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Russ Willcutt

Russ Willcutt joined Gardner Business Media as associate editor of Modern Machine Shop in January of 2014. He began his publishing career at his alma mater, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he produced magazines for the Schools of Engineering, Business, and Medicine, among others. After working as group managing editor for the HealthSouth Corp. he joined Media Solutions Inc., where he was founding editor of Gear Solutions, Wind Systems, and Venture magazines before heading up the Health Care Division for Cahaba Media Group.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 25. November 2014

Okuma’s Aim Is True

Okuma has released a series of videos demonstrating how its CNC machines are used in manufacturing gun parts. The six videos currently posted on YouTube demonstrate the machines and processes necessary to manufacture the following parts:

  • Rifle Stock Mold—In the video embedded above, a five-axis vertical machining center cuts a custom-designed rifle stock mold
  • AR15 Upper—A horizontal machining center machines an AR15 upper
  • Gun Barrel Extension—Cut on a horizontal lathe, the machining of this gun barrel extension uses a variety of cutting tools and operations
  • Commemorative Plaque—this video shows the CNC milling of a gun-shaped plaque for a firearms event
  • 1911 Trigger Housing—Machining of a 1911 trigger housing using a vertical machining center equipped with a rotary table
  • Gun Cylinder—A .50 caliber revolver cylinder is cut on a three-turret horizontal lathe 

There are clearly opportunities for growth in this market. According to the Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report compiled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (U.S. Dept. of Justice), some 8,578,610 guns—including pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and miscellaneous firearms—were manufactured in 2012, the last year for which complete figures are available. This is up from 6,541,886 in the same categories manufactured in 2011. Have you had success working in this particular market? Share your story here. 

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 19. November 2014

A Case Study in Craftsmanship

Andrew Heath points to our location on a model of the SMTCL campus in Shenyang, China, before an equipment monitoring display that can also be accessed via handheld devices such as tablets. Click here for more photos from the tour.
 

My recent two-day tour of the Shenyang Machine Tool Co., Ltd. (or SMTCL, a part of SYMG) manufacturing facility in Shenyang, China, and its main foundry in nearby Liaozhong (another is located in Xifeng) revealed a company in control of every stage of production, from mold-making to casting, assembly and shipping. With its own sheet-metal works and paint shop, SMTCL is truly an A-Z operation. 

With service/technical centers in the United States and Canada, and locations throughout Germany devoted primarily to engineering and R&D, the main manufacturing campus in Shenyang employs some 14,000 people (18,000 worldwide) and is said to produce approximately 80,000 machine tools each year. These machines include CNC boring machines, the TPX line of manual boring machines and vertical and horizontal CNC milling and turning centers, including five-axis models. In fact, there are more than 300 models in production.

The company acquired Schiess of Germany in 2004, adding huge gantry-type boring and milling centers to its portfolio. Also, the company recently launched the new i5 CNC control developed at SMTCL’s R&D facility in Shanghai after six years and an investment of some $150 million.

My invitation to tour the facilities (along with another trade editor from Japan) signaled a move toward greater transparency in preparation for expanding SMTCL’s footprint in the global market. I was encouraged to take photographs and ask questions through Import & Export General Manager Andrew Heath, our host and guide.

Beginning in the carpentry shop, where wooden forms are constructed by master woodworkers based on the finished castings so they can be reproduced in the future, the sense of craftsmanship extended through all stages of manufacturing. The foundry was an impressive operation, with the latest technologies producing uniform castings for shipment to SMTCL’s assembly works as well as customers located around the world. The ISO/TS16949:2009 quality management system has been fully implemented at the foundry.

Assembly lines are well-organized, with all necessary tools and materials close at hand. The machines proceed through each station in an orderly and synchronized fashion, with technicians attaching components, running electrical wiring, sealing enclosures and measuring dimensions with laser scanners. Whether smaller VMCs or hulking gantry mills are being assembled, work areas are clean, spacious and well-lit.

After touring the facilities, I asked about the company’s strategic plans for growth. A new manufacturing facility for tapping machines will soon go online in Guangdong, and the search for a manufacturing site in the United States is ongoing, says Jerry McCarty, COO of SMTCL-Americas. It will be interesting to watch this company continue to establish itself outside of Asia, and particularly in the North American marketplace.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 9. October 2014

Made in Milan: Bi-Mu 2014

Classic Ferraris along the Onda Rossa (Red Wave) made clear the connection between automotive production and the Italian machine tool industry.

