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.
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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.
Erik Anderson, president and CEO of Basin Precision Machining LLC, has determined that setups are the root of all evil when it comes to manufacturing productivity. They cause part variations, downtime, and high-percentage scrap rates.
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.
With the number of offline and in-process toolsetting options on the rise, developing a way to efficiently utilize this technology can be confusing. Which presetter should we buy? What about the software that’s so often part of these systems—do we really need it?
Do you have what it takes to raise your milling productivity to the next level? In addition to the requisite know-how, you need cutters and machine tools that will allow you to employ milling techniques that exceed what’s normally possible. Aided by the right hardware, you may soon be performing feats like pushing your feed rates to new highs and cutting harder materials than ever before.
If you’re looking for new solutions to tooling and workholding challenges, IMTS was a great place to start. The bi-annual trade show, held this past September in Chicago, allowed shops to browse for the “latest and greatest” technologies.