George Smith, president of EGW, says he is confident in his comparisons of the SGS’ Z-Carb mills and the previously used tool is because both ran for an extended period of time in the same conditions on the same machine: the Fadal VMC visible here.
Product literature abounds with claims about reducing cycle time or improving productivity by such-and-such percent. Assuming the supplier is reputable, such data aren’t conjured from thin air; they’re the result of extensive testing. And any proper testing will apply a principle that we all (should have) learned in science class: it’s imperative to keep all process variables constant except the one being evaluated.
That’s worth keeping in mind when evaluating a new product on your own shop floor. Consider this case study, which details the benefits firearm component manufacturer Evolution Gun Works (EGW) gleaned from a new end mill. The reason company founder George Smith can be so confident in the capabilities of the new tool boils down to process consistency. As Mr. Smith puts it, “We have a good gauge on end mills because we’ve been running the same job on the same machine with the same material for four months straight.”
The MTConnect Challenge, a U.S. Department of Defense—Defense-Wide Manufacturing Science and Technology (DMS&T) ManTech sponsored competition, is designed to promote U.S. manufacturing companies in the defense industry. The goal is to spur the development of tools and applications using the shopfloor data unleashed by MTConnect. MTConnect is an open-source, royalty-free communications standard intended to foster greater communication and connectivity between manufacturing equipment and devices.
The Challenge has two parts. Challenge 1, which runs from April 12 to May 31, 2013, simply asks for imaginative ideas for “manufacturing intelligence applications” using MTConnect. Students, professionals, scientists, laypersons, and organizations of all kinds—including manufacturers—are encouraged to participate. Get the details here. Prizes include $5,000 cash each for the five best ideas. Hint: DoD is especially interested in concepts that will help lower-tier producers and job shops supporting the defense supply chain.
Challenge 2, which runs from July 1, 2013 to January 17, 2014, is looking for development of software applications that address the objectives of this challenge and fulfill the winning ideas. The top prize in this part of the competition is $100,000.
When it comes to multitasking equipment, one size by no means fits all. Yes, very sophisticated machines can process extremely complex parts in a single setup. But it may be that a somewhat simpler machine can provide a more cost-effective solution for your needs. It all really depends on the complexity of the parts.
Mazak helps shops sort it out in their Multitasking Knowledge Center here on MMS Online. According to this machine tool builder most associated with concept, there are five levels of multitasking (explained here) ranging from turning centers with live tooling to truly multi-process platforms that turn, mill, grind, hone, cut gears and more. In this section of the Knowledge Center, each level is explained both in terms of the equipment configurations and the parts they can produce.
In the Why Multitasking section, the fundamental benefits of combining multiple processes in a single setup are discussed, with more specific arguments for larger companies and OEMS as well as for job shops. There is also a section on what multitasking can mean for North American manufacturing.
But if you really prefer to focus on the parts, go to the multitasking parts examples section. The gallery of parts links to pages showing how multitasking technology dramatically improved part processing outcomes for each part.
Richard Mercier has been a machinist of more than 25 years, and his father was a machinist, too. Currently working for Soleras Advanced Coatings (a maker of equipment for physical vapor deposition), he occasionally pauses to tweet about what the work of a machinist is like. The result is one of the Twitter feeds I enjoy—a steady stream of glimpses into the craft of someone who values the attention and skill he gets to apply every day. Find him at @mistermachinist. Here is a selection of his tweets:
Well, had a good day machining today. Managed to save a part that was sawcut right to length. Had to machine both ends square. Just made it.
Machining a 5-inch dia. pipe 1/8 inch wall @6ft long, getting lots of vibration, having to machine it in 18-inch sections with steady rest.
We normally use a lot of aluminum jaws, which are nice because I often re-cut my jaws to make sure they are true and the right size.
I like to keep a log of the work that I'm doing each day. It's nice to be able to look back and see how you did it the last time.
Today I modified my magnetic base with a 600-mm-long rod to mount my indicator on for a special job on one of our bigger machines.
I always put special notes in my programs to let others know why I did things that way. I had to machine a dimension oversize for clearance.
Always read your blueprint carefully. I had a program where a groove was omitted and it was because the dimension lines crossed on the print.
I had to drill a 1-inch hole in a pc of stainless steel. I actually step drilled 3 drills to work up to size. It cut easier and with less heat.
Being a good machinist takes a lot of hard work and patience. Sometimes you can only go so fast, and knowing that means a lot.
IMTS 2012 saw the U.S. introduction of Universal Robots’ line of lightweight, six-axis robot arms for machine tending and other automated applications. Perhaps this equipment’s most distinguishing feature is that it often doesn’t require the enclosures that typical robotic loading applications do. Because the robot arms are compliant with the ISO 10218 safety standard for industrial robots, they can safely function alongside personnel with no safety guarding in many cases. If an employee was to contact the robot arm exerting a force of only 150 Newtons, the robot arm would automatically stop operating. (The arm measures electrical current in its joints to determine force and movement, rather than more costly sensor technology.) That said, all companies must carry out a risk assessment of their specific applications, considering how the arms are installed, what gripping tools are used and so on to determine if enclosures are needed.
Click here to learn more and see a video of one of the arms in action.