MMS Blog

Baker Industries, a subcontract manufacturer that primarily serves the OEM and Tier-One aerospace and automotive sectors, is located on a vast industrial campus housing several complexes in the sleepy Detroit suburb of Macomb, Michigan. But inside one nondescript building on the corner of campus you’ll find a true metal giant—a five-axis horizontal machining center with a build platform large enough to double as a car pad for a fleet of full-size SUVs. 

Baker Industries invested $3.4 million in the  Emco Mecof PowerMill to expand its capacity to serve its customers’ largest machining projects, typically for the aerospace and automotive sectors. The installation took roughly 11 months from beginning to end, starting with the removal of 1. 2 million pounds of concrete and earth to excavate a 45-by-75-by-7-foot pit. The pit was then filled with nearly 2 million pounds of crushed stone and concrete—the latter of which had to be individually sampled per truckload by inspectors to ensure it was the right consistency. 

For CNC machining fixtures, “automation” means more than just eliminating manual clamping. With a hydraulic workholding system, pressure feedback from strategically placed air orifices can provide a simple, effective means of saving time and ensuring process consistency and reliability. Generally, these systems perform three functions: verifying whether clamps have moved into position, verifying whether parts have been loaded correctly, and verifying whether the right parts have been loaded in the right fixtures.

Self-validating hydraulic workholding can act as a check on human machine tenders. However, if robots are doing the loading, such capability can be essential, says Scott Bower, partner at custom fixture supplier DMT Workholding. “One cost of replacing the human is that you lose judgment, and that’s what these kinds of fixture features replace,” he explains. “They confirm things that you’d normally be counting on an operator to validate.” As for which manufacturers benefit most, “It could be the Ma-and-Pa shop or GM. If they’re running lights out, they have to have this kind of feedback to ensure that they’re making good parts and protecting their equipment.”

Registration is now open for Sur/Fin 2019, the event for the finishing industry. This event, which runs June 3-5 in Rosemont, Illinois, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, is also a good technical resource for machine shops that are being asked to perform jobs that are traditionally out of their wheelhouse. In many cases, these jobs include surface finishing operations. There are more than 80 technical conference sessions available to event attendees. They are broken into half-hour increments. The full listing is available here, but these sessions caught my eye:

 

Additive manufacturing (AM) is sometimes discussed in contrast to “subtractive manufacturing,” but that’s not entirely accurate. Thinking in terms of additive versus subtractive sets up an unhelpful equivalency between an additive manufacturing machine and a machine tool. A machine tool serves a specific purpose: removing metal from an existing workpiece. An AM machine, on the other hand, can represent a range of operations.

Metal 3D printing has the potential to displace casting, for example, while polymer 3D printing could help sidestep injection molding. Either form of printing offers the potential for part consolidation, reducing or avoiding assembly. The on-demand nature of AM can change how parts are stored and shipped, altering how a manufacturer thinks about inventory and transportation. 3D printing even opens up new approaches for marketing a product to buyers.

With 100 years of experience, Studer is a well-known brand in precision cylindrical grinding. The company has also carved a reputation for choosing the most distinctive locations to introduce the latest developments in cylindrical grinding technology. This year’s location was no exception—the Hagerbach Test Gallery, an R&D facility for underground mining tunnel construction located in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland, played host to the Studer Press Event 2019. This event was attended by more than 60 trade journalists from around the globe.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the S33 and S31 universal cylindrical grinding machines, which are available in the states from United Grinding. The machines feature an extended range of distances between centers, more than 20 wheelhead configurations, a new B-axis concept and much more. A dark atmosphere, loud music and participants in glowing yellow safety helmets underpinned the underground atmosphere during the unveiling ceremony, which was followed by presentations highlighting the machine series’ new features.

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