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.
You probably didn’t know how effective your machining center could be at OD turning. A tool like the one seen here can make it possible to machine precise cylindrical features of an otherwise odd-shaped part without resorting to a lathe, and doing so in a way that achieves finishes superior to what circular milling can achieve. The tool shown here is supplied by Big Kaiser, which prepared this article on the various tooling types that might be used for OD turning on a machining center.
NanoSteel produced the video here, as well as this related video, to describe its recent success at applying additive manufacturing to build high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite parts. The metal matrix composite in these builds combines steel in two phases, a hard phase embedded in a ductile phase. Achieving this combination through laser sintering permits parts with high hardness to be additively grown without the cracking that often hinders additive manufacturing of hard steels. NanoSteel sees this success opening the door to additive manufacturing of cutting tools, bearings, dies and downhole equipment. Read more from the company here.
Sandvik Coromant used the recent International Manufacturing Technology Show as an opportunity for outreach to the next generation of manufacturing professionals. The cutting tool maker funded a virtual field trip to IMTS consisting of three video episodes that were filmed at the show, edited at the show and broadcast to 200 schools while the show was underway. Find links to all three episodes below. Consider sharing these episodes with the kids in your life, particularly if it helps them understand where you go and what you see when you make your own trip to IMTS.
Called “Technology Applied,” the IMTS virtual field trip was hosted by Jeremy Bout of Underhouse Studio. The still above, from the Automotive episode, shows Mr. Bout talking to Derrin Barber of Doosan in this company's booth. Here are links to the episodes:
When tool-and-die and contract machine shop Baklund R&D developed a workholding device to solve a challenge with one of its own jobs, the company realized it potentially had a solution that could benefit many other shops as well. The “Expandable Collet Pin” is now a standard product marketed by Baklund Workholding, a sister company to the shop.
The video shows how the Expandable Collet Pin facilitates the reuse of soft jaws on machining-center vises. The pin simply requires 1/2-inch holes to be drilled in vise faces (as Baklund R&D has now done throughout its shop). Whereas aluminum soft jaws are often considered disposable because of the difficulty with relocating them for reuse, the pin provides for secure and repeatable clamping. To secure the jaw, it expands within the hole as it is tightened—holding to 480 pounds of pull force and locating to ±0.0003 inch, the company says.
This solution evolved from a clamping challenge related to a large forging that lacked straight sides. After some initial ideas failed to hold the part well, Baklund R&D at last hit upon creating a 4-inch-diameter expanding collet pin to grip the component within a large bore that was a feature of the part. Watching how well and how consistently this collet held the part, shop owner Jon Baklund realized he could apply the same solution to workholding using collet pins scaled down to a smaller size.
In fact, because of the repeatable locating with the pins, jaws can be turned, flipped and accurately re-located. That means four different edges can be used to clamp four different parts with a single set of jaws. The video emphasizes this advantage.
The Expandable Collet Pin provides secure clamping by expanding within a 1/2-inch hole. Samples of the pin are seen here. (The tray was made through 3D printing, a part-making capability that Baklund R&D also employs.)
The editorial staff of Modern Machine Shop just returned from a busy week at the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show, the largest manufacturing trade show in North America. Here are some quick, initial impressions of what made this year’s IMTS distinctive:
1. Attendance. The big story at IMTS this year was the number of people who came. Registered attendees numbered 114,147, up 14 percent from the previous show.
2. Additive Manufacturing. Attendees were hungry for information about additive manufacturing, specifically how additive manufacturing could be applied to part production. Exhibits of hybrid machine tools (machines combining additive manufacturing and CNC machining) were frequently mobbed, as were the booths of established additive manufacturing companies who are relatively new exhibitors to this show. An additive manufacturing workshop that took place in one of the largest conference spaces at the show was filled to capacity, and the Q&A portion of the program (which I moderated) had to be cut off after it went long. It turns out that the choice on the part of the show organizers to spotlight a 3D printed car at the show this year was particularly fitting.
3. Automation. I wish I had a count of the number of robots at the show this year. Articulating arms were in motion everywhere. Machine tool builders throughout the show made a point of demonstrating their ability to integrate with robots. Meanwhile, robot makers promoted their ease of integrating with machine tools. Even exhibitors related to cutting tools and workholding demonstrated robots in roles such as tool management and machine setup. If there is one thing that IMTS exhibitors as a whole seem to perceive, it is that IMTS attendees are aiming to achieve more integrated and less labor-dependent processes.
4. Oil and Gas Industry. Historically, the industries targeted at IMTS include automotive, aerospace and medical. Now, another industry segment has risen to take its place alongside these: the oil and gas sector. The strength of U.S. energy production has affected the shape and capabilities of manufacturing equipment, with exhibitors throughout the show offering large-bore turning machines and large-table machining centers, as well as workholding appropriate to this equipment.
5. Youth. The Student Summit, the area of IMTS dedicated to children high school age and younger, was a resounding success. I have not yet seen numbers on how many young people attended the show, but when I visited the Student Summit, I found it swarming with busloads of enthusiastic kids. Various IMTS exhibitors invested to create additional, youth-oriented exhibits for this special area of the show. Given the number of exhibitors participating in this way—and given the care, color and interest they put into their exhibits—the Student Summit has now grown in scope and significance to become like an additional pavilion of the show.
6. Young Professionals. This was the first IMTS at which I perceived a clear changing of generations in manufacturing. I’ve often maintained that manufacturing has skipped the so-called Generation X—people currently in their 40s. This was the generation discouraged from so-called “factory work,” so there aren’t many of us (I am an X-er myself) to be found in this field. But at IMTS this year, I saw plenty of engaged manufacturing professionals one generation younger than this. Established manufacturing professionals in their 60s are now being joined by up-and-comers who are in their 20s.
7. Buying Activity. When I talked to exhibitors at the show about the high attendance this year, they often responded with statements along the lines of “Yeah, and they are buying.” Attendees to the show this year came ready or nearly ready to commit to significant purchases. That would be consistent with own forecasting model, which predicts a surge in machine tool purchases next year. As one exhibitor explained to me, there has now been well over a decade of under-investment in U.S. manufacturing capital equipment. Manufacturing activity has been high for long enough, and the forward-looking prospects remain sufficiently strong, that it is now time to undertake major investments.