Stephanie Monsanty worked as a summer intern in 2012 and joined the Modern Machine Shop team as assistant editor later that fall. She edits product and industry news for the print magazine as well as MMS Online. Stephanie completed her M.A. in professional writing at the University of Cincinnati in 2013, and also holds a B.A. in English literature and history from the University of Mount Union.
The lens shown in the upper right corner of the image has an RFID tag for monitoring and sending data to the operator of the TruLaser 3030 laser cutting machine seen below.
Radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags are tiny wireless devices that work like smarter UPC barcodes. Like a barcode, an RFID tag records information about a product or other item to which it is attached. However, unlike a barcode, the RFID tag can track information about its subject over time and does not need to be scanned to be read—it can send its data wirelessly to a reader via radio waves.
The applications for manufacturing are endless—process traceability, tool use monitoring and more. Here’s another: Trumpf’s TruLaser 3000 series laser cutting machines now feature an RFID-equipped lens to record important maintenance information. The RFID chip monitors the lens’s degree of contamination and tracks when it is cleaned. Having this information on hand means that operators only intervene when needed and visual inspections of the lens aren’t necessary. According to Trumpf, leveraging the RFID technology can reduce cleaning times by as much as 40 percent.
One challenge of five-axis machining is streamlining rapid positioning for the best possible tool paths. Movements that are too loose can waste time as the machine moves from point A to point B, but tighter motions can result in damaging collisions if miscalculated.
One possible solution is to use software that optimizes tool paths automatically, such as ICAM Technologies’ SmartPath technoogy. The program works by identifying inefficient or unsafe positioning movements and replacing them with minimized, collision-free motions based on factors such as machine tool kinematics and axis positioning rates. As illustrated in the video above, SmartPath produces tool paths that stay close to the workpiece for greater efficiency, but also anticipates and avoids potential collisions to protect the machine and workpiece.
The March spotlight highlights machining centers from builders including Makino, Mazak, Doosan
and Chiron (pictured above).
The Modern Equipment Review Spotlight section in our March issue delves into the world of machining centers, including machines ranging from compact VMCs to the large five-axis T1 machine from Makino (top image, above). Click through the slideshow for more on this month’s featured products or visit the Machining Centers & Milling Machines Zone for additional content.
NCSIMUL Machine 9.1 takes into consideration the 3D form of fiber ribbon
to simulate building up a workpiece.
Spring Technologies’ NCSIMUL Machine software is typically thought of as a means to simulate the path of a CNC cutting tool—used to remove material from a workpiece in conventional machining. However, the most recent release of this program is capable of simulating the addition of material. NCSIMUL Machine version 9.1 includes a “Composite” option that dynamically simulates laying fiber ribbon with NC machines. The option can alert users to composites-specific problems such as deviation caused by steering angle errors or the twisting of taut fibers. Learn more on the company’s website.
Of course, machining composites is more in our readership’s wheelhouse. Here are four articles that address the challenges machining those tough materials:
Students gather in the Student Skills Center at IMTS 2012 to participate in the Student Summit. The 2012 event attracted more than 9,300 students and educators from 17 states; organizers expect an even larger group in 2014.
Taking place at Chicago’s McCormick Place this September, the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) will welcome students, educators and parents to a special summit intended to promote manufacturing careers to young people. The Smartforce Student Summit (a rebranded version of 2012’s NIMS Student Summit) will include keynote addresses, technology demonstrations and interactive exhibits where students can experience manufacturing first-hand. For instance, 2012 attendees were able to practice their welding skills at a virtual welding station provided by Lincoln Electric, or climb inside the capsule used to rescue miners trapped in the Chilean mining accident in 2010.
In addition to checking out the cool technology, students can also meet some of the people behind it. During the Summit, the Student Skills Center will be staffed by MTAmbassadors, 20-something manufacturing professionals who will be available to talk to students and answer questions about careers in the industry. (See this blog post from October to watch a message from a group of these ambassadors.)
The free summit will take place September 8 to 12 in the Student Skills Center from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, and is open to middle school, high school and college students and their educators, administrators and parents. Visit here for program details, registration and additional information.