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Could it be that a significant share of North American machining is simply waiting for a little oscillation in order to improve?

Jeff Wallace, general manager of the U.S. national engineering group with DMG MORI, has seen hints that this might be the case. He is a part of the group involved with exploring and advancing the machine tool builder’s “ultrasonic machining” technology, in which the tool in a machining center is driven through a high-frequency oscillation in the Z direction as it cuts. Ultrasonic machining in the past has used special abrasive tools, but the company has recently proven that this tooling is not needed. Conventional, off-the-shelf milling cutters and drills have been used with this ultrasonic oscillation to realize process improvements including a tripling of the metal removal rate in machining titanium 6Al4V.

Siemens has launched a new workforce development program for secondary and technical schools in the United States called L.E.A.P., the Lifelong Educational Advantage Program. Made available through Siemens Cooperates with Education (SCE), the effort is designed to give high school and technical school graduates basic to advanced machine tool knowledge that will benefit them in their future careers as CNC machinists.

L.E.A.P. starts with Sinutrain, a PC-based, control-identical training system. This software can turn a PC screen into an exact representation of the Sinumerik Operate graphical user interface. The numeric kernel (NC) that drives Sinutrain also powers the Sinumerik 828D and 840D sl controls. All courses can thus be taught on a PC.

3D printing offers production advantages by allowing parts to be made with more complicated geometries, fewer components and limited assembly. But many 3D-printed parts will need some kind of finishing work, and this presents challenges when it comes to achieving quality surface finish.

Steven Alviti, president of Bel Air Finishing Supply of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, offers the following tips for improving the surface finish of 3D-printed metal parts:

Sometimes feature articles in Modern Machine Shop include short sidebars. These sidebars sometimes present information that isn’t directly related to the primary focus of the article. 

An example is found in this story, which explains how Complete Grinding Solutions in Ohio leverages a high-speed peel-grinding process that resembles turning to effectively grind challenging materials such as carbide.

Part cutoff isn’t the kind of operation I’d normally associate with wire EDM. Nonetheless, a recent shop visit marked the second time I’ve seen this high-end machining operation used for that purpose.

That visit was to Omega Plastics, a Michigan mold manufacturer that relies on standardized workholding from System 3R (a division of GF Machining Solutions) to ensure seamless part transition from machine to machine without losing references. As detailed in this article, custom tooling modifications and the right machining technology enable the company to incorporate more than 80 percent of its work—including 200-odd-pound mold bases—into the standardized fixturing system. With fast, easy transfers and no need to find workpiece zero at every workstation, the shop often finds it more cost-effective to remove parts from their custom pallets via wire EDM rather than bandsaw. In addition to being more precise (and thus, at less risk of marring part that’s already undergone significant machining), this can eliminate an extra setup when workpieces must undergo wire EDM work anyway, especially when EDM’ed features are located on the mounting side.    

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