thumbnail group

Connect With Us:

New Weekly eNewsletter

All Alternative Machining Articles

The Heat Is On Difficult-to-Machine Metals

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Cutting tool manufacturers call on a lot of tribal knowledge to help their customers find the most productive machining solutions for processing difficult-to-machine materials. Manufacturers in industries that are big users of titanium, stainless steels, Inconels, and other high-temperature heat-resistant superalloys (HRSA) are increasingly seeking machining solutions that extend tool life, improve productivity, deliver consistent part quality, and take advantage of the latest advances in machine tool technology—all at the same time. Full Article

Innovative Tooling Puts Security into Tough Machining

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Nobody likes the thought of cuts or smashed fingers tooling up a job—before the machine is up and running, or tool and spindle-damaging crashes afterwards. “Getting the tooling right is the most important part of running any job,” said Steve Rose, CNC training consultant and former Swiss machine shop owner. Full Article

What’s New on the Wire? EDM Machines Offer More

Contributing Editor Ilene Wolff


“You guys are crazy!” That’s what Makino EDM product line manager Brian Pfluger was told—loudly—by a medical-industry customer after Pfluger recommended he use coated wire to make a custom housing for cancer treatment machines. Coated wire costs twice as much as uncoated, standard brass wire, so its use in the client’s application would increase manufacturing costs by about $100. Full Article

Pumping Up Productivity with Waterjet Machining

Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak


Abrasive waterjet technologies continue to advance with steadily improving speed and precision, cutting an extremely diverse range of materials. Today’s abrasive waterjet machines are used to quickly and accurately cut a wide range of parts ranging from large aerospace and automotive metal components to stone and granite as well as smaller parts with tiny feature sizes used in tools, implants and medical devices. Full Article

NewsDesk: Manufacturing Day Roars Ahead

Edited by Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


What started as a simple idea three years ago by Edward Youdell, president and CEO of Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl. (FMA), to combat old-fashioned stereotypes about manufacturing has skyrocketed to a sweeping North American event that promotes advanced manufacturing, especially to students. Full Article

Viewpoints: A Closer Look at Alternative Machining

Peter Loetzner, CEO, EMAG LLC (North America)


New material substrates and an increasing number of compact designs in aerospace engines, automotive transmissions, medical devices and elsewhere have had the dual effect of stimulating more creative approaches to machining, plus a review of the many techniques long classified as nontraditional. Full Article

Laser Manufacturing Expands Its Reach

Contributing Editor Bruce Morey


There are at least two factors that are making lasers more attractive than ever for cutting, welding, and other material processing tasks. One is increasing power and the other is their improved ruggedness, according to Jim Rogowski, director of machine & power tool sales for Trumpf (Farmington, CT). More power means more productivity, cutting thicker materials or cutting the same materials faster. Full Article

Mazak Introduces New HYBRID Multi-Tasking Technology

Press Release - Mazak Corporation


Mazak Corporation has unveiled its new INTEGREX i-400AM (additive manufacturing) HYBRID Multi-Tasking Machine. As a fusion of additive technology and Mazak’s most advanced Multi-Tasking capabilities, the machine will significantly reduce part cycle times while providing high-efficiency Done-In-One processing. Full Article

Mix and Match for Lightweight Autos

Contributing Editor Bruce Morey


It is common sense—a vehicle that weighs less requires less fuel to move it. A number of studies show that reducing the mass of a vehicle by 10% results in anywhere from 4.5 to 6% better fuel economy—well worth the effort. The dilemma for automakers is that mass reduction needs to happen without compromising safety, NVH, styling, or size. Full Article

Hurco Combines CNC Machine with 3D Printer

Executive Editor James D. Sawyer


IMTS 2014 will see the debut of a new technology from Hurco Companies Inc. (Indianapolis) that combines 3D printing and CNC milling.The adapter allows Hurco machine tools to conduct 3D plastic printing directly on the machine tool without the need for a separate 3D printer. Full Article

IMTS 2014: Satisfying Abrasive Customers

Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


Users of CNC tool grinding machines can expect to see greater levels of automation, more sophisticated software that is easier to use than previous generations, an increased capability for multiple operations in one machine from grinding to inspection, and faster cycle times, according to the president of CNC tool and cutter grinder developer ANCA Inc. (Wixom, MI). Full Article

Mi-Light Photonics Industry Scholarships

Press Release from Mi-Light


Mi-Light, the Michigan photonics industry cluster, announced the funding and award of $5,000 in scholarships to four in-state academic institutions. Baker College (Flint, MI), Grand Valley State University (Grand Rapids, MI), Michigan Technological University (Houghton, MI) and Northwestern Michigan College (Traverse City, MI). Each college or university was allocated $1,250 in funds to be awarded to students enrolled in a photonics programs.   Full Article

SME and 3D Systems Announce M.Lab21 to Transform Career and Technical Education

Press Release from SME and 3D Systems


SME and 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced a collaborative initiative to enhance high school industrial arts and vocational education classes through the new M.Lab21 initiative. This program will offer starter kits to transform shop classes and incorporate additive manufacturing into curriculums. Full Article

Is 3D Printing Right For You?

