thumbnail group

Connect With Us:

ME Channels / Shop Solutions

IMTS 2014: A New Layer of Interest in Fabricating/Laser Pavilion


Additive manufacturing, which builds layer by layer, has been added to the fabricating and laser pavilion for 2014

Located in the North Building, the fabricating, laser and additive pavilion will be one of the biggest draws at IMTS, with the addition of 3D printing technologies that allow layer-by-layer manufacturing with more materials than ever.

This pavilion features a variety of major players in the fabricating, laser and growing additive arenas. Among them:  ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, Kuka Robotics Corp., CNC Software Inc., Mitsubishi EDM/MC Machinery Systems Inc., OMAX Corp., Trumpf Inc. and The ExOne Co.

A variety of new technologies, powered by advanced software and robotics, and their integration into traditional metalworking processes, has invigorated the fabricating field, where manufacturers build metal structures by cutting, punching, bending, forming, welding, brazing and other processes.

The industry is also being challenged by an array of new advanced materials and composites, where certain processes boast superior performance. For example, those in the abrasive waterjet arena say their process is superior for cutting composite materials. A precision waterjet with a taper compensating head will machine 1/4" (6.4-mm) thick carbon fiber as fast as 180 ipm (4572 mm/min) at 60,000 psi (413 MPa) with taper of less than 0.001" (0.025 mm) per side, according to OMAX Corp. (Kent, WA). And 13/16" (20.6-mm) thick G10 can be machined as fast a 40 ipm (1016 mm/min) at 60,000 psi with the same precision.

During IMTS, Jet Edge will perform live five-axis abrasive waterjet cutting demonstrations on its premiere 90,000 psi (6200 bar) EDGE X-5™ five-axis waterjet with Aquavision Di control and Closed Loop Filtration System.

Robotic Welding Gets More Flexible

At booth N-6129,  ESAB Welding & Cutting Products plans to showcase the Swift Arc SL system, a side-load robotic welding cell featuring a new tandem Swift Arc Transfer (SAT) MIG welding process.

George Learmonth, VP of Automation for North America at ESAB, said it’s the first time the side-load version of the product is being shown in this market. ESAB also offers angle and front load versions, as well as a mobile learning version, but the side-load, which offers an open envelope on opposing sides, has proven more popular than expected.

“It surprises us,” Learmonth told Manufacturing Engineering. “We thought the front loader would be more popular.”

But first-time robotics buyers, it turns out, like the flexibility of side-load. “As they embrace robotics, they like having two sides,” he explained.

The robotic cell in combination with tandem SAT process achieves travel speeds well beyond the limits of normal spray arc welding for high productivity automated welding.

ESAB’s Swift Arc SL is designed for robotic welding of large parts at high production rates. Dual trunions manipulate parts from two sides, allowing welded parts to be unloaded and new parts to be loaded during the welding process. This continuous “arc on” time improves output by reducing downtime.

Enhancing the speed and productivity of the robotic cell is a new tandem SAT process that uses twin welding wires running simultaneously through the cell’s robotic torch to deliver exceptionally high deposition rates. This high-productivity MIG welding process produces flat welds with good penetration and without undercut. Its low heat input results in less deformation. Less part deformation and limited spatter minimizes post-weld labor, helping lower production costs.
ESAB Welding & Cutting will show off its Swift Arc SL system, a side-load robotic welding cell featuring a new tandem Swift Arc Transfer (SAT) MIG welding process.
The SAT process uses  ESAB’s AristoRod non-copper coated wires to reduce contamination of the feed system with copper particles. This results in dependable feeding properties and a consistently stable arc at high welding currents and wire feed speeds.

Learmonth said that he expects a lot of traffic at IMTS to see the new system, as automation, especially with flexible robots, continues to grow given the continued skills gap in manufacturing and the increase in business in North America.

“It’s a great show for automation, and the world of fabrication needs more automation,” he said, noting that the average age of a welder is 58. “We need more people in fabrication. Demographics are driving more automation.”

A One-Stop Shop for Welding

Lincoln Electric (Cleveland, OH), a leader in welding  and cutting products, including robotic arc welding and more, will be showing off several new product technologies—as well as its strategy of becoming a one-stop shop for automation that includes an array of upstream and downstream processes related to welding and metal fabrication solutions.

“More and more of our customers are looking for a complete solution provider,” said Bruce Chantry, director of marketing at Lincoln Electric. “They are looking for a one-stop shop. … We’ll have a number of new and innovative solutions to show attendees.”

