Derek Korn

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.

Posted by: Derek Korn 17. September 2014

IMTS 2014: The Draw was the Technology

See video of Mark Albert, Pete Zelinski and me sharing impressions about this year’s big show.​

In this blog post, Pete Zelinski describes some of his impressions about last week’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). Some of these points are mentioned in this live IMTS wrap-up interview that he, Mark Albert and I were part of. Along those lines, here are a few of my show takeaways:

  • The draw was the technology. This year, exhibitors didn’t employ as many “gimmicks”—non-manufacturing-technology attention grabbers to attract attendees to their booths (racecars, celebrities, etc.). It seems exhibitors instead chose to leverage their new technology to entice visitors to stop in. You know, the stuff they need to make their operation more productive and the reason why they’re there in the first place. Given how busy booths were across the board, I’d say the concept worked. In fact, we applied a similar approach to our company’s IMTS booth design where we highlighted our strengths…the original content, data and manufacturing information we provide.
  • Five-axis equipment. 44 percent of the shops in this year’s Top Shops benchmarking group perform five-axis positioning or full-five-axis contouring work. Five-axis machines as well as indexing equipment to enable five-axis machining were evident throughout the show. And while contouring is the more alluring of the two five-axis operations, many shops find positioning workpieces in five axes to access nearly every side of a part in one fixturing exceedingly advantageous.
  • Machine looks. Equipment OEMs continue to develop more stylish machine tools. It costs more to make enclosures with rounded features instead of sharp corners. However, it’s appropriate that the advanced technology inside machines be wrapped in a more modern look. These certainly are not your father’s machine tools in terms of form or function.
  • Automotive. The automotive industry is hot these days, and this means a healthy amount of gear production. Technology for gear production was on hand in the show’s gear pavilion as well as McCormick’s South Hall, which featured multitasking machining centers that could also perform gear machining.
  • Automation (again). Pete mentioned the wealth of robots at the show. He’s right; you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting one. But there was also an increased presence of collaborative robots, robots designed to work alongside humans sans protective safety fences. These types of robots have the potential to change what a shopfloor looks like and how shopfloor processes are developed, and it will be interesting to see the degree to which industry accepts this alternate automation option moving forward.
Posted by: Derek Korn 10. September 2014

An Extreme Cutoff Demo Returns

Nothing beats a wild, live cutting demo on the show floor. Iscar delivers in Booth W-1800, with two extreme attention-getting part-off operations.

Iscar released its Do-Grip part-off system in 1993 featuring a proprietary twisted design. The company  says the Do-Grip was the first to enable a depth of cut deeper than the length of the insert. At IMTS 1994, Iscar demonstrated the system’s performance under extreme conditions by chucking a railroad rail in a lathe and parting off slices of it throughout the show. The rail material is challenging to cut because it work hardens, the interruption is severe and the workpiece cross-sectional area varies, creating difficult cutting conditions that would cause most tools to fail. The Do-Grip tooling showed little sign of wear or damage.

Iscar revisits this live demo at this year’s show, using its latest Tang-Grip part-off system, a single-sided insert with pocketing technology to improve insert security and tool rigidity. In addition to the rail demo, this system also performs another challenging part-off demo using a sledgehammer head as the workpiece. Like the rail, the sledgehammer head material work hardens and the cut is interrupted.

Hourly demos are viewable on the LED monitors in Iscar’s booth in the West Hall. See—and hear—these impressive part-off operations for yourself.

Posted by: Derek Korn 9. September 2014

Can You Perform Under Pressure?

Doosan’s theme for this year’s show is “Performance Under Pressure,” and the machine tool builder has an interesting activity in its completely redesigned Booth S-8100 to support it. The company is hosting a pit crew challenge where attendees compete to change tires on a simulated NASCAR from Joe Gibbs Racing (Doosan has been a JGR technology sponsor for years).

