MMS Blog

As 2016 draws to a close, the editors of Modern Machine Shop would like to send a sincere “thank you” to our readers. Since 2010, this blog has provided space for all the “extras” that haven’t had space in print or only make sense in digital form. It has also been a place for updates and breaking news.

This past year was much like last year in that you appreciated well-produced, informative video. Another trend was that there wasn’t a particular technology that stood out as a clear readership favorite. Here’s why I think that is.

Soft jaws are a hard reality for Beistel Machining. Serving makers of electrical transmission equipment among other customers, this 11-employee job shop in Donora, Pennsylvania, frequently machines brass castings that are best held using vise jaws machined to match the form of the part. For increased productivity, shop owner Brent Beistel wanted a vise system allowing for easy, rapid change-over from one soft-jaw job to the next. And for reduced tooling inventory, he wanted to increase the number of jobs he can hold with each set of jaws. He ended up devising the system he wanted: a one-hand, quick-change vise system allowing for machining of jaw forms into all four edges around the jaw. Now, he markets this vise design through a sister company he launched last year, Byce Tool Workholding.

Mr. Beistel wears his love of machining on his sleeve, almost literally. We first met him several years ago, when we noticed his CNC-machining-inspired tattoo. A natural tinkerer like many machinists, he had a hard time not imagining the vise he thought he was looking for. He says he would sketch and modify drawings of the vise mechanism late at night in front of the TV. Then, “In December 2015, when business was slow, I decided we’d create this vise,” he says. “We started machining components, figuring out what worked and what didn’t, and proving out the design.”

A while ago, I wrote a short article about the relationship among speed, power and torque during machining, and how to effectively judge the capacity of a spindle for heavy metal removal in difficult materials like titanium. (Hint: Pay close attention to the power curve chart!) As part of that article, I highlighted one example of a spindle designed specifically for this task: The T-Rex from Fives Giddings & Lewis, which achieved 33.1 in3/min. in a recent titanium test cut.

The written word, of course, can’t offer a visual of the cut or the sound of insert meeting chip. Short of being there, that kind of thing is the sole province of videos like the one above, which enables you to draw your own conclusions about the aforementioned test cut or simply enjoy some impressive machining footage. 

Successful job shops tend to be the most flexible, adaptive and responsive of machining businesses. There’s no guarantee any one job will repeat, so these companies must set themselves up to process a wide variety of work in an efficient and timely manner.

This means thoughtful decisions must be made about what type of equipment they will use to quickly turn a variety of jobs, often in small batch sizes, for their customers. For example, some shops try to standardize on the types of cutters they use and keep loaded in a machine’s automatic toolchanger (ATC) magazine. That way, setups can be faster, because fewer tools have to be added and measured/touched-off for each new job.

This highly integrated electronic actuator for a hydraulic quadruped robot needed to meet design requirements while achieving a 50 percent weight reduction, compared to a traditionally manufactured actuator body.

A powder-bed metal additive manufacturing process called selective laser melting (SLM) allowed it to be made as one piece. The part was grown layer by layer in Ti6Al4V (titanium alloy) on a Renishaw AM250 industrial 3D printer at the Moog Additive Manufacturing Center (now part of Linear AMS).