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Mark Albert

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).

Posted by: Mark Albert 29. June 2015

News from Horn’s Technology Days

Every two years, cutting tool and carbide specialist Horn invites customers, distributors, suppliers and the industrial press to Tübingen, Germany for its Technology Days event. This year, from June 17-19, more than 3,000 guests participated. They had much to learn about because Horn is in a growth mode. Its production facilities and office space are growing. Its product lines are growing. Its workforce is growing. And its technical knowledge base is growing as well.

Here are some of the highlights of the company news revealed at this event.
 

Twice As Much Production Space

Horn's third plant in Tubingen will be completed in 2016.

Horn’s third plant in Tübingen will be ready to occupy at the end of 2016.

Horn is adding 12,000 m² of new production in the near vicinity of Tübingen, a university town in the Swabia region of Germany, not far from Stuttgart. By the time it is ready for occupation at the end of 2016, a total of 55 million euros will have been invested in the new site, which is located close to the existing production facilities. This investment represents 30 million euros in the building and 25 million in production technology, which the company says now establishes the state of art in tooling and carbide production.

The two-story production hall will cover a total surface area of 15,000 m². Toolholder production, the coating department and logistics will occupy the additional space when they move into the new building at the end of 2016. The future logistics center will offer three times the capacity of the existing one so that customer delivery can be expedited. The production range currently includes more than 20,000 different types of standard tooling items. On top of that, more than 120,000 customized tooling solutions have been supplied to date. Every year, around 96,000 production orders are processed and approximately nine million inserts are produced in batches of 90 pieces (on average) with a 97 percent degree of automation, the company reports.

About 100 new employees have been added in the last year. In anticipation of the new building’s completion and the extra capacity that it will provide, Horn expects to create additional jobs in the years to come.
 

New Office Building Announced

Initial plan's for Horn's new office building

Initial plan for Horn’s new office building.

A new office building will be constructed next to the main factory and existing office building. The design features six levels with a total of 3,500 m² of usable floor space. It will provide offices, meeting rooms and seminar rooms for customer training. Cost of the new office building is estimated at 15 million euros.

Commenting on these plans, managing director Lothar Horn said: "We are investing in our future; our customers especially will see the advantages as we continue to focus on quicker delivery, quality, innovation and precision. So too will our employees, benefiting from a first-class working environment with modern buildings, machinery and equipment.”
 

Modular Grooving System Expanded

The type 842 cartridges offer a high level of rigidity.

Horn’s range of product offerings is always being renewed and enlarged. The product announcements made during Technology Days were essentially a snapshot of the most significant developments being released at the moment. For example, one of the tooling areas in which Horn has a substantial presence is in modular grooving systems for grooving and parting on lathes and other turning equipment.

Now the company is expanding its grooving system by adding a type 842 cartridge system, which features smaller dimensions for machining smaller workpieces. The system is suitable for parting off various grades of steel and features high rigidity and an efficient cooling concept. The 842 cartridges form part of the 940 modular grooving system, which comprises a basic holder, a grooving tool holder and a cartridge. The key advantages for users lie in the flexible component combinations. The grooving toolholders—which are available in different lengths according to the type of machine and application—are connected to the basic holder.

Specially designed for use on lathes with smaller work areas, the cartridge can be screwed from both sides. The type S100 cutting edge is available with different widths, geometries and coatings to suit the application. The screw clamping device of the cutting edge enables tools to be changed with a high level of repeatable accuracy. The grooving tool features an internal coolant supply with auxiliary coolant flow provided from below and clamping finger coolant flow provided from above. As a result, the jet coolant stream acts directly on the cutting edge for optimum effectiveness, the company says.
 

Processing Lead-Free Brass

Tools with mono-crystalline diamonds are used for the high polish processing of lead-free brass.

Tools with mono-crystalline diamonds are used for the high polish processing of lead-free brass.

An example of Horn’s technical acumen was apparent in its discussion of new tooling for machining lead-free brass. As background to its tooling developments, the company noted that in order to improve their machinability, copper materials like brass have always been alloyed with lead. However, legislation in many parts of the world points toward a broad prohibition of the use of lead. Unfortunately, dispensing with lead reduces the machinability of these materials. Increased tool wear due to adhesion and material smearing, the formation of long stringy chips, and reductions in process reliability and productivity are the consequence.

For lead-free brass materials, the general rule applies that higher specific cutting forces and tool temperatures are encountered. Heavy material buildup on the chip surface and on the open surface typically results in the tearing out of TiAlN layers in insert coatings. This condition exposes the hard metal substrate. Sharp-edged and coated edges are also subject to types of wear such as micro-chunking caused by the strong tendency toward adhesion of the lead-free copper materials in addition to the aggressive machining forces.

