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.
Kinetic displayed its K5000 machine that performs a wealth of operations, including milling, drilling, tapping, chamfering, boring, plasma cutting, oxy fuel cutting and beveling.
Last week, I spent a day and a half at Fabtech, held at McCormick Place in Chicago. This was the first Fabtech I’ve attended. It’s an annual show that rotates from Chicago to Atlanta to Las Vegas, highlighting metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing technology.
Three things stood out to me while at the show: automation, education and attendance. Read more and see a slideshow of highlighting some of the new equipment I saw there. Plus, learn about the fundraising campaign Fabtech partners have initiated to help victims of the severe storms and tornados that ran through Illinois on Sunday before the show.
Loc-Down units install in tapped holes in a subplate. The workpiece (shown here in gray) requires mating holes that have a machined internal groove to accommodate the units. Holding force is provided via the unit’s ball-lock mechanism.
Installing and removing conventional bolts used to secure workpieces to subplates can be time-consuming. Plus, protruding bolt heads often interfere with the cutting tool, preventing it from accessing all workpiece areas that require machining. As a result, Mitee-Bite has developed its “headless bolt” Loc-Down system so users can quickly attach and remove workpieces from subplates. Not only does this system enable faster workpiece change-overs compared to conventional bolts, but there’s less cutter interference thanks to its compact design. Learn more.
Yesterday, a robot rang NASDAQ’s closing bell, which is the first time a non-human has performed this task. The event marked the launch of the ROBO-STOX Global Robotics and Automation Index exchange traded fund (ETF). Appropriately enough, the ticker symbol is ROBO.
This ETF is the world’s first index to benchmark the value of robotics, automation and related technologies. The fund invests primarily in the equity securities of robotics and automation companies. It seeks to help investors take advantage of the robotics trend as it continues to grow through capturing a representative portfolio of the industry.
The robot that pressed the button activating the closing bell was a UR5 model from Universal Robots equipped with a three-fingered Schunk gripper. A design advantage of this company’s robots is that they can work alongside people and do not require safety fencing. If the robot comes into contact with an employee, its built-in force control feature limits the forces at contact and does not cause bodily harm, adhering to the current safety requirements on force and torque limitations.
The company says 80 percent of the more than 2,000 UR robots deployed globally operate with no safety guarding in the immediate vicinity of employees. In fact, here’s one application with video.
Machining cells are sometimes impractical for small- to mid-sized shops that run a variety of jobs in small batches. Those businesses are often forced to divide each job into several independent operations that might require multiple machines and multiple setups. In some cases, an operator might simply stand idle waiting for a machine to complete each cycle, which increases per-piece labor costs. Shops facing these situations can likely benefit from a portable second-op machine like this one from Southwestern Industries. It’s said to be the first CNC machine tool designed specifically for second-op work.
Neway CNC-USA shares this facility with Neway Valve, its sister company that supplies industrial valve products to a variety of industries.
Neway is a machine tool builder that’s new to the U.S. market. Located in Stafford, Texas, Neway CNC-USA is the U.S.-based parts, service, sales and applications division of Neway CNC Equipment, established in 2006 in Suzhou, China. The company offers a variety of machine-tool platforms, including CNC horizontal turning centers, VTLs, VMCs, HMCs, bridge mills, gantry mills and ball-valve grinding machines. In fact, it shares a facility with sister company Neway Valves, which supplies valves for a wide variety of industrial applications.
Last week, I attended an open house at the company’s Texas facility. Nestled in oilfield country, Neway CNC-USA is currently building a national distribution network and web-based replacement parts management system. It is focusing not just on offering quality machines at an affordable cost (many having boxway designs), but also on providing quick and effective service and replacement parts delivery to its customers.
PIQ Machine (which stands for Partners in Quality) is an early adopter of Neway machines here in the States. During the open house, I chatted with Vicki Dodson, PIQ’s president, who says her newish company has two 15-hp Neway VM 1103S VMCs with X-Y-Z travels of 40" × 20"× 20". Vicki says her company had previously purchased used CNC equipment (you really don’t know what you’re getting with those), but appreciates the affordability of Neway machines as well as the fact that they feature familiar design elements, such as FANUC CNCs and Royal spindles.
Godwin Cheng, manager at Neway, explains the machine-tool company’s strategies and goals for the U.S. market at a recent open house. Travis Egan, publisher of Modern Machine Shop, followed Mr. Cheng’s address with a presentation of Gardner Business Media’s 2014 Capital Spending Survey, the largest, most comprehensive survey detailing future spending in the durable goods manufacturing industries (Gardner Business Media is the publisher of our magazine). Click here to see that survey’s Executive Summary.