David Barber, Doosan’s general manager of marketing, says this contest mirrors the company’s ongoing efforts to improve customer support. “Given NASCAR’s level playing field in terms of car performance, it really comes down to the support pit crews give their drivers by getting them in and out of the pits as fast as possible,” he says. “Similarly, Doosan continues to make strides to improve our customer support as evident by our recently launched 24 hour a day/5 day a week service program and increased spare parts inventory to enable quicker delivery of needed components to customers.”

Each pit crew challenge participant will receive a T-shirt or a 3D puzzle of the company’s new Puma SMX 3100 turn-mill, which makes its debut at the show. According to Mr. Barber, this turn-mill series distinguishes itself with a rigid, 90-degree vertical axis and forward-positioned automatic toolchanger for improved milling capabilities as well as enhanced operator ergonomics. In addition, contestants with the best daily time will receive a die-cast model of the new machine, and the person with the best overall time at the end of the show will receive two hot pass tickets to a NASCAR race of his/her choice.

Attendees will also notice a completely revamped booth design, featuring numerous elements playing off of the 18-degree “reliable edge” that Doosan calls the leading blue block in its company logo. Attendees will experience this throughout the booth with angled elements such as the 20-foot-high sign, interior aisles and hospitality structure. “This motif reinforces our efforts to be reliable partners with our customers and our willingness to perform under pressure to support their needs,” Mr. Barber says.

Posted by: Derek Korn 3. September 2014

Developing the Cover's Cool Caliper

The caliper rendering on the cover of our September issue (highlighting this Top Shops benchmarking results story) was produced by CAD specialists at Autodesk. What’s impressive is not just the end result, but also the speed at which they were able to complete this project.

Autodesk’s Sachlene Singh and Tanner Reid, Autodesk technical evangelists (awesome job title) along with Jay Tedeschi, technical marketing specialist for the manufacturing group, worked collaboratively on this project. They used a variety of Autodesk software design platforms to develop three different caliper concepts for us to consider. Tanner used Inventor (CAD product), Sachlene used Fusion 360 (cloud-based CAD product) and Jay used 3ds Max (3D modeling, animation and rendering software).

Because Fusion 360 is cloud-based product, it enabled the team to speed the design process by serving as a central repository where they could all access existing caliper models, in any number of file formats, rather than starting from scratch. Initial renderings were completed and presented to us in just two to three hours. In fact, those renderings were sufficiently detailed that they weren’t too far off from a final design. Once we picked the one we liked best, Jay spent a little more than a day tweaking the model in 3ds Max. This software effectively gives users the types of lighting, shading and other such tools that’d be used in an actual photo studio. The cool result is what you see on our September cover. Many thanks to our new friends at Autodesk.

Posted by: Derek Korn 26. August 2014

Okuma Launches “” App Store

The open architecture of Okuma’s THINC-OSP control makes it possible to easily install computer applications that allow for myriad conveniences right at the CNC. In fact, the company is introducing its new app store at Okuma users can download a range of helpful apps to their THINC-OSP controls that have been created by Okuma’s own engineering staff as well as its distributors’ engineers and customers.

The online store provides apps for CNC control functionalities that increase productivity and streamline machine tool processes. Apps will be added on an ongoing basis, and users can even create custom apps that address their individual needs. Examples include:

  • Machine alert. Monitors machine alarm status and automatically send an email, text or phone message to the user when an alarm condition is activated.
  • Part flip monitor. Checks the chuck clamp status to be sure the operator has opened/closed the chuck before cycle start is pressed for Op20 of the part flip program. This reduces the chances that a part will be scrapped.
  • Visual assistance support. Displays helpful on-demand images for the operator at any point in a part program or process. The images assist with machine setup, visual part inspection and other functions.
  • Scheduled maintenance. Shows a reminder of the scheduled maintenance needed for the specific machine where the application is installed. This prompts the user to complete daily inspection tasks that maintain optimal machine performance.

This new app store will be demonstrated in the company’s IMTS Booth S-8500. Attendees who participate in the app store demos will be entered to win one of six Microsoft Surface tablets (one winner each day).

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