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 20. May 2016

Doosan Technical Center Offers Collaborative Environment

Those attending the grand opening of Doosan’s new Technical Center included customers, members of the trade press, the company’s U.S. distributors and industry partners.

Officials at Doosan Machine Tools marked the opening of its new Technology Center in Pine Brook, New Jersey, earlier this month. The event was attended by the company’s customers, members of the trade press, and representatives from many of Doosan’s official North and South American distributors, including Ellison Technologies, Doosan’s newest U.S. distributor. Technical presentations by the company and its partners—Samchully, Royal Products, Renishaw, MD Tooling, among others—were also conducted during the event.

Along with his colleagues at Doosan Machine Tools, Young Kyun Choi, CEO (at far right with microphone), made opening remarks to the crowd preceding the cutting of the ribbon.

According to Young Kyun Choi, CEO, the center will offer a collaborative environment in which customers and other industry partners can see more than a dozen machines in action and work with Doosan technicians and engineers on special projects. Among the machine tools on display were:

  • DNM 400 II 5AX—five-axis vertical machining center
  • HP 5100 II + LPS—horizontal machining center with linear pallet system
  • Puma MX1600 ST-735—multitasking turning center
  • Puma TT1800SY—multitasking mill/turn center

Mr. Choi says the opening of the Technical Center signals Doosan’s renewed commitment to its end-users throughout North America to develop new machining processes that are tailored to each customer’s specific applications.

Doosan experts were on hand at each machine to answer customer’s questions about machine tools as well as resources that will be available at the Technical Center.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 6. May 2016

Simplify Setups with 3D-Modeling Software

Renishaw describes FixtureBuilder as a 3D-modeling software package that enables offline creation and documentation of fixturing setups.

You can have the most powerful machine tool on the market, loaded with an array of advanced cutting tools, but if your workpiece isn’t held firmly in place, it’s all for nothing. New software not only allows for the creation of rock-solid fixturing configuration on your computer monitor, but also makes it easier to seek the quickest and most efficient setups as well.

The software by Renishaw is called FixtureBuilder, which is described as a 3D-modeling software package that allows for the offline creation and documentation of fixturing setups. Primary benefits include clear, well-organized component libraries; intelligent “drag and drop” functionality; quick manipulation of parts; and an easy-to-use constraint mechanism.

In addition to full CAD compatibility and the availability of custom libraries, the “build it” function automates the production of work instructions and a bill of materials for every fixture setup. This helps ensure compliance with quality standards and also assists with product ordering. Introduced at the Control 2016 show in Stuttgart, Germany, more information is available here.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 26. April 2016

An Exercise in Part Production

One of the most popular conference tracks at the PMPA National Technical Conference were sessions in which prints—and often part samples—with certain key parameters were provided to groups for roundtable discussions of the best way to machine the part. 

When visiting a shop, I am particularly interested in the process behind determining the best way to machine a part from the prints provided by the customer. So many things must be taken into consideration—in fact, nothing can be left to chance. In order to meet the customer’s requirements, and to reach the lowest cost per part in order to win the bid, here are the top 12 considerations I’ve noted, although there are certainly more depending on the part in question:

  • Best machine tool/process
  • Risks/benefits of each process
  • Geometry/features of the part
  • How to machine with fewest setups/lowest cycle times
  • The best approach to workholding/fixturing
  • Best type of stock to use
  • How much cross-drilling and backworking, etc., will be required?
  • Best means of conducting measurement/inspection
  • Chip generation (types, amounts, etc.)
  • What is the purpose of the part?
  • How will deburring be accomplished?
  • What type of surface finish is required?

I was able to witness an especially intense example of this exercise at the recent Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) National Technical Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 9-12 (go here for my review in Production Machining magazine). In addition to the presentations made during the three-day event—Rotary Transfer, Speeds and Feeds, CNC Programming, Additive Manufacturing, Exotic Materials, etc.—I sat in on a group discussion among operators, engineers and programmers as they worked from a blueprint to identify the optimal machines, tooling and processes for manufacturing the part in question. Three of the sessions were structured in this way.

