IMTS 2014: Solutions for Machining Clean, Green and Fast
Visit this pavilion to see experts on way covers and tracks, spindles, bearings, ballscrews, servomotors, maintenance equipment and more
Whether you’re milling, grinding, eroding, lasing, or using any of the other manufacturing disciplines represented at IMTS, it’s a safe bet you rely on the technology displayed in the Machine Components/Cleaning/Environmental pavilion. Not just “use,” but RELY on. As in, if you screw up on these, your shop shuts down.
As the name “environmental” suggests, this pavilion offers a number of solutions for filtering the air in your plant, controlling noise, suppressing fires, purifying or otherwise handling your used coolants, and so on. It’s also the place to go for things like machine enclosures, safety guards, and floor mats.
Naturally, you’ll want to do whatever you can to run a healthy shop, and just as naturally, the competitive demands of business make this a moving target. For example, the demand for higher material removal rates in a wide variety of machining operations leads to higher temperatures, which drives the need for higher coolant pressures. According to Absolent’s Business Development Manager Erik Jansson, this causes finer and finer mist particles. In fact, Jansson says particles are typically submicron now, which Absolent characterizes as “oil smoke” as opposed to “oil mist.” This quickly defeats many mist extraction systems.
Absolent’s approach uses a three-stage filter. The first two filters are fiber based and they block most of the particles, causing them to coagulate and drain back into the reservoir. (Jansson calls this basically a “capture and release” system.) The final stage is a HEPA filter, ensuring the air that finally emerges is extremely clean. Each stage is replaceable, and because most of the oil drains before reaching the HEPA filter, the filters last two to three years.
Jansson says they’re also seeing the trend toward higher coolant pressure on small Swiss machines running small parts. Owners of course want small extraction systems for these machines, but one that handles the oil smoke. Absolent responded with a new 350 cfm (9.9 m3/min product called the A-smoke5. In addition to a new four-stage filtration approach, the A-smoke5 has a variable speed drive and an energy-efficient fan with airflow guarantee (EcoDrive) that ensures that the filter unit consumes as little energy as possible. The fan starts at low speed when the filter cassettes are clean and revs up slowly as they become dirtier, to ensure the correct airflow. It also responds if the machine is open or closed and adjusts its speed accordingly. The user can also set an initial flow rate under the full 350 cfm rating without using baffles. Whatever the setting, the system delivers significant energy savings and longer filter life.
The device is also tiny, only 35.4 × 24.4 × 20.5" (900 × 620 × 521 mm). So you get a small system that handles a tough task with the minimum power consumption. Energy savings has been a bigger concern in Europe, where Absolent is based, but Jansson says it’s getting more emphasis here. He calculates that in some US markets using variable speed drives for motors of 5 hp (4.3 kW) and up will pay for itself in 15–16 months. You can see them in Booth E-5669.
Cleanliness is Next to...
Besides ensuring the cleanliness of your shop, you might very well need to clean the parts you produce. For smart, safe, and environmentally friendly ways to do that, the Miraclean Ultrasonics booth (E-5458) is an excellent place to start. As Miraclean’s Cheryl Larkin explains, “the demand for aqueous part cleaning took off beginning in 1989 and especially in the early 1990s with the implementation of the Montreal Protocol which controls the release of chemicals harmful to the ozone layer. Since then it’s been increasingly expensive to dispose of regulated solvents and CFCs like Freon. So all our systems are water based.”
Interestingly, they’re also all built to order since customers often have very specific throughput requirements and cleaning protocols, or they’re trying to meet specific standards, like those of the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). Some systems include the removal of free iron from part surfaces (a process called “passivation”) or even adding color. Miraclean offers fully automated machines that can perform all these steps in sequence, including either nitric or citric passivation.
Anodizing titanium in any of a rainbow of colors has emerged as a niche in the orthopedic market because surgeons prefer that bone screws be color-coded by size. If you’re serving that market, or have other “colorful ideas,” you can now take that capability in-house with a compact solution from Miraclean.
Wastewater Got You Down?
