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Before leaving for a Taiwanese machine tool trade show a few months ago, I forced my own @MMS_Derek Twitter hand(le).

Knowing many of my Twitter followers might never attend the Taipei International Machine Tool Show (TIMTOS) — or visit Taiwan for that matter — I tweeted prior to my trip that I would capture some of my experiences (silly or otherwise) from the time I left my house to when I returned home one week later. My goal was to offer a taste of what it is like to travel halfway around the world seeking insight into the latest machining and manufacturing technology. You can find all those tweets (and video) here. You’ll also find fun facts about traveling in Taiwan.

This exercise in social media helped shape this article. Here, I present five interesting booth demonstrations, including links to video, that I thought would draw your attention had you been walking TIMTOS with me, although there was plenty more to see. The addition of a fourth show hall enabled this year’s event to accommodate more than 7,000 booths, making biennial TIMTOS the world’s third-largest manufacturing trade show. So, at best, the following five demonstrations (video of each included in the link above) offer just a taste of what I saw there.

Facial recognition for CNCs.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven manufacturing are common themes of manufacturing trade shows. TIMTOS 2019 was no different. For example, Hartford demonstrated facial-recognition technology that ensures only authorized operators can take control of a machine’s CNC. A manager would have the new operator stand in front of the CNC, select “operator” from an onscreen menu, and then click to take a photo for the facial-recognition app to process. From that point on, the operator can access the CNC by looking into the camera and pressing the “access” button. This is one example of more than 40 other apps the company offers for this control. Watch video.

Unattended five-axis machining.

Quaser manufactures automation-friendly five-axis machines as well as vertical machining centers, horizontal machining centers (all with hand-scraped ways) and flexible manufacturing systems (FMS). The company opened its U.S. location in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in late 2016 after using an importer for a number of years. One of its booth demonstrations showed technology to maximize the potential of unattended five-axis machining on the company’s UX500APC machine. For example, the machine’s tilting rotary table is not a trunnion design supporting the table on two sides, so it offers more open access for an integrated pallet changing system to swap pallets in 12 seconds. A laser probe on the side of the table helped track wear through automated measurement of the barrel cutters demonstrating how the part would be cut. These tools have a larger radius than ballnose end mills, which reduces the cycle time by reducing the number of step-down passes required down a part feature. Automatic tool measurement and breakage detection is performed using a laser probe mounted on the side of the tilting rotary table. Watch video.

AIVs for part handling.

Campro offered its spin on smart flexible manufacturing systems with a robotic cell incorporating the company’s U255C five-axis (4 + 1) machine and NT208 turning center. An Omron self-navigating autonomous intelligent vehicle (AIV) was topped with conveyor rollers to accept pallets of parts and part blanks. The AIV delivered fresh workpiece blanks to the five-axis machine, moved work in process from that machine to the turning center, and delivered completed parts to a storage rack. AIVs such as the Omron unit feature software and controls that enable intelligently navigating around people and unplanned obstacles. In fact, these types of robotic-loading/AIV demonstrations are becoming more commonplace at manufacturing trade shows such as TIMTOS. Watch video.

On-machine probing.

A demonstration on Palmary ’s VIG-50 vertical cylindrical grinding machine demonstrated the value of in-process probing, in this case to check the inner diameter (ID) of a customer’s landing gear component after grinding. The machine also had a ground master artifact with known ID and made from the same material as the part. This artifact was mounted near the wheel dresser, where it would react in the same way as the part to any temperature or other environmental changes. The demonstration showed how periodically probing the artifact and comparing that measurement to the known ID value enables adjusting the grinding process to account for fluctuating environmental conditions. Watch video.

Automated tube bending and measurement.

Soco is well known in the United States for its CNC tube sawing, bending and laser machining equipment. In fact, the United States was the company’s first export target. At TIMTOS, the company showed an automated cell to cut, bend and measure tubular frames for automotive headrests. The cell featured an all-electric, eight-axis SB-22x8A CNC tube bender that can perform both left- and right-side bends to produce U-shaped parts. Its Direct Gear Transmission (DGT) system, which features a gearbox with direct connection to the servomotor, offers angular tube bending accuracy ranging from ±0.05 to ±0.1 degree. The critical dimensions for the headrest frames in this demonstration are the diameters of the tube ends where they insert into the seat and distance between the two vertical tube sections at the top inverted “U”. After bending, the cell’s Yazkawa robot delivers each frame to a gaging station for automated measurement. Watch video.