Press Release from PwC


3D printing (3DP), also known as additive manufacturing, is showing signs of triggering transformations in U.S. industrial manufacturing, from product design and production to restructured supply chains, according to a report released today by PwC US in conjunction with The Manufacturing Institute. The report, 3-D printing and the new shape of industrial manufacturing, which includes findings from a survey of over 100 industrial manufacturers, revealed that two-thirds (67 percent) of manufacturers surveyed are currently implementing 3DP either by experimenting with the technology or by already using it for prototypes or final products. Full Article

Machine Builders Dig Deep into Their Bag of Tricks

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


The challenge for manufacturing today is to meet the demand for tighter tolerances, better finishes, and shorter leadtimes for workpieces—all at a lower cost. Grinding results have always seemed to depend on the skill of operators who were privy to the mysteries described as some mythical “black art.” Full Article

UNITED GRINDING Launches Five New Machines

Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


During a packed press conference in an auditorium at the Thun Expo, Stephan Nell, CEO of UNITED GRINDING Group, painted a glowing picture of the company’s financial performance and laid out an exciting vision for the Group’s future – celebrating the launch of five all-new or updated advanced manufacturing machines at the symposium. What’s more, Nell said the company will expand on its leadership in grinding by strategically adding other non-grinding processes to its machines and portfolio in the future, part of its focus to offer more efficient, smart production solutions to its customers. Nell said the company was open to adding these technologies through acquisition in addition to its own development.    Full Article

Oxy-Fuel/Plasma Cutting System From ESAB

ESAB Cutting Systems


ESAB Cutting Systems introduces Crossbow, a compact oxy-fuel/plasma CNC cutting system that is portable and economical. The machine’s size and weight make it easy to transport as the application requires. Automated functions and a user friendly CNC provide powerful, versatile, oxy-fuel or plasma processing in a value-minded package. Full Article

Improving Laser Technologies Driving Big Changes in Little Stents

Contributing Editor Ilene Wolff


For about 20 years, medical device manufacturers have used continuous wave lasers to make permanent metal stents, first out of stainless steel and then out of alloys like nitinol and cobalt chrome. Doctors implant the devices to prop open blood vessels or help with other medical conditions.  But during the last two decades ultrafast, pulsed lasers have been perfected that can also produce stents made of polymers, which are bioplastics that dissolve in the body once they’ve done their job. Full Article

Next Generation MAXIEM Line From OMAX Corp.

OMAX Corp.


OMAX Corporation takes the price-to-performance ratio in abrasive waterjet cutting technology a huge leap forward with the launch of its next generation MAXIEM machines. Now categorized as JetMachining® Centers, these significantly advanced versions pack even more productivity enhancing features that will further increase output and boost profitability. Full Article

Additive Joins Subtractive on Advanced All-in-One Machines

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


The path of precision machining has taken a decidedly unexpected change in direction. Yes, machining centers, in their various configurations of horizontal, vertical, and universal, continue to hold their preeminent positions in shops for their ability to create value-added benefits to individual workpieces or parts in serial production. Full Article

Laser Welding Applications Expand

Contributing Editor Bruce Morey


Lasers for welding have proven their worth in the last 35 years in select applications. Despite their high capital cost, the precise, intense heat source makes lasers the right choice where there are tight tolerances, close fit-ups, and thin materials. These are applications where lasers produce less distortion, with their smaller heat-affected zone (HAZ) around the weld. Full Article

ESAB Announces Colfax's Acquisition of Victor Technologies



ESAB, a member of the Colfax group of companies, today announced that Colfax has entered into a binding agreement to acquire Victor Technologies Holdings, Inc. (“Victor”).The acquisition brings together two leading organizations with world-class products, technologies and R&D. Full Article

A Network of Little Silicon Valleys

Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


One of the biggest moments of the 2014 State of the Union was President Barack Obama’s announcement of six new manufacturing hubs, or innovation institutes. Two are already in the works, including “America Makes,” the additive manufacturing hub, in Youngstown, OH, and the recently announced wide bandgap semiconductor hub in Raleigh, NC. Together, these institutes, Obama said in his address to Congress, give us "the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs.”

