MMS Blog

There are (because of course there are) channels on YouTube dedicated to waterjet cutting. The most popular, known simply as “Waterjet Channel,” has nearly 800,000 subscribers, many of whom tune in each week to watch the show’s two charismatic hosts slice and dice everything from bowling balls, to Stretch Armstrong dolls, to car batteries, to pizzas.

Clearly there is a visceral satisfaction at work here (who doesn’t want to watch a 60,000 psi beam of water drive abrasive to pierce through an anvil?) that fuel’s the show’s popularity. The video featuring a waterjet cutting through bulletproof glass has nearly 10 million views.

By: George Schuetz 1/16/2020

There is More Than One Way to Find a Match

Producing a pair of parts in which the fit between them is critical (think hydraulic components or bearings) can be a very demanding task for a manufacturer. It may seem easy — by specifying that the outside diameter (OD) of one part and the inside diameter (ID) of the other be produced within 0.5 micron — but for the machinist making the parts, it’s a whole other matter. Process engineers have spent many sleepless nights trying to design manufacturing processes that will produce parts with the expectation that they will fit and work perfectly together only to find out that the process may not be as good as they think.

When the design engineer determines the tolerances for the matching IDs and ODs, this may not be what is actually critical. In these applications, as seen with matching hydraulic components, it’s really the clearance between the two diameters that is critical, as this determines how well the part performs as a whole.

Bias, misperception and ignorance (willful or otherwise) are human problems, but today’s manufacturers have a technological solution. Capability to pull data from the shop floor automatically and in real time can provide a natural check on decision makers’ erroneous assumptions.

This was one takeaway of a recent conversation with Jim Finnerty, product manager at machine monitoring system developer Wintriss Controls Group. Based on his experience with the company’s ShopFloorConnect system, bias begins at the point of data collection. “If you have machine operators entering information, you’re going to get varying levels of accuracy,” he says.

The Challenges of Teaching Creativity in Additive Manufacturing

The design freedom of additive manufacturing (AM) is both a blessing and a curse. While many people are excited by the newfound freedoms that layer-by-layer manufacturing enables, an equally large number of people end up paralyzed by all of the freedom AM affords and don’t know where to start.

I have seen this in my students as well as in industry, and some dichotomies have emerged. For instance, many engineering students struggle with the freedom because the majority of their coursework focuses on problem solving, design specifications, meeting requirements and avoiding failures. Meanwhile, artists and architects are taught to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty and challenge the assumptions and constraints for any problem they face. They search for opportunity while engineers satisfy constraints. Granted, this is an over-simplification to illustrate a point, but you can see how it predisposes students — and future employees — to how they will learn now and in the future.

Five-Axis Conversational Programming from a Solid Model

CNC conversational programming software enables machine tool operators to create part programs directly at a machine’s control by answering prompts for information that defines the part and the requisite operations to complete it. The control then automatically creates the NC program in the background. G-code knowledge and what can be time-consuming line-by-line programming are unnecessary.

In the past, this type of programming was used for relatively simple part geometries, or for programming parts defined only in 2D prints. Increasingly though, design engineers are able to supply shops with 3D solid models of the parts they need to be machined. Mike Cope, product technical specialist for machine tool builder Hurco, says as a result, its customers have been asking for a means to create part programs conversationally directly from customer-supplied solid models. This is now possible using the 3D Import option on Hurco’s WinMax CNC for three-axis work or five-sided machining.