Posted by: Derek Korn 18. March 2014

A Fiber Laser Cutter for Job Shops

Trumpf’s BrightLine fiber technology delivers a quality cut edge with minimal burr
(shown on the bottom part).

Compared to solid-state laser cutters, CO2 lasers are generally faster for thick materials while offering better cut quality. On the other hand, solid-state lasers (fiber or disc) with greater beam power density and absorption characteristics are speedier and more energy-efficient when cutting thin sheet metal. However, at last year’s Fabtech show, I learned about new technology from Trumpf that enables fiber laser cutting machines to be just as effective processing thick materials as they are cutting thin sheet metal. Learn more.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 17. March 2014

Why Make a Bike Frame through Additive Manufacturing?

Renishaw has collaborated with the UK’s Empire Cycles to produce what the two companies say is the world’s first 3D printed metal bike frame. The titanium frame, manufactured using Renishaw’s additive manufacturing machine, is 33 percent lighter than the original frame that Empire started with.

Components were built simultaneously within a single additive build,
then assembled to create the frame.

However, the benefits from additive manufacturing go well beyond weight savings. In an article about its work with Empire, Renishaw offered a list of the many advantages the bike maker realizes by growing the bike frame through 3D printing. Those advantages include:

1. Rapid iterations, and the flexibility to make design improvements right up to production.

2. The ability to derive shapes from topological optimization, using software analysis to place material only where it is needed for the strength and performance of the part.

3. Customization, because one-offs can be made as easily as production batches.

4. The freedom to grow hollow structures for weight and material savings.

5. The option to produce complex shapes that include internal strengthening features.

6. The ability to build in special features, such as the rider's name.

Read more about the 3D printed bike frame.

Posted by: Mark Albert 14. March 2014

Keynote Speakers for the MTConnect Conference Named

Dr. Dean L. Bartles, recently named executive director of the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation Institute, will speak at [MC]2 in Orlando, Fla., April 10 2014. 

The keynote speakers for [MC]2 2014 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference have been announced. This event is presented April 8-10, 2014, at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida.

Dean L. Bartles, Ph.D., Executive Director, Digital Lab for Manufacturing, UI LABS, and Greg Harris, Ph.D., U.S. Army AMRDEC, will speak about the federal investment for the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute that will be used to establish the Digital Lab for Manufacturing. This lab is intended to be the nation’s flagship research institute in digital manufacturing. It is being called “a world-class, first-of-its-kind manufacturing hub with the capabilities, innovation and collaboration necessary to transform American manufacturing.”

Peter Lucas, Ph.D., founding Principal of MAYA Design and co-author of Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology, will present “Interoperability in the Age of Trillions.” Describing the goal of a true “Ecology of Information Devices,” Dr. Lucas’s talk will explore the challenge of making a world producing more than 10 billion microprocessors each year and containing a trillion computers work in an effective and humane way.

The [MC]2 Conference is a three-day event designed for end users, equipment and device suppliers, software developers, distributors, integrators, students, professors interested in the advancement of data-driven manufacturing.

MTConnect is a set of open, royalty-free standards intended to foster greater interoperability between controls, devices and software applications by publishing data over networks using the Internet Protocol. Since its introduction in 2008, MTConnect has become the standard for manufacturing connectivity. The manufacturing technology community commonly uses MTConnect to connect the shop floor to monitoring applications and to integrate the shop floor with the entire manufacturing enterprise. 

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 13. March 2014

New Users Are Adopting Simulation Software

I might have thought that NC simulation software was a mature market. CGTech’s Vericut software, which accurately models CNC machine tools in order simulate the postprocessed version of an NC program, has been available for years—long enough for shops able to benefit from this simulation to have found it. Yet when I recently spoke with a CGTech representative, he said that in fact new business is surging. Shops that have never considered simulation software before are opting for it now.

The company points to various reasons for this. They include:

1. Solid models. In past decades, it wasn’t necessarily true that shops were programming with solid models. Today, the use of solid models is commonplace. Broader availability of solid models for workpieces, cutting tools and machines makes program simulation easier to implement.

2. Higher value work. Particularly for U.S. manufacturers, some of the most lucrative machining opportunities involve parts that are geometrically challenging and/or made from a challenging material. Where the part value is higher, the value of avoiding an error or collision that could damage the part becomes that much higher as well.

3. Capacity constraints. Many shops today have enough work that they are challenged to schedule it all. Performing program prove-out on the machine, therefore, becomes a costly use of machine capacity. Better to prove out the program with software instead.

4. Five axis machining. This is the big one that CGTech sees. Many shops installing their first five-axis machine tool are justifiably cautious about the complexity of this machine’s movements. Simulating the five-axis job before it runs offers a way to safeguard this sophisticated machine.

Posted by: Derek Korn 12. March 2014

When to Waterjet, When to Mill

This Composites Machining Cell enables Royal Composites to perform both five-axis waterjet and milling operations for large aerospace components.

Abrasive waterjet machines offer distinct advantages for trimming composite materials. For example, waterjet machining has inherently low cutting forces, so fixtures need not be as bulky as those required for conventional milling operations. Plus, garnet abrasive media serve as a waterjet stream’s “cutting edges,” and fresh media are continually introduced into the stream. Therefore, the stream’s cutting edges are always sharp, whereas conventional routing and drill bits can wear, possibly resulting in delamination or burred edge finishes. However, in some cases, milling is the only viable machining process due to fixturing interference or other issues.

In this story, learn how Royal Engineered Composites will use a machine that features both five-axis waterjet and milling capabilities to perform both of those operations as it goes after large-scale aerospace work.

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