Peter Zelinski has been a writer and editor for Modern Machine Shop for more than a decade. One of the aspects of this work that he enjoys the most is visiting machining facilities to learn about the manufacturing technology, systems and strategies they have adopted, and the successes they’ve realized as a result. Pete earned his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and he first learned about machining by running and programming machine tools in a metalworking laboratory within GE Aircraft Engines. Follow Pete on Twitter at Z_Axis_MMS.
Two “Baxter” collaborative robots from Rethink Robotics are helping to disrupt what third-generation shop owner Bill Marcell describes as the previous “old school mentality” of Standby Screw Machine Products, the 76-year-old contract machining business in Berea, Ohio. Today, one of the new robots does packaging, freeing an employee from this work by packing two boxes at once, while another robot loads a milling machine in an automation application likely to save the company 1,000 person-hours per year.
Collaborative robots are easily redeployable robots that work safely close to people. Mr. Marcell and project manager Jess Horvath describe their experience with the new robots in this video produced by Rethink.
The workholding system that TRP Machine is calling the “MV16” is not actually a new product, but instead it is the way this Bohemia, New York job shop has held parts for machining for more than 20 years. Looking for a simple and inexpensive way to (A) hold several workpieces in one machining cycle, (B) hold a variety of different part numbers without setup changes, and (C) load and unload workpieces quickly from one machining cycle to the next, the shop devised a workholding system on its own able to realize those objectives. What is new now, says shop owner Roger Price, is that TRP has begun to manufacture the MV16 as a product available to other machine shops.
The system is essentially a single large plate embedded with eight independent and closely spaced double-acting vises. Each of the 16 jaw positions opens to a width of 3.25 inches, and clamps parts to a location repeatability of 0.0005 inch. Thus, 16 identical pieces can be quickly and precisely clamped for machining in the same setup, or 16 entirely different parts can be clamped into a single setup as well. Or, since the jaw positions lie in parallel, a row of four jaw positions at once can be used to clamp a workpiece up to 28 inches long.
Mr. Price says the system has been invaluable to TRP in allowing the shop to maintain high in-cut time percentages on its machining centers. The standard MV16 plate is 20.25 by 28.25 inches, but he says the system can also be customized to different sizes and even to a different number of vise positions. A tombstone version of the system uses four double-acting vises on each of four different faces to achieve a total of 32 jaw positions. Learn more from TRP Machine.
The UL AMCC will include various companies’ additive manufacturing machines, as suggested by the row of machines in this rendering.
The new Additive Manufacturing Competency Center created by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) has announced that registration is now open for its initial, hands-on course, Advanced Training on Metal Part Production, September 14-18. The UL AMCC says this course is the first of what will be a comprehensive technical and business curriculum on additive manufacturing.
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, adjacent to and in partnership with the University of Louisville, the UL AMCC was founded this year. It aims to be a hub for advancing process knowledge and workforce expertise in additive manufacturing. Future advanced courses will focus on materials as well as specific industry applications of AM such as medical, aerospace, automotive and consumer products. Class sizes will be limited to enhance student interaction and overall experience, UL says.
The first course, Advanced Training for Metal Part Production is for quickly advancing the knowledge and effectiveness of current AM users. The course follows this outline:
Day 1: Introduction to selective laser melting
Day 2: Design, process planning and set up
Day 3: Process parameters and post-process heat treatments
Day 4: Finishing and evaluation
Day 5: Implementation
Further, students will design and manufacture parts in this course as part of project teams.
Next year, when more UL AMCC courses are available, students will be able to meet the prerequisites for this advanced course through earlier courses at the center. For now, the prerequisites include experience with both additive and traditional manufacturing, including design and quality experience. Learn more here.
Using the hybrid grinder, this stator vane section was resurfaced via metal deposition, then machined to the part’s final tolerance via grinding.
To date, hybrid machine tools have combined additive manufacturing capability with milling and/or turning. But now, machine tool maker ELB-Schliff has introduced a grinding machine that is equipped for additive manufacturing. The hybrid version of the company’s “millGrind” is aimed at aerospace engine part production, producing part features both subtractively (through grinding and milling) and additively (through laser cladding). In other words, the machine can generate the features of precise, complex, critical components made aerospce alloys by applying both growing and grinding within a single cycle.
The additive capability comes from the laser metal deposition system from Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies that is integrated into the machine. Hybrid worked with ELB-Schliff on the machine’s development. The result, both companies believe, is the world’s first hybrid grinder.
The combination makes sense. Indeed, it could be argued that additive manufacturing is at least as good a fit with grinding as it is with other subtractive operations. Both CNC grinding and metal additive manufacturing are high-value processes typically performed on high-end machines. In addition, grinding is strong where additive is weak. Features produced additively generally require surface finish improvement, and surface finish is where grinding excels.
A statement from ELB-Schliff adds this: “Grinding particularly excels in cost-effectiveness for processing materials that are difficult to machine, such as nickel-based superalloys. The millGrind runs conventional grinding abrasives with superabrasive capability, and has an XYZ resolution of 0.1 micron. If hybrid milling takes additive manufacturing to a new level of productivity, then hybrid grinding takes additive manufacturing to a new level of precision.”
Local Motors released this video in conjunction with its announcement this week that it expects to have an electric car for sale to consumers next year, which will be made on-demand through additive manufacturing using the large-scale 3D printing system that has already been proven on previous 3D printed cars. Just one of the virtues of an additive approach to production is customizability within short lead times, and Local Motors says buyers of this new car will be able to customize it by choosing colors and trim.