MMS Blog

On June 30, 2016, MC Machinery Systems Inc., a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation, announced its plans to build a new, larger facility in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The announcement came with company representatives and partners from The Opus Group, Elk Grove Village and Heitman Architects overturning that first shovelful of dirt and, according to a few who were there, virtual reality headsets showing how the building would look when built. Well, last week they found out. MC Machinery Systems hosted an official ribbon-cutting ceremony with employees, partners and press (myself included) on hand.

"All of our competitors are located along Interstate 90 here," said Patrick Simon, marketing and corporate planning manager, during the opening ceremony. "You come out of O'Hare and this is the first building you see." He went on to explain that a gentleman from Ohio flew in to visit a competing EDM supplier, saw the MC Machinery signage on the building, and decided to stop in. "We did a demo for him, and I think we may have sold a machine."

Bringing Automation to a Job Shop

Automation is typically associated with high-volume production runs, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There’s also an argument to be made for the automation of low-volume, high-mix parts in a job shop environment. It’s the argument that Wagner Machine is making, with its recent purchase of a 10-pallet Fastems pallet handling system.

That pallet system is yet to be installed. It will fill the empty space on the left side of the photo above, next to the shop’s newest machining center, an Okuma MA600 HII horizontal machining center supplied by Gosiger. Once the pallet handling system is on-site and integrated with the HMC, this will be Wagner’s first foray into automation and potentially lights-out production.

Buying a VMC: Considering Toolchanger, Coolant Delivery and Chip Removal

Whether it’s for a toolroom, a job shop or a production house, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to acquiring a vertical machining center (VMC). Key preliminary considerations include the intended application and workpiece(s) and the needs of a shop’s various departments. And then there’s the research and data-gathering process.

In addition to characteristics like structure and stability and spindle details, potential VMC buyers should keep in mind how the toolchanger, coolant delivery and chip disposal systems contribute to overall machine efficacy.

Turning Takes a New Direction: June 2017 Digital Edition

Without a prior explanation, an observer of a live turning demonstration might declare that the tool in the demo lathe is cutting in the wrong direction, exactly opposite of the usual practice. How is this possible? June’s cover story explores a methodology for cutting in both normal and “reverse” directions on a CNC lathe that promises to make turning a much more productive operation in certain applications. New types of inserts driven by new CAM tool paths are key enablers of this development, but implementing the whole multifaceted system as a system is essential.

Also in this issue of Modern Machine Shop:

Ask a manufacturer to point out its automated production system, and you are likely to see the most modern and advanced system at work in the shop. Perhaps that automated system consists of a robot loading and unloading an advanced machining center or multitasking lathe. On the other hand, TigerStop, the supplier of material positioning equipment, makes a case for the automation of dated machinery as well—including pieces of equipment that otherwise might be forgotten. An example of this is part of the company’s own production process: a circa 1973 jig borer that has been adapted into a system for ongoing unattended production.

The jig borer, which paid for itself long ago, had been used less and less over time within TigerStop’s manufacturing facility in Vancouver, Washington. It recently found new life in its secondary-operation role when the facility mated it to one of the company’s own products: an automated positioner for metalworking operations called the TigerRack. This positioner pushes with a 720-pound force to move stock including metal plate and tubing. In the jig borer application, it repetitively advances steel stock that is machined into face plates for this very positioner model.

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