Until the middle of 2010, first-tier subcontract machinist, JJ Churchill, could produce turbine blades only if they had their fir-tree root-forms preground elsewhere, or if they were subsequently added by another subcontractor. No longer is this the case.
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Burrs, sharp edges, and rough surfaces plague even the most precise metal-cutting or forming process. Deburring and finishing can often be treated as the step-child of a manufacturing process, but its importance is growing as tolerances get tighter and precision devices become the norm.
Daimler may be the first vehicle maker to offer 3D-printed replacement parts, but racing enthusiasts and car collectors like Jay Leno have been using additive manufacturing and 3D scanning for many years to replace worn-out parts or to enhance their rides.
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.
Keeping products clean is becoming a more significant part of manufacturing as standards for cleanliness, deburring, and finish grow more stringent.
Solid-state laser technology has matured, leading to development of new, cost-effective welding applications, such as hybrid welding
In what shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, challenges for advanced grinding technology from high tech industries range from handling the most difficult-to-machine materials for aerospace jet engine turbines to series production on automotive drive train lines.
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.
A recent effort by the Norton Advanced Applications Engineering Group demonstrates that for difficult-to-machine materials, grinding can be an economical alternative to other machining processes.
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.