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 29. March 2016

Improving a Popular Mill-Turn Control

Heidenhain has added new cycles and features to its TNC 640 high performance mill-turn control such as enhanced graphics, interpolation turning and gear hobbing capabilities.

While making shop visits I’ve noticed that most programmers and operators tend to prefer a particular make of machine control over others. Devotees of the Heidenhain TNC 640 contouring control for mill-turn machines will be pleased to learn of new features now available on this unit, in particular one that allows for hobbing external cylindrical and helical gear teeth.

Known as Cycle 880, this machining process is performed through synchronization of the tool and lathe spindles. The cycle positions the rotary axis to the required tilting position and performs the infeed movements to the workpiece in the radial direction, and the milling movements in the axial direction.

The latest version of the TNC 640 also includes a new graphics package with a CAD viewer that opens any *.Step, *.Iges and/or *.Dxf file and allows an operator to evaluate the workpiece at the control. In addition, a new interpolation turning feature is available that is especially well suited for manufacturing large, rotationally-symmetric sealing surfaces, the company says, and for machining the housings of components of power plant technology in energy generation applications.

The TNC 640’s new graphics package includes a CAD viewer that opens any *.Step, *.Iges and *.Dxf file and allows an operator to evaluate the workpiece at the control.

Machine tool builders will appreciate the optional Dynamic Collision Monitoring (DCM), for which Heidenhain created a M3D converter. This is a PC tool with which CAD files of components in the machining envelope can be merged, edited and added to the collision monitoring program. Watch a video of the TNC 640 here. Also consider making an appointment to visit the company’s five-axis machining lab in Schaumburg, Illinois, which features a new machining center equipped with the TNC 640 control.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 14. March 2016

Limiting the Lubrication with MQL

The Haas Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) system allows machine tool operators to drill holes, tap holes, cut molds and machine metal with little or no coolant by delivering a steady flow of compressed air and small quantity of cutting oil directly to the cutting tool or tap. This reduces heat, removes chips and provides lubrication—not much oil, but just the right amount to be effective. This extends tool life, the company says, and in some cases eliminates the requirement for coolant during milling operations. The system’s key features include:

  • An oil reservoir, spray nozzle and pressure-gage regulator
  • A needle atomizer valve located at the tip of the Automatic Air Gun (the AAG is required in conjunction with the MQL system)
  • The amount of oil delivered is set by the air-pressure regulator on the reservoir
  • The air supplied to the reservoir comes from the main air manifold on the machine
  • The system does not need a separate air line
  • The AAG air line is connected to the MQL reservoir
  • Recommended air pressure is between 40/60 psi (2.7/4.1 bar), depending on the type of oil

Haas lists benefits including reduced chip welding, improved part quality, a cleaner machine both inside and out, and chips that are dry and ready to be recycled. In some applications the company says that MQL eliminates the requirement for flood coolant. 

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 1. March 2016

Motion Meeting a Mega Success

The company’s new Flow-Assembly line began production in October of 2015, shaving lead times by a matter of weeks by performing all functions—including measurement and test grinding—without leaving the production line. 

Motion Meeting 2016, presented by United Grinding Group, took place February 19 at the Studer manufacturing and assembly facility in Thun, Switzerland. Members of the global trade press gathered with company representatives to attend the conference titled “The Flame of Passion,” and learn about the latest advances made by group members Studer, Schaudt and Mikrosa. 

Perhaps the most impressive part of the visit was a tour of the company’s new Flow-Assembly production line, which went online in October of 2015. The U-shaped line carries machines through 16 different workstations, with everything from laser measurement to grinding test runs conducted without removing the unit from the line, at the end of which the machine is complete and ready to be shipped. On average, the Flow-Assembly line has shaved some three weeks off of lead times, allowing the company to be more nimble and responsive to customer demands and changing market conditions.

Developments included the new Studer S131—bracketed by the S121 and S141—radius grinding machine, which has been designed to replace the older CT750 and CT960 universal internal cylindrical grinders. Technical features of the series include the StuderGuide guide system, StuderSim software, high-precision axis drives with linear motors, a direct-drive grinding spindle turret, and automatic swiveling of the workpiece table. It was designed primarily for mold and die making and machining complex parts, especially high-speed steel, carbide and ceramic, with demanding ID and OD profiles.

The Schaudt ShaftGrind series was also in the spotlight, providing flexible grinding with up to four wheels. The ShaftGrind S can be equipped with two spindles, whereas the L2 can handle up to four, operating simultaneously and cutting cycle times in half. Mikrosa Kronos centerless grinding machines feature Multiwheel Transmission Shaft Technology, which enables synchronous machining of bearing positions and spline diameters in a single plunge.

View this slideshow for a glimpse of what my colleagues and I witnessed at the United Grinding Group’s Motion Meeting 2016.

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 24. February 2016

Video: Efficiency on Tap

Extending the life of expensive cutting tools is always a goal. Toward that end, Emuge has introduced the Softsynchro 0 Tap Holder with coolant-through capability. It is designed for tap ranges #2-10 and M2-M8, while the existing Softsynchro 4 handles tap ranges 7/6-1 in. and M12-M30. Units are constructed from two separate, precision ground sections: the body and the shank. Elastomer springs separate the spindle from the tap, absorbing excessive axial forces and compensating for small errors in the machining process. Torque from the spindle is transferred seamlessly to tap via ball bearings riding in precision ground grooves. According to Emuge, the tap holder dramatically increases tool life in a rigid tapping environment, with tests showing an up to 4x increase in tool life.

A wide variety of shanks are available, including HSK, BT and SK, with adapters for more to cover most machine spindles. Watch the video above of the Softsynchro Tap Holder in action. 

Elastomer springs separate the spindle from the tap, absorbing excessive axial forces and compensating for small errors in the machining process.​

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 17. February 2016

Global Service App from Gleason

Gleason Corp. has unveiled its new Global Service App, providing customers around the world with a direct interface to the Gleason Global Services network. This innovative service may be downloaded for free via the Apple App Store (Apple iOS) or GooglePlay (Android). It is also available on the Gleason website. This new service app allows customers to:

  • Complete and submit service contact forms (including any photos) directly to Gleason field service personnel.
  • Access 24/7 service support contact information via push to dial/email functionality.
  • Browse the complete service product portfolio.
  • Obtain global sales and service contact information via push to dial/email functionality.
  • Learn about the latest Gleason service news and special offers.
  • Access the Gleason website and YouTube channel.

John Perrotti, president and CEO, says that “Gleason has the largest installed base of gear production equipment in the world, with machines in more than 60 countries. Our Global Services App is an initial step towards developing mobile tools to increase the velocity and effectiveness of its global technical support activities.”

Learn about Gleason’s power skiving process in Gear Production, a supplement to Modern Machine Shop magazine. 

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