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of Modern Machine Shop.
“It’s like shuffling a deck of cards every day,” says Paul Hogoboom about the challenge of managing ever-shifting job priorities at P&J Machining. The shop has a long history of light-out machining on flexible machining systems and palletized cells, yet its newest system, which consists of two four-axis Matsurra HMCs with a Fastems pallet storage and retrieval system, represents what Mr. Hogoboom considers the most important advance in this sector of lights-out aerospace machining, namely, the control software’s capability to automatically reschedule job priorities on the fly based on shifting demands in production from customers. Learn more here.
When I visited Taylor Guitars to learn about its manufacturing process, one of the manufacturing technologies I encountered was vertical machining centers. While some of the VMCs at the company’s factory in El Cajon, California, produce metal tooling for in-house use, most of these machines are carving wood to sculpt the guitars. In this video, factory neck department manager Julie Gardiner talks about this machining center application. Also, company founder Bob Taylor describes the challenge of making a product out of wood. An organic workpiece material, wood is very different from metal, in part because the quality of the material available is gradually in decline.
I visited Taylor as part of a film shoot for a forthcoming Edge Factor documentary on music-industry manufacturing. Find updates about the progress of this project at edgefactor.com.
On that same trip, we also shot this video at DW Drums.
In his 11th year at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dr. Chad Duty has shifted gears to focus on improving the mechanical performance of polymer-based additive manufactured components and the development of a large-scale system, called Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM), capable of depositing parts 10 times larger and 100 times faster than current technology.
At Amerimold, Dr. Duty will examine the technologies being developed and applied at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. In particular, the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine, which was used to produce the 3D-printed Shelby Cobra that debuted at this year’s North American International Auto Show.
“Chad and his team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are very much at the forefront of not just developing but also applying advanced manufacturing technologies, specifically additive manufacturing, to advance tool and mold manufacturing” says Dave Necessary, show manager. “We are very excited to offer all Amerimold attendees and exhibitors the opportunity to learn technologies that are being used to take time and take money out of the tool and mold manufacturing process.”
Oak Ridge National Laboratory will exhibit and present at booth 723. Presentations will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 17 and again at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 18. A representative from ORNL will also be on-hand to answer questions and discuss BAAM technology.
Amerimold is North America’s premier event for mold manufacturing. Presented by Gardner Business Media, in partnership with MoldMaking Technology, Plastics Technology and Modern Machine Shop, Amerimold connects global and domestic technology leaders involved in all aspects of mold manufacturing.
This Pratt & Whitney F135 engine mockup, made by Clinkenbeard, is used for maintenance training at the Eglin Air Force Base.
Clinkenbeard, a company that I wrote about in this article, specializes in the rapid production of complex metal castings and machined parts that are meant to excel in real-world applications. It is also known for its rapid prototyping capabilities. That was the impetus behind launching its new Mechanical Prototypes Division. Its first project? A full-scale fighter jet engine, but one that will never see the sky. That’s because it’s a Pratt & Whitney F135 engine mockup to be used for maintenance training purposes.
It makes perfect sense, when you think about it. “Creating a full size mockup is much more cost effective for the customer than producing an entire engine solely for training purposes,” says Matt Gustafson, director of innovation for Clinkenbeard. “By combining engineered and machined prototypes with available production parts, we were able to replicate an entire engine assembly that allows mechanics to simulate actual maintenance tasks and manipulate the modular components of the engine.”
The project took 15 months from start to finish. It included several phases of development and extensive scheduled inspections by military partners. The project culminated with representatives from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corp, Royal Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, the F-35 Joint Program Office, and Pratt & Whitney gathering for final testing at Clinkenbeard’s facility in Rockford, Illinois. The mock engine is now in use at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Mazak’s recent Midwest Technology Center Event at its Schaumburg, Illinois, tech center gave attendees access to about 22 different milling, turning and multitasking machine tools. It also showcased various ideas related to deploying those machines effectively. Some of this involved technology particular to Mazak but some also involved technology broadly available throughout the industry.
An example of the former is Mazak’s idea of the “levels” of multitasking. The company has gone beyond helping customers identify whether or not multitask machining (turning, milling, and drilling in a single setup on a single machine) makes sense for a given job, and now instead looks to identify the different applications that are suited to each of the five levels of multitasking machines. Signage at the event identified multitasking machine tools according to what level each machine represented.
Machines and machined parts were labeled according to the multitasking levels they represent.
Smooth Technology was also on display. This is the company’s term for its system of control unit, machine hardware, and programming and processing software that combined achieve both efficient machine motion and an efficient experience for the machine user. Various machines at the event were shown equipped with Smooth Technology—a reminder that the unseen engineering of the control system is liable to be just as great a factor in the effectiveness of the machine as the kind of hardware engineering that is more obviously visible at an open house event like this.
Another idea that was on display was the promise of leveraging MTConnect, the broad-industry standard for sharing machine tool data. Mazak has used the information available through MTConnect to improve machine utilization within its own production in Kentucky. A presentation at the event by company vice president of manufacturing Ben Schawe detailed this, while on the event floor, a real-time display showed the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) in real-time for Kentucky production machine tools. On this display, the bars were not all green. Yellow and red bars also appeared, indicating where a machine has dipped into a low level of OEE for any of a number of possible reasons, perhaps routine or perhaps noteworthy, just like in any production shop. The point of the display was not to boast about Kentucky’s productivity, but instead to illustrate the kind of intelligence that is now possible in the pursuit of greater efficiency.
A prominent display also detailed the company’s new hybrid additive manufacturing machine—combining CNC machining with additive manufacturing. I spoke about additive manufacturing at this event. That presentation gave me the chance to ask the audience, “If, in addition to subtracting material, you are now free to add material within the same cycle, then how does this change your sense of how to make the part?”
The hybrid machine is so new for the company that it did not have one available to show at this event. The company says its National Technology Center in Florence, Kentucky, will soon receive the machine, and will soon begin to experiment with it in cooperation with customers.
The additive manufacturing demo part included Inconel features grown onto a steel turned part.