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 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).

Posted by: Derek Korn 19. August 2014

Extreme Part-Off Demos at IMTS 2014

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Nothing beats a wild, live cutting demo on the floor of a trade show. Iscar will deliver this at IMTS in Booth W-1800 by bringing back an extreme, attention-getting part-off operation it first featured at IMTS 1994. Plus, it has added a second one that’s just as impressive, as you’ll see (and hear) in this video.

In 1976, Iscar released its Self-Grip part-off system and followed that up in 1993 with the upgraded Do-Grip system. The company says the Do-Grip featured a proprietary twisted design and was the first to enable a depth of cut deeper than the length of the insert. At IMTS 1994, the company demonstrated how this part-off system could perform 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 IMTS, using its latest Tang-Grip part-off system. The company says Tang-Grip is a single-sided insert with a unique shape and pocketing technology to further improve insert security and tool rigidity yet maintain simplicity of use. In addition to the rail demo, this system also performs another challenging part-off demo using a sledge hammer head as the workpiece (this operation is performed at 350 sfm/0.004 ipr). Like the rail, the sledge hammer head material work hardens and the cut is interrupted. Plus, its hardness varies from 30 to 50 HRc.

These hourly demos are viewable on the large LED monitors in Iscar’s “Machining Intelligently” booth in the West Hall. Be sure to check out these impressive part-off operations for yourself if you’re coming to the show.

Posted by: Derek Korn 14. August 2014

A Swiss-Type with a Laser

This new machine design extends a Swiss-type lathe’s inherent multitasking capabilities by integrating a laser cutting system. 

Swiss-type lathes are known for their multitasking capability. REM Sales, the exclusive
North American importer of Tsugami machine tools, now offers a Swiss-type that features an integral laser cutter. While originally designed to speed production of small, cylindrical parts such as stents for the medical industry, the Swiss Laser has potential applications for other industries that manufacture similar-sized parts. Learn more.

Posted by: Derek Korn 6. August 2014

What’s Rotary Broaching, and How Did It Help a Robotics Team?

Many external and internal shapes can be created via rotary broaching, as demonstrated in this “rotary broaching 101” video from Slater Tools, a designer and manufacturer of rotary broaching tools. A fast and efficient machining method, rotary broaching is used for making squares, hexes, serrations, keyways and a range of many other shapes into or onto a workpiece using any CNC lathe, mill or Swiss-type.

Recently, Slater Tools’ rotary broaching technology proved particularly helpful to High Tech Los Angeles (HTLA), a small, college-prep public charter school located in Southern California. Ranked as the state’s leading charter, HTLA uses technology to teach and inspire students. One way it accomplishes this is through after-school clubs such as the Robotics Team. This club teaches students the design and construction of robots, requiring teamwork and intellectual problem-solving skills. Students effectively operate a mini-corporation, running functional departments across multiple disciplines, including project management, design, machining and manufacturing, electronics, programming, business and finance, safety, logistics and media.

The HTLA Robotics Team, called Team4Element, participates in FIRST Robotics Competitions (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Under strict rules, limited resources and time limits, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

One of the biggest challenges HTLA Team4Element faced was in machining parts critical to the function and operation of their robot. Parts produced included drive wheels, gears, rotating components, sprockets and arms. The previous machining method was to hand broach parts using an arbor press, which was a very long and difficult process. That prompted Guy Chriqui, the team’s lead mentor, to reach out to Slater Tools for assistance.

When asked to assist in the robot building application for HTLA, the team at Slater Tools knew rotary broaching was the perfect answer to solve the students’ manufacturing problems. Unlike conventional hand broaching, in which a series of stepped polygon forms are pushed through a hole until the desired size and form is achieved, the rotary broach cuts the full form rapidly, one corner at a time.

With the tooling and guidance provided by Slater Tools, HTLA was able to successfully machine the parts it needed for its robot. Using a Haas VF2 VMC, they machined 30 to 40 parts with a ½-inch hex ID using a single Slater rotary broach and a 3700-1 tool holder. Parts were made in a single pass, maintaining good forms and precise tolerances. Given the significant stress placed on the actual components during use, students had to factor into their design the various moving parts, torque requirements, along with the need for tight fittings and secure connections.

The result of HTLA Team4Element’s efforts and collaboration with Slater Tools was a great success.  HTLA produced a robot that was 2 × 3 × 5 feet and 150 lbs. Competing in a 50 × 30-foot playing field, the robot traveled at speeds of 6 to 19 fps, picked up and hurled a 2-foot-diameter exercise ball, scored points for passing and getting the ball into the goal. The robot even ran a “pick and roll” maneuver. It met the requirement of running for two minutes controlled by the students, and 15 seconds autonomously. HTLA took fifth place out of 50 teams.

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