Industry veterans often say the makers of machine tools, cutting tools, CAD/CAM software, and other components push each other in an endless feedback loop to deliver ever faster cutting speeds in ever harder materials. Lately it’s the cutting tool manufacturers who seem to be leading the charge. Let’s see what they’re up to.
If you’ve ever seen industrial wind turbine components on the back of a flatbed truck rolling down the highway, you have a good idea of what a large, heavy, difficult-to-handle workpiece is. For example, with a single blade on the GE 1.5 mW turbine being almost as long as a football field, the entire blade assembly weighs about the same as 36 small cars.
As machining has evolved, toolholders have advanced to include rigid, secure systems with anti-pullout protection. These advanced systems are needed to take on difficult-to-machine materials, such as titanium and heat-resistant superalloys (HRSA), and accommodate ambitious removal rates and long tool overhangs. Think of them as insurance against tool pullout and breakage—a situation nobody wants.
Shrink-fit toolholding is a simple concept—an induction coil is adjusted and fits over the top of the toolholder. The induction coil heats the toolholder end of the shrinker, expanding the inside diameter, which opens the engagement bore (IDs of shrink-fit toolholders are smaller than the shank diameter of the cutting tool).
At the Nirvana Machine Shop on planet Perfection, every workpiece is clamped to a custom-built fixture mounted on a dedicated machine tool. Each workpiece is dimensionally identical to the one before and the one after. All the fixtures are totally automatic—instantly positioning, clamping, machining, inspecting, and releasing the part with the ultimate precision.
DMG Mori’s entry-level, compact DMU 50 five-axis machining center is producing an oil field rock bit from a 440 lb (199.5-kg) 1045 grade steel workpiece, 8″ (203-mm) diameter by 8″ (203-mm) high, for a major upstream oil industry supplier. The result using Siemens full CAD/CAM-CNC digital process chain was better tool life, a higher degree of accuracy, and overall production efficiencies.
Despite the addition of more than 750,000 CNC mills in the past 15 years in the US, CNC machining job shops often hover at the bottom of the totem pole, where there’s little room for error as most bids are won by a 1–2% price variance.
Manufacturers are always looking for signs of what the economy and the business outlook have in store for them. Since the election of President Trump and, more recently, passage of the tax reform law in December, confidence among businesses of all sizes has been overwhelmingly positive.
Driving to work, deep in thought, pondering the reasons companies use Permanent Electrical Safety Devices (PESDs) in their electrical safety programs, I nearly slammed into the back of a bus stopped at a railroad crossing. With a pounding heart and a rush of adrenaline, it hit me like a freight train—both electrical energy and freight trains yield to no one.
Phil Allen - CEO and Founder, Grace Engineered Products
Live Tooling, as the name implies, is specifically driven by the CNC control and the turret of various spindle and powered sub-spindle configurations on CNC lathes to perform various operations while the workpiece remains in orientation to the main spindle.
Ongoing exchange between CAD/CAM software technology developers and cutting tool manufacturers is an excellent illustration of how technology collaborations can create productivity gains in manufacturing. Several examples involve our company and cutting tool manufacturers.
Stas Mylek - Senior Product Specialist, CNC Software
Spend enough time on shop floors and you’ll learn about the two different groups of skilled workers that reside there. On one side are the old-school machinists—skilled craftspeople who use their hands, eyes and ears to guide machine tools. On the other side are the programmers and engineers.