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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Smarter factory systems connected via the cloud are the grand vision offered for the future factories that will fully leverage the best available tools from automation, software and machine tool builders.
There have been many process improvement trends in manufacturing over the decades, and none have had more significant ROI than machine monitoring. The increase in machine monitoring is owed in large part to the rise in popularity of the open and royalty-free interconnectivity standard MTConnect.
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.
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.
Highly realistic 3-D simulation software can greatly improve manufacturing processes, lending sophisticated visualization tools that help increase manufacturing productivity and product quality.
A self-described “river rat” during his teenage years, Herbert B. Voelcker grew up in the small town of Tonawanda, NY, just north of Buffalo, where as a young man he grew to love the water, boats, and steam engines. His early fascination with how things worked eventually led him to study mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA), and to embark later on a greatly varied technical career highlighted by his research into the mathematical foundations for 3-D solid modeling.
M. Eugene Merchant began his career in 1936 at the Cincinnati Milling Machine Co. (later Cincinnati Milacron), where he went to work analyzing the nature of friction between the cutting tool and the chip. The young engineer eventually developed a mathematical model of the metalcutting process that is still taught and used today.
Last year’s surge in medical machining and firearms manufacturing could well be joined or even eclipsed by this years’ reemergence of production for applications in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, and hydraulics industries, generating increased interest in Swiss-style machining. This isn’t news. But what may be surprising is that the venerable, tried and true Swiss automatic CNC lathe coninues to evolve, adding bells and whistles where needed, or conversely stripping one—like a guide bushing—away to maximize its efficiency in machining parts complete.
With more factory assets getting connected to the Web, particularly with the coming explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, today’s manufacturing management must look for rock-solid technologies for securing their factory-floor machinery and the mission-critical intellectual property assets that now often reside in cloud-based software.