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.
Vincennes University is located in the Southwest portion of Indiana. Its Gene Haas Training and Education Center is located in the center of the state near Indianapolis and shares a facility with the Haas Factory Outlet Midwest.
Last week, I attended the open house for the new Vincennes University Gene Haas Training and Education Center, located near Indianapolis in Lebanon, Indiana. The Gene Haas Foundation provided a $1.5 million grant to the city of Lebanon to help fund the construction of the 24,000-square-foot educational facility, which also houses the Haas Factory Outlet Midwest with demonstration area and offices.
The heart of the center is a CNC lab that includes five Haas VF-2 VMCs and five ST-10 turning centers as well as some TL-1 CNC lathes. There, students can take advantage of Vincennes University’s CNC Machinist NOW program, a 15-week, 600-hour training program designed both for military veterans as well as unemployed or under-employed folks looking to embark on a new career path. Similar programs are available for industrial maintenance and metrology, and the facility includes labs and classrooms for those programs, too.
The CNC lab includes a range of VMCs and turning centers available for students enrolled in the school’s CNC Machinist NOW program.
This lab supports the school’s 600-hour metrology program and includes inspection equipment ranging from hand gages to CMMs.
During the open house, the Foundation also presented $382,400 to the center to be used for student scholarships. Kathy Looman, foundation administrator, says this year alone the Foundation has granted more than $9 million to manufacturing education in the form of scholarships, “inspiring young people to explore manufacturing as a career and program support.”
Angle heads can greatly increase the versatility of a three-axis machine tool. Cogitic Corp. in Colorado Springs, Colorado, recognized the advantages of these auxiliary machine tool accessories some years ago. However, as one of the shop’s owners point out in our cover story for November, there are three aspects of using these machine tool accessories that, based on Cogitic’s experience integrating them into its processes, shops considering them should keep in mind:
You’ll likely need a new postprocessor.
You’ll have to develop a programming strategy to automatically accommodate tools of varying lengths that will be used in the heads.
You’ll find that on-machine probing is a complementary capability that will speed and simplify the use of the heads.
Until recently, U.S. shops interested in seeing large WFL turn-mills in action (the company refers to them as “millturns”) essentially had two options. The first would be to have a WFL rep set up a visit with an existing user here in the States to see how that shop is using the technology. The second was to fly to Austria to see machines at the company’s global headquarters in Linz. (I’ve been there, and in my mind that isn’t all that bad an option...)
Nonetheless, now there’s a third, perhaps more convenient, option for shops in the States. The new Autania “Tec Center” in Wixom, Michigan, has two WFL machines that customers can learn more about and arrange to have demo parts produced. (Autania AG is a holding company with several European machine tool OEM member companies having diverse technology offerings. WFL is one of these companies, and moved its U.S. offices to this new tech center in Wixom from its previous location in nearby Novi.)
One machine at the Tec Center is the M35 Millturn model shown above. This is the smallest machine WFL offers (although this company’s definition of a “small machine” might differ from others.) The M35 has a milling head offering -110 to +110 degrees of B-axis rotation and spindle power of 20 kW. Nominal distance between centers is 2,000 mm and maximum turning diameter between centers is 520 mm.
The other machine at the Tec Center is a larger M120 Millturn, and you can get a sense of its size from the shot above. The M120 has a milling head offering -110 to +90 degrees of B-axis rotation and spindle power of 30 kW. Nominal distance between centers for this model can range from 2,000 to 8,000 mm (even longer upon request). However, this isn’t WFL’s largest machine. That would be the M200 model, offering nominal distance between centers ranging from 5,000 to 14,000 mm (even longer upon request), and maximum turning diameter between centers of 2,000 mm.
In addition, WFL offers a range of technologies to tailor a machine to a user’s specific needs. For example, in-process part probing is commonly used to ensure accurate machining of very complex parts. This video shows an example of it being applied to large diesel engine camshaft sections.
The tech center includes equipment from other Autania member companies: Elb-Schliff and Aba Grinding Technologies (which now operate under one umbrella: Autania Grinding Technologies) and Profiroll. The ELB Smartline Kombi N10 840D at the Tec Center is a surface and profile grinding machine with a travelling-table design that can perform basic reciprocation surface grinding as well as slot, profile, speed-stroke and creep-feed grinding. This model offers grinding length, width and height of 39, 15 and 27 inches, respectively. Its spindle drive is rated at 64 hp.
