MMS Blog

Consider this: Any seasoned machinist or programmer can walk up to a machine and know instantly if something is awry. The problem is that finding those qualified people is increasingly arduous, and most shops need their operators to manage multiple machines.

Imagine getting real-time updates when parts being made on Machine #5 are about to go out of tolerance, or getting notified that the the spindle bearings on VMC #2 will fail in three weeks.

The image gallery above, based on Modern Machine Shop magazine’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features a variety of equipment used in turning applications, including lathes, mill-turns and cutting tools. Swipe through the gallery for details, and follow the caption links for more information about each item.

Products featured in this month’s spotlight comes from these companies: 

The ability to rapidly prototype is a big advantage for start-ups, which often need to quickly iterate on part features and designs to bring the best product to market as fast as possible. A Studio System for metal additive manufacturing from Desktop Metal helped a start-up company produce prototype parts for a new internal combustion engine faster and cheaper than traditional machining methods. It also helped improve the parts overall.

Lumenium is a Virginia-based start-up that is developing a new family of internal combustion engines. The company describes its inverse displacement asymmetrical rotational (IDAR) engine as a novel design for producing powerful, efficient internal combustion. Its geometry is said to permit efficient output from a small, light engine that consumes less fuel and produces lower emissions than traditional internal combustion engines.

Vehicle manufacturers have invested billions of dollars over recent years to develop the cleanest cars, vans and trucks in history. Among other advances, more sophisticated valve trains, turbocharging, transmissions with more gears, and optimized controls have driven emissions from new vehicles to an all-time low. However, many incremental technologies remain sitting on automotive engineering shelves, ready to be deployed.

One example cited by Reiner Jörg, head engineer of machine tool builder Weisser’s R&D department in southern Germany, is polygon couplings or polygon shaft-hub connections that could replace splines and shrink-fit connections.

The United States has lost about 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000. Is that decline the result of automation, meaning the advance of technology, or trade, which responds to choices in public policy? Susan Houseman does not have the answer, but she says the terms of the debate get muddied. Arguments based on U.S. government manufacturing productivity metrics tend to misinterpret what those metrics measure. In U.S. manufacturing, she says, automation is not doing as much as some claim.

Dr. Houseman is VP and Director of Research with the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. She gave a talk on manufacturing employment at the most recent MTForecast conference, hosted by AMT–The Association For Manufacturing Technology. She says the problems with productivity numbers relate to the composition of domestic work as well as adjustment factors.

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