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.
Magnetic tooling for robotic arms can be a useful alternative to end-effectors such as vacuum cups and pneumatic grippers. Unlike these devices, magnets need not rely on a constant stream of electricity for holding power. Other benefits of magnets include their lack of moving parts and flexibility to accommodate different types of workpieces.
DocMagnet’s Pick and Place (PNP) magnetic end-effectors, for example, use electricity only to switch the magnet on and off for reliability in the event that power is interrupted. The lack of moving parts helps the system last longer with little to no maintenance, and flexibility for various operations is possible. The video above shows the PNP system used on an LR Mate 200iC robotic arm from FANUC. As demonstrated in the video, the end-effectors can lift both round bar and flat workpieces interchangeably with ease.
Nonprofit Workshops for Warriors trains U.S. military veterans for manufacturing jobs.
(Photo provided by Workshops for Warriors.).
In the most recent issue of MMS Extra, I wrote a short piece reviewing some of the training programs we’ve covered in the past—Workshops for Warriors and Skills Inc., to name two. Both of these are somewhat unconventional; Workshops for Warriors trains U.S. military veterans for manufacturing careers, while Skills Inc. helps place individuals with physical disabilities in jobs where they can succeed.
But we’re curious: What other notable training programs are out there? Maybe you were a student there, or your company has hired its graduates. Or maybe you just heard about it through the grapevine. Let us know by joining the discussion on our LinkedIn group or by sending me an email.
April’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight focuses on turning centers and lathes, and many of the machines highlighted have features designed to ease turning operations in some way. A few examples include the integrated conveyor seen in the Emag VL 8 pick-up turning center (left); right- and left-hand Emco Maier VT160 Duo models that can be easily joined into a cell (upper right); a simpler spindle design that doesn’t require an adapter for collet use in the Hardinge GS 51 (middle right); and a removable guide bushing in the Nexturn SA 38PY Swiss-type lathe from Absolute (bottom right).
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.