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.
While measurement and inspection are necessary parts of the manufacturing process, the right equipment and features can help reduce the time and operator involvement required and limit the number of machines and steps. Fully automated systems such as Parlec’s Apex profile measuring machine and those with one-touch measurement like the Mitutoyo Quick Image 2D optical measuring machine can speed this step while reducing operator error. Other systems emphasize flexibility and diverse capability, such as the Zeiss O-Inspect which can be equipped with three different sensors to accommodate a range of workpiece sizes.
Click the image above for a slideshow featuring these and other measurement and inspection products.
Many of the waterjet machining products covered in this month’s Modern Equipment Review spotlight feature advances that make them more economical solutions. A dual-tank waterjet from Techni, for instance, enables continuous operation because the operator can unload and load one tank while the other is cutting, just like a pallet changer in a machining center. Other cost-saving features are even more fundamental, such as a hydraulic intensifier pump available from Jet Edge that regulates its power draw for use in labs, schools and small shops.
Click the image above for a slideshow featuring these products and more.
Operations like deburring, polishing and removing grease are often necessary to deliver a final product, but the steps can be time-consuming, especially if the workpiece must be moved manually between machines. Saving time by performing these processes in-machine or automating the movement of workpieces between machines is a common theme among the cleaning and deburring equipment highlighted in this month’s product spotlight slideshow.
The Emag VLC 100 C chamfering machine, for example, features a pickup spindle and a conveyor at the same height as other Emag machines for easy installation into an automated cell or production line. In the same vein, German Machine Tools of America offers an entire line of parts washing equipment that supports conveyor integration.
Click the image above to view this month’s slideshow.
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.