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.
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.
Machine shops are accustomed to thinking in terms of thousandths of an inch, but what about thousandths of a second? This blog post from manufacturing marketing firm Krixis Consulting claims that visitors to a website form an impression about it (and the company behind it) in 50 thousandths of a second.
That is not fair. In an ideal world, a machine shop would be judged entirely on its machining performance, not the design of its website. But, of course, life isn’t fair. Arguably, marketing isn’t fair, either.
In making the case for why a machining business needs a strong website, that same blog post summarizes the impression that good and bad websites make. The website that is flat, dated, confusing or difficult to understand says that the company behind that website is:
Oblivious to what others think.
Content to advertise itself poorly (so imagine what its product is like).
Meanwhile, the website that is up-to-date, engaging and interesting says that the company is:
Striving to stay ahead of changing times.
Willing to put extra effort into something others avoid (so imagine what it will do for a customer).
Proud of its brand, and not inclined to cut corners when the impression of that brand is at stake.
Paulson Training Programs provides training content and services for the plastics industry, but much of what it has to say in this knowledge center is relevant to CNC machining facilities as well. The company points out that there is a bias among manufacturers toward investing in machines rather than investing in employee training. Why? One reason is the possibility that the trained employee might leave. However, another reason is the fact that the ROI for new equipment purchases is much easier to calculate. The costs of not training are hard to see. However, as Paulson points out, the facility that is not paying for training is probably paying for the lack of training, because those costs are very real.
For example, how much income is lost by accepting inefficient production as normal? Or by frequently scrapping parts or making corrections because of recurring mistakes? Paulson created these charts to illustrate the cost of unnecessary cycle time, downtime and rejects (again, tailored to the plastics industry, but still relevant). These are the ongoing costs that an investment in training can overcome.