Mark Albert is editor-in-chief of Modern Machine Shop Magazine, a position he has held since July 2000. He was associate editor and then executive editor of the magazine in prior years. Mark has been writing about metalworking for more than 30 years. Currently, his favorite topics are lean manufacturing and global competitiveness. Mark’s editorial activities have taken him to numerous countries in Europe and Asia as well as across the United States many times. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).
Georg Fischer AG is a global industrial firm based in Switzerland. Georg Fischer, however, is not a name that is widely recognized among manufacturing companies in the United States. In fact, it's the parent of the companies that produce manufacturing equipment under brand names such as AgieCharmilles (electrical discharge machines), Mikron (high-speed milling), System 3R (automation and tooling) and Step-Tec (milling spindles). Georg Fischer AG is also a major player in piping systems and automotive components—two areas in which it is well-known, especially in Europe.
So even if the name isn't as strong as it could be in the U.S. and other regions of the Americas, the company is eager to promote its unified corporate identity without diminishing the value of its familiar brand names of manufacturing equipment. For this reason, Georg Fisher has given a new name to the division that offers these brands. As of January 1, 2014, the division is now known as GF Machining Solutions. A recent Webcast press conference with Glynn Fletcher, president of GF Machining Solutions Americas, revealed further details about the new name usage, logos and branding. For example, the corporate logo, +GF+, will appear on machine enclosures, nameplates and labels, along with the product-specific brand name such as AgieCharmilles for EDM and laser technology, Mikron for high speed milling, and so on. The Step-Tec and System 3R brand names will also still be used under the umbrella of the GF Machining Solutions portfolio, Fletcher explained.
“While EDM remains a vital part of our company, we have grown to offer a much more comprehensive portfolio of products and services. This change communicates to the market what our customers already know: that we offer world-class, comprehensive solutions for every aspect of their operations,” Fletcher said. In addition to the name change, Fletcher said a new design style will be implemented for the GF Machining Solutions website, sales literature, business cards and other external communications.
The [MC]2 2014 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference will be presented in Orlando, Florida, April 8-10, 2014, by the MTConnect Institute. Registration is now open for this third annual event. The theme for this year’s conference is “Advancing Data-Driven Manufacturing.” MTConnect is an open, royalty-free standard that is intended to foster greater interoperability between devices and software applications used in manufacturing. The conference is designed for end users, equipment suppliers, software developers, distributors, integrators, students, professors and consultants.
Technical training will occur during the first day of the conference and will consist of approximately seven hours of hands-on workshops. One of the topics covered will be how to build an MTConnect adapter.
General sessions are scheduled for the morning of the second and third day of the conference. These sessions will cover topics that are applicable to a broad set of conference attendees and tend to be more business oriented.
Breakout sessions will run concurrently in three or four time slots during the afternoon of the second day of the conference. Topics for these sessions are likely to include cloud computing and security; productivity measurement, dashboards, and decision support; big data in manufacturing; predictive maintenance and machine monitoring.
The conference offers a special opportunity for attendees. The MTConnect Challenge 2 finalists will demonstrate their submissions at the conference for a chance to win one of many cash prizes totaling $255,000. Conference attendees will then vote for the top three winners.
In a joint research project, Kaiser Precision Tooling and Blaser Swisslube searched for the combination of metalworking fluid and indexable insert that showed the best results when boring titanium. The results underscore the importance of controlling vibration, friction and heat.
The companies tested five metalworking fluids and several indexable insert grades from competing suppliers. All of the inserts tested were recommended for titanium applications. Findings showed that certain inserts lasted 15 times longer than others, depending on the choice of metalworking fluid. With the same metalworking fluid, certain inserts lasted 20 times longer than others.
Overall, the best combination for boring titanium proved to be the Kaiser 655.389 insert (TC11, AlCrN coating, 0.016-inch nose radius) with Blaser’s B-Cool 755 coolant.
This video from Mastercam is a concise way to see that its Machine Simulation feature enables the programmer to see how a multi-axis part program will perform. The virtual, dynamic representation of the workpiece, cutting tool assembly, workholding fixture, machine spindle and other elements of the machine structure provide a better visualization of possible collisions or interference.
The company describes Machine Simulation as the bridge between generating tool paths in Mastercam and cutting them on the machine. To quote the video: “It’s another valuable tool in your toolbox.”
Model trains and Christmas have gone together since the early days of Lionel train sets. The classic holiday scene of the household Christmas tree almost always included a circle of track underneath with an old-fashioned steam engine racing around it. Elaborate model train displays are still popular parts of holiday decorations in store windows, shopping malls, building lobbies and other public spaces. And sometimes, a model train display includes a scaled-down version of a machine tool, I’m happy to say.
I discovered this on a recent holiday visit to Entertrainment Junction, a popular year-round model train attraction in the Greater Cincinnati area. I was there with my brother, who’s shared my interest in model trains since we were kids growing up together. The model train “layout” at this attraction is enormous and very well done. The museum-quality models of trains in different eras of American history operate in highly realistic and detailed scenes depicting the growth and development of railroads, from the days before the Civil War to the latest trends in intermodal shipping and unitized trains of bulk commodities that distinguish railroads today.
A popular activity when enjoying this layout is to search for items or features on lists prepared by the Entertrainment Junction staff. It’s a great way to get kids (and adults, too) to focus their attention and explore the historically accurate scenes through which the trains are running. Of course, I have my own informal list of things to look for on any train display, and my list always includes stuff related to machine tools and manufacturing. I like to see whether manufacturing is included in the story of our country’s growth and how well the machining equipment is rendered in miniature.
Sure enough, among the various scale models of typical trackside railroad structures, warehouses and factories, I found a machine shop with a number of machine tools clearly visible inside. In this case, the one inside the front double doors appeared to be some sort of WWII-era turning machine, a VTL perhaps. It was a small but gratifying Ah-Ha! moment.
The holidays are often a time of searching, whether it is to find that perfect present for a loved one, or to find the meaning behind our religious beliefs, family traditions or ethnic connections. Finding what you are looking can be a kind of gift, too. May all your searches be fulfilled this season, and throughout the coming New Year.