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So, You Want to Implement MTConnect?

Shops today must track or measure their manufacturing operations to improve them. This need drives the growing use of MTConnect—an open, royalty-free protocol for extracting data from practically any piece of equipment, including machine tools and other manufacturing systems. The integration of MTConnect is a major undertaking, and can be a bit challenging unless certain preparations are made ahead of time.

Fiber Lasers Continue to Gain Market Share in Material Processing Applications

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.

Chrysler Implements Flexible Manufacturing

Challenged by an increasingly niche-oriented automotive market, The Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI) must increase the number of models it offers while decreasing its capital investment. The company plans to offer 50% more models in 2009 compared to 2004, according to John Felice, VP of manufacturing, technology and global enterprise for Chrysler.

Breathing Safely Around Metal 3D Printers

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.

Mix and Match for Lightweight Autos

It is common sense—a vehicle that weighs less requires less fuel to move it. A number of studies show that reducing the mass of a vehicle by 10% results in anywhere from 4.5 to 6% better fuel economy—well worth the effort.

Medical Implants in One Setup

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.

Tool-Coating Advances Continue

New coatings are going the boutique route, using multiple layers and new materials to optimize for a particular application

Machining with Robots

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.