Basic trends in modern manufacturing are driving growth in 3D optical metrology. “One is the highly complex and high-tech material that manufacturers are using today. For example, in the aerospace turbine blade market, they simply cannot touch the part like they used to—the surface finish of the material is too readily affected by any kind of contact metrology."
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Solid-carbide micro cutting tools about the diameter of human hair or smaller—some producing parts visible only under a microscope—are making a huge impact on manufacturing highly advanced electronics, automotive and aerospace fuel injection systems, and medical instruments and implants.
Technology is changing ever more rapidly. Sometimes this means topics learned in engineering or technical school become obsolete. Whole new fields emerge within a few years, so that even those with freshly minted educations suddenly find themselves faced with new challenges.
In the near absence of academic programs to teach undergraduate engineering students additive manufacturing, a California-based startup has stepped in to help fill the void through internships.
For ABB, robotic welding comes down to a never-ending process of ensuring parts are suitable for laser joining and developing the appropriate processes. To that end, ABB is refining a recent innovation to improve beam delivery speeds and has developed software for on-the-fly welding in tandem with Trumpf’s Intelligent Programmable Focusing Optic (IPFO).
Machining aerospace materials is a challenging task. Not only are machining operations tightly controlled, a wide variety of workpiece materials are employed, including aluminum, titanium, and carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs). The following is a brief guide to cutting tool options for successful machining of airframe components. All of the tools referenced are manufactured by Mitsubishi Materials.
K&G Manufacturing (Faribault, MN) has learned a thing or two about precision machining in the 80 years it has been in business. One lesson the company learned long ago is that balanced toolholders are a key to customer satisfaction and achieving the best possible machining results.
“We are developing solutions for power workholding such as hydraulic swing clamps and block clamps, because the real estate on a fixture is so valuable,” says Jason Betz, product specialist for Carr Lane Roemheld (St. Louis). “This pushes the use of smaller workholding components as much as possible because the more parts on the fixture the greater the productivity.”
When you walk into the Redeye On Demand facility in Eden Prairie, MN, you enter into one version of the factory of the future. There you will see a bank of 100 high-end Fortus fused-deposition modeling (FDM) machines from Stratasys that provide the capacity to build real, functional parts with production-grade thermoplastics directly from CAD data.
The challenges to manufacturing as it evolves into the 21st century are now familiar, and impact how metrology must contribute. Manufacturers face uncertain production volumes with roller-coaster demand, shorter production runs and faster product development cycles. Automation, while alluring as a way to reduce cost, needs to adjust.