MMS Blog

By: George Schuetz 23. September 2018

Micrometers – Shifting into High Gear

The basic micrometer is one of the most popular and versatile precision-handheld measuring tools on the shop floor. It provides direct size information quickly, delivers high resolution and adapts easily to many different measurement applications. The micrometer in its most basic form, having both a flat reference and a measuring anvil, has continued to improve since it was first conceived 150 years ago. The wide array of options for micrometers truly make it a universal length-measuring hand tool.

Numerous variations of alternate contact point configurations have been developed over the years to satisfy an endless number of measurement applications.

Before implementing any production automation and digitalization project, a company should streamline existing processes. This step focuses on identifying and eliminating bottlenecks in the work flows to ensure efficient operation of all subsystems. The main actions are to collect accurate, up-to-date information about all events that occur during operation and deliver it to responsible persons. Otherwise, the result of automating or digitalizing may simply result in less order, not more, in the work flow. Therefore, the first phase in creating a “factory of tomorrow” is setting up a machine-data-collection (MDC) system or, simply, a machine-monitoring system. If skillfully deployed, a machine-monitoring system can provide significant opportunities for a company to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve its bottom line.

The main purpose of monitoring systems is to track equipment operation and increase its efficiency. The principles behind effective machine monitoring can be seen using Zyfra’s MCDplus monitoring system as an example. Although Zyfra, a software developer headquartered in Finland, is a newcomer to the U.S. market, the company has more than 200 overseas customers who have connected 6,000-plus machines to its systems for real-time monitoring.  

By: Barry Rogers 21. September 2018

Buying a Wire EDM: How It Works

Wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) is widely used to create dies, punches, mold components, special tooling, extrusion dies, airfoils, gears, medical instruments, carbide cutters, toolholders, jewelry and thousands of workpieces too numerous to list.

Wire EDM can be used to cut electrically conductive materials to make parts that require a level of accuracy, intricacy and fine surface finish that traditional machining methods cannot achieve. A wire EDM unit can be programmed to cut complex shapes (small or large) to a dimensional tolerance of ±0.0001 inch and can be trusted to do so repeatedly and reliably. Unlike other types of machining, wire EDM exerts no cutting force on the workpiece and introduces no residual stress. There is little or no change in the mechanical properties of the material. Today’s wire EDM technology is capable of leaving virtually no thermal effects on the surface.

Flying S, an engineering consulting company that manufactures aviation and aerospace components, has been using machine tools from Haas Automation (Oxnard, California) since early in the history of its machine shop. Its first machine tool was a used, manual Bridgeport it converted into a CNC and dubbed “Bertha.” As they outgrew Bertha’s limitations, the shop purchased its first CNC, a used Haas VF-4SS. As the company expanded, it stuck with machines from that builder. This is a strategic decision that has some very specific benefits for Flying S:

Range of machines. Haas makes a wide variety of machine tools, so when Flying S wanted to add new types of machines, it did not need to go to another brand. Flying S has taken advantage of the company’s selection. Among its 26 machines are CNC vertical machining centers (VMCs) ranging from a small a VF-2YT to a VF-10, lathes like an ST-30SSY with a bar feeder, a GR-712 gantry router and multiple UMC-750 five-axis machines.

When 3D printing first appeared, production applications were not in the cards. The technology was thought of as a tool for rapid prototyping, one that could not be trusted to make end-use parts, and one that could not compete at scale.

As the technology has evolved, however, these assumptions have had to change. 3D printing has progressed beyond prototyping into the making of functional tooling and on to the additive manufacturing of end-use parts in increasingly larger quantities. Today, 3D printing can be a more cost-effective way of producing parts that would otherwise require prohibitively expensive or time-consuming tooling, setups or assembly.

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