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While global political uncertainties lead to slowing investments and, as a result, to a slowdown in growth of the global machine tool market, Germany’s machine tool industry is said to be well-placed to respond quickly and flexibly to the challenges of this highly volatile environment. According to Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, chairman of VDW, the German Machine Tool Builders’ Association, the German machine tool industry recorded a 1 percent rise in production output in 2016 as compared to 2015. Production values reached 15.2 billion euros. This positive development is fueled by demand for high-tech machines made in Germany, Mr. Prokop said. In his opinion, the machine tool industry is to a great extent decoupled from general market trends, which can be best illustrated if looking at the two lead markets: China and the United States.

China remains Germany’s biggest export market. Nearly one fifth of all exports (9.1 billion euros, 66 percent export rate) went to China, followed by the United States (up 9 percent compared to 2015), where companies ordered German machine tools worth 934 million euros from January to November 2016. However, Mr. Prokop wonders what the future will look like for the German machine tool industry considering political uncertainties and bleak scenarios currently dominating the headlines in Europe. How will the U.S. market develop?

Trade shows consistently rank highly as a method for discovering new products and researching purchasing decisions in the annual Media Usage survey conducted by Gardner Business Media (publisher of Modern Machine Shop). For attendees in any stage of the buying cycle, trade shows offer the chance to speak with suppliers in person, ask questions and see the equipment up close. At some shows, like the upcoming Precision Machining Technology Show (PMTS), visitors may also get a chance to see that equipment in use.

Taking place April 25-27 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center (Columbus, Ohio), PMTS 2017 will offer eight show-floor demonstrations. Interested attendees can see equipment in action and ask questions of presenters and the other experts available.

The use of solid ceramic end mills is on the rise, says Thilo Mueller, manager of solid end milling tools with Kennametal. And in a way, that news is less dramatic than it might sound, because solid ceramic end mills are arguably easier to use than carbide ones. Shops applying them need not make special process changes. Contrary to what is often assumed about ceramic tooling, these end mills do not require runout any better than what is used for comparable carbide tools. And because the tools perform effectively when machining dry, considerations related to coolant become irrelevant.

All the tools really need is speed, he says. They employ heat as part of their cutting mechanism—the heat that comes from fast, dry cutting, the same heat that might be destructive to other tools. The best performance with a ceramic end mill generally occurs in a dry machining application in the range of 3,000 to 4,000 sfm.

The slideshow above, based on our February 2017 issue’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features horizontal, vertical and five-axis milling machines in various configurations for a variety of applications.

Click through the slideshow for details and follow the links for more information on each item.

Current trends in machine-tending robot technology include collaborative robotics, in which a human can safely work near a robot without conventional fencing; easier deployment of robots to different machine tools when necessary; and simplified programming.

The Robo2Go machine-tending system from DMG MORI Systems leverages technologies that address each of these trends. It is particularly well-suited for shops that run a variety of different jobs, but would like to reap the benefits of unattended or lights-out machining on its DMG MORI turning centers that feature the company’s CELOS control.

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