MMS Blog

The slideshow above, based on our July print issue’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features turning machines, including high-production lathes, turn-mills and even training lathes.

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

Five-axis machining has become one of the most important technologies in metalworking today. The reason is not because the technology is new (which, of course, it isn’t), but because it has gone mainstream. What used to be a niche capability for milling intricate contours is now a valuable automation tool in many shops, enabling not only those intricate forms, but also machining at many angles in one cycle to minimize the number of setups needed. However, the increased use of five-axis machining in general production means shops increasingly have to evaluate other components of their processes, such as workholding, with this capability in mind.

John Zaya, workholding product manager for Big Kaiser Precision Tooling, says that depending on the part, the right choice of workholding might be the key to realizing five-axis machining’s full promise for automated production. One of the options he often discusses in this context is the company’s “Unilock” system, which provides for repeatable, quick-change workholding using a receiver that clamps on a precision knob. Developed and long used for setup-time reduction, the system is now finding applications in five-axis machining not primarily because of the quick-change clamping, but instead because it offers a secure way to clamp the part entirely from underneath.

Threading Options for Hard Materials

Shops have options when it comes to hard threading. However, Seco Tools says most of them involve multiple operations and tools, each of which presents the risk of human error, a possible increase in cycle times and a probable hindrance of part consistency.

Here, the company highlights three such tooling options, along with their limitations:

Continuous improvement should be a goal for any machining business, but “unless you know what you’re shooting against, unless you have some frame of reference, it’s hard to do that,” says Doug Woods, president of AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology. That’s why shops need benchmarks, standards by which to measure not just one company’s progress, but its progress compared to other shops.

How can you get that information? Participating in Modern Machine Shop’s Top Shops program is one way. For the past six years, this anonymous survey has provided a means for participating shops to gage their own operations in comparison to their peers’. As Mr. Woods explains in the video embedded in this post, the data collected also helps advance the manufacturing industry at large by providing insight into how the best-in-class shops nationwide are using technology.

Manufacturing News of Note: July 2017

GKN Aerospace and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have signed a five-year research agreement focused on additive manufacturing. Utilizing the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, this $17.8 million cooperative research and development agreement will focus on additive manufacturing processes, supporting progress toward their use in the manufacture of major, structural components for aircraft.

The first focus of the agreement will be to develop the laser metal deposition process with wire (LMD-w). LMD-w is an additive manufacturing technique that builds metal structures by using a laser to melt metal wire into beads onto a substrate layer by layer. The partnership aims to create a prototype machine that will manufacture complex medium- and large-scale aircraft structures in titanium. The second focus will develop the electron beam melting (EBM) process for producing precise, complex, small- to medium-size components. In EBM, metal powder is melted with an electron beam, again building up the component layer by layer. The partnership will support work already in progress, aiming to make this process ready for introduction into full-scale, high-volume aerospace production.

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