Stephanie (Monsanty) Hendrixson served as a Modern Machine Shop summer intern in 2012 and joined the team as an assistant editor later that fall. She currently works on event news for MMS Online and on the production of the print magazine. She also blogs about additive technology and helps to manage Additive Manufacturing magazine as its associate editor. Stephanie holds an M.A. in professional writing from the University of Cincinnati and a B.A. in English literature and history from the University of Mount Union.
The IR3 3D printer pauses printing to place a wheel assembly into the remote-controlled car it is building in this image, taken from a promotional video on the project’s Kickstarter page.
Remember the Strati car from IMTS? The car chassis and body were 3D printed on the show floor with a Cincinnati Incorporated Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine (BAAM) out of carbon-reinforced ABS plastic. The printing phase took 44 hours over the first two days of the show, and was followed by a day of milling to refine the print. A team led by Local Motors then spent several more days integrating the non-printed mechanical components such as the motor and battery to make the car drivable.
Those mechanical components probably won’t be produced by a 3D printer in the near future, but what if they could be installed by the printer? That would eliminate the need for a human assembly stage, possibly saving time, and open the door for integrating components into areas that may be inaccessible in the final print. Furthermore, it would mean the ability to produce a fully functional product in one setup.
That was the idea behind Buzz Technology UK’s Industrial Revolution III (IR3) 3D printer, which picks and places non-printable components such as wheels, motors and rechargeable battery packs within a 3D-printed build. Development of the printer itself was shelved following a Kickstarter campaign that went unfunded earlier this year, but the company now plans to offer its pick-and-place technology as a retrofit kit for new and existing 3D printers. Though intended mainly for consumer use, it’s easy to see how this print-and-assemble concept might also be applied for production additive applications, such as building wiring into a prosthetic hand or audio speaker components into custom headphones.
Click the image above for a slideshow featuring wire EDMs and more.
This month’s product spotlight on EDM technology highlights a number of wire EDMs equipped with automatic threading capability. This function enables the machines to run unattended for long periods of time, and reduces the spark-to-spark time when rethreading is needed.
Click the image above to view the slideshow highlighting these machines as well as small-hole EDMs, EDM wire and an electrical discharge wheel dresser, and read the product spotlight in the June issue for more detail.
Click the image above to access the micromachining slideshow.
While micromachining is not a specific type of machining process or strategy, it often demands specialized equipment and tooling. Micro milling and drilling requires tiny tools as well as a machine with the spindle speed to cut effectively with them (as this manufacturer and shop owner learned). As another example, it’s possible to cut micro features with abrasive waterjet, but the nozzle orifice, mixing tube and abrasive particles must be downsized appropriately.
Click the image above to view a slideshow of products designed and suitable for micromachining. Also visit the Micromachining Zone to learn more.
Click the image above to access a digital edition of the May issue
of Modern Machine Shop. Cover art by Orlando Arocena.
The 2015 World Machine Tool Output & Consumption Survey (the basis for May’s cover story and artwork seen above) indicated that U.S. machine tool consumption surpassed $8 billion in 2014, a significant capital investment driven in part by low interest rates. For a complete overview of the data and what it means for manufacturers worldwide, find the story and an infographic on page 72 of the digital edition.
Also in this issue:
How a contract shop minimized the impact of part measurement by implementing lights-out inspection;
What a good breakfast has to do with efficiency in machining Inconel;
Why you should mind tool center heights when turning small diameters;
How a CAM program helped a shop increase efficiency and reduce labor costs in designing high-density fixtures;
How a collaborative robot helped deliver crowns to dentists faster; and
What’s new at the Eastec 2015 trade show, happening this week.
Did you or one of your kids ever play with one of those pin impression boards? The idea was that you could press any object—a smaller toy or a hand, for instance—gently into the pins on the back of the board and see a crude relief image on the other side.
A clamping element from Euro-Tech called “The Jaw” (pictured above) works in a very similar fashion. The product has a number of hydraulic pins on each side that quickly conform to the shape of any part placed between them. Internal clamping sleeves lock the pins in place, and the company says that the form fit reduces required clamping force. The adaptable system can be used as jaws for vises, as supports, and in combination with robot grippers and other custom solutions.