(Speaking of Elb, the company says it has developed the world’s first hybrid grinder with a laser metal deposition system, a version of the company’s “millGrind” machine line. Additive Manufacturing reports on this technology here.)
Profiroll is a manufacturer of thread-, spline- and ring-rolling machines. The company’s Rollex HP spline rolling machine shown above at the Tec Center combines CNC control with symmetric circular dies to create splines onto various types of shafts. This process correlates to a rolling rack of infinite length. The machine can also coldform profiles and threads, as well as perform finishing rolling with its profile rolling process.
Dr. Helmut Rothenberger, owner of Autania AG, says the value of all machines at the center is $5 million. Soon, additional equipment will be installed to provide die-regrinding services for Profiroll customers. He notes that the investment in this facility represents his member companies’ commitment to the U.S. market, a market he feels will experience further growth in the coming years.
Chris Guidotti, vice president of operations for East Branch Engineering, uses a pallet jack to maneuver the 2OP CNC milling machine from Southwestern Industries into position near one of the shop’s Brother VMCs.
East Branch Engineering often uses live-tool turning centers to complete complex parts in one setup. However, it also leverages a flexible and reconfigurable “mini-cell” strategy with a pair of portable CNC milling machines that can be easily transported next to any of the shop’s conventional VMCs or turning centers and then perform secondary operations, run dedicated, small-batch jobs or machine prototypes. That way, a single operator can tend two machines rather than standing idly by, waiting on just one machine to complete its operations, and the shop essentially gains “free” machining time by overlapping operations. Learn more.
Bar-fed rotary transfer machines combine multiple cutting stations around the periphery of a round, indexing table. (These tables are commonly oriented horizontally, but “trunnion-style” versions in which the table is oriented vertically are also available.) Fixured or collet-held workpiece blanks arranged around the table are indexed from one machining station to the next until all operations are completed. (Some stations are used to invert the workpiece to enable back-side machining at subsequent stations.) A finished part(s) is ejected with every index of the table.
The Hydromat open house event I attended last month at its U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, was timely because I was able to see a few rotary transfer machines in build that demonstrate the degree to which they can be tailored to specific high-volume applications. Although what’s shown below is a random sampling, it represents varying levels of rotary transfer sophistication engineered to meet a user’s particular production needs. For example (in the order of basic to complex):
This Epic R/T 25-12 collet-style machine with a single bar feeder and no vertical machining stations represents a basic rotary transfer system. It’s similar to original Hydromat designs that were hydraulically driven, but it’s CNC-controlled. As for the model number identification, “25” indicates the diameter of the barstock material it is designed to accommodate (25 mm) and “12” is the number of available machining stations.
This Epic R/T 32/45-16 machine (16 stations can be set up for 32- or 45-mm maximum barstock diameters) has two opposing bar feeders delivering stock into stations 180-degrees from each other. The operations performed are the same around each side, and two finished parts are dropped with each index. (It’s basically doing the work of two machines simultaneously.) So around each side, stock is fed into the first station, machining is performed on the next three, the part is inverted on the following one, back-side machining is performed on the next two, and the completed part is ejected on the last. Note that this setup also has four vertical machining spindles.
This Epic R/T 25-12 machine also has two bar feeders. However, instead of opposing each other as in the previous example, they feed small-diameter barstock into adjoining stations. Plus, each has been modified to feed two bars apiece into custom workholding collets designed to hold two parts (not just one as you might expect). As a result, four parts are dropped complete with each 3.4-second table index, helping the customer to meet its very-high-production volume goal.
This Epic HS 16 indexing chuck shows the extent to which ancillary equipment can be added to offer a complete parts manufacturing solution, including robotic part handling, part gaging and part cleaning.
At the open house, Hydromat also offered a sneak peek at its Epic Gen II rotary transfer machine platform, which will be officially introduced at IMTS 2016. This next-generation version of the company’s flagship rotary transfer machine line (shown below) includes a number of advancements related to servomotor, process feedback, programming software, reporting software and other technologies.