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.
Manufacturers are often closet inventors. People who work with machine tools frequently see ideas for retail products they could produce on these machines—if only there was a way to develop and test the market for that product. Now, Kickstarter potentially offers a way to begin. Kevin Saruwatari of manufacturing firm Qsine recently launched this Kickstarter page to test the interest in his idea for a retail product, a heatsink and enclosure for the Raspberry Pi computer.
Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing website for funding entrepreneurs. Inventors and artists promote their ideas on the site, and donors pledge large or small amounts (as small as $1) to support the ideas they like. If a project obtains the pledges needed to go forward, then the entrepreneur collects the money. If not, the backers aren’t charged.
Mr. Saruwatari hopes this test case with Kickstarter succeeds, because he aims to use this channel to develop other ideas for machined products. In the video on his Kickstarter page, he discusses the 9-axis mill-turn capability he would use to produce the enclosure. As you watch the video and consider supporting the project, perhaps you’ll also see possibilities for advancing a retail product idea you have in mind? It would be great to see machining businesses start to find new opportunities and new customers through this channel.
In the cover story of the latest issue of Additive Manufacturing, a researcher with Oak Ridge National Laboratory describes how additive manufacturing changes basic assumptions about the design of manufactured parts. Another article describes Ford’s use of 3D printing in sand to produce prototype casting molds. Read the digital edition. To subscribe to Additive Manufacturing, go here.
Metal parts produced through additive manufacturing almost invariably need machining as a follow-up step. Only the subtractive process can achieve the most narrow tolerances and smoothest finishes. Far from being opposite or competitive processes, additive manufacturing and CNC machining actually go together. They belong in the same machine.
At least, that is the thinking of Sauer Lasertec. This company, known for machines that perform material removal through laser ablation, has been working with DMG Mori USA to develop a hybrid machine tool combining laser metal deposition for additive manufacturing with five-axis CNC milling. Sauer Lasertec is also part of the DMG Mori group. The hybrid machine—operating now as a concept model, but planned for launch next year—will be presented at the Euromold show in December in Frankfurt, Germany.
The 2-kW diode laser head locates in the machine’s spindle with an HSK interface. For the shift to machinining mode, this head swivels to a protected parking area. By using laser deposition to build up the part, while employing milling throughout the process to machine critical features as the part is taking shape, the machine can produce a component through additive manufacturing while also producing it to its completed tolerances within the same cycle. Yet this single-setup processing is not the only benefit of the combination.
“By combining additive manufacturing with milling in one machine, additive technologies are no longer limited to small workpieces,” says Gregory A. Hyatt, senior vice president and CTO of DMG Mori Advanced Solutions Development. “Our focus is to create a solution for larger workpieces found in industries such as aerospace, mold/die and energy.”
Fast deposition rates are key, he says. The laser depostion process works by spraying metallic powder into the laser beam. The company reports that the build rate of up to 3.5 kg per hour is up to 20 times faster than laser sintering, an accepted metal additive manufacturing process. As the material is rapidly added in this way, CNC milling can be employed wherever fine precision is needed.
The machine to be shown at Euromold is based on DMG Mori’s DMU 65 machinining center, which has 650 mm of travel in X and Y. Another promising application of this machine is repair, modification or coating of the relatively large parts that these travels can accommodate. Repair of dies and molds is one example. Another is completing components for the oil and gas sector, in which Inconel is used for corrosion resistance. In this application, the machine could be used to add Inconel coating or Inconel features to a base part made from a different metal.
Ford Motor Company produced this video of its process for forming sheet metal directly from the CAD model, without any need for a die. Robots from FANUC Robotics use a stylus to shape the sheet metal into the desired form. Parts that otherwise might have required months of leadtime for die tooling can be manufactured within days of being designed.
Eliminating tooling is a theme with Ford. We have also covered the company’s use of 3D printing in sand to eliminate patterns in prototype casting.