Full Article

Mazak Introduces New Optiplex 4020 Laser-Cutting System

Mazak Optonics


Mazak Optonics Corp. now offers their industry-leading OPTIPLEX CO2 laser-cutting system in a new 6’ x 12’ format. The new design incorporates all of the performance advantages of the original OPTIPLEX with an expanded workspace for larger jobs. Full Article

Mazak Introduces 2D Tube Gear Laser for High-Speed Tube & Pipe Cutting

Mazak Optonics


Mazak Optonics Corp. has released a new TUBE GEAR 2D laser-cutting machine with industry-leading processing speeds for tubes and pipes. The TUBE GEAR’s high-speed capabilities for thin-walled applications offer increased efficiency and a significant reduction in cost per part compared to similar tube and pipe cutting systems. Full Article

Mazak Optonics Partners with Tekmag, an Italian Automation Manufacturer

Mazak Optonics


Mazak Optonics Corp. has announced a new partnership with Tekmag, an Italian automation systems manufacturer specializing in customized storage solutions. The new partnership will add to a continuing 12+ years of providing automation systems for clients of Mazak Optonics’ sister company, Mazak Europe. Full Article

Reducing Cost, Complexity with New Lightweighting Solutions

Ramzi Hermiz, President and CEO, Shiloh Industries


It is the suppliers' job to provide a solution that is seamless to the process, beneficial to both design and manufacturing, and adds value to the product. Full Article

Lasers Drill Precision Holes Quickly

Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak


Laser technology for drilling precision holes has taken a leap forward with faster, cheaper, high-accuracy fiber lasers, which are used in the aerospace industry for turbine engine hole-drilling and other industries. Full Article

Scaling Down Waterjets to the Micro Level

Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak


Shrinking an abrasive waterjet machine down to work at micro sizes is no small task. Adapting abrasive waterjets for micromachining requires greatly reducing the size of the waterjet nozzles and mixing tubes that carry smaller garnet abrasives through the waterjet’s high-pressure cutting tool delivery system. Full Article

Drilling Small, Deep Holes with Precision EDM

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) has been removing metal by spark erosion for more than half a century—with sinker (ram/Elox-) style EDMing for molds and wire EDM for precision parts cutting, especially dies. A third type, EDM drilling, has emerged for precision holemaking in the smallest sizes, going beyond its use initially as an EDM “popper” for starting holes in hard metals. Full Article

Watercutting in Wartime

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson with information from OMAX Corp.


To deal with aggressors ranging from regular troops to ragtag insurgents, in venues from crowded cities to trackless mountains, the Pentagon is developing smaller, more flexible fighting forces built to rapidly adapt to continuing change. With defense spending under increasing scrutiny, efficiency and cost control are concurrent concerns. Full Article

Free Abrasives Flow for Automated Finishing

Dr. Michael L. Massarsky and David A. Davidson


Turbo-Abrasive Machining (also referred to as TAM or Turbo-Finish) is a mechanical deburring and finishing method originally developed  to automate edge finishing procedures on complex rotationally oriented and symmetrical aerospace engine components. Aerospace parts such as turbine and compressor disks, fan disks and impellers pose serious edge finishing problems. Full Article

Expanding the World of Waterjets at Omax

Senior Editor Patrick Wauzyniak


Abrasive waterjet machining technology has evolved greatly over the past two decades, led in part by the many innovations from waterjet machine tool builder OMAX Corp. (Kent, WA). Celebrating 20 years of operation, OMAX showcased its technologies for customers, employees and media attending the company’s anniversary open house August 20. Full Article

Promess Opens Customercentric Centers for Process Development, Training

Promess Inc.


Promess, Inc. (Brighton, MI) has opened a new Process Development Center (PDC) and Training Center on the company’s recently expanded headquarters campus. Available to customers at minimal or no cost, depending on individual test run volume, the PDC is equipped to support process development, part testing and technology application studies. The Training Center offers custom-developed classes to customers and end-users of Promess products. Full Article

Automating the Grinding Process

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Whether the process is cylindrical or profile grinding, automation, which can increase cycle time, throughput, consistency of part quality and taking real-time in-process measurements, is once again in demand. The reasons can be found in the benefits found in typical applications and the innovative and effective forms of automation available from machine builders like United Grinding Technologies Inc. and their automation integrator of choice, Matrix Design Inc. Full Article

Laser Makers Under Pressure: Do More, Faster

Contributing Editor Ilene Wolff


Lasers get more powerful, accurate and affordable, improving productivity of laser marking and cutting Full Article

