MMS Blog

Digitalization and its proper implementation are now emerging as critical success factors for industry. This means gathering and analyzing more data in a virtual context so that better decisions and, in many cases, predictive decisions can be made. Digitalization is changing the way products are developed, built and delivered through machine learning, additive manufacturing and advanced robotics. It is also changing the way products evolve through cloud technology, knowledge automation and big-data analytics.

Digital technologies present a billion-dollar opportunity for manufacturers to transform their production and reorient their value proposition to meet the needs of today’s digital consumers. A manufacturer’s competitiveness increases as digitalization improves product-development speed and enables faster response to customer demand.

By: Barry Rogers 14. May 2018

Buying a Lathe: The Basics

Recorded history shows that the lathe is an ancient tool, perhaps first appearing 3,300 years ago in ancient Egypt as a manual, two-person operation. During the Industrial Revolution, mechanized power allowed for faster and easier work. In the later 19th and early 20th centuries, electricity made the machines even more powerful, and the advent of servomotors in the 1950s added the element of control.

One of the key characteristics of a lathe, unlike a vertical or horizontal milling machine, is that the workpiece turns, as opposed to the tool. Thus, lathe work is often called turning. Turning, then, is a machining process used to make round, cylindrical parts. Lathes are commonly used to reduce the diameter of a workpiece to a specific dimension, producing a smooth surface finish. Basically, the cutting tool approaches the rotating workpiece until it begins peeling away the surface as it moves linearly across the side (if the part is a shaft) or across the face (if the part is drum-shaped). 

The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center Research and Development (OMIC R&D) has added CGTech (Irvine, California) and Oregon-based manufacturer Summit to its company membership. With 15 manufacturing industry partners and three Oregon public universities, the Scappoose, Oregon, R&D facility is continuing to develop advanced metals manufacturing technologies.

OMIC R&D is the 15th research center established with Boeing leadership worldwide and the first Boeing has sponsored in the United States. Its mission is to bring together manufacturing companies and higher education to solve real problems for advanced manufacturers while training the next generation of engineers and technologists.

Change is an absolute in manufacturing. Technology is evolving, process improvement is on everyone’s mind and keeping up in a global market is increasingly important. Having a major role in the rapid expansion of the machine shop I work for has really shown me how critical it is to plan ahead and spend extra time doing things right the first time.

About six years ago, our machine shop consisted of just two machinists and two CNC machines: a vertical mill and a basic two-axis lathe. Ownership wanted to manufacture more of their own motorsports and hot rod parts in house, and machine shop expansion was essential to meeting this goal. Since that time, we have had a total of 17 different CNC machining centers in our shop, seven of which were later upgraded for greater capabilities and newer technology. Our department has grown to a team of 10, and a second shift has been added. 

Combined with rapid advancements in machine tool technology and cutting tool software, five-axis machining results in potential savings for areas such as cost per part, cutting tool life and overall machining productivity.

Even with a common ballnose end mill, machine users can get much better utilization of the cutting edges and higher material removal by tilting the tool and cutting with the outer radius of the ball. Five-axis machining makes that possible.

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