MMS Blog

Abrasive waterjet machines historically were found most often in fabricating shops, because the abrasive waterjet process is an attractive alternative to other means for cutting large sheets and plate. However, the capability and flexibility of waterjet machining also has proven of interest to shops primarily devoted to machining processes such as milling, turning, grinding and so on. The waterjet process is useful for precision prototyping, short runs, cutting multiple parts from stacks of material, difficult and complex cutting operations, and operations that complement more traditional CNC machines.

Encouraging this trend has been the evolutionary development of waterjet machining. The process has become more precise, easier to program, more capable of multi-axis cutting, quieter and easier to maintain. In short, waterjet machining is as likely to fit into the machining job shop as in the fab shop.

For several years Dapra Corp. has had a technical center in Rockford, Illinois, where, like many other OEMs, the cutting tool manufacturer has conducted training sessions there for its end users and distributors. Recently, however, the company decided to make a change to its training model in response to customer comments about the difficulty of finding and training skilled labor.

Until recently, according to Product Manager Mike Bitner, the two-day seminars had been similar to other vendor-sponsored classes, with ample marketing material included in the training. In fact, it’s been a common complaint from Dapra’s customers that supplier training sessions put more time into product features and benefits than on practical machining training.

‚ÄčTaking place June 14-15, the 2017 edition of Amerimold returns to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. Though the venue is familiar, this year’s event is expanding its offerings for tool- and moldmakers.

In addition to more than 200 exhibitors displaying equipment and services for mold manufacturing, the 2017 show will also include:

The tagline for our February issue cover, pictured above, asks a good question. After all, the shop that machined this part, South Morgan Technologies, initially intended to do it on a three-axis mill. When that machine was occupied, it moved the part to a subspindle-equipped turning center with Y-axis live tools.

Although this move was unintended, that’s kind of the point, says owner Kevin Ames, who founded the shop in 2011. Ever since then, this shop has thrived on creative application of live-tool turning centers to nimbly flex its capacity and, as he puts it, “say yes to as much work as possible.” One key to that strategy is the use of chuck jaws that can be machined to match virtually any part profile, no matter how boxy. As long as the part has something that can be turned and doesn’t protrude too far from the spindle, these jaws can help make the live-tool turning center a viable alternative to the shop’s most sophisticated VMC, he says.

While global political uncertainties lead to slowing investments and, as a result, to a slowdown in growth of the global machine tool market, Germany’s machine tool industry is said to be well-placed to respond quickly and flexibly to the challenges of this highly volatile environment. According to Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, chairman of VDW, the German Machine Tool Builders’ Association, the German machine tool industry recorded a 1 percent rise in production output in 2016 as compared to 2015. Production values reached 15.2 billion euros. This positive development is fueled by demand for high-tech machines made in Germany, Mr. Prokop said. In his opinion, the machine tool industry is to a great extent decoupled from general market trends, which can be best illustrated if looking at the two lead markets: China and the United States.

China remains Germany’s biggest export market. Nearly one fifth of all exports (9.1 billion euros, 66 percent export rate) went to China, followed by the United States (up 9 percent compared to 2015), where companies ordered German machine tools worth 934 million euros from January to November 2016. However, Mr. Prokop wonders what the future will look like for the German machine tool industry considering political uncertainties and bleak scenarios currently dominating the headlines in Europe. How will the U.S. market develop?

RSS RSS  |  Atom Atom