Haas Automation produced this digital book to commemorate its 30-year anniversary. I found the spread on pages 16 and 17 particularly interesting. Comparing the VF-1 machining center of 1988 with the same model today, it illustrates how far the technology of this staple machining center has come. The original 1988 version offered speeds ranging to 5,000 rpm, a 7.5-hp spindle motor and 128K of program memory. Today, those same specs are speeds ranging to 8,100 rpm, 30 hp and 1 MB of memory. Meanwhile, the price is half as much. When the 1988 model was introduced at IMTS that year, it had a price equivalent to $98,000 in today’s dollars. The modern VF-1 is $48,995.
Establishing a more effective overall process reduce drilling time of a 0.31-inch-diameter, 7.8-inch-deep hole in tempered steel from 3 minutes to 10 seconds.
Blaser Swisslube uses its recently expanded 3,200 square-foot technology center in Switzerland to develop and test its metalworking fluids through challenging machining operations similar to those performed by its customers. The four-year-old technology center features a turn-mill, two five-axis machining centers and a five-axis tool-grinding machine. The company collaborates with customers, universities and trade associations on various machining projects to develop optimized processes through careful consideration of elements including machining parameters, tooling and fluid and fluid delivery.
A recent project conducted with the Technische Hochschule technical university in Aachen is a good example of the type of work that’s performed there. The goal was to reduce the machining time required to drill a deep hole in tempered steel with a diameter of 0.31 inch and depth of 7.8 inches. This operation had previously taken three minutes using conventional cutting oil.
The 42CrMo4 + QT steel (having a tensile strength of 1,000 MPa/145 psi) was machined on the company’s Mazak Variaxis 500. First, a Kennametal tool was used to drill pilot holes measuring 8-mm in diameter to a depth of 16 mm. This was followed by a 10-second non-pecking drilling operation using a Titex tool to the final depth of 7.8 inches. Cutting speed and feed for this operation were 394 feet per minute and 0.001 inch per revolution, respectively.
A water-miscible cutting and grinding fluid was pumped through the long drill at 870 psi for effective chip evacuation. It was important that the fluid was able to resist foaming at high pressure and prevent air bubbles from rising in the emulsion. This is because bubbles counteract the cooling action and reduce the flow rate, making it harder to effectively evacuate the chips. Ultimately, this more effective process reduced drilling time per hole from 3 minutes to 10 seconds. (Video of this operation can be found here.)
This is just one of many such projects performed at the company’s technology center. Company CEO Marc Blaser says tests like this demonstrate that productivity, economic efficiency and machining quality depend in large part on the quality of metalworking fluid as well as the expertise of machining specialists.
Mazak Corp’s “Discover More With Mazak” customer events combine showroom demos of its machine tools, technical/educational presentations, tabletop exhibits by related suppliers and networking opportunities with like-minded machine shop owners and plant managers. These events have been scheduled at selected Mazak tech centers is various parts of the country, with demos and presentations tailored to the special interests of the specific region in which they occur.
I attended the Midwest Event at the company’s Midwest Regional Headquarters & Technical Center in Schaumburg, a suburb north of Chicago. This event focused on multitasking, the technology of combining multiple machining processes such as milling, turning, gear hobbing and so on, on one machine platform. Mazak is a rich source of wisdom and guidance on multitasking (see the company’s recently launched Multitasking Knowledge Center). Because Chicago is at the heart of a substantial concentration of capable, forward-thinking job shops in the Midwest, the focus on multitasking was on target.
Here are some of the new of refreshed insights into multitasking that I gleaned from the presentations and demos:
Multitasking comes in many levels. Mazak has identified five, with machine models for each level. Shops can make their entry into multitasking at the level that suits their needs and readiness.
Multitasking involves looking differently at every aspect of the machining process. This is not tough to do, but it does require a conscious commitment to changing old habits of thought. Ideas such as letting the machine be the fixture, or understanding that five-axis is about tool maneuverability as much as about contouring are examples.
Designing parts to be produced specifically on a multitasking machine is an advantage. Get more out of the machine; do more for your customer; make the job order more secure with an exclusive process.
CAM programming for multitasking makes a big difference. Make sure the software has the right capabilities, provides dependable simulation and has a sure-fire postprocessor.
The right operator can make or break a multitasking implementation. Choose the person carefully. Flexibility, mental openness and strong math skills are key traits.
Here is a brief slide show of highlights of this event.
The next Discover More event is scheduled for May 14-16, 2013 at Mazak’s Northeast Regional Headquarters & Technology Center. The focus is on medical and aerospace manufacturing operations.
These rail-mounted robots employ integrated robot vision (iRVision) to measure parts in 3D without a PC or other external devices. To facilitate high-speed bin picking, a 3D area sensor mounted above the bin maps the relative height levels of randomly oriented parts.
Many of the new products on display at FANUC Corporation’s annual open house event earlier this month at the company’s headquarters in Japan offered performance advances compared to previous systems. However, given the current shortage of skilled workers and the increasing trend toward automation, U.S. manufacturers might be particularly interested in enhancements that make technology easier to use and easier integrate. Examples include new CNC interfaces, new data monitoring and reporting functions, a new PC-based front-end CNC panel, improved automation integration capabilities, and more. View the full report here.
I commend NBC’s Today show for this excellent video. Correspondent Craig Melvin showcases young people in Massachusetts who have opted against four-year college study in favor of pursuing skilled work in CNC machining. This story does a great job of illustrating the technology, knowledge and sophistication of modern manufacturing and machining, and the teens in this story are excellent representatives and role models.