Today’s products require high finishes, burr-free edges, freedom from contamination, and often close tolerances. Electropolishing provides all of those conditions and more in a matter of seconds for many metal parts. It is a process that has been used for more than a hundred years. It is widely known and the science is widely discussed, but its ability to run job shop lots and high-precision high-volume parts in the same equipment makes it a bit unique.
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Advanced simulation, new toolpath techniques aid programming of highly complex machinery. CAD/CAM software developers continue to refine simulation capabilities and toolpath techniques that enable programming highly complex equipment including multiaxis and multitasking machine tools.
It is reported that, not too long ago, before the current precipitous decline in machine-tool shipments, the number of 30-taper machines that were being manufactured and sold in Japan had surpassed the numbers of 40-taper and 50-taper machining centers.
Supplying the 700 level-one trauma centers in the US is an intensively competitive business. Not only must suppliers like Smith & Nephew Orthopedics Inc. (Memphis, TN) produce very fine surface finishes on implantable devices and surgical instruments made from difficult-to-machine materials, but they also must deliver quality products, as surgeons need them.
Keeping products clean is becoming a more significant part of manufacturing as standards for cleanliness, deburring, and finish grow more stringent.
New coatings are going the boutique route, using multiple layers and new materials to optimize for a particular application
Robotic machining technology has advanced to where it poses a serious alternative to metalcutting applications on more traditional machining centers. With the latest robotics equipment and related software, automation suppliers and robotic system integrators are gaining some traction using robots in many material-removal applications previously done only with machine tools.
One of the most cost-effective ways to obtain the benefits of automation is by adding a bar feeder to a CNC lathe or other bar machine. Costing anywhere from about $10,000 to $40,000 depending on configuration, the devices can add hours of untended operating time for part volumes of a few hundred to tens of thousands.
Edge finishing is a relatively new term in manufacturing. It’s a new and deeper focus on what many used to call deburring, edge honing, edge preparation, edge prepping, burring, chamfering, or edge blending. Edge finishing goes beyond any of those definitions. Deburring, which is often considered wasted effort by managers, wrongly carries a negative connotation. In reality, deburring and edge-finishing processes add many benefits to parts—they create highly desirable edge quality—the quality most products need.
When GE decided that additive manufacturing was the way to go for making metal fuel nozzles for its new LEAP engine, the company touched off interest in other shops to move 3D printers from the design studio to the factory floor. It also stepped up the focus on safety standards for metal AM.