MMS Blog

The image gallery above, based on Modern Machine Shop magazine’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features a variety of automation equipment, from pallet handling to programming and modeling software. 

Swipe through the gallery for details, and follow the caption links for more information about each item. 

By: George Schuetz 22. April 2018

The Art of Submicron Measurements

There are inherent challenges in measuring parts to submicron tolerances. We have previously discussed the need for a climate-controlled environment and absolute cleanliness, but we have only scratched the surface (so to speak). Special attention must also be paid to the selection of the gage and readout as well as to mastering.

If you are checking parts for tolerances of 0.5 micron or checking gage blocks, rings and discs to less than 1.0 micron, you will need 0.1-micron, or even 0.01-micron, resolution (minimum grad value) on the gage readout. But beware of excessive magnification. Some gage manufacturers create the appearance of submicron accuracy by supplying an electronic amplifier, with units reading in parts of a micron on a garden-variety gage. The average shopfloor gage is mechanically repeatable to only 1 micron or so; what you really get is a highly magnified look at the gage’s repeatability error.

If a machining process is fast, but its speed is not predictable, then is that speed efficient? The predictability of a process is arguably even more valuable than its productivity, in no small part because predictability allows for accurate costing and precise allocation of capacity. And the point at which this predictability is realized is—ideally—during programming.

However, many shops distrust what their CAM software tells them regarding the predicted run time of a job. Many have learned that the software’s predicted cycle time and the actual time on the machine might differ greatly.

The machine tool is the heart of a job shop, but while a beating heart can keep the body breathing, it takes a brain to get any work done. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software provides a shop with the interconnected nervous system that enables it to organize and plan its business effectively. With the advent of cloud technology, it can even improve a manager’s work-life balance through mobile access to shop data. Using cloud-based ERP software from Shoptech Software Corp. (Glastonbury, Connecticut), one job shop has been able to consolidate its management systems into a single platform the manager can operate from a phone.

When two engineers struck out on their own in 1998, they founded X-Mil Inc. in Mt. Orab, Ohio. Now managed by Erica Carpenter, the daughter of one of the co-founders, X-Mil is a job shop specializing in turning, milling, welding and assembly. The company has grown to a productive machine shop with 18 employees and more than a dozen turning and milling centers, performing work for the aerospace, oil and coal industries. It even fully machines and assembles roller-coaster braking systems. When Ms. Carpenter stepped into her current position, however, she recognized serious process inefficiencies.

Absolute Machine Tools Inc. (Lorain, Ohio) is marking its 30th year as a machine tool importer and distributor in North America.

Steve Ortner and Hayden Wellman founded the company in 1988 in a garage. While working as a representative for digital readout maker Anilam, Mr. Ortner made contact with Taiwanese machine tool manufacturer Johnford in 1990, which became the company’s first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner. Partnerships with You Ji and Tongtai came next, followed by relationships with Nexturn, QuickTech and Precihole.

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