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.
One of the striking things about Mazak’s new knowledge center on multitasking (see our home page) is how few of the part examples included within it are round. The turbine blade seen here is one example of a part that makes sense for multitasking. Others are bicycle forks, block-shaped pump parts and even cylinder heads. See the array of part examples.
We tend to think of multitasking as involving a live-tool lathe. That mindset limits our view. The different levels of multitasking actually include machine tools that depart from lathes significantly. Even on the machines that are lathes, roundness is not required.
Keep that in mind as you take another look at your own process. Even some of your highly asymmetric parts might be good candidates for processing in one setup via multitasking.
A machining business typically has a website to promote itself to prospective customers. What about prospective employees? Marketing to these two different groups arguably requires two different sites. That’s the approach taken by machining contractor Trace-A-Matic. Check out the company’s main site, and then look at machinistjobsmilwaukee.com.
Blogger and manufacturing executive Perry Sainati recently posted an exchange with Ray Prendergast, head of manufacturing technology for Richard J. Daley College in Chicago. Asked for his advice to manufacturing employers, Mr. Prendergast said, “Build your own talent pipeline.” I’ve written about the need to do this as well. Mr. Prendergast says this pipeline is valuable not only because a manufacturing company needs to secure its own source for up-and-coming talent, but also because the employees themselves are looking for this. Clear opportunity for advancement is something that employee prospects frequently consider when looking at an employer. Read the full interview with Mr. Prendergast.
Additive manufacturing can be challenging to understand because of how many processes the term includes. While every machining center mills parts the same way, every additive manufacturing machine certainly does not build parts the same way. The number of processes is large enough and number of equipment OEMs small enough that it can seem as though every additive manufacturing machine maker employs its own distinctly different process. In fact, that view is not too far off—but there are still some important groupings that can be used to generalize these processes.
Machine tool accessories supplier Royal Products manufactures centers, but the company was damaging some of these parts because of its approach to work handling. Like many CNC lathe uses, Royal used a bar feeder to precisely load the stock, but relied largely on gravity to transport the part after machining. Parts would drop into a bin. The damage from centers hitting centers demonstrated to the company that a complete work handling system has to address not only loading and unloading the part, but also carrying the part safely to its final stopping place.
The video above describes the solution that Royal invented and now sells. The Rota-Rack slowly indexes as workpieces are delivered to it, allowing parts to accumulate with no collisions as the lathe runs unattended.