Located in IMTS booth N-6520, Lincoln Electric will show off its new HELIX C450 and C663 weld heads. With these orbital TIG (gas tungsten arc welding) clamp-on weld heads, operators can now weld smaller tubes and pipes with diameters ranging from 1.315 to 6.63" (33.4–168.4 mm). The new weld heads are designed for use with the company’s APEX 2100 orbital welding system, which now offers TIG welding solutions for tubes and pipes ranging from 1.315 to 64". All of the HELIX weld heads are easy to install and position on pipes and tubes.

The new clamp-on heads are designed for use with the company’s new HELIX WF20S and WF20B orbital wire feeders, which use a precision wire-feed motor to ensure calibrated and consistent wire-feed speed throughout the length of the weld. The HELIX design allows the operator to change wire spools in under a minute, without tools.

Lincoln Electric also will show off its new Weld Sequencer solution, which allows customers to set up a series of complex welds step-by-step to make execution easier for operators. The system can set up for a series of welds with different parameters such as voltage, wire feed speeds and more and track whether the welds were performed correctly and in sequence. It automatically controls the weld settings from weld to weld, too, helping to improve quality.

Lincoln Electric will show off its new HELIX C450 and C663 weld heads. With these orbital TIG (gas tungsten arc welding) clamp-on weld heads, operators can now weld small tubes and pipes.

“Some customers have complex parts that may not be conducive to robotics for any number of reasons,” Chantry explained, and the more complicated the sequence of welds, which may require different settings and adjustments, the more room for operator error.

The Weld Sequencer is essentially a weld-by-numbers assistant for welders. It visually guides a welder with images of the parts and directs the operator through each weld and automatically adjusts the welding parameters. The system also monitors the welding to help ensure that the welds are the correct duration while providing digital feedback and verification.

“Every single weld can have a different weld setting,” Chantry said.

Chantry said these new technologies are part of the vision of Lincoln Electric to surround the welding market, which is dealing with a serious skilled worker shortage, with an array of solutions before and after welding occurs.

Several acquisitions are enabling Lincoln Electric to deliver on that goal. Among the handful of companies it has acquired in recent years:

  • Tennessee Rand Inc., a privately-held automated systems and tooling manufacturer based in Chattanooga, TN.
  • Burlington Automation (Python X),a maker of 3D robotic plasma cutting systems based in Ontario, Canada.
  • Robolution GmbH, a European provider of robotic arc welding systems that is popular in the automotive industry.
  • Wayne Trail Technologies Inc., a privately-held Ohio-based manufacturer of automated systems and tooling.
  • Weartech  International, a privately-held producer of cobalt-based hard facing and wear-resistant welding consumables.
  • Torchmate  also known as Applied Robotics Inc., a manufacturer of CNC cutting tables and accessories based in Reno, NV.
  • Techalloy, Baltimore, Maryland-based manufacturer is a privately-held producer of nickel alloy and stainless steel welding consumables.

Chantry said Lincoln Electric, which has also acquired Arc Products, Vernon Tool and Burny Kaliburn, is looking forward to showing off all the new and innovative solutions it now has to offer.

“This show has always been an important show for Lincoln,” he said. “We can help our customers become more successful.”

Waterjet Technologies on Display

Dr. John Cheung, chief executive officer of OMAX Corp.(Kent, WA), said he’s excited to show off the company’s new and improved abrasive waterjet technology, which continues to be completely designed and built in the United States. Attendees will discover how advanced abrasive waterjet technology can efficiently support the increasing production demands and offer solutions for industries such as aerospace, defense, medical, energy and more.

The new MAXIEM JetMachining Centers offer cost-efficient, high-performance waterjet cutting technology in a rugged package. In addition to increased part cutting accuracy, the updated drive system delivers much faster and smoother motion. New MAXIEMS also feature completely revamped universal Z axis for 12" (305 mm) of controlled height travel and the ability to easily switch from a simple fixed cutting head to the versatile A-Jet multiaxis cutting head in a matter of minutes.

On its premium line of OMAX JetMachining centers, the company will show its Tilt-A-Jet cutting head. The Tilt-A-Jet is an advanced taper removal cutting head that achieves ultra-high precision taper removal for successfully cutting parts with square, taper-free edges.

The latest software release from OMAX includes a new cutting model for increased productivity and advanced 3D cutting. The Intelli-MAX software precisely calculates the velocity of a toolpath allowing for complete control over the motion of the abrasive jet, enabling accurate, fast machining. Additionally, the software automates most programming and tool setup work, virtually eliminating the need for extensive operator training.

ExOne Says that interest in its additive manufacturing technologies continues to grow as new materials, such as nickel-based Inconel alloy 625, comes online. That recently introduced alloy has more than 99% density.