Each team, generally consisting of five to six members, discussed the plan and the related part to begin developing a machining approach. Everything from part geometry, to material, to machining methods and tooling were examined, including deburring and surface finishing.

It was fascinating to observe the thought process behind deciding how you get from a hunk of metal to a detailed, often geometrically complex finished part with the lowest cycle times, the fewest setups, and a process where each step logically leads to the next. I’ve sat down with individual shop owners (see this article from a recent issue) as they’ve explained the logic behind their decisions, but to witness a group discussion in which everyone discussed their personal experiences—both victories and failures—and the tricks they’ve learned along the way for making deburring part of a machining step, or developing fixturing that made setups easier to accomplish gave me new respect for all the thought and planning that goes into machining parts from raw materials. 

The audience was a mix of engineers, programmers and machine tool builders. Their different perspectives and experiences made for lively conversations. 

At the conclusion of the discussion period, a representative of each table addressed the hall, describing the group’s machining path, including the reasoning behind the decisions they’d made. Once their presentations had been made a member of the company that provided the part and print—in this case, Don Corwin of Buell Automatics—revealed the backstory, including the part’s history, intended usage, and current manufacturing status.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 20. April 2016

New Grinding Wheel Emphasizes Operator Comfort

Improving workplace ergonomics pays dividends by minimizing operator fatigue and providing more time devoted to completing the task at hand. That’s especially true with hand grinding operations such as deburring and eliminating welding seams. It also stands to reason that a grinding wheel is easier to use because it’s removing material efficiently and retaining its abrasive qualities longer.  

Although the new Norton Quantum3 (NQ3) depressed center grinding wheel from Saint-Gobain Abrasives has additional features as well, I found it interesting that operator comfort was listed as one of its primary attributes. This is accomplished, the company says, by using a proprietary grain along with a tougher bond system containing a unique combination of fillers and bonding agents that allow for much better mix quality in manufacturing. As a result, the wheel provides substantially faster grinding for more metal removal and longer tool life with less operator fatigue, at the same time significantly increasing grinding output. In fact, tests conducted against competitive wheels indicated that NQ3 removed almost twice the amount of carbon steel at 5-minute intervals.

The new wheels are offered in 12 Type 27 all-purpose grinding application SKUs, one Type 28 all-purpose and two Type 27 SKUs for foundry applications. Sizes range from 4" × ¼" × 3/8", to 9" × ¼" to 7/8". Watch this video of the NQ3 in action in addition to downloading a white paper and product brochure, and read this article about Norton’s efforts to enable gear manufacturers to grind large, high-quality gears directly from a blank.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 5. April 2016

Opening up to the Options

The DWS 250-4 vertical center for turning shaft-type parts is one of the Rasoma machine tools now available through the GMTA.

It’s always interesting to encounter equipment brands with which I am not familiar while visiting machine shops. Whether the machining center was built in Europe, Asia or elsewhere, it seems to signify a growing openness among machine shop owners to consider products built by OEMs from around the world. One such line is Rasoma, a company launched nearly a century ago and headquartered in Döbeln, Germany, that is now represented throughout North America by German Machine Tools of America (GMTA).

Used primarily for gear making, Rasoma machining centers primarily target the automotive powertrain, off-highway and other high-performance markets. The line includes vertical turning centers, four-axis shaft turning centers, end machining, double spindle and various special purpose machining centers with full automation.

Rasoma machines for gear milling, hobbing and shaping are available in a variety of configurations. According to the company, they offer high rigidity due to separate X and Z slides. In addition, the machine head is designed as a monoblock with polymer concrete fill. Thermal stability is enhanced by cooled motor spindles, and rapid traverse rates range to 60 m/min. at high acceleration, with feed and removal speeds ranging to 120 m/min.—less than 6 sec. from part to part, and turret indexing typically under 1 sec.

GMTA is a supplier of gear making, laser and finishing machines and systems with locations in the United States and Mexico. Watch this video of heavy crankshaft machining on a Rasoma FZS-3200 modular manufacturing center. Also, consider Techspex a resource in your search for the right machine tool for your particular application. 

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