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 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.

Posted by: Derek Korn 30. July 2014

Chat with the Young People at IMTS

The organizers of IMTS have traditionally offered “student summits” to enable students, parents, educators and the like to be introduced to advanced manufacturing technology. Beyond that, students can also benefit from tapping the knowledge of seasoned IMTS attendees. If that group includes you, consider engaging students when the opportunities arise as I suggest here.

Posted by: Derek Korn 23. July 2014

Remember Fadal? It’s Back

We recently learned that Fadal Engineering and Merrill Technologies Group (MTG), both based out of Michigan, have joined forces to launch a new Fadal CNC machine tool product line.

“Fadal was a global leader in the production of vertical machining centers before closing its manufacturing facility in Chatsworth, California in 2008,” says Tansel Avci, Chairman. “Fadal will manufacture in Michigan and California, and sell globally through a distributor network.”

“The new Fadal is all about bringing back to market an easy to use, CNC machine tool of sound design and state-of-the-art technology.” said Tim Consalvi, Director of Sales.

The company will launch its new Classic series VMC at this year’s IMTS in association with Ingersoll Cutting Tools (Booth  W-1822). The Classic series, including the VMC2516, VMC3016, VMC4020, VMC6030 and VMC8030, is said to mirror the legacy boxway machine models for which Fadal was known. Fadal says it has updated these models with the latest in engineering enhancements, too.

Michael Naert, Fadal’s vice president of operations, says Fadal machines offer 220 foot-pounds of torque and a CAT-40 spindle that incorporates Big Plus technology. The new Fadal CNC-64MP control is said to function with the same language and compatibility of the legacy Fadal CNC-88, CNC-88HS and CNC-32MP models with greater processing power and speed. The company is also offering CNC horizontal turning centers including the FG5, FL6, FL8, FL8L, FL10 and FL12 models.

Later in 2014, Fadal will release its VMC Performance series, offering larger travels, greater weight capacity, higher rapid traverse rates and higher CAT-50 spindle speeds. In 2015, it will introduce its Heavy series with large machining and turning capacity, making it desirable for the energy, off-road, aerospace and defense markets.

“There is something kind of nostalgic about bringing a once family-owned company back to its roots,” says Robert Yackel, CEO of family-owned MTG and now Fadal Engineering. “The founding family of Fadal was a lot like my family. Entrepreneurial, hardworking, resourceful and determined. We’re proud to lead Fadal into its next era of success.”

Posted by: Derek Korn 15. July 2014

Shops Serving Oilfield Customers Appreciate Retrofits

CNC retrofits are ideal for large machines in good overall mechanical condition such as this G&L 350T boring mill with 5-inch spindle diameter installed at KD Machine in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

There are a number of reasons why shops serving the oilfield industry see value in upgrading existing machine tools with a new control package. If price were no concern, these shops would more than likely choose to buy new machines. However, the cyclical nature of this industry combined with the size of the equipment required to machine some oilfield components has a number of shops eyeing more affordable CNC retrofits. This story cites examples.

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