MMS Blog

For Challenge Machine, the complex medical part shown in the slideshow above led it to consider a Swiss-type lathe having a programmable, swiveling B axis with live tooling stations.

The Blaine, Minnesota, shop that recently became certified to ISO 13485 had been running the implantable, medical-grade polyetheretherketone (PEEK) part used in knee replacement procedures across two CNC machines. A five-axis machine milled much of the part (cycle time was 45 minutes) and a three-axis machine completed it (cycle time was 15 minutes). Today, this part is machined complete in 15 minutes on a Marubeni Citizen-Cincom L220 Swiss-type lathe.

In my February column, I mentioned that six of seven machine shops I visited during a week-long trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota, had 3D printers. Some shops were using theirs more than others, but I still saw a good amount of nifty plastic printed items including CMM inspection fixtures, robot grippers, and parts collection chutes and containers. One shop happened to hire a couple engineers fresh out of college soon after purchasing its first 3D printer. They really took to it, demonstrating how printing plastic devices such as the ones mentioned above would be simpler, faster and cheaper than the traditional route of producing them from metal in the tool room.

Similarly, I recently visited another shop that purchased a relatively inexpensive 3D printer with which to experiment. It had no specific goal for how it might use the printer. In fact, the shop was spurred to buy one after attending our magazine’s inaugural Top Shops Conference in 2017 and hearing a presentation about general ways shops can benefit from them. (3D printing will be covered at this year’s conference, too.)

By: Mike Lynch 7/4/2019

7 CNC Parameters You Should Know

Parameters specify settings for every CNC feature and function, and there are hundreds, even thousands, for any CNC. When discussing parameters, I always reiterate the importance of backing them up. As the person using the CNC, you are responsible for doing so. Today’s CNCs make it easy to back up to a flash drive, so there is no excuse not to do so. Plus, having your parameter backup can save hours, if not days, in the case of a CNC failure.

Nearly every CNC-related issue involves a parameter setting. Indeed, if the machine is misbehaving in any way, it is likely that an erroneous parameter setting is to blame. There are certain parameters that every CNC user should know related to safety, efficiency and simplifying machine usage. My examples are for FANUC CNCs, but all CNCs have similar parameter settings.

At first glance, the machine shop in the back of Lambda Technologies, a Cincinnati-based manufacturing company, seems pretty average. It has a suite of vertical machining centers (VMCs) whirring away as workers busily hop from station to station. Compared to most shops, however, it’s relatively quiet. That’s because the majority of the VMCs are not actually cutting material.

For those, the buzzing of cutting tools slicing into metal is replaced by the comparatively subdued whirring of hydraulics. A sharp eye might also notice that the controls for those machines bear none of the logos of major CNC manufacturers. They, like the hydraulic pumps attached to the modified five-axis machines, are custom designs the company has developed over the years for the signature metal-finishing process it offers customers: low-plasticity burnishing (LPB).

Anthony Machine Inc. is no stranger to Kennametal’s KM quick-change tooling. For many years, the shop has used the toolholding connection in its precision machining work for the oil and gas, mining, transportation and power generation industries. However, after the company purchased a pair of NLX 3000 | 1250 universal turning centers from DMG MORI — the shop’s first Y-axis, live-tool lathes — the shop’s manufacturing team was challenged with making the most of the new machine tool investment, since its tool turret was not friendly to the KM tooling system.

With his decade-long relationship with Anthony Machine, Kennametal senior sales engineer Mark Davis was there to help. He explained that the best way to reduce setup times and maximize the new machines’ potential would be to equip them with Turret Adapted Clamping Units (TACU), a kind of tool block adapter compatible with the KM quick-change toolholders. 

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