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 BT-360D VMC from Bulova Technologies includes an integrated twin-pallet changing system. This video (okay, it actually runs 2:01 minutes) shows how this type of machine platform, combined with Toolex dual-station vises, can maximize spindle up-time by enabling operators to change-out workpieces on one pallet while parts are machined on the other.
At Eastec, I learned that Schunk has offered its Grippers with Spindle Interface devices as a standard product line for the past two years. I first learned of the concept years earlier while visiting the company’s U.S. headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina. Schunk designed the device for its own in-house manufacturing use. An internal spring holds the gripper’s fingers open until it is overcome by the pressure of through-spindle coolant or compressed air. Here’s the video I took at Schunk of the device in action.
It will be interesting to see the impact that collaborative robots—robots that can work alongside humans without safety fencing—will have on our industry. This case study explains how one dental implant manufacturer uses them in the production of crowns. A single robot tends four machines, using camera technology to detect the 16 different shades of blanks used for the crowns when the blanks are picked from a dispenser. If the robot detects a problem with the dispenser, it alerts an operator to come fix the issue.
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.”