In comparison to TiAlN coatings, company research shows that diamond coatings or diamond cutting segments contribute to a significantly smoother surface, lower frictional forces, a much-reduced tendency toward adhesion and significantly greater heat conductivity. In addition to this, diamond coatings or diamond edges possess exceptionally abrasive wear resistance due to their high degree of hardness, so that they are also ideally suited for dry processing. The cutting speeds obtainable are many times those of TiAlN-coated edges. 

Diamond-coated edges and segmented cutting substances like PKD, CVD-diamond and MKD have proven themselves in this application. The latter is unsurpassed for producing highly precise, highly reflective surfaces. Depending upon the copper alloy or type of processing, PKD or CVD-diamond prove to be the cutting substance of choice. The various PKD types are ideal for cutting geometries in custom-ground form tools. CVD-diamond edges offer the highest degree of hardness, and are most suitable for highly sharp cutting and laser-formed chip breakers. These improve chip breakage for dry processing even with a reduced chip thickness, thus producing superior surface finishes and minimal burr formation. 

Based on this extensive R & D effort, Horn has responded to the requirements of machining lead-free copper alloys and, with its extensive cutting substance program, offers a variety of customized, safe, productive and economical solutions. 

Posted by: Mark Albert 26. June 2015

Getting Acquainted with Scott Fosdick

Scott Fosdick is the new head of Market Region Americas for GF Machining Solutions, which is headquartered in Lincolnshire (Chicagoland), Illinois. Scott was appointed to this position in March 2015, taking over for former region president Glynn Fletcher. I had the opportunity to meet Scott and get acquainted at the company’s “Solutions Days” open house June 17-19. He hosted a breakfast for visiting members of the metalworking press on the first day of the event. 

Although this was my first time to meet Scott, I am familiar with the GF Machining Solutions brand and the technology labels it represents. These include Agie Charmilles (EDM and laser texturing), Mikron (high-performance milling), System 3R (automation and workholding), Leichti (five-axis milling machines designed to produce blades and blisks for aircract engines and power generating turbines) and Step-Tec (machine tool spindles for moldmaking, production and aerospace). Scott, I learned, certainly knows these products, especially the Agie Charmilles line, from his long stint with Agie Charmilles in technical service in Japan, and then as head service manager for Asia. He also served as president of Agie Charmilles South China for a number of years. Starting in May 2013, he was Market Segment Manager for Aerospace and Automotive in Asia, before his recent promotion to the top position in the Americas region. It is safe to say he understands GF Machining Solutions’ technology from the inside out.

Scott briefly discussed his vision for the direction GF Machining Solutions is taking as manufacturing evolves in this region, particularly in the United States. For example, the growing shortage of skilled machinists and moldmakers is creating a demand for a technical partnership in which his company can provide a comprehensive solution, not simply supply machine tools. The company is stepping up its involvement with training programs at schools and universities, he said. Likewise, there is growing interest in complete solutions for specific, dedicated applications such as turbine blade machining with EDM and tire mold production. Service and support remains a high priority. Manufacturers with production facilities located around the world want service and support at an equally high level everywhere so that local operations such as moldmaking are consistently supported across the board. Scott also noted that the emerging industrial internet of things and trend to data-driven manufacturing are accelerating the company’s development of intelligent sensors, tracking and monitoring software and MTConnect-enabled capabilities.

Of course, breakfast with Scott was only the beginning of my visit to the Lincolnshire headquarters. The day also included a thorough tour of the company’s showroom and demo area, where the range of machining solutions was well represented. The slideshow presents the highlights of this tour, at least the ones I was able to catch with my camera.

Some key things that were reinforced during my tour are worth mentioning. The company's line of high-performance Mikron milling machines is remarkably broad and likely deserves more attention for high-end applications. This is tough because the wire and sinker EDMs, and now the laser texturing machines, can steal the show when exhibited alongside the milling machines. 

However, seeing them together is important because these are complementary technologies, especially for mold makers. Nonetheless, the Mikron milling machines are stars in their own right, serving demanding applications in aerospace, medical, dental and electronics where proficiency in five-axis machining is required. No doubt the most specialized of the offerings demonstrated during this customer event was the technology from Leichti Engineering, the Swiss firm that GF Machining Solutions acquired in 2014. Leichti Engineering is a leading developer of five-axis milling machine for the blades and blisks relied on by manufacturers of aircraft engines and power generating turbines.

I'm glad to know Scott now, and glad to know GF Machining Solutions even better.

