MMS Blog

Slice Mfg. Studios in Akron, Ohio, is a contract manufacturer serving the medical and aerospace industries, among others. One of its specialties is 3D printing in metal—specifically, the manufacture of titanium medical implants with electron beam melting (EBM) which was the reason for my visit. Printing with EBM is tricky and can be dangerous; Slice’s success in using this technology has been the result of an intentionally designed facility, rigorous processes and ongoing knowledge building. Though the company also relies on machining, turning and EDM, additive manufacturing is clearly ingrained in Slice’s operations.  

But it became apparent when I visited that Slice is also a believer in automation. Finish blasting of trabecular hip cups is performed by a FANUC LR Mate 200iD robotic arm inside a blast cabinet. Laser marking of parts is fully automated with a Foba M-series laser marking system. The company is talking about adding an automated guided vehicle (AGV) to shuttle parts around the facility, freeing operators from this task. And two of the company’s machining centers are equipped for unattended operation. 

In a production grinding operation, waviness on the part surface is a potential clue that the machine or process has developed a vibration problem. The effect might be seen in inspection, or if there is a lapping or polishing step, it might cause more time to be spent at this step removing these waves. According to grinding wheel manufacturer Norton Saint-Gobain Abrasives, this is the point at which shops almost always attempt to solve the vibration problem by making some simple change to the process. And that’s a pretty good approach.

Indeed, those waves on the surface, often called chatter, could indicate the appropriate fix. (Others use “chatter” to refer to regenerative waviness. The use here is not that specific.) On a part machined on a surface grinder, for example, vibration frequency (cycles per minute) is equal to the work speed (inches per minute) divided by the distance between two consecutive chatter marks (inch). Find the vibration frequency using this relationship, and if it matches the rotation speed of the grinding spindle, then this indicates that the grinding wheel, wheel flanges or the grinding spindle itself is a likely culprit. Change the wheel, tighten the flange bolts, or perhaps just change speed, and that much might be enough to cure or control the vibration problem.

With a focus on increased quality and compressed build times, companies like JK Machining, which specializes in designing and manufacturing plastic-injection molds, must strive to meet customer demands. The company invested in advanced machining capabilities; but by  upgrading its CAD/CAM system to a mold-specific software suite from Siemens PLM (Plano, Texas), the company was able to deliver quality molds at a reasonable cost.

Founded in 1980 and located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, JK Machining’s 15-employee company focuses on class-101 molds—high-production molds with fast cycle times made from high-quality materials and designed for 1 million or more cycles. Its automotive customers are Tier-One and Tier-Two suppliers producing mostly air conditioning outlets, trim bezels, cup holders and other interior components. The company also makes molds for the medical device industry. Both sectors demand high quality, better mold-parting lines, better finishes, tighter tolerances, timely delivery and reasonable costs. Such demands have only grown. 

We’ve reported previously on Local Motors, a manufacturer that is building customized and autonomous vehicles with the help of 3D printing. While the firm uses desktop printers for prototyping and tooling, it also manufacturers large end-use parts for its vehicles using Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) 3D printers. The body of the Strati car and structural components of the Olli self-driving shuttle have been built from carbon fiber-filled ABS on this extra-large printer. 

Why 3D print these parts? Weight, cost and time savings can all be realized through this “toolingless” manufacturing method. In the video above, Brittany Stotler, vice president of marketing, explains the ways that Local Motors’ Knoxville, Tennessee, microfactory is leveraging and advancing 3D-printing technology.

Sponsored Content 28. August 2018

Digitalization Takes Center Stage at IMTS 2018

Achieving a more digitally connected shop can take the form of data connection and collection, system monitoring and management, and using digital technology to improve the systems on which your shop relies.

Dedicated to just that is the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) sponsored by AMT–The Association For Manufacturing. As one of two ETCs at IMTS this year, the ETC dedicated to Digital Transformation in the North Building lets you see it in action and discover examples of how businesses in aerospace, automotive, medical and energy sectors are implementing these innovations.

RSS RSS  |  Atom Atom