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.
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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.
The prime contractor for supplying automation tools to the Airbus plant in Broughton, UK, which is assembling the wings of what will be the world’s largest commercial aircraft–the A380–is Electroimpact Inc. (Mukilteo, WA).
The appeal of multitasking machining isn’t difficult to understand. Multitasking machines overcome some limitations of conventional machines and work their own special brand of magic in subtractively processing parts. From the earliest mill-turn machines to today’s most advanced multifunction machines featuring simultaneous processing, manufacturers have recognized that productivity-enhancing multitasking machining and quality go hand in hand.
Interesting changes have been happening at Haas Automation, one of the few American machine tool builders left standing after scores have been displaced over the decades by Japanese, German and Korean builders.
As automotive manufacturers around the world begin to invest in products and components made with a variety of advanced lightweight materials, the ComauFlex body shop solution—developed and refined over the past decade—has been demonstrating how it can accommodate dissimilar materials while incorporating a wide range of processes.
Once considered also-rans behind automated drilling and filling, alternative aerospace automation processes, like painting, coating, sanding and other surface preparation, are starting to catch on with aerospace builders, especially in commercial aviation where immense order backlogs loom large and demand immediate attention.
Getting fast, accurate data delivered to the palm of your hand is helping drive demand for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, manufacturers are capitalizing on the ability to get critical factory operational data from ERP, manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI) applications into the hands of the right decision-makers in a timely manner.
Mention automation and most people think high-volume production environments in which millions of parts are pumped out on a regular basis. While that may be true in many instances, it is definitely not the case at Choice Precision Inc. (Whitehall, PA).
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.