A Visit to TechSolve’s Machining Lab
The M. Eugene Merchant Technology Development Center at TechSolve is a well-equipped machining lab dedicated to developing advanced machining processes and conducting machining-related research. The current projects in the lab reflect critical issues facing metalworking manufacturers, as I learned at a recent open house.
TechSolve is a Cincinnati-based organization that provides consulting and R&D services to the manufacturing and (more recently) the healthcare communities. One of its most important facilities is the M. Eugene Merchant Technology Development Center, an especially well-equipped machining laboratory dedicated to developing advanced machining processes and conducting basic research in machining-related technology.
My most recent visit to TechSolve for its Machining Open House, which spotlighted the organization’s on-going projects in machining R&D, included a tour of the machining lab. The lab’s six main machining resources include these CNC machines:
- Mazak Integrex i200s eight-axis mill-turn
- DMG DMU 70 five-axis machining center
- DMG Deckel Maho DMU 50 3+2 axis machining center
- Makino V 55 high speed die-mold vertical machining center
- Chevalier Smart B122411 CNC grinding machine
- Milltronics HMC 35 horizontal machining center
Each of these machines is equipped with a variety of sensors, dynamometers, and data acquisition systems to collect cutting force and other machine data at very high speed. This enables TechSolve to provide a variety of analytical and development services to manufacturers as well as suppliers of materials, cutting tools, cooling systems and accessories.
Demonstrations on these machines involved a number of current projects or research capabilities that reflect critical issues facing metalworking manufacturers. For example, the lab conducts evaluations of metalworking fluids to determine quantifiable benefits of specific coolant formulations for challenging workpiece materials such as those frequently encountered in aerospace. These tests are usually conducted on the DMU 50 CNC machining center, with results that compare the cooling and lubricating effects of coolants to enable the lab’s clients to select the most appropriate products and apply them properly.
A demo on the DMU 70 five-axis machine showed how problems with unpredictable tool life for certain CBN cutting tools were resolved. Testing indicated that a lack of edge preparation on the CBN segment often led to chipping that precipitated tool failure. Honing the edge prevented this chipping so all of the tools delivered their expected productivity. The lab’s Keyence Digital Microscope capable of 200X magnification was essential to this research.
The Chevalier grinding machine provided a good example of the lab’s extensive use of sensors added to the machine structure for detecting grinding forces, power, vibration, temperature and acoustic emission. These extremely sensitive devices provide data for evaluating grinding processes, optimizing operational parameters.
While not part of a live demo, a Hardinge CNC lathe is currently used to evaluate TechSolve's in-house developments regarding surface treatment of carbide inserts, with specific focus on machining titanium.
Additionally, a of the machines in the lab are used for testing TechSolve’s MTConnect-enabled applications, such as ShopViz, for machine monitoring and energy management. The variety of machine configurations and control types simulates the situation encountered in many machine shops for a realistic evaluation of connectivity issues.