Derek Korn joined Modern Machine Shop in 2004, but has been writing about manufacturing since 1997. His mechanical engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Applied Science provides a solid foundation for understanding and explaining how innovative shops apply advanced machining technologies. As you might gather from this photo, he’s the car guy of the MMS bunch. But his ’55 Chevy isn’t as nice as the hotrod he’s standing next to. In fact, his car needs a right-front fender spear if you know anybody willing to part with one.
Machine tool builder Grob Systems is located in Bluffton, Ohio. While that location is centrally located among a number of the company’s automotive customers, it isn’t exactly a hotbed for shopfloor talent. That’s why, from the get-go, the company started an apprenticeship program based on its German parent company’s model. However, it recently modified the program to offer an associate degree instead of a journeyman’s card.
As the program’s training supervisor asks, “How many kids (or parents) know what a journeyman’s card is? On the other hand, they’re certainly familiar with an associate degree.”
This You-Ji VTL spotted at TIMTOS (available in the U.S. from Absolute Machine Tools) combines a vertical ram with a horizontal ram that can reach past wide diameters to turn difficult-to-access surfaces.
TIMTOS, Taiwan’s Taipei International Machine Tool Show, held its 25th edition in March. It is currently the world’s fifth-largest machine tool show.
The first TIMTOS I attended was in 2011, and this year marked my third trip to see the show. One thing I appreciate is that for each show, the president of Taiwan, Dr. Ying-Jeou Ma, has attended the opening ceremony and toured the show floor, recognizing the important role that manufacturing plays in Taiwan’s economy.
I have noticed that the level of domestic machining technology at TIMTOS has increased over the years coinciding with a larger presence of automated demonstrations. This slideshow includes images and information about these and other new machining technology I spotted at this year’s show.
The Swiss tour wrapped up with a visit to the Kaiser plant to see the machining equipment and assembly processes behind the company’s digital boring heads.
Early this month, I got the chance to visit a number of manufacturers in Switzerland as part of a tour set up by the NTMA. I and a number of NTMA members got a chance to tour the facilities of Blaser Swisslube, Kaiser (aka BIG Kaiser), and Mikron and Liechti (both part of the GF Machining Solutions group). We also saw some large-scale manufacturing performed at SR Technics (aircraft refurbisher and turbine engine rebuilder) and Burckhardt Compression (world’s largest manufacturer of reciprocating compressors).
At Mikron, we saw a presentation about the company’s Machine and Spindle Protection (MSP) option available on Mikron HPM 600U and HPM 800U machines. MSP uses a mechanical system that allows the spindle to slightly deflect in X, Y and Z axes at the moment of a collision, using a sensor to detect this and trigger the machine to stop before the spindle/spindle bearings are damaged. This video shows a collision that demonstrates how quickly the system stops the spindle travel.
GF Machining Solutions acquired Liechti last year, a builder of machine tools like this one for turbine blades, blisks and impellers. Key to high material removal rates and quality surface finishes on these contoured parts is the company’s Turbosoft Plus CAM software, which uses toolpath strategies designed specifically for efficient roughing and finishing of airfoil shapes.
Blaser has an impressive laboratory as well as tech center with a number of high-end machine tools where various cutting tests are performed. Its Liquidtool concept combines advanced cutting fluids and oils, application and consulting knowledge, and customer and training services. It is ideal for tough applications such as this deep-hole drilling operation, in which an 8-mm-diameter hole that’s 200 mm deep is drilled into chromium molybdenum steel in only 10 seconds (without pecking).
The visit to the Kaiser plant was interesting because we were able to see the machining equipment and assembly processes behind the company’s digital boring heads. Test cuts in the company’s tech center showed how easy adjustments can be made thanks to the digital technology. (As a side note, Kaiser has decided to strengthen its partnership with long-term partner BIG Daishowa Seiki of Japan, agreeing to become a company of the BIG Daishowa group as of April 15, 2015.)
My hat’s off to the NTMA and hosts for an informative and interesting trip.
Although screw machine shops were the first to integrate CNC Swiss-type lathes when those machines were introduced years ago, “conventional” shops are considering them more these days. If you’d like to learn more about that and other precision machining technologies, consider joining me at the Precision Machining Technology Show this month in Columbus, Ohio.