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Automation doesn’t have to involve an intricate or complex system. This video from Royal Products shows the operation of an automatic bar puller—a device that essentially enables a CNC lathe to grip and stage the workpiece for its next machining cycle.

More on the company’s bar pullers here.

Two different CMM scanning heads from the same manufacturer have the same level of measurement uncertainty, but only one offers the ability to articulate on its own. The other requires stylus extensions—sometimes lengthy, complex extensions that take time and effort to properly configure—in order to ensure the probe tip approaches the work at a normal (perpendicular) vector. If purchasing decisions could be based solely on capability, why would anyone choose the non-articulating head, even if the application doesn’t involve exceptionally complex geometry or multiple approach angles? 

Because the quality lab isn’t the real world, whatever the quoted level of uncertainty, and because there’s good reason why some scanners are designed to leave stylus positioning mostly to the CMM’s own axes. So says Kevin Donovan, senior technical sales engineer with Carl Zeiss. Known as active scanning systems, these models’ complex internals prevent the head itself from articulating like their passive cousins, which rely on a static system of springs and displacement sensors to gather part data. Active scanning, he explains, adds finesse to the proceedings in a different way:  by maintaining an even, user-specified level of force on the workpiece surface throughout the scanning routine, even absent a nominal. Given this capability, active scanners rely less on compensating software algorithms.

Additive manufacturing (AM) can reproduce parts designed for more conventional methods like machining or injection molding, but is that the best use of the technology for production? Marc Saunders, director of global solutions centers for Renishaw, sees reproduction of existing parts as just one way of deploying additive manufacturing.

In a presentation delivered at the 2016 Additive Manufacturing Conference, Mr. Saunders outlined three approaches to additive manufacturing for production. They are:

According to Greg Britton, CEO of Fort Walton Machining, the part-processing “sweet spot” for his company falls between five-axis machining centers and big, gantry-type machines. He says that most aerospace shops machining aircraft structural components can cut parts as long as 11 feet, but when it comes to sizes beyond that, a shop must make a committed effort to incorporate the necessary equipment: gantry-style machines that can accommodate parts ranging to 22 feet long. Unfortunately, he says these machines are expensive to operate, and the costs typically translate to higher part prices for customers.

Unwilling to settle on producing shorter parts or passing the buck, Mr. Britton searched for another option. Door number three, so to speak, was the Vortex Horizontal Profiler 160 from Mazak Corp. Its work envelope is designed specifically for the aerospace market with a work envelope that can accommodate about 70 percent of common, large-size airframe and aerospace parts. The number of shops that can cost-effectively process such parts is limited, the company says. Learn more in this case study.

The slideshow above, based on our January 2017 issue’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features turning and multitasking machines, including Swiss-type lathes.

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

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