MMS Blog

3D Printing for “Hybrid” Tooling

I recently had the opportunity to visit CPI Aerostructures, a company that is much different from those we typically cover in Modern Machine Shop. CPI is not a machine shop, and it doesn’t machine discrete parts. Instead, it sources those parts from a network of suppliers and fashions them into subassemblies for aircraft at its facility in Long Island, New York.

But although its business looks different, CPI has the same need for custom tooling—fixtures, check gages, jigs, etc.—that machine shops do. Like many machining facilities, it has an in-house toolroom with manual machining and welding equipment to help produce that tooling.

View PrimeTurning videos

When Sandvik Coromant announced that its new PrimeTurning process could cut cycle times in half, some were skeptical. Even more so when the cutting tool maker said that it would result in better tool life and surface finish too. But the company has good data on a number of applications and can prove the benefits of the process.

Gear manufacturing is less exclusive than it used to be. That is according to a machine tool builder offering what are said to be the first horizontal machining centers in the world capable of power-skiving, a demanding tooth-shaping process in which the workpiece and tool rotate in constant contact and near-perfect synchronicity at a precisely defined angle of engagement. Combined with a horizontal configuration’s well-documented potential for setup reduction, skiving capability reportedly enables machining gears mostly complete in a single setup. Manufacturers that stand to gain include not just established, high-production gear makers, but also any operation interested in machining high-quality gears without lengthy lines of dedicated equipment.

Originating from the same organization that spawned Toyota Motor Corp., JTEKT Toyoda Americas has deep roots in manufacturing machinery geared toward automotive components. On GS series power-skiving HMCs, this legacy is exemplified by a control unit that, until this point, has been restricted to machines dedicated to camshaft and crankshaft grinding. “We took one proven technology and married it to another proven technology,” says William Terry, product manager, about the combination of a rigid HMC platform and the high-speed spindle synchronization capability of the GC70 CNC.

Matt Wardle is the President and CEO of Ogden, Utah’s JD Machine. In this video, he describes ways he uses Top Shops benchmarking data to help build his machining business. He also explains how being named an Honors Program winner a few years ago has positively impacted his business (by winning a new customer no less) and has helped build morale in his shop.

Results from this year’s survey will be presented at our inaugural Top Shops conference, which runs September 5 to 7 in Indianapolis, Indiana. That conference also includes a number of presentations and panels offering ideas for ways you can grow your business, too.

Digital Resource: Finding and Learning About Cutting Tools

Two features stand out on Seco Toolsnew website: a utility named “Suggest,” which calls up detailed tooling recommendations depending on the application, and a “News and Events” feature that consists of readable discussions of new and basic tooling concepts. For example, the information about controlling mechanical loads in milling operations has a clear explanation of the considerations involved in “up” (climb) milling compared to “down” (conventional). It covers appropriate strategies for how the tool should enter and exit a workpiece in each mode and how these strategies affect chip formation. This is good background or refresher material worth knowing.

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