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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 2. April 2014

Hydraulic or Pneumatic Actuation for Collet Blocks?

Grouping collet blocks together enables machine tools to machine multiple parts unattended. Collet blocks can be configured in a number of ways, including on tombstones and trunnion tables.
 

Collet-style workholding devices, such as collet blocks, offer a number of benefits. Collets automatically center parts to their center points known locations, they provide equal gripping pressure around a part’s circumference and expanding collet systems enable effective internal gripping of thin-wall parts. Grouping collet blocks together enables machine tools to machine multiple workpieces unattended over long stretches of time. However, should you go with pneumatics or hydraulics to actuate them? This article based on input from Hardinge offers advice.

Posted by: Derek Korn 26. March 2014

Finishing Fillets

Here’s one method of finishing a fillet using an 80-degree insert.

Just because a pocket calls for a fillet with a tight radius doesn’t mean the entire thing should be rough-machined with a tool having that radius. As cutting tool manufacturer Greenleaf explains, radii like these typically are small. Therefore, a tool having such a radius is generally weak and must be indexed or changed numerous times if the plan is to use it to complete the entire operation. However, there are a number of effective methods available to finish fillet radii after performing roughing operations using a different, more appropriate tool. The company highlights four of them here.

Posted by: Derek Korn 18. March 2014

A Fiber Laser Cutter for Job Shops

Trumpf’s BrightLine fiber technology delivers a quality cut edge with minimal burr
(shown on the bottom part).

Compared to solid-state laser cutters, CO2 lasers are generally faster for thick materials while offering better cut quality. On the other hand, solid-state lasers (fiber or disc) with greater beam power density and absorption characteristics are speedier and more energy-efficient when cutting thin sheet metal. However, at last year’s Fabtech show, I learned about new technology from Trumpf that enables fiber laser cutting machines to be just as effective processing thick materials as they are cutting thin sheet metal. Learn more.

Posted by: Derek Korn 12. March 2014

When to Waterjet, When to Mill

This Composites Machining Cell enables Royal Composites to perform both five-axis waterjet and milling operations for large aerospace components.

Abrasive waterjet machines offer distinct advantages for trimming composite materials. For example, waterjet machining has inherently low cutting forces, so fixtures need not be as bulky as those required for conventional milling operations. Plus, garnet abrasive media serve as a waterjet stream’s “cutting edges,” and fresh media are continually introduced into the stream. Therefore, the stream’s cutting edges are always sharp, whereas conventional routing and drill bits can wear, possibly resulting in delamination or burred edge finishes. However, in some cases, milling is the only viable machining process due to fixturing interference or other issues.

In this story, learn how Royal Engineered Composites will use a machine that features both five-axis waterjet and milling capabilities to perform both of those operations as it goes after large-scale aerospace work.

Posted by: Derek Korn 4. March 2014

The Value of a Short Stop

There are advantages to having a single operator tend multiple machines and/or performing other tasks while a machine is making chips. However, if the operator isn’t aware that a machining cycle has been completed, the machine could potentially sit idle for an extended period of time. This can be especially true when jobs have long cycle times.

One shop came up with a simple solution to prevent this from happening, and it offers the solution to others facing similar situations. Produced by C&C Manufacturing, the “Short Stop” wireless device minimizes machine downtime by alerting a machine operator that a machining cycle has been completed.

The video above shows how it works. After a cycle has ended, a Short Stop transmitter is installed in the machine’s spindle. The machine moves the transmitter to trigger an actuator button that sends a signal to a receiver that is located somewhere near an operator to alert him/her that the cycle has ended.

When not being used, the transmitter can be stored in the machine’s ATC magazine like any other tool. Its circuit board is coated to prevent damage due to vibration during changeout and its housing is sealed with an o-ring. The transmitter can also be moved from one machine to another as needed.

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