While EDMs offer the benefits of holding tight tolerances, working on nearly any metal, and being well suited for delicate or fragile parts, knowledgeable operators for the machines are increasingly hard to find and robots can’t always fill the gap. Automated processes in the machines, newer designs and features of Industry 4.0 are helping to solve the problem.
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Renishaw Inc. is preparing to move into a new 133,000-sq.-ft. office and warehouse facility in West Dundee, IL, about 40 miles from Chicago. The two-story facility will be the company’s new North American headquarters, but also includes space for product development, testing, warehousing and distribution. It includes the new U.S. Additive Manufacturing Solutions Center – part of Renishaw’s network of global Solutions Centers, opening over the next year.
Buffalo, NY – Niagara Gear, a division of Gear Motions, Inc., recently completed the installation of its first machining cell. The in-house machining capabilities were added to reduce lead-time and provide more flexibility and control to meet customer delivery requirements.
As additive manufacturing emerges from a long infancy, the industry is grappling with a key challenge: A file format and design tools from the 20th century are being asked to do 21st century jobs.
Adam Hansel, chief systems and sales officer, DMG Mori (Hoffman Estates, IL) sums it up perfectly: “Go into any shop. Ask them if they want to automate. The answer is yes. 100%.”
The decision to adopt robotic automation for welding cells is getting easier every day. There are any number of manufacturing considerations influencing that decision, including quality, productivity, and consistency of the weld. Today, however, the key driver is the lack of skilled welders available to fill the requirements of shops both large and small.
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.
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.
To run factories at optimal efficiency, plant managers need to mine real-time shop-floor operational data as fast as possible, to quickly determine where and when any manufacturing process bottlenecks occur. With today’s shop-floor data management software and related hardware solutions, manufacturers can leverage more key production performance data than ever in order to fine-tune their manufacturing processes.
“Five years ago, our fit and finish was below average,” said Dr. Raj Kawlra, director of dimensional strategy and management of Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI). “To be the future world-leaders, we knew that we had to focus on all aspects of quality … vehicles that look good, feel good, sound good, and are reliable.”