The first kilowatt-class fiber laser for material processing was introduced by IPG Photonics in early 2002. Since that time, the adoption of fiber lasers for production applications has grown at a rapid rate. Today, fiber lasers are becoming the choice for most major production laser applications as well as converting traditional welding and cutting processes to fiber laser technologies.
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When a contract manufacturer sees an opportunity in the competitive aerospace market, it sets priorities aimed at providing the right combination of processes required to meet the industry’s exacting demands. Precision machining and finishing, parts inspection, and, of course, certifications from OEMs and industry alliances are at the top of the list. Increasingly, aerospace suppliers like Volvo Aero Connecticut (Newington, CT) are benefiting from five-axis machining, advanced CNC controls, motors and drives, robotic deburring, and on-machine inspection for a competitive advantage.
Automation in manufacturing is more important than ever, reducing costs and improving quality. While it is important in assembling cars, machining engines, or drilling holes in airframes, is it important to metrology operations as well? “Absolutely,” explained Michael Kleemann, engineering manager VRSI (Plymouth, MI).
Solid-state laser technology has matured, leading to development of new, cost-effective welding applications, such as hybrid welding
Today, laser technology in manufacturing touches all of our lives on a daily basis; lasers cut air bag material and weld air bag detonators for our in-car safety; lasers weld the batteries in many of our mobile devices; lasers drill aero-engine components for planes; lasers cut the glass for our smart phones and tablets screens; lasers weld the drivetrains in our cars and trucks; lasers cut medical stents that increase and enhance our lives, just to name a few.
Cutting tool maker Shape-Master Tool Co. (Kirkland, IL) needed to expand its tool grinding capability beyond that of its conventional machines or run the risk of losing work to the competition.
Not all threaded connections serve similar purposes.The load-carrying needs of an aerospace engine support bolt in a tension assembly greatly exceed those of a simple screw that fastens a cover plate to an electrical wall socket. International thread-acceptance documents and standards recognize this basic engineering fact, and incorporate different thread-inspection requirements into their verification standards.
Many industries have been making parts with micron dimensions for some time, but in the last few years, the market for miniaturization has expanded. The demand is not only for small parts, but also for small complex features on larger parts. This is due chiefly to the switch to modules in which the functions of several parts or subsystems are not handled by a single complex unit.
White-light metrology is a noncontact method that uses a familiar, safe light source—simple white light. Simplicity and accuracy may make white light the system of choice in many applications.
Innovate, Integrate, Collaborate are more than just marketing keywords. A number of metrology and software companies I visited at IMTS are putting their development dollars to work in these areas and showing off the results.