Basic trends in modern manufacturing are driving growth in 3D optical metrology. “One is the highly complex and high-tech material that manufacturers are using today. For example, in the aerospace turbine blade market, they simply cannot touch the part like they used to—the surface finish of the material is too readily affected by any kind of contact metrology."
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Technology is changing ever more rapidly. Sometimes this means topics learned in engineering or technical school become obsolete. Whole new fields emerge within a few years, so that even those with freshly minted educations suddenly find themselves faced with new challenges.
In the near absence of academic programs to teach undergraduate engineering students additive manufacturing, a California-based startup has stepped in to help fill the void through internships.
Machining aerospace materials is a challenging task. Not only are machining operations tightly controlled, a wide variety of workpiece materials are employed, including aluminum, titanium, and carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs). The following is a brief guide to cutting tool options for successful machining of airframe components. All of the tools referenced are manufactured by Mitsubishi Materials.
K&G Manufacturing (Faribault, MN) has learned a thing or two about precision machining in the 80 years it has been in business. One lesson the company learned long ago is that balanced toolholders are a key to customer satisfaction and achieving the best possible machining results.
Solid-carbide micro cutting tools about the diameter of human hair or smaller—some producing parts visible only under a microscope—are making a huge impact on manufacturing highly advanced electronics, automotive and aerospace fuel injection systems, and medical instruments and implants.
Earlier this decade, the auto industry moved to lighten cars and trucks. It was supposed to be a competition between steel, long the dominant vehicle material, and aluminum. The latter got a boost when Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich., bet big on aluminum, making aluminum bodies for its F-150 and Super Duty pickups.
If you’ve ever seen industrial wind turbine components on the back of a flatbed truck rolling down the highway, you have a good idea of what a large, heavy, difficult-to-handle workpiece is. For example, with a single blade on the GE 1.5 mW turbine being almost as long as a football field, the entire blade assembly weighs about the same as 36 small cars.
At the Nirvana Machine Shop on planet Perfection, every workpiece is clamped to a custom-built fixture mounted on a dedicated machine tool. Each workpiece is dimensionally identical to the one before and the one after. All the fixtures are totally automatic—instantly positioning, clamping, machining, inspecting, and releasing the part with the ultimate precision.
Metrology-grade laser scanners are expanding their range of applications. New users are finding the main attractions of laser scanners—speed and ease of use. What prevented more widespread use in the past were laser scanners’ perceived tradeoffs. Using one usually meant sacrificing accuracy or working with noisy data.