A line of gleaming Ferraris welcomed those attending the Bi-Mu/SFORTEC machine tool show Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 2014, in Milan, Italy. On display at the Onda Rossa, or the “Red Wave,” the sleek vehicles made an immediate connection between the renowned automaker and the Italian machine tool industry.

Between the 1,060 exhibitors at the biennial show, 47 percent of whom hailed from outside Italy, some 3,000 machines were on display. New features included the CIS-RP&3D area, devoted to additive manufacturing, and Focus Mecha-Tronic, showcasing optimized machine management and connectivity. Pianeta Giovani (Planet Youth) attracted high school students keen on learning about careers in manufacturing, and there were educational sessions available for all attendees. The show also served as the platform announcing the launch of The Italian Additive Manufacturing Association (AITA) with Luis Galdabini—president of Cesare Galdabini Spa and head of UCIMU-Sistemi Per Produrre, the official sponsor of Bi-Mu—serving as the association’s first president.

News that Bi-Mu had been awarded “sustainable event” status by ICIM, the Italian independent certification body, for best ecological practices buoyed the spirits of all those attending the show.

Click here for a brief slideshow of things that caught my eye during the show. 

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 23. September 2014

Video: The HardFinisher from Praewema

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The German machine tool builder Praewema presented its new HardFinisher technology at the recent International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago. In the video above, you’ll see the twin-spindle HardFinisher perform the complete machining of workpieces with internal or external gears.

In grinding operations, the standard approach to machining these parts has always involved passing them through two independent machine tools; one for grinding the bore and the face, and the other for grinding the gears. The HardFinisher is designed to perform both operations on a single machine, the company says.

In the initial phase, or the “first clamping,” the bore and face of the workpiece is machined, involving either grinding, hard turning, or a combination of both. Gear flanks are machined in the second phase. Continuous-generated grinding or honing utilizing a dressable ceramic tool can be performed on workpieces with external gears. The grinding wheel is balanced automatically by a dynamic system that is integrated into the spindle, the company says. Depending on the batch size, either a universal diamond dressing disc or a diamond-coated dressed gear can be used. Workpieces with internal gears are machined with gear-shaped, diamond-coated tools.

Various automation systems can be integrated due to the unit’s vertical‚ pickup design, with the spindles handling both loading and unloading of the workpieces. A single spindle can be used, or both simultaneously, and measurement devices can be mounted in-line. Robots and/or conveyor systems can easily be attached as well. 

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 18. September 2014

Sandvik Coromant Breaks World Record While Supporting Industry

The completed mosaic is unveiled before an enthusiastic crowd. It measures 840 square feet, surpassing the previous record holder by 24.76 square feet.

Sandvik Coromant made history during the recent IMTS event in Chicago, breaking the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Largest Coin Mosaic.” The mosaic incorporated more than $65,000 worth of coins, which is the amount that manufacturing contributes to the U.S. economy each second, the company says.

The money used in the creation of the mosaic will be donated to The Manufacturing Institute, which is committed to delivering leading-edge information and services to the nation’s manufacturers.

“While achieving this Guinness World Record is an enormous accomplishment for the industry itself, it is truly gratifying to know that the sum of the coins used, as well as additional donations from event sponsors, will benefit the growth of our industry and the future generations that strive to keep it alive,” says Klas Forsström, president of Sandvik Coromant. “The overall goal in creating this mosaic was to raise awareness about the vital role manufacturing plays in the U.S. economy and the advantageous career opportunities it presents our children for the future.”

To symbolize the importance of career development within the industry, the mosaic’s design illustrates a manufacturing worker holding a gear surrounding a globe, highlighting North America. A set of rising bar graphs further depicts the growth manufacturing has brought to the U.S. economy, while the words “Manufacturing Our Future” headlines the entire image. The final mosaic, comprised of more than 214,000 dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and penny coins, covered an area of more than 840 square feet, surpassing the previous record holder by 24.76 square feet.

Top Photo: The final coins are placed by representatives of Sandvik Coromant, including its president, Klas Forsström, third from left. Bottom Left Photo: The official certificate is bestowed by Guiness World Records to Mr. Forsström. Bottom Right Photo:  The mosaic is carefully measured by a representative of Guiness World Records.

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