Metalworking fluids have never been the most glamourous part of manufacturing. That’s been reserved for areas such as additive manufacturing, where complete parts are printed from a digital file, one layer at a time. However, most manufacturing today still consists of parts being cut, shaved or otherwise machined.
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Many precision grinding machines on the market already offer their users near-perfect tolerances, leaving one to wonder: What’s next in grinding? But tool builders still have plenty of room to add valuable new improvements, machine shop owners say.
Despite falling oil prices, the investment valve in the oil and gas industry remains on—for now—as manufacturers continue their race to provide large, precision parts for fracking, subsea drilling and other related activities. But as anybody in the energy sector knows: this is the land of boom or bust.
Investing in factory automation for the first time is a big decision for many CNC machine shops. For Loveridge Machine (Salt Lake City, UT), owner Dennis Loveridge thoroughly researched his options before making a decision for his high tech job shop.
Mention automation and most people think high-volume production environments in which millions of parts are pumped out on a regular basis. While that may be true in many instances, it is definitely not the case at Choice Precision Inc. (Whitehall, PA).
Whether the process is cylindrical or profile grinding, automation, which can increase cycle time, throughput, consistency of part quality and taking real-time in-process measurements, is once again in demand. The reasons can be found in the benefits found in typical applications and the innovative and effective forms of automation available from machine builders like United Grinding Technologies Inc. (UGT; Miamisburg, OH), and their automation integrator of choice, Matrix Design Inc. (Elgin, IL).
Micro components continue to shrink in size, demanding ever-greater precision and improved handling of parts with sub-micron-sized features. New approaches in micro machining technology include higher-precision systems from traditional micro machining developers, as well as techniques using additive manufacturing processes and semiconductor wafer-scale technology on the smallest of micro parts.
Why use a metrology device on or near a machine tool? It isn’t just useful for making sure a tool is present or monitoring tools for wear or breakage. On-machine measurement technologies can save time and money, by speeding up processes and eliminating extra personnel, and they are a critical step in the movement towards “lights-out” manufacturing.
Today’s products require high finishes, burr-free edges, freedom from contamination, and often close tolerances. Electropolishing provides all of those conditions and more in a matter of seconds for many metal parts. It is a process that has been used for more than a hundred years. It is widely known and the science is widely discussed, but its ability to run job shop lots and high-precision high-volume parts in the same equipment makes it a bit unique.
Machine tool suppliers, builders, and distributors are adopting aggressive ways to support their customers’ efforts to improve productivity and profitability in especially trying economic times.