MMS Blog

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).

Meghan West, president of CNC Software Inc., developers of Mastercam CAD/CAM software, recently addressed a group of educators and community leaders from across the Tampa Bay area about the compelling need for and benefits of careers in manufacturing. The University of South Florida’s College of Education and the Florida State Fairgrounds hosted the event, the 14th annual Education in Action Luncheon. A diverse group of 300 education stakeholders attended, including teachers, administrators, executives and student leaders.

After apprising the group about the misperceptions of manufacturing, the current skills gap in manufacturing, and the impact that manufacturing has on our everyday lives, Ms. West gave voice to one of the core issues surrounding the lack of interest and knowledge about manufacturing among children and adolescents: “It’s time to redefine the definition of success,” she said. “The default advice, often incentivized, given to kids in middle school and high school is ‘go to college.’ While that’s excellent guidance for some, the traditional four-year-college track is clearly not the best choice for many students. There’s a group of kids out there who are brilliant with their hands and minds, who like to make things, who can fix things. Industry is clamoring for this group. In some cases, with just a year of specialized training, those kids can get very-good-paying jobs immediately and embark on a career path that offers satisfying financial and personal rewards. Isn’t that success, too?”

Although it may seem counterintuitive, dry machining punishing materials was one step McGill Machine Works of Schaumburg, Illinois, took to remedy premature insert rupture. According to Ingersoll Cutting Tools field representative Jarett Johnson, cutting fluids can often create thermal shock that can crack the coatings on today’s high-performance inserts.

This was very important for McGill, which was in the process of retooling with Ingersoll’s Di-Pos Hexa high-performance face mill to rough-mill a high-chrome, D-2-wrought stock piece that serves as a wear part in a nail-gun mechanism. The insert’s advanced coating diverts machining heat into the chips as they are flung away from the cutting zone, leaving the tool and workpiece cooler, and making cutting fluids unnecessary, Mr. Johnson says.

Which is better for the United States: high oil prices or low ones? For now, the answer is still the latter—but the answer might change as U.S. energy imports and exports increasingly come into balance. OPEC recently announced that it would stop supporting the low oil prices we have been seeing by stepping back from its practice of keeping oil production high. Should we be cheering this news or booing it?

My reflex is certainly to boo it. I grew up being taught that this is the response to expensive oil. My parents remember oil shocks and lines at gas stations, and throughout my own decades as a driver, I’ve seen the price to fill a car’s tank sometimes represent an alarming expense.

Hybrid additive manufacturing machines combine some degree of layer-by-layer building using an additive process with conventional subtractive machining. For example, the idea behind the Lumex Avance 25 from Matsuura, which offers laser metal sintering via a Yb fiber laser and high-speed milling, is to speed the production of primarily mold and die components. Laser sintering adds layers of material, and the machine’s milling spindle subsequently machines the material to ensure a quality surface finish. Producing mold cores and cavities in this way leverages additive’s capabilities to produce molds with conformal cooling channels, and to make sintering density changes in molding applications that require placement of porous structures to facilitate gas venting. In addition, laser sintering enables deep features to be produced by building them one layer at a time, eliminating the need to burn them via EDM.

The company has since introduced a larger model, the Lumex Avance 60, which opens this technology to bigger applications in new industries, such as aerospace and automotive. This model accommodates a maximum XYZ workpiece size of 600 × 600 × 500 mm (compared to 260 × 260 × 100 mm for the Lumex Avance 25 model) and maximum weight of 1,300 kg. It also has a 1-kW Yb fiber laser source compared to 400 W for the Lumex Avance 25 model, increasing sintering speed. Its milling spindle ranges to 45,000 rpm and automatic toolchanger carousel has the capacity to hold 20 tools (maximum tool diameter is 10 mm).