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.
This handheld XRF metal alloy analyzer uses a process similar to static electricity to generate x-rays, bringing the price point down to a level that’s attractive to a wider range of manufacturers.
Traceability is becoming a bigger issue for shops, especially those serving the aerospace and medical industries. Handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometers are commonly used to identify, analyze and tests a broad range of metal alloys for positive materials identification (PMI). Such analysis is commonly performed on raw material as well as finished parts prior to customer delivery to confirm alloy grade. That said, the price point for these devices hasn’t been all that attractive.
Tribogenics says it is the first company to offer an XRF analyzer for less than $10,000. Its Watson XRF device uses a process similar to static electricity (known as the triboelectric effect) to generate X-rays. The company says conventional XRF devices use technology originally developed in the 1800s that relies on bulky, expensive high-voltage transformers to generate X-rays. Tribogenics-effect technology is said to lower both the cost and size for an XRF device using a small (less than 250cc) battery-operated source. Watson also uses replaceable, interchangeable X-ray sources that function much like inkjet cartridges. These cartridges are available in different power levels to address different analyzing needs. They are said to last one to two months and cost $300 to $400.
Low-temperature liquid nitrogen flowing through a cutting tool has the effect of turning the cutting tool into a heat sink, expanding its capacity to absorb energy while improving tool life.
Okuma and 5ME have formed a partnership to establish two cryogenic machining demonstration centers, one at 5ME’s Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, and the other at Okuma’s Aerospace Center of Excellence in Charlotte, North Carolina. Visitors can test various machining processes using Okuma machines equipped with 5ME’s cryogenic machining technology. Pete Tecos, 5ME executive vice president, says the partnership will continue the development of cryogenic machining applications in in difficult-to-machine materials such as titanium, Inconel, hardened steel and compacted graphite iron (CGI).
In short, cryogenic machining technology flows liquid nitrogen at -321°F through the cutting tool, improving tool life. The nitrogen evaporates upon contact with the air. This article explains more about the technology.
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.