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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 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.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 8. September 2014

Sandvik Coromant Spotlights Economic Contribution Made by Manufacturing

The CoroMill Plura line of thread mills is on display at Sandvik Coromant’s Booth W-1500, along with other cutting tools and technologies such as the Adveon Digital Tool Library.

According to data compiled by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), in 2013, manufacturing contributed $65,956.37 to the U.S. economy—every second. To drive this point home, Sandvik Coromant is assembling a mosaic made of coins totaling more than that figure at IMTS. The mosaic will be the largest of its kind, and representatives with Guinness World Records will be on hand to make the record official once the piece is completed in the Soldier Field parking lot A-2 on the north side of the East Building. The official unveiling takes place on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. Visitors are welcome to witness this unveiling or check out the record-setting mosaic from 7 a.m. Sept. 8 to 9 p.m. Sept. 10.

The economic contribution made by U.S. manufacturing is central to Sandvik Coromant’s message this year, followed by the country’s entry into the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” as IT shifts from information to intelligent technology. This has also been referred to as the “Internet of Things,” or IOT. Sandvik Coromant experts as well as partners from institutions such as CCAM (Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing) will address this issue at Booth W-1500. The company features a metal-cutting “e-learning” game where contestants compete against one another, with the top score being awarded a prize each day, leading to an unannounced grand prize at the show’s conclusion.

Three “virtual field trip” segments will be produced during the show under the theme “Technology Applied.” The episodes are hosted by Jeremy Bout of The Edge Factor and include visits to various booths to experience how the latest technology at IMTS meets manufacturing-related challenges. Focusing on topics such as 3D printing, high technology machining, medical, automotive and aerospace, the episodes will be available to schools around the country as a means of promoting science, engineering and manufacturing as exciting career choices.

With a host of products and technologies on display, Sandvik Coromant is emphasizing the Adveon Digital Tool Library (already being built into the software of several major CAD/CAM developers) improvements to the CoroCut QD system involving replacement blades and Quick Start shanks, the CoroCut Plura family of thread milling cutters and the stand-alone InvoMilling software for gear cutting on multi-axis machines.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 28. July 2014

Dollars and Sense

One way to save money on the shop floor is simply to use common sense. You may not realize it, but all the tiny delays add up to a ton of lost time, as do habits formed over the years that have gone unquestioned.    

Allan Arch, president of Southern Gear & Machine in Miami, Florida, began looking more closely at his own operations recently. Here are just a few of the changes he’s made:

  • After cutting his own barstock for years, Mr. Arch mentioned to his supplier what a time-consuming process it was. “Even though we had two saws running, it was basically a non-stop operation to get all of the barstock cut,” he says. His supplier offered to deliver the materials pre-cut. “They have saws that can handle a job that would take us all day in a matter of minutes. We’d just gotten used to the way things were and had never thought to ask if there were a better way.”

Southern Gear’s supplier can pre-cut barstock for a fraction of the cost, and in minutes rather than the hours required by the company’s own saws. 

  • Despite efforts to keep it orderly, the company’s tool crib had gotten messy over the years, so Mr. Arch and his colleagues developed an assignment for two of their summer interns. “As soon as they arrived they had a project to tackle,” he explains. “We showed them what we had, told them what we wanted and gave them all the resources they needed.” The result is a neat, color-coded storage area where it’s not only easy for workers to find the supplies they need, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep straight. “We literally saved months of lost time in the first few weeks that we had this new system in place,” Mr. Arch says.

Assigning interns to tackle revamping the company’s tool crib resulted in great experience for the students and an orderly system for the company.

  • Even better than an organized tool crib is a management system that makes tooling available to machine operators on the shop floor. New models do not require access cards, instead allowing users to obtain the tools they need by entering a password on a removable touchscreen. Southern Gear chose two Matrix Series 5 units—a “mini” and a “maxi”—from Ingersoll Cutting Tools for different areas of operation. “These devices bring the tools to the manufacturing area where workers can get to them easily while at the same time helping us monitor our stock levels, calculate CPU and estimate tool life.”

Tool management systems such as this provide much more than storage and convenience, also tracking stock levels and even tool wear. 

Read more about Southern Gear’s approach to streamlining operations in the August issue of Gear Production, a supplement to Modern Machine Shop magazine. 

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 24. June 2014

Taiwan Machine Tool Industry is Booming

Shelly Liu leads a tour of Gifu Enterprise Co. Ltd.

A recent press trip hosted by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) provided me with an insider’s view of the impressive strides being made within that country’s machine tool industry. Over five days we visited a total of 10 manufacturers of various machines, components and systems, as well as the Taiwan Machine Tool & Accessory Builders’ Association (TMBA), where we engaged in a question and answer session with Carl Huang, president. He described the industry’s desire to grow market share within countries such as the United States, Mexico and Canada, among others, and the efforts being made to support this endeavor. This includes formation of the M-Team Alliance, a collaboration between Taiwan’s machine tool manufacturers to help domestic companies boost product quality and international competitiveness. Having toured the manufacturing operations of the following companies, meeting with both executives and engineers, I can attest to the serious intent driving their efforts:

  • Tongtai—special purpose machines, vertical machining centers, lathes, horizontal machining centers (U.S. representative: Absolute Machine Tools, absolutemachine.com)
  • Honor Seiki (Tongtai Group)—vertical lathes, turning centers, grinding machines
  • Asia Pacific Elite Corp. (APEC, Tongtai Group)—high speed five-axis technology, industrial application technology
  • Yeong Chin Machinery Industries Co. Ltd. (YCM)—single- and double-column machining centers, horizontal machining centers, horizontal boring milling machining centers, CNC lathes, control software
  • Quaser Machine Tools Inc.—vertical, horizontal, five-axis, multi-face, five-axis and palletized machining centers
  • Goodway—multi-axis turning centers (five-axis, Swiss-type, twin spindle/twin turret machining centers), vertical and horizontal machining centers
  • Awea Mechantronic Co. Ltd. (Goodway Group)—five-face machining centers, five-axis machining centers, horizontal boring mills, bridge-type machining centers, vertical machining centers, tapping centers
  • Gifu Enterprise Co. Ltd.—automatic tool changers of all configurations
  • Tung Pei Industrial Co. Ltd. (TPI Bearings)—deep groove ball bearings, needle roller bearings, angular contact ball bearings for machine tools
  • Habor Precise Industries Co. Ltd.—machining center cooling systems

(View the slideshow here for a glimpse at what I saw at these facilities.)

Most, if not all, of these companies will be exhibiting at the upcoming IMTS event in Chicago, and the technologies being developed by these enterprises should not be overlooked. The Taiwan machine tool industry is becoming known for its attention to detail and the quality and versatility of its machining centers. Also consider attending the Taiwan International Machine Tool Show (TMTS) Nov. 5-9, 2014, at the Greater Taichung International Expo Center (GTIEC). Learn more at tmts.tw.

According to the 2014 World Machine Tool Output & Consumption Survey from Gardner Research, Taiwan is ranked seventh in worldwide production of machine tools; fourth in export; sixteenth in import; and tenth in consumption. Most of the companies I visited on this trip are in major growth mode, building new headquarters and production facilities. Their coordinated efforts are sure to make an impression around the globe in the coming years.

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