MMS Blog

How Robots and Additive Manufacturing Work Together

Robots and additive manufacturing (AM) are both transformative technologies, with the potential to decrease labor, reduce costs and disrupt the way products are made. But what happens when these two technologies work together?

The July 2019 issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine explores how robots and AM intersect in various ways. In our cover story, injection molder Evco Plastics shares its experience integrating a cell of six 3D printers with a collaborative robot (cobot). The work that the cobot performs (removing build plates with finished parts and starting the next cycle) is similar to how it might serve a machine tool, but the integration process required ingenuity and creativity. Evco now has an automated cell that can run 24/7, giving this company the capacity to take on production work that previously would have been cost-prohibitive to injection mold. 

Electric current often outperforms physical media in fine finishing operations. However, CNC machine shops considering electropolishing must be careful to ensure metal parts retain sufficient levels of stock.

According to Chicago-area service provider Able Electropolishing, this non-contact, fine-finishing process generally removes between 0.0005 and 0.001 inch of material. How much depends on a manufacturer’s goals, which might range from achieving a certain roughness average (Ra) value, a shiny finish, micro-burr removal, and/or passivation for improved resistance to corrosion, contaminants or fatigue. Manufacturers should also keep in mind that electropolishing material removal can be controlled to within 0.0001 to 0.0002 inch. Adding this range to machining tolerances can provide a general indication of how much stock to leave after machining

Optimize Grinding Processes with Proper Truing and Dressing Tools

Production grinding relies on several components working together to achieve desired results. Whether that result is a size, shape, finish, or combination of these, the system works best when all its components are optimized and being used correctly.

The focus is on the abrasive and using the best grinding wheel available, but there is more to the system than just the abrasive wheel. Coolant also has a substantial effect on the grinding operation. However, the most overlooked component of the grinding system is the truing and dressing tool.

Registration Now Open for 2019 Top Shops Conference

Registration is now open for Modern Machine Shop’s 2019 Top Shops Conference, which takes place September 9-11 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Duke Energy Convention Center. “Instead of focusing on uber-conceptual, sounds-good-on-paper, ‘bleeding-edge’ concepts, the conference offers presentations and panel discussions about advanced, yet practical tactics, strategies and shopfloor processes that can be applied now at attendees’ shops,” says Derek Korn, the magazine’s executive editor and conference’s technical director. “These include leveraging additive manufacturing in a shop setting, machine tool monitoring and data collection, cutting tool management, and best practices in areas such as business strategies, workforce development and human resources.”

Gardner Intelligence took the results of all the previous Top Shops surveys, which includes more than 2,000 shops, and used sophisticated modeling techniques to determine what really drives high performance at machine shops. Chief Data Officer Steven Kline, Jr., will present trends spotted over the survey’s nine editions.

The image gallery above, based on Modern Machine Shop magazine’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features a selection of the product releases we have recently published about grinding and abrasive equipment, ranging from heavy-duty superfinishing machines to cylindrical grinding machines to flap discs. More can be found in our Zone dedicated to grinding technology.

Swipe through the gallery for details about each product, and follow the caption links for more information. Products featured in this month’s spotlight come from the following companies:

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