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Business Outlook for Tooling, Workholding on the Shop Floor Is Bright

Jim Lorincz
By Jim Lorincz Contributing Editor, SME Media

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.

Corporations have rewarded their employees with much appreciated bonuses and pumped money into an economy where consumer confidence is already quite high. Unemployment has been historically low. Wages are rising and there’s still an unmet need for skilled workers to fill roles in manufacturing that are being transformed by automation. At the same time, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates—while keeping a sharp eye on inflation—and business loans for capital equipment have jumped up to match the new found optimism in manufacturing.

At SME Media, we don’t have to read the tea leaves. We can consult the industry’s monthly report cards checking the growing order books for manufacturing technology in AMT’s US Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) and AMT-USCTI’s US Cutting Tool Consumption programs.

Everything in the USMTO numbers points to continued capacity expansion in the year ahead. More new machine tools that will be added to the manufacturing mix will need to be tooled up and legacy machines retrofitted with the Manufacturers are always looking for the latest advanced technologies. Tool cribs will need to be replenished with perishable cutting tools, and related products, that have been hard at work keeping spindles turning in a booming economy.

And that’s how this issue of “Tooling and Workholding for the Shop Floor” can be your valuable connection to the latest advanced technologies in cutting tools, toolholding, workholding, and related devices. You will read how cutting tool manufacturers have been leading the charge in collaboration with the four quadrants of machining: the machine tool and/or controller speed; the software that creates the toolpath; the toolholder itself; and the cutting tool to produce tooling solutions for high-speed and high-torque machining of difficult-to-machine materials.

Workholding solutions that can turn from simple to complex depending on many criteria—including size, weight, and stability of the workpiece—will give you answers to some or your most pressing shop challenges. Other considerations are obvious, like cycle time, location and orientation, clamping and cutting forces, but others may not be so obvious—such as what to do with large, awkward workpieces, and those that need to be loaded and unloaded from machines with robots, gantries, or other lifting devices.

You will get a grip on these and many other tooling solutions, all designed to increase the productivity and efficiency of your shop. As always, we appreciate your feedback on which articles you find to be the most helpful. Contact us at the email addresses or phone numbers on the right.

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