Swiss-style machine tools can be a good choice for making complex parts. On the downside, however, Swiss machining itself has a reputation of being complex—and, therefore, more difficult to master than standard machining.
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Most anyone who’s worked in a machine shop for any length of time has at some point attended a trade show or machine tool distributor’s open house. There they see canned demonstrations of CNC machines busily carving up chunks of brass, mild steel, or aluminum into business card holders and tic-tac-toe games.
Aerospace machining encompasses machines small and large. These range from the Tornos SwissNano to the Makino MAG3, as Rich Sullivan put it. He is the OEM manager for Iscar Metals Inc., Arlington, Texas.
Structured light systems measure surfaces by projecting a pattern of fringes, then using cameras and sophisticated software to convert them into point clouds of metrology data. Accuracy can reach the single-digit microns over millions of points.
For CMMs, the good times continue to roll. “One of the surprising things that has happened in just the last three to four years is the sheer volume of CMMs that we are shipping,” said Angus Taylor, president of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, North America (North Kingstown, RI). “The market seems to be really exploding.”
In a perfect CNC world, the first part is always a good one. There’s no need for extra blanks or barstock. Setup times are only as long as is needed to swap out a few tools and load a new program. There’s never a crash, never the need to reprogram an inefficient bit of code. The operator just pushes the green button and out pops a finished workpiece minutes or hours later.
When I graduated with an engineering degree some decades ago, I learned that the organizations I was going to work for had internal communication problems. This was especially true for those that designed and manufactured complex machinery such as engines, aircraft, or automobiles.
For Dale Mickelson, Yasda product manager at Methods Machine Tools Inc. (Sudbury, MA) and author of several books on hard milling, tackling heat-resistant superalloys (HRSAs) requires the perfect combination of machine, workholding, tooling, tool paths and coolant.
Additive manufacturing (AM) pioneer Charles Hull introduced the first commercial 3D printer, the SLA-1, in 1987. Jaws dropped, machinists wondered about their next career, pundits said it spelled the death of traditional manufacturing. None of that happened, thankfully; in fact, some said 3D printing was a bunch of hype, good for little more than investment casting patterns and proof of concept prototypes.
You don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate the solutions for the tooling or workholding challenges that shops will bring to exhibitors when attending IMTS 2018. One thing is certain you’ll never have a better time to find suppliers of advanced tooling and workholding technology under one venue like McCormick Place.