Rod Zimmerman of cutting tool manufacturer Iscar Metals lives in a pleasant green zone in a Fort Worth suburb. Yet within a half mile of his home, an oil company has sunk a vertical hole 7,500′ (2,286 m) deep, from which it has splayed nine lateral lines, each going about half a mile.
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Horizontal machining centers (HMCs) are versatile four-axis and, increasingly, five-axis machine platforms that maximize processing of multi-sided large parts by minimizing part handling.
One of the key advantages of additive manufacturing is its digital thread, which allows for rapid communication, iteration, and sharing of a design model and its corresponding physical representation. While this enables an efficient design process, the flow of data opens vulnerabilities to cyber-attack.
Cheaper robots with more functions, along with more ﬂexible work cells and installations that facilitate robotics, are accelerating the growth of automated manufacturing facilities in the non-automotive sector. Ideas on whether robotics and automation lead to lights-out manufacturing on the shop floor, though, are mixed.
The U.S. auto industry has been automated for decades. Production of cars and trucks is associated with large, hulking robots fenced off from human employees. Inside those fenced off areas, tasks such as welding are performed. The industry, though, is advancing on the automation front.
The world of additive manufacturing (AM), commonly referred to as 3D printing, is quickly changing. The technology allows companies to manufacture products faster, with greater variation, and often with entirely new forms and functions.
The state of manufacturing is always a combination of tried and true methods; improvements (sometimes dramatic) in traditional processes; and brand new technology few people even conceived of a few years ago.
The bane of modern engineering is complexity. One promise of artificial intelligence and machine learning is helping engineers to use complex tools and harness vast data sets effectively.
Most anyone who’s worked in a machine shop for any length of time has at some point attended a trade show or machine tool distributor’s open house. There they see canned demonstrations of CNC machines busily carving up chunks of brass, mild steel, or aluminum into business card holders and tic-tac-toe games.
A Michigan company that displays instructions for manual manufacturing processes on work stations via augmented reality (AR) is adding wearables to provide similar guidance.