Moldmaking is making a comeback, with more reshoring to North America of mold-and-die manufacturing that left for the Far East and other low-cost manufacturing centers. With faster metalcutting through high-speed machining (HSM) and improved EDM techniques, mold-and-die shops are finding innovative ways to compete with manufacturing operations in traditionally low-cost labor markets.
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While robots have been deployed in high-profile surgical applications in recent years, using a specialized apparatus like the da Vinci surgical system, the majority of industrial or commercial medical uses for robots are somewhat more commonplace.
Lean manufacturing principles and automation systems can coexist, although many lean purists contend that lean goals conflict with using automation. Smart applications of automation, however, can result in deployment of systems that are both automated and lean, with flexible manufacturing systems that can be easily reconfigured as factory operations change.
Composites engineers are expanding their craft to build more complex, durable parts at higher production volumes. One way they are achieving this objective is by using infusion-molding processes based on Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) and Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM).
Speeding up programming tasks on CAD/CAM software ranks at the top of machine shops’ requirements when faced with making quality parts on a deadline. The more efficient a shop’s toolpaths are, the less chance that any programming problems result in wasting very expensive machine time on the shop floor.
Advanced materials for automotive manufacturing are helping automakers build lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Common misperceptions about lean manufacturing and automation systems lead many manufacturing managers to dismiss the use of automation in a lean setting.
An early pioneer in the fields of NC and CAD/CAM software, Patrick J. Hanratty, PhD, discovered his passion for computing and programming almost by accident, answering a newspaper ad seeking programmers in his hometown of San Diego after returning from service in the Air Force during the Korean War.
Machining composites presents unique challenges compared to metals. Reinforcement fibers are abrasive, shortening tool life. The plastic matrix carries away little heat, unlike metal chips, and overheating can melt the matrix.
When a tool breaks during a machining operation, the part being processed is often destroyed, and sometimes the machine is damaged. Aerospace parts are often complex shapes, manufactured from exotic materials that require prolonged machining cycle times. Therefore, a scrapped part is a significant loss in raw materials and value-added machining.