Technologies Offer Process Variety

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Manufacturers today have a greater variety of highly specialized alternative technologies to choose from to maximize productivity, throughput, and profitability. Applications range from one off and short run manufacturing in job shops to mid-volume production for applications in virtually every industry. Innovative technologies include robotics with a human touch, waterjet cutting, and parallel kinematics machine (PKM) technology.  Full Article

GF AgieCharmilles Collaborating With VA-based Manufacturing Center

Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


GF AgieCharmilles, a leading provider of EDM systems, milling machines and laser texturing solutions, is now collaborating with the Virginia-based Commonwealth Center for Advanced anufacturing (CCAM) to help accelerate the transfer of research innovation from the laboratory to commercial use.  Full Article

Injecting Innovation

John MacGregor, President, AA-EDM


There are different forms of electric discharge machining (EDM), but all basically work in the same manner. EDM works by eroding material in the path of electrical discharges that form "a conduction channel" between an electrode tool and a workpiece.   Full Article

Innovations of Note are Now in the Mainstream

Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


There’s a change in nomenclature at this year’s IMTS: Attendees looking for what was the Alternative Manufacturing Processes pavilion will be directed instead to Metal Forming & Fabricating/Laser. These processes include metal forming, fabrication, waterjet and laser-based machining, welding, metal treating and marking. Full Article

EDM Technology Trumps Offshoring

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Technical advances continue to recommend EDM for applications where the closest tolerances and finest surface finishes are required. Full Article

It's Manufacturing's Turn in the Spotlight

Senior Editor James D. Sawyer


The Great Recession was not kind to manufacturing, but the industry has bounced back in fine fashion. It grew a phenomenal 91% from 2009 to 2010 and an impressive 66% from 2010 to 2011. Thus far this year manufacturing has grown 20%—beating forecasts. Full Article

Robotics Cut New Path in Hot Metal Stamping

Doug Hixon, Robotic Laser Welding & Cutting Specialist, ABB Robotics


The longer term challenges facing the automobile industry are as complex as they are interrelated: Design cars that people want. Increase customer satisfaction. Reduce capital costs. Improve passenger safety. Increase fuel efficiency. And, of course, do all of this while sustaining a business model with a reasonable profit margin.

  Full Article

Lasers Cut Medical Devices with Precision, Speed

Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak


Lasers cut, weld and mark the metal alloys and polymers used to build the latest medical implant breakthroughs, surgical instruments, and other related medical products. Many key characteristics of today’s lasers make the devices ideal for use in medical applications such as cutting stents and endoscopes, pacemaker components and other medical components. Full Article

Waterjets & Airframes

Mohamed Hashish, Senior Vice President of Technology, Flow International


A look at machining aircraft composite structures with abrasive waterjets.   Full Article

Tech Front: Advanced Electrochemical Machining

Edited by Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


The smallest precision parts and dies with intricate features and details can be machined with high-quality surface finishes in production volumes with an advanced electrochemical machining (ECM) process called Precision Electrolytic Machining (PEM) from PEM Technologies (Natrona Heights, PA). Conductive metals including tempered steel, stainless, Hastelloy, Nitinol, aluminum, and exotic alloys can be completely machined in a single operation with high repeatability. Full Article

Taking Off After New Applications

Jim Lorincz


The advantages of abrasive waterjet machining are no longer a mystery to the everyday shop user, and haven’t been for some time. Steel, stainless, titaninum, composites, and high-temperature alloys and exotics including Inconel, Waspaloy, and Hastelloy, as well as a wide array of nonmetals, are being routinely cut. Materials, especially for sensitive applications, can be cut without heat-affected zones (HAZ) and heat deformation. Full Article

EDM Molds a Smart Future

Jim Lorincz


EDM, both wire and diesinker, is generally regarded as a mature technology in applications for which it is especially well-suited. Innovations have been incorporated over the years in literally every facet of the process to provide competitive advantage to the end user and the supplier. EDM technology itself has gotten smarter, capable of producing finer surface finishes—especially needed for micro molds—and has enjoyed growth spurts both in the smaller and larger moldmaking applications. Full Article

Laser Cutting and Welding Technologies Advance

Patrick Waurzyniak


Laser technologies for cutting and welding parts have been steadily refined since the laser was invented some 50 years ago. Today, laser technology is easily used to quickly cut 2-D or 3-D sheetmetal parts and to make high-quality welds. Full Article

Lasers Enable Medical Manufacturing Innovation

Editor Brian J. Hogan


The success of the laser as a tool for manufacturing medical devices has occurred due to an alignment of its features to that of the industry. Those requirements for high quality, accuracy, miniaturization, and reliability match up well with the laser’s inherent fine resolution, high controllability, and stability. Full Article

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