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.
An event yesterday at Sandvik Coromant's U.S. headquarters in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, celebrated the opening of a new Productivity Center (photo above), part of a now-completed 2-year renovation of this site.
The layout, architecture and offerings of the site now match other, more modern Sandvik locations both in North America and around the world. The company's original Fair Lawn site was built in 1955 and significantly expanded in 1966. Since then, priorities have shifted.
One of the priorities today is collaboration. An open design encourages movement through the facility and interaction among both employees and guests at the site. Within the Productivity Center (Sandvik's term for its training and process-development facilities), spacious machining areas equipped with sophisticated CNC machines provide capacity for company personnel to be working with various customers on various different projects at any given time. A machining area that is not so open (the ITAR-certified shop can be closed off, and frosted glass blocks the view) provides machining capacity for customer projects that are sensitive or secret.
Another priority, as company president Klas Forsström stressed in his remarks at the event, is outreach. This latest investment in the company's U.S. presence is coupled with an awareness that it needs to support manufacturing here by attracting talented people into this field. As it also does at its Chicago-area Productivity Center, for example, the company will routinely seek opportunities to bring groups of young people and their parents and teachers into the new New Jersey site in order to provide an up-to-date view of manufacturing technology, as well as an appealing glimpse at what a modern manufacturing career could look like for those who might thrive in this field.
GE produced this video about a working jet engine model that was created through additive manufacturing and run in a GE Aviation test cell. The video briefly documents the manufacturing process that produced in this engine, a process that illustrates at least two significant points related to additive manufacturing. They are:
1. Design freedom. Because it makes parts that machining can’t produce, additive manufacturing offers the opportunity to reengineer parts and assemblies for greater performance. GE’s engineers started with a radio-controlled aircraft engine, but then they improved its components for additive manufacturing. (They also further improved them by making them from high-temperature alloys a radio-controlled engine wouldn’t normally use.)
2. Secondary operations. Additive manufacturing makes intricate parts, but it does not necessarily make finished parts. The video shows this. The parts that were produced additively (on an EOS M270 machine) went on to receive secondary machining and finishing steps. The same will almost certainly be true of any production metal part made through additive manufacturing.
DiSanto Technology moved into additive manufacturing recently, but it built its business on machining. The company’s Shelton, Connecticut, plant has about 55 CNC machine tools.
Metal additive manufacturing machine maker Arcam has acquired DiSanto Technology, the user of Arcam’s electron beam melting technology that we reported on in this article. DiSanto was a successful medical-industry machine shop before the company moved into additive manufacturing for producing surgical implants. Thus, with this acquisition, one thing Arcam gains is machining capacity and expertise. As the article at the link above points out, additive manufacturing and CNC machining go together, because the implants made this way have to be machined, and because making those parts creates the need for related components made through machining.
With this move, Arcam also essentially completes a North American supply chain for additively manufactured parts, because the company also recently acquired Canadian metal powder manufacturer AP&C. Arcam can now supply raw material, additive machines and finished products. Read the company’s own statements about the acquisitions of both companies.
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.