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Peter Zelinski

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.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 11. December 2014

United Technologies Optimization Tool Added to Vericut

Machining verification and simulation software developer CGTech says it prefers to develop its software capabilities internally rather than licensing capabilities that were developed outside. It made an exception in the case of Vericut Force, a physics-based machining optimization tool newly made available for the company’s Vericut software. This resource was developed not by another software company, but by manufacturer United Technologies Corporation, or UTC, the OEM owner of Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, Otis Elevator and other industrial brands.

Within UTC, streamlining machining processes using the optimization tool, which was formerly called PromptFM, has cut some cycle times by 50 percent. The company manufacturing leaders and researchers involved in developing the utility therefore want to see it used by company suppliers (ultimately saving cost for UTC). To realize this hope, however, the company needed an established software provider willing to back the product and support its users. Allowing CGTech to adopt it was the answer.

Vericut software from CGTech already has machining feed rate optimization capability. This existing optimization is based on the simulated sweep of the tool’s envelope through the workpiece material. Feed rate changes are calculated from changes in the area of the tool’s material engagement throughout the cut. By contrast, Vericut Force’s optimization draws on modeling of the cut based on metalcutting theory combined with machining experimentation. UTC researchers ran and monitored cutting trials with various tools at various conditions, then interpolated within those results and iteratively refined the software until it produced recommendations that accord with real-world testing.

CGTech says the result is more effective optimization of the cut when cutting conditions are unusual or extreme. Its existing optimization and Vericut Force produce similar results during typical roughing in freer-machining metals, but in finishing hard metals with complex cutter contact conditions, for example, the UTC system offers feed rate recommendations that are nearer to the ideal for that cut.

The initial release of Vericut Force is to UTC companies and their suppliers. The existence of this potential customer base was part of the business case that made licensing the external software product appealing to CGTech. After proving out the new option with these customers, the company says it will extend its availability to the rest of Vericut’s users.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 26. November 2014

Hiring Consultant Shares How to Evaluate Soft Skills

Tony Staub (left) has dramatically changed what he looks for in evaluating machine-shop employees. At the two links in the text below, find our original article describing the shop owner’s change, and also read some additional insights provided by the hiring consultant Mr. Staub works with.

Readers of our recent article describing Staub Machine’s change in hiring philosophy—the shop now hires for personal strengths instead of aiming for metalworking skills—asked about the role of the consultant mentioned in the article. The consultant, whom the article does not name, helps this shop evaluate prospective hires for attributes such as communication ability and the capacity to learn.

His name is Patrick Crotty. The firm he founded is PXC Associates in Orchard Park, New York. He works with various manufacturers on recruitment, and he says the place to evaluate candidates’ soft skills is in the interview. Most hiring managers dislike interviews and have too little experience with them, he says, so they end up doing most of the talking. I recently reached out to him, and he shared these thoughts on evaluating prospective manufacturing employees.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 29. October 2014

Ensuring Accuracy by Containing Coolant

The word “coolant” is deceptive. Coolant in machining is a heat-transfer device. While the fluid cools the cut by transporting heat away from the work zone, it carries that heat to wherever the coolant then lands.

Toyoda says it engineered its new GE4-i cylindrical grinder in part with attention to the thermal effects that might come from heat transfer via coolant. The machine is seen here at this year’s IMTS, where it debuted. The company says the machine’s redesigned casting contributes to thermal stability by capturing and channeling the coolant that falls from the workzone in order to isolate it from the structure of the machine.

Another feature of the GE4-i is an icon-driven and user-friendly control interface, which is valuable in part as manufacturers adapt to the difficulty of finding skilled labor in grinding. More on that here.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 23. October 2014

Weldon-Flat Tools in a Precision Toolholder

Systems for locking end mills in place within a shrink-fit or hydraulic expansion toolholder, so that there is no danger of the tool pulling out during high-force cuts using a toolholder of this type, often require the shank of the tool to be modified for clamping.

However, there is one standard class of tools that already has a shank modified for clamping: tools with Weldon flats.

Schunk recently introduced a system that makes use of the Weldon flat for clamping during high-force milling with a precision holder. The system, seen here as it was displayed at this year’s IMTS, is based on the company’s Tendo line of hydraulic-expansion toolholders. As seen in this model, a metal sleeve holds the tool, clamping on the Weldon flat. That sleeve then provides the surface for the screw that locks the tool in the holder for the high-force milling typical of aerospace materials such as titanium and Inconel.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 21. October 2014

Video: Trial Cuts with Ultrasonic-Assisted Machining

A video created by Acoustech Systems includes footage of holes being drilled with and without ultrasonic-assisted machining. This company’s newly developed system is essentially a toolholder that has ultrasonic actuation built in. Adding this toolholder to the process can actually increase a shop’s machining capacity, because standard machines and tools can cut faster thanks to the friction reduction that the ultrasonic effect achieves. Comparison cuts in the video seen here show a standard drill doubling its speed and cutting more smoothly in both 1-inch-thick steel and 1-inch-thick titanium. Learn more about ultrasonic-assisted machining in this article

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