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.
The tool-setting probe automatically measures a tool’s length when the tooltip contacts the probe axially.
Shops can benefit from on-machine probes in multiple ways. Setups can be faster by probing to establish the location of a workpiece fixtured on a machine so the part program can be aligned to it. Probing can also be used for process control, whereby cutter compensations can be applied based on part measurement data. Plus, a tool-setting probe can automatically measure tool length and tool diameter to further speed setup time for a new job.
Renishaw offers a new twist on the on-machine probing concept: minimizing upfront costs by using a “pay as you go” model, whereby users purchase a six-month credit token that enables unlimited use of a probing system during that period.
IMTS is expansive, covering 1.3 million square feet of floor space at Chicago’s McCormick Place. However, there are a variety of tools available to help you prepare and plan for it. This article highlights three: Modern Machine Shop’s August and September issues, the show website and the Show Daily newspaper. These resources will help you more easily tool around at McCormick next month.
There are two newsletters that Modern Machine Shop emails to subscribers that serve as nice complements to the print magazine. Twice a month, we send out our “MMS Extra” newsletter that builds on the magazine by offering additional insights into the work and business of machining. Regular topics include unique shop innovations, newly posted products, the latest videos and more.
We also offer a weekly blog wrap-up newsletter that emails each Friday, as we don’t expect that you’ll have time to visit this blog every day. “The Shop” weekly newsletter gives you quick descriptions of the blog posts that appeared that week so you can read them at your own convenience. Topics include breaking industry news, road reports from tradeshows and additional insights that we can’t squeeze into our monthly print magazine.
Sign up to receive these free newsletters. That page also includes descriptions of newsletters from other Gardner Business Media brands covering additive manufacturing, automotive, composites, moldmaking, plastics and other industries and technologies.
A little while back, I visited 3D Platform (3DP) to learn more about the company and its affordable Workbench line of open, large-format 3D printers. Born from PBC Linear, manufacturer of linear motion components actuators and motors, 3DP offer its Workbench 3D printer with a build volume of 1 meter x 1 meter x 0.5 meter. The machine’s SurePrint servo technology enables print layer resolution a low as 70 microns for a range of materials including ABS, Nylon and others. Plus, a folding gantry enables the machine to fit through a standard door.
This machine can be used for a variety of applications for printing prototypes, production parts, artwork and sculptures, and personalized items commonly derived from 3D scans often used in the medical, fashion, education and entertainment industries. That said, machine shops can also use it to print jigs, fixtures and other components. In fact, 3DP has done that for its own in-house production needs.
This Workbench 3D printing machine offers a large, open platform with a build volume of 1 meter × 1 meter × 0.5 meter.
For example, the company printed a profile rail wiper for one of its machine tools. Although that machine has a built-in rail surface wiper that pushes big steel chips off the rail surfaces, the wiper failed to catch smaller pieces that can be caught in between the rail and the ball bearing system, causing the ball bearing system to fail prematurely. The printed rail wiper added to the machine keeps small chips off the rail while helping retain oil and lubrication in the rail bearings.
This printed wiper prevents small, machined chips from entering a machine tool’s ball bearing system. (Photo courtesy 3D Platform.)
In addition, 3DP printed a thread rolling machine die holder that stores the entire set of thread rolling instruments conveniently in one place, supporting the company’s 5S workplace organization efforts.
This printed holder provides thread rolling machine operators with easy access to all die components required for a given job. (Photo courtesy 3D Platform.)
In fact, our sister publication, Additive Manufacturing (a magazine about additive manufacturing of functional parts), has a collection of articles describing similar ideas for 3D printing of tooling, fixtures, jigs and related items for use in a machine shop. Learn more.
How do you capture the shopfloor intel in your experienced machinists’ heads before they retire?
I call it the “other big data.” Not the stuff that forms the foundation for concepts such as Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, but rather the vast knowledge of machining processes and best practices stored in the minds of your best, most experienced employees.
Unfortunately, many of those people are baby boomers who will soon retire from shops like yours, potentially taking all that knowledge out the door. (I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.) So my questions to you are: Have you established a mechanism for culling your experienced machinists’ shopfloor knowledge before they move on? And, would you share with me ways you are dealing with this issue?
If so, I’d like to learn more. Email your thoughts to me so that I might share them with others who find themselves in the same “big-data dilemma.”