Posted by: Mark Albert 19. June 2015

Aligned for Precision

To precisely condition the form, shape and finish of an inside diameter of a workpiece, no machine tool outperforms an ID grinder if (and only if) key components of this grinder are properly aligned. This article outlines the importance of this alignment, explains how to recognize the symptoms of misalignment and describes what corrective steps to take. The author, Bill Bednarski, is an applications engineer at Saint-Gobain Abrasives in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The components on a basic ID grinding machine that must always be in alignment are the X- and Z-axis slides, the grinding wheel spindle, the grinding wheel truing dressing device and the workhead spindle. As the linked article above shows, a properly aligned ID grinding machine, along with the right wheel specification and optimized grinding cycle parameters, will be a very cost-effective method to produce precision workpieces.

Posted by: Mark Albert 12. June 2015

Learn about 3D Printing of Large Parts at Amerimold 2015

Amerimold 2015 has announced that Dr. Chad Duty from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will host complimentary showfloor presentations on “Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM)” at next week’s Amerimold Exposition and Technical Conference. Amerimold is scheduled for June 17-18 at the Donald E. Stephens Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

In his 11th year at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dr. Chad Duty has shifted gears to focus on improving the mechanical performance of polymer-based additive manufactured components and the development of a large-scale system, called Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM), capable of depositing parts 10 times larger and 100 times faster than current technology.

At Amerimold, Dr. Duty will examine the technologies being developed and applied at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. In particular, the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine, which was used to produce the 3D-printed Shelby Cobra that debuted at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

“Chad and his team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are very much at the forefront of not just developing but also applying advanced manufacturing technologies, specifically additive manufacturing, to advance tool and mold manufacturing” says Dave Necessary, show manager. “We are very excited to offer all Amerimold attendees and exhibitors the opportunity to learn technologies that are being used to take time and take money out of the tool and mold manufacturing process.”

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will exhibit and present at booth 723. Presentations will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 17 and again at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 18. A representative from ORNL will also be on-hand to answer questions and discuss BAAM technology.

Registration is still open for Amerimold 2015. 

Amerimold is North America’s premier event for mold manufacturing. Presented by Gardner Business Media, in partnership with MoldMaking Technology, Plastics Technology and Modern Machine Shop, Amerimold connects global and domestic technology leaders involved in all aspects of mold manufacturing. 

Posted by: Mark Albert 5. June 2015

Metrology Data That Drive Manufacturing

HxGN Live is the annual international conference sponsored by Hexagon, the global company best known in the manufacturing industry for its broad range of metrology equipment. With its recent acquisition of Vero software, Hexagon now has CAM software products to make metrology data a key driver of shopfloor productivity, as this year’s event made clear.

Where will metrology fit in as the manufacturing industry moves quickly toward an environment that is driven by a data and connected across the entire supply chain by a single “digital thread?” A good answer emerged at the HxGN Live event, which took place June 1 through 4. This answer can be summed up by the theme for the metrology component of this conference as announced by Norbert Hanke, Hexagon Metrology president and CEO. Three words state this theme: Sensing. Thinking. Acting. Proficiency in these three areas establishes metrology as the business of solving problems. This is much more than the activity of taking measurements, as some might narrowly define metrology.

In his Metrology Keynote presentation, Mr. Hanke explained that sensing is at the heart of metrology equipment, whether by contact or non-contact techniques, or a unified combination of these methods. This “sensory input” represents the measurement of workpiece dimensions and feature characteristics. Thinking refers to the analysis of measurement data so that it becomes useful information to manufacturers. Software and software systems provide this analysis and reporting function. Finally, acting refers to the ability of shop and factory personnel to make decisions that ultimately improve productivity, which in this context includes the rate at which good parts are produced. Metrology, then, is a driver of productivity, not a barrier that consumes time and resources on the shop floor without delivering additional value.

When Steve Sivitter, CEO of Vero Software joined Mr. Hanke on the stage, he explained how one of the key connections that enables metrology to drive productivity is in CAM software. As the engine that drives machine tools and other CNC equipment, CAM software is best positioned to be the agent by which metrology data can immediately influence the manufacturing process to ensure the production of parts that meet all of the dimensional specifications of the customer. Mr. Sivitter made it clear that the range of Vero software brands, which include EdgeCAM, Surfcam and WorkNC, now gives Hexagon a comprehensive path for looping metrology data securely into strategies for implementing data-driven manufacturing concepts.

Technical presentations and new products introduced in the exhibit area showed how Hexagon Metrology is backing up its vision for metrology as a problem solver and productivity driver with real world solutions, both in hardware and software.

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