Getting rid of used water-based coolant or wash waters is expensive. You have to pay for handling, trucking, and treatment by your local POTW (Publicly Operated Treatment Works). Plus you have to replace it with clean water. So your costs can vary based on local water supplies, fuel prices, and even the edicts of the POTW. (The EPA sets limits for the POTWs but you live under the requirements of the local POTW.)
That’s why companies like PRAB (N-7288) are experiencing strong interest in systems that deal with wastewater right at the source.
Andrew Flowers, PRAB’s Business Development Manager for their wastewater treatment division, says your goal should be “to recycle your coolant, wash water and other fluids locally to increase your tool life and product quality, reduce your maintenance, and increase the life of your working fluids. Then finally when you do have to dispose of it, you have a smaller volume to get rid of, or a concentrated stream that you can treat yourself for lower cost handling at the POTW.”
PRAB offers solutions for all phases of the life-cycle, including particle filtration, membrane separation (micro-, nano- and ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis), and vacuum evaporation technology. Flowers adds that PRAB’s technology “can positively separate contaminants and reduce or even eliminate the chemicals used in conventional wastewater treatment. This improves the reliability and increases the amount of water you can recover compared to conventional treatment.” Vacuum evaporation has been used internationally for years, however it’s a relatively new technology in North America. So it’s one of the things they’ll feature in the booth.
PRAB’s installations range from those handling 100 gal/day (379 L/day) on individual machine tools to 5 million gal/day (18,927,000 L/day) in huge central systems. Flowers reports that payback is often under six months. No wonder interest is from all over the country.
Turning Trash to Cash
If you’re cutting metal, you’re producing chips. So at the very least, you have a material handling challenge. If you’re not recycling those chips, you’re throwing money away. But not all recycling technologies are equal.
PRAB (N-7288) also offers comprehensive chip handling and recycling systems besides—and often in concert with—their coolant treatment systems. According to Ron Chapman, PRAB’s national sales manager, “as recently as eight to ten years ago we didn’t have briquetting systems to facilitate fluid removal. And while traditional wringing systems typically do a better job of removing coolant from chips, a briquetting system produces 75–80% solid material, which remelts more easily than chip form. In fact, unless they’re sized properly, chips contain lots of fines which will go right up the stack or they’ll end up as dross. They won’t be remelted.”
Obviously that makes a huge difference in the value of your “trash.” Briquets are also easier to handle, as they’re typically compact units at 70–100 lbs/ft3 (0.89–1.27 kg/m3), whereas chips pile up at a tenth that density. Chapman adds that there are still cases when wringing is best and PRAB offers both approaches, sometimes in combination.
PRAB is perhaps unique in offering complete systems that take in rough chips, grind them, remove the coolant, treat and recycle the recovered coolant, separate ferrous and non-ferrous materials, and load out the scrap metal. Chapman says the market is especially excited about the fact that they can deliver even large-scale systems as modular units. “We do everything up front in our factory. The units are pre-assembled on a skid, pre-wired, and programmed. So an installation takes only a few days, instead of a few weeks or months as is typical in the industry.”
Chapman says they’re also getting more frequent requests to deal with a mix of materials and occasional requests to make changes after the initial installation, such as increased volume or different fluids and materials. He says their systems are engineered to be forgiving up front and modularity makes it possible to augment or rearrange the system to adapt to such challenges.
Chapman sees aerospace manufacturing as a key driver in his field. “When a typical wing spar goes from a 10,000 block of aluminum to a 100-lb [45.4-kg] part, that’s a lot of scrap. And of course you want to get the fluid back, because 20–30% of the original chip weight will be coolant. So large systems, up 15,000 lbs/hr [6804 kg/hr], are in high demand and customers have few options, especially for fully integrated solutions like ours.” On the other end of the spectrum, PRAB builds systems handling as little as 200 lbs/hr (90.7 kg/hr). “Below that, the payback is questionable unless you’re dealing in exotic materials. Payback is usually around 15 months to three years but sometimes in the range of 12 weeks.” ME
—Ed Sinkora, Contributing Editor
To view the complete IMTS preview for this pavilion as a PDF, click here.
Published Date : 8/1/2014