MMS Blog

There’s good reason why subspindle-equipped turning centers, particularly Swiss-type lathes, are so popular for small, complex parts produced in high volumes. However, there’s also good reason for the prefix “sub.” Automatic part hand-off for backworking operations isn’t viable without secure gripping, and the smaller, already-machined portion of the work presented to the subspindle tends to create more challenges than the raw barstock gripped in the main spindle. As a result, subspindles can be limited when it comes to blind-hole broaching, heavy peck drilling and other processes that risk pushing a part off-kilter or damaging it.

However, the right workholding can break down these barriers, says Matt Saccomanno, CEO of Masa Tool (Oceanside, California). Founded in the wake of Mr. Saccomanno’s own frustration with secondary operations and underutilization of subpsindles, Masa Tool offers the Microconic system, an alternative to traditional, extended-nose collet designs that applies force closer to the part for greater rigidity and concentricity—advantages that extend to main-spindle operations as well. Another benefit is the ability to adjust clamping pressure at the spindle nose to grip securely without damaging small, fragile workpieces. On the efficiency front, a collet in one size can be swapped for another without reaching anywhere beyond the spindle nose, and any collet can fit multiple draw-type or push-type machine collet closers. This saves time and eliminates the need for different collet series for different machines. Finally, overgrip models that expand 0.157 inch (4 mm) beyond the clamping diameter enable reaching over and gripping the part behind large-diameter areas. 


Time’s almost up. Modern Machine Shop’s seventh-annual Top Shops benchmarking survey is still open, but only through the end of this month. You have until February 28 to complete the survey, which identifies optimal shopfloor practices as well as operational and business metrics that define world-class machine shop competitiveness.

The Additive Manufacturing Conference returns to Knoxville, Tennessee, for its 2017 edition, happening October 10-12. This annual event focuses on industrial applications of additive technologies for making function components and end-use production parts.

Past presentation topics have included application success stories, materials, design, postprocessing, production via AM and much more. (For highlights from the most recent conference, see this series of articles and our interview series on YouTube.)

‚ÄčIn preparation for February’s edition of Machine/Shop, I checked in with some of the “power users” among those registered to access Techspex, the free online machine tool database. It’s interesting to learn about how different users approach the database tools for different needs. After all, Techspex users range across end markets, from aerospace to medical, from energy to automotive. They also vary widely in size and scope, including job shops of all sizes, as well as big manufacturers like General Electric, Boeing and Nissan North America.

Mirko Dakic, for example, is a capital planner for Magna Powertrain, a global automotive manufacturer, assisting its North American divisions in capital investment. He explains how he uses Techspex to help him do his job: “As capital planner, I use Techspex to cross-reference and learn about different machine brands and models capable of the same job. In order to gather three competitive quotes, I use the list of machine tool builders along with the list of current and previous models to find possible alternative suppliers.”

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