The MicroMAX JetMachining Center is the ideal solution for ultra-precision abrasive waterjet machining with finished parts and part features smaller than 300 microns. The MicroMAX JetMachining Center is an ideal research and development, rapid prototyping, and production waterjet machine for industries such as medical, electronics, and more.

The company also will introduce a new 100-hp (74.6-kW) EnduroMAX direct drive pump. Build on OMAX’s 20 years of direct-drive pump technology, the new 100-hp pump is an industry first. OMAX pumps deliver higher percentages of cutting power than comparable intensifier-type pumps, and the new 100-hp is no exception. “People like to have higher horsepower,” Cheung explained. “now we have a single 100-hp direct drive pump, only available on the OMAX line.”

“We as a company are always looking at improving our products and this new generation of abrasive waterjets represent the result of that kind of a push where we have improved in all aspects of the technology,” Cheung said.

Additive Manufacturing in Metal

Located between ABB Inc. and  ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, at N-6245, is industrial additive manufacturing leader ExOne (North Huntington, PA), and the company demonstrates how the manufacturing field is changing quickly.

Led by President and Chief Operating Officer David Burns, ExOne aims to be a global manufacturing solution provider in the growing industrial additive manufacturing arena, offering printing machines and services, as well as developing new materials for additive processes. Qualifying new materials and improving printing speed are critical areas of future product development.

“There are opportunities to print faster,” Burns said during a recent meeting with investors and the media.

ExOne is heavily invested in binder jetting technology as its core additive manufacturing process, which it believes is the superior process for industrial part production. ExOne’s machines—which include the S-Max, S-Print, M-Print, M-Flex, X1-Lab and Orion Laser—start with a digital image of a product and build that product layer by layer using a fine powder of sand, metal, glass or metal, mixed with a binder material, to build a finished product. Because there is little to no waste using the process, and because it lays down material one thin layer at a time, designs not previously considered manufactureable are now possible and there can be substantial cost savings in terms of a reduced number of parts and elimination of some assembly.

The company plans to have its M-Flex on display at IMTS as well as printed metal parts.

ExOne, which went public in 2013, already has an impressive stable of customers, such as BMW, Ford Motor Co., Boeing, Tesla Motors, Caterpillar, John Deere, Bosch Rexroth, Sikorsky, and a variety of others. Of ExOne’s $7.3 million in revenue in the first quarter, 33% came from machine sales and 67% came from printed parts and other digital manufacturing services.

ExOne is looking to further expand its production services under its ExCast division, which aims to supply complex finished casting parts for prototyping and short-run production on a rapid delivery platform to global industrial customers. That proposition includes everything from mold design and solidification analysis to heat treating, machining, coating and final inspection. ExOne seeks to build out that value streatm largely through acquisition.

S. Kent Rockwell, chairman and CEO, said interest continues to grow in the company’s binder jetting technology, especially as new materials with higher density potential are brought online. “We believe that nickel-based Inconel alloy 625, recently introduced as our first single metal alloy providing more than 99% density, expands our addressable market, expecially in the aerospace, chemical and energy markets,” he said. “To create additional opportunities for growth, we continue to work with customers to develop new metal material sets. And, with our expanded production capacity currently underway, we’ll be ready to respond as this market continues to grow.”

During his recent meeting with investors and the media, Burns discussed the potential of additive manufacturing in the industrial arena, as well as its challenges. For example, once a customer decides to use additive manufacturing for a part, there are many improvements to the part that can be made to reduce weight or reduce cost without affecting performance. But once those changes are made, a company is now committed to building that part through additive manufacturing as there is often no way to make that altered part with traditional manufacturing processes. That change can be quite a commitment for some original equipment manufacturers, and Burns acknowledged that fact may be slowing down adoption in some quarters.

“The opportunities to redesign are huge,” Burns said. “But they can’t go back once they’ve gone through the door. It’s a one way door.”

Once they’ve gone through, however, many manufacturers are greeted by significant benefits in terms of design improvements that reduce waste, save money and may substantially improve an approach to a part or its function altogether. For example, ExOne now prints sand cores for impellers without a core box, which allows a customer to deliver impeller casting in under two months—a substantial time savings when standard molds can typically take months to machine. ExOne says it can create complex molds and cores with accuracies of ± 0.011" or ± 0.3 mm. ME

Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


To view the complete IMTS preview for this pavilion as a PDF, click here

Published Date : 8/1/2014

Editor's Picks

Advanced Manufacturing Media - SME
U.S. Office  |  One SME Drive, Dearborn, MI 48128  |  Customer Care: 800.733.4763  |  313.425.3000
Canadian Office  |  7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 312, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2  888.322.7333
Tooling U  |   3615 Superior Avenue East, Building 44, 6th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114  |  866.706.8665