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 20. October 2014

Centerline Issues for Turning Inserts

Photos of sample inserts such as this one illustrate wear patterns that help diagnose cutting tool misalignments in turning.

Tooling expert Mike Fagan suspects that many programmers and machinists could use a refresher on the importance and effects of insert alignment in turning operations. This short, amply-illustrated paper is his effort to clear up some of the misunderstanding. 

It covers signs of misalignment and suggests ways to fix problems, with additional tips and advice to improve turning operations. To find the paper, click here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 10. October 2014

Air in Your Favor

Blasting coolant through the spindle and out the end of the cutting tool is a great way to clear chips. Haas Automation’s Through-Tool Air Blast option can be an advantageous alternative. This system provides high-pressure/high-flow air through the cutting tool to clear chips and keep the cutting zone cooler. This option is valuable when doing “dry machining.”

Dry machining is possible because many of today’s cutting tools use carbide inserts with advanced coatings that no longer need coolant to lower the temperature of the cutting edge and lubricate the cut area to prolong tool life. The primary cause of tool wear and damage for these cutting tools is re-cutting chips. Blasting the chips out with air addresses this problem. This is particularly beneficial when machining pockets and other internal features, where chips can collect

The Through-Tool Air Blast can also be used to blow chips and coolant from workpieces at the end of a machining cycle. The user simply programs a cutting tool with holes for through-tool air to move over the workpiece–blowing chips and coolant from holes and pockets–before the operator removes the workpiece from the machine. This saves the operator from having to blow off the workpiece manually, with an arm inside the machine and the door open.

The air blast option requires the Haas Through-Spindle Coolant (TSC) option. Because both options use the same internal channels and piping, the operator can switch between the two systems, based upon machining requirements.

Posted by: Mark Albert 26. September 2014

JIMTOF 2014: Our Industry’s Next Big Show

Tokyo’s Big Sight, home to JIMTOF, is truly an eyeful, with the dramatic architecture of its Conference Tower dominating the exhibit hall entrance area. 

As a global leader in machine tool design and construction, Japan plays a key role in developing and promoting new metalworking technology. The Japan International Machine Tool Fair (JIMTOF), packs a lot of product introductions and educational events in a compact, intense event running October 30 through November 4, 2014. Look for daringly imaginative designs in machine tools and related products at Tokyo’s eye-catching Big Sight exhibition center.

Plan to attend now starting here.    

The theme for this year’s show is Mono-Zukuri DNA. Loosely translated, that phrase means “an inspired approach to the art and science of making things should be at the core of our beings.”

Posted by: Mark Albert 19. September 2014

Where Were the Counters of Cutting Tools?

Cutting tool manufacturers such as Sandvik Coromant made room in their IMTS booths to focus on the importance of data about cutting tools.

At IMTS 2014, I almost didn't recognize the Sandvik Coromant booth in the Cutting Tool Pavilion. There were only a few counters and tabletop exhibits of new cutting tool products on display. The focus of the booth was clearly on presentations about new ways to gather, apply and leverage data about cutting tools. Wide, open spaces were needed for these presentations.

I did a similar double-take in the Kennametal booth. Kiosks with computer screens outnumbered the shiny counters with a raise of new cutting tool products. The main focus in this booth was clearly on cloud-based resources for accessing critical cutting tool data.

No doubt the booth displays of other cutting tool manufactures may have had indicated a similar shift in their marketing strategy as well.

This shift is significant because it is clear evidence that the concept of data-driven manufacturing is becoming a reality. It also signifies that cutting tool data will be at the center of this revolution.

This development is entirely logical and compelling, for the simple reason that the physical cutting tool is the center point around which every metal removal process revolves. How well the cutting tool performs ultimately determines the success or failure of every machining operation.

This reality makes information about the cutting tool of extreme importance. The cutting tool manufacturers know this. The means to convey the best, latest and most complete information about cutting tools to manufacturers in a readily deployable format promises to unlock the potential for higher productivity, cost-effectiveness and improved quality across the board.

For example, cutting tool data is the key to better CNC tool paths in CAM programming and simulation. Data about cutting tool performance is critical to effective machine monitoring and measurements of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Cutting tool data integrates the tool supplier, the tool crib, the tool presetter, the CNC and the ERP system.

Key developments are making the value of cutting tool data prominent. These include the development of cloud-based networking, new standards such as ISO 13399 and MTConnect that promote interoperability and connectivity for cutting tool data applications, Big Data analytics, sensor technology and Wi-Fi capability, to name a few.

If the essence of data-driven manufacturing is a move away from decision-making based on guesswork, wishful thinking, unproven theories or emotion, to decision-making based on facts and figures, measurements and monitoring, mathematical calculations and scientific analysis, then the cutting manufacturers are clearly leading the way.

Posted by: Mark Albert 12. September 2014

Off-Centerline Milling, Drilling and Tapping Take Center Stage

The C-axis head provides ±45 degrees rotation, creating a machining range of Y-axis features of ±1,000mm or 3,500mm the VTC table radius, depending on the model. The continuous power 22-kW (29-hp) attachment has a maximum spindle speed of 2200 rpm, and continuous torque of 875 Nm (645 ft-lb), and can be loaded manually or automatically via the machine’s automatic tool changer.

Fives brings off-centerline turning, drilling, milling and tapping capabilities to its Giddings & Lewis vertical turning centers with a new Y-axis attachment that combines a C-axis head with table and X- and Z-axes motions. The attachment, available fully integrated on new VTCs or as a retrofit, enables single-setup processing of flanged parts, pumps, compressors, motor housings, fluid routing parts, intakes and exhausts, among others. The Y-axis attachment is on display in the company’s booth at N-7018.

“The Y-axis attachment is a powerful package, with a wide range of motion,” says Pete Beyer, Director of Product Strategy and Development at Fives Giddings & Lewis. “Its power and torque are equal to our standard, heavy-duty right-angle heads, with no limits in cutting performance relative to speed. This is an affordable way to reduce setups and free up machine time on horizontal machining centers and boring mills that used to be required to produce these same features on turned parts.”

But this attachment probably won’t be the center of attention on Wednesday between 1 and 3 p.m. That’s when John Force and Robert Hight of the NHRA Champion John Force Racing Team will be in the booth to meet and greet visitors and sign autographs. John Force, owner and renowned 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion of the Castrol GTX team, and Robert Hight current NHRA Funny Car points leader and 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion of the Auto Club Team, rely on machining technology from Fives when speed and accuracy count in their racing facilities.

Other displays in the booth feature machines from G&L, Cincinnati, Liné Machines, Forest Liné, Cinetic, Citco and Gardner Abrasives.

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