The Right Connection for Good Machining
This pavilion is the ultimate toolbox for manufacturers
By Jim Lorincz
It's entirely appropriate that the Tooling and Workholding Pavilion will be housed in the new West Hall at McCormick Place for IMTS 2008. These innovative technologies have been buried in the lower recesses of the East Hall for so long over the years that it might have been difficult for visitors to recognize the intimate connection with the machine technology showcased in the Metal Cutting Pavilion in South Hall.
And connection, you might say, is what it's all about. Connection of cutting tool to toolholder, with or without adapters. Connection of toolholder to machine spindle in the case of milling, or workpiece to spindle in the case of turning. And connection of the workpiece to the table, indexer, tombstone, or other fixturing device so that it can be held securely and machined accurately and repeatably.
"Location of Tooling & Workholding in the West Hall is really important," says Chris Kaiser, president, BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc. (Elk Grove Village, IL) and IMTS Show Committee Chairman. "We're in a brand new hall just a short walk from South Hall and its machines, all on one level, making it easy for visitors to interface with both technologies."
And interface they will, seeking answers to the same questions that have been asked over and over again at IMTS expos of yesteryear: What are the best combinations of cutting tool, tooling material, substrate, coating, and geometry, as well as toolholding, toolchanging, coolant delivery, and chip removal systems for machining a given size, shape, and number of parts, made of a given material? What's the best way to hold the part, machine it, load and unload, and index/change, all in one setup, if possible?
Manufacturing objectives remain very much the same: reducing setup time and cycle time, extending tool life, and increasing productivity. Quality of finished parts is a given, and subject to increasingly tighter tolerances. The answers will be found in the booths of literally hundreds of exhibitors. Many are focusing on solutions available through use of their products by process employed, by industry, by material type, and by tolerance requirements, and, increasingly, by the importance of untended production to achieve the necessary machine efficiencies.
Partnership between tooling suppliers, machine tool builders and their agents, the distributors, and manufacturing end users, is valued as a principal means of achieving manufacturing breakthroughs and keeping up with rapid advances in machine technology.
Sandvik Coromant (Fair Lawn, NJ) will focus on providing complete solutions, from simple to complex, with the new products and tools to support them on an industry-by-industry basis. John Israelsson, president, explains: "The big difference between this IMTS and previous ones is our desire to have the customer come in with a specific application looking for a solution, using both old and new technologies, that will dramatically impact their manufacturing processes.
"I like to think that customers will visit IMTS with an open mind, asking questions; for example, how can I shave so much time off the manufacturing process? Or reduce cost by a certain amount? I'd like them to be willing to take home some really revolutionary concepts. I'd like them to go back to their shops with the attitude that when they get there, their colleagues aren't going to believe, at first, the solutions that they've found," says Israelsson.
IMTS concentrates all the advanced tooling technology under one roof that enables manufacturers to improve their operations, but choices still have to be made. "There are myriad possibilities and opportunities and choices," explains Peter Matysiak, president, Emuge Corp (West Boylston, MA). "Our approach is to forge a partnership with our customers. To that end, we have opened a Technology Center here in Massachusetts where we have on our floor a five-axis CNC Hermle machining center to apply the best technology to achieve the best results in new component and material machining."
"We have reached a level of trust with our customers through partnering with them more than ever before, not only with manufacturers, but also with the OEMs, with the distributors and sellers of machine tools who have a higher rate of delivering turnkey packages. For the same reason, a manufacturer will look at a new component and give it to his machine tool supplier and say to the supplier: 'Tell me how to make this thing and I'll buy your machine,'" says Matysiak.
Emuge will exhibit a full line of solid carbide Micro End Mills in cutting diam from 0.2 to 2 mm for milling a wide variety of materials from graphite to RC 66 hardened steel. Applications include milling injection molds, extrusion dies, and graphite and copper electrodes. In the threading and tapping, Emuge has expanded its line of taps for cutting threads and for roll forming. "Roll-form taps are material-specific, and a new concept that has great potential," says Matysiak. In thread milling, Emuge offers coolant-through and miniaturization in its product lines, as well.
BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc. (Elk Grove Village, IL) will showcase a variety of precision tooling solutions in response to demand for tighter tolerances. "We are showing brand new high-precision EWB-UP boring heads that are adjustable in 50 millionths [0.0013-mm] increments on the diam. We introduced some metric heads, and will show a full line of true inch heads, not a conversion but a true inch micrometer spindle," says Chris Kaiser. "It's important because tolerances are getting tighter and tighter, especially in aerospace, and the heads have fine-balancing capability built right into them."
BIG Kaiser is also introducing new compact lightweight angle heads to extend the axis capability of smaller machines. The BIG Plus connection continues to gain widespread acceptance for many machining processes. "The simultaneous dual-face contact of BIG Plus for flange and taper provides the rigidity required for highspeed machining," says Kaiser. "It's especially effective for longer tools, and is an alternative to HSK toolholders," Kaiser explains. Also being introduced are Mega ER16 and Mega ER32 collet chucks with the BIG PLUS tool holding system.
Rego-Fix Tool Corp. (Indianapolis) will show how the end user can make a solid connection at both front end and back end of the cutting tool/toolholder combination. "We offer CAPTO in our ER and in PowRgrip systems," explains Andreas Weber, president, Rego-Fix Tool Corp. "With CAPTO and PowRgrip PG32, it's pretty much the ultimate tooling. You have the best possible connection for the front end and for the back end for rigidly holding tools for cutting new tougher materials, and for high-speed machining applications," says Weber. The powRgrip PG 32 system can clamp tool shanks to 1" (25-mm) diam while maintaining a T.I.R. to 0.0001" (0.003 mm), and offers an extensive taper selection, including CAT, BT, HSK, and TC versions.
"The big run up in our business is being fueled by the energy industry," says Sid Roth, president, SMW Autoblok Corp. (Wheeling, IL). "We have quite a large series of products designed for the energy industry. I hate to characterize a Power Chuck for the downhole industry that weighs a ton as a commodity, but we are probably the largest producer worldwide of these power chucks for that style of tubing and pipe," says Roth.
"Where we are seeing a lot of activity right now is in the connector industry. We have introduced a new line of quick-change jaw chucks with a 10.3" [262-mm] bore. The chuck design overcomes the difficulty of dealing with serrated jaws that are very large and heavy, and thus difficult to position properly," says Roth.
SMW Autoblok will also preview a new series of highly accurate pulldown chucks. The TX Chuck features master jaws that are pinned to the chuck body, providing rigidity for milling, as well as turning operations. All new SMW Autoblok products will be hermetically sealed. Power Chucks, for example, will run one year without lubrication. Secret to the development is a high-quality seal to cover the master jaws and the surface of the chuck to keep out swarf, dirt, chips, and chips and fluids. In addition, the company will show its new line of live tooling that has become so important in CNC turning.
"We have CNC lathes in our shop, and based on my own experience I'll never buy another one without live tooling," says Roth. — Jim Lorincz
Don't Forget Workforce Development
IMTS 2008 will address workforce development via the NIMS Student Summit, which combines an interactive Career Development Center (CDC) with a self-guided tour of the technology and manufacturing exhibition. Field trips to the show are encouraged for students from middle school through vocational college levels, and admission to IMTS 2008 will be free for educators and their students.
The summit is sponsored by AMT and the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). Its main goal is to generate interest in precision manufacturing among young people by exposing them to industry professionals and state-of-the-art technology. At IMTS 2008 students will see advanced technologies that will be the platform for precision manufacturing in years to come. Parents can visit the show during the weekend using the admission pass issued to students by the Summit, and see demonstrations of manufacturing equipment and technology.
As part of the CDC, all students who attend IMTS 2008 will experience an event orientation during which they'll find out what they can expect during their visit to the show. Students will find out how their experiences relate to career opportunities, and hear from young manufacturing professionals. Graduating high school and college students are invited to bring resumes, including contact information, to the CDC to give to participating companies to review for entry-level job openings.
This article was first published in the August 2008 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.