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.
This robot cell used by an oil-industry manufacturer produces various parts in batch sizes of less than 100. Read more.
“This is an extremely exciting time to be involved in the robotics industry,” says Jeff Burnstein, president of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). His group reports that 2014 was the strongest year yet for robot demand in North America, with 27,685 robots valued at $1.6 billion ordered from North American companies. That was an increase of 28 percent in units and 19 percent in dollars over 2013.
The most significant industry driving this demand is automotive manufacturing, which increased its orders for robots by 45 percent over 2013. The most important application is arc welding or spot welding, each of which increased its demand for robots by around 57 percent over the previous year.
My own observations suggest that machine tending for unattended CNC machining—in many industries, not just automotive—must also be feeding the robot demand. And perhaps in 2015 this application will feed it to an even greater extent. Most shops I’ve spoken with lately are at least seriously considering an investment in robotic automation. One shop owner recently told me that his lender is more inclined to provide financing if the capital investment aims at lights-out machining. He is liable to buy a robot with his next new VMC for this reason.
Read more detail about robot demand in the RIA report. And for more on robots, robot-related products and successful applications of robotic automation in machining, visit our Robots & Automation Zone.
The surge in shale gas production is not just a game changer for the energy industry, but also a major positive development for U.S. manufacturing. That is the message of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report that says the “shale effect,” the increase in U.S. natural gas production, is likely to achieve annual cost savings for U.S. manufacturers of $22.3 billion per year by 2030. Read more.
Jim Carr and Jason Zenger have launched a new audio podcast devoted to the business of CNC machining. “MakingChips” landed on the iTunes “New and Noteworthy” list within two weeks of its launch.
Both hosts are based in the Chicago area. Mr. Carr is a job shop owner (we wrote about his shop here.), while Mr. Zenger is the president of an industrial supply company with a particular focus on cutting tools. The two friends say they’ve been planning the podcast and working toward the day of its launch throughout the previous year.
To listen to episodes, visit the podcast’s website, or subscribe via iTunes (for iPhone) or Stitcher (for an Android device).
The tool in this video shot at Effort Foundry is not drilling, but actually turning. A feature of the Siemens CNC on this Fryer machining center controls spindle revolution in time with the helical interpolation in X-Y-Z to move a single-point boring tool around the bore ID. That feature saves significant time and cost for the Bath, Pennsylvania, foundry, because the part seen here needs a turned finish on the precision bore, not the finish that would be produced if helical milling achieved the hole. The control feature therefore avoids the need for a separate setup on another machine.