for an installed machine. According to Don Schmedake of Hurco, the company's machine tools must achieve squareness within 5 tenths per foot for the X, Y and Z axes.

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Engineers at GE Power are cutting turbine blade cooling holes in a manner that, not long ago, would likely never even have been considered. As shown in the video above, the company is using laser, a process that’s renowned for its speed and precision. However, it’s also known for its tendency to leave tapered walls and to imbue the workpiece with geometry-distorting heat as well as machined sludge and other waste material that melts and re-adheres.

Yet, according to GE Reports, such issues aren’t a problem at the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Works facility in Greenville, South Carolina. That’s it is leveraging a different breed of laser cutting technology: Laser Microjet (LMJ), in which the laser beam is fully encased within a pressurized stream of water. Acting very much like a fiber optic cable, this water stream serves as a guide, a cooling mechanism and a cleaning agent all at once. As a result, the company can save significant time drilling turbine blade cooling holes by machining the holes prior to applying the coatings that can’t be penetrated with EDM drills, as opposed to drilling the holes, then removing coating residue.

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Thanksgiving Day marks the start of an annual period characterized by many endings and beginnings. In some ways, I find this to be the strangest time of year. At the workplace, the year’s ending may spur a flurry of activity: orders to get out, jobs to ship, inventory to clear, paperwork and applications to file. Or there may be a lull because new business ventures and projects have been postponed until after the new year arrives. At home, it’s often a similar mix: the frantic preparations for the holidays, rushing to visit relatives out of town or struggling with family issues. But there are also happenings when tradition, customs, ancient bonds and deep connections suspend time, if only in a momentary pause.

When I find myself caught up in this seasonal flux, I know it is time to recalibrate my life. It’s a time for me to balance action with reflection, turn reflection into resolution and fulfill resolution by action. This is not a return loop, but a cyclical transition from the hectic to the healing.

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