Vlogs? That's the common name for video-blogs. Okuma America Corporation has launched a series of these educational videos on its YouTube channel that covers timely topics and practical tips for improving shop floor productivity. The company believes these vlogs will help shops and plants bridge the skills gap by passing on the sort of “tribal knowledge” that often gets lost as a workforce transitions from generation to generation.
Vlog content is based on the company’s experience implementing Okuma-exclusive technology as well as the collective wisdom of the more than 40 members of Partners in THINC.
Yesterday, a robot rang NASDAQ’s closing bell, which is the first time a non-human has performed this task. The event marked the launch of the ROBO-STOX Global Robotics and Automation Index exchange traded fund (ETF). Appropriately enough, the ticker symbol is ROBO.
This ETF is the world’s first index to benchmark the value of robotics, automation and related technologies. The fund invests primarily in the equity securities of robotics and automation companies. It seeks to help investors take advantage of the robotics trend as it continues to grow through capturing a representative portfolio of the industry.
The robot that pressed the button activating the closing bell was a UR5 model from Universal Robots equipped with a three-fingered Schunk gripper. A design advantage of this company’s robots is that they can work alongside people and do not require safety fencing. If the robot comes into contact with an employee, its built-in force control feature limits the forces at contact and does not cause bodily harm, adhering to the current safety requirements on force and torque limitations.
The company says 80 percent of the more than 2,000 UR robots deployed globally operate with no safety guarding in the immediate vicinity of employees. In fact, here’s one application with video.
Available from Big Kaiser, Lang Technovation’s Clean-Tec fan is an alternative to compressed air guns for removing debris from workpieces within enclosed machining centers. Unlike handheld air guns, the fan runs with the machine doors closed, protecting the operator from sprays of coolant or metal chips. And, because the fan operation is included in production programs, it’s a viable option for unattended or lights-out production.
The fan is constructed of a fiberglass compound with a steel center core and can be fitted into 20-mm or 3/4" diameter commercial shanks. Its fiberglass wings open when the spindle is turned on and collapse when it stops for easier storage, as shown in the video above.
The November digital edition of Modern Machine Shop is now available. The cover story highlights how a mold manufacturer that specializes in precision, thin-walled container molds chose an integrated approach to establishing an effective 3+2 machining process. Another story covers how a shop’s evolving approach to automation led it to streamline processes, challenge preconceived notions about robotics and embrace the notation that a manufacturing sequence is greater than the sum of its parts. Finally, in a story called “Collaborating for Competitiveness,” seven aerospace shops join forces to prove that blurring the line between competitor and collaborator can benefit all involved, if it’s done correctly.
Of course, the digital edition encompasses much more: from new products, to case studies, to industry news. Be sure to check out our November digital edition today.
Metal parts produced through additive manufacturing almost invariably need machining as a follow-up step. Only the subtractive process can achieve the most narrow tolerances and smoothest finishes. Far from being opposite or competitive processes, additive manufacturing and CNC machining actually go together. They belong in the same machine.
At least, that is the thinking of Sauer Lasertec. This company, known for machines that perform material removal through laser ablation, has been working with DMG Mori USA to develop a hybrid machine tool combining laser metal deposition for additive manufacturing with five-axis CNC milling. Sauer Lasertec is also part of the DMG Mori group. The hybrid machine—operating now as a concept model, but planned for launch next year—will be presented at the Euromold show in December in Frankfurt, Germany.
The 2-kW diode laser head locates in the machine’s spindle with an HSK interface. For the shift to machinining mode, this head swivels to a protected parking area. By using laser deposition to build up the part, while employing milling throughout the process to machine critical features as the part is taking shape, the machine can produce a component through additive manufacturing while also producing it to its completed tolerances within the same cycle. Yet this single-setup processing is not the only benefit of the combination.
“By combining additive manufacturing with milling in one machine, additive technologies are no longer limited to small workpieces,” says Gregory A. Hyatt, senior vice president and CTO of DMG Mori Advanced Solutions Development. “Our focus is to create a solution for larger workpieces found in industries such as aerospace, mold/die and energy.”
Fast deposition rates are key, he says. The laser depostion process works by spraying metallic powder into the laser beam. The company reports that the build rate of up to 3.5 kg per hour is up to 20 times faster than laser sintering, an accepted metal additive manufacturing process. As the material is rapidly added in this way, CNC milling can be employed wherever fine precision is needed.
The machine to be shown at Euromold is based on DMG Mori’s DMU 65 machinining center, which has 650 mm of travel in X and Y. Another promising application of this machine is repair, modification or coating of the relatively large parts that these travels can accommodate. Repair of dies and molds is one example. Another is completing components for the oil and gas sector, in which Inconel is used for corrosion resistance. In this application, the machine could be used to add Inconel coating or Inconel features to a base part made from a different metal.