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By: Christina M. Fuges 16. September 2014

Digital Edition of September's AM Supplement Now Available

The September issue of the Additive Manufacturing Supplement includes a feature on repairing damaged mold inserts using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). Rather than replacing damaged tools, DMLS can be used to quickly repair only the damaged areas, resulting in simplified repair, decreased downtime, longer operating life and reduced costs associated with maintenance and repair. This issue also featrures a story on Baklund R&D, a tool and die and CNC machining job shop in Hutchinson, Minnesota, that has an unusual philosophy for how to cultivate, encourage and develop manufacturing employees. Additive manufacturing fits into this philosophy. Click here for the digital edition.


By: Matthew Danford 15. September 2014

Beyond the Bottom Line

 

This report from San Diego’s Channel 4 news team covers “Sparky’s Garden,” a joint venture between Seescan, the subject of our September issue cover story, and sister company Deep Sea Power and Light. (Note that references to “SeekTech” are outdated—that was the company’s name prior to adopting the Seescan moniker.)

I knew upon arrival that Seescan wouldn’t be a typical shop visit. For one, the company is an OEM with a captive mold shop, not a dedicated mold-manufacturing operation. Beyond that, my host, Kirk Joy, had told me previously that the company was a bit different.

Still, I was taken aback. We started with a tour of the entire facility. On the way to the break room, we passed an indoor aviary, where the latest generation of cockatiels had first opened their eyes just a few weeks earlier. The break room itself offered not just the obligatory cafeteria tables and vending machines, but a truly tranquil resting space—an adjoining alcove, set off by glass walls, featuring a bench, a skylight, various rocks and plants, and a pond stocked with fish. Elsewhere, various flyers outlined staffers’ recycling efforts. Posters on one wall indicated which fruit-bearing trees and vegetable plants in the expansive, employee-tended orchard and gardens were currently in season. Those orchards and gardens, by the way, offer an outstanding birds-eye view of the surrounding San Diego metropolitan area. (According to its dedicated website, the garden is named "Sparky's Garden" after the compay mascot).

Although Joy had big plans for his own garden plot this year, his work as manager of the OEM’s captive plastic injection mold manufacturing operation has kept him far too busy (read this September issue article to learn about recent changes at the captive shop). Yet, he appreciates evidence that the company where he spends so much time is focused on more than just the bottom line. Indeed, providing a positive work environment is a key component of the philosophy on which the company was built. Mark Olsson, founder and CEO, believes this helps unlock employees’ full potential by empowering them to be creative. Creativity—and the freedom to use it—are critical to turning new ideas into finished products, and time to market is the primary metric by which this company measures its success.

That’s the primary metric by which the company’s manufacturing operation is judged as well. As detailed in this September article, recent improvements there have been dramatic. Yet, even when isolated to the mold shop alone, the story involves a heavy intangible element. How people are managed, it seems, can be just as critical as the technology on the shop floor. Perhaps Seescan is onto something with its orchards and gardens.

Speaking of, that particular aspect of the company is notable enough to have attracted the attention of the San Diego’s Channel 4 news team. Check out the video above to see their full report (note that references to “SeekTech” are outdated—that was the company’s name prior to adopting the Seescan moniker).

Would you ever consider a company garden? Does your company do anything to enhance the work experience for employees? If so, I’d love to hear about it—just send me an email.


By: Christina M. Fuges 12. September 2014

IMTS: A View from the Top Reveals Machine Craftsmanship from the Ground Up

Five of the 14 machines at YCM Americas' double-deck booth (Tustin, CA; Booth S-8450)  focus on the company’s exclusive five axis machining technology and range from small trunion to larger double column bridge designs.  Also on display are YCM’s high torque horizontal machining centers for heavy duty horizontal machining to high speed horizontal machining. Its high performance vertical machining centers for use in job shops as well as the aerospace, automotive, medical and die/mold industries are also on the floor. Another highlight are YCM’s larger machines, such as the NH 800B HMC, DCV 2018A-5AX double column machine and TCV 3000A-5AX traveling column machine.

All of this technology is evidence that YCM pays very close attention to industry trends and requirements, including horizontal and five-axis machine tool technology that enables customers to eliminate multiple setups in their machining processes, saving time and costs.

Top attractions at the booth include:

The DCV 2018A-5AX double column VMC for complex five-axis applications. Equipped with powerful, 18,000-rpm, 90-hp HSK-A63 taper, built-in motorized spindle, Heidenhain i-TNC530 with a 15.1-inch color TFT LCD screen and a five-axis simultaneous control. X axis travel: 86.65”, Y axis travel: 94.53”, Z axis travel: 30”; B axis +/- 105 degrees, C axis +/- 360 degrees.

The NXV 1680A VMC for general-purpose machining. Equipped with 12,000-rpm spindle speed, a 40-hp (205NM) IDD spindle BBT-40, MXP 200FA with manual guide. X axis travel: 64.0”; Y axis travel: 30.1” and Z axis travel: 27.6”.

The NH 450A for various types of horizontal machining, from job shops to automotive. Equipped with 15,000-rpm, 30-hp (Big-Plus spindle) BBT-40 taper spindle that delivers 148ft/lbs. [200NM] of torque. MXP 200FA with manual guide. X axis travel: 25.2”; Y axis travel: 24.0” and Z axis travel: 26.8”.

 


By: Christina M. Fuges 11. September 2014

IMTS: Automate Your Way out of the Skilled Labor Shortage

The GF Machining Solutions booth (Lincolnshire, Illinois, Booth S-8754) is showcasing a range of application-specific services and support as well as an entire product line from three- and five-axis high-speed, high-performance milling machines to three- and five-axis hole drilling systems to wire and diesinker EDMs to laser texturing and compact modular forms of automation.  

The company’s automated part-processing system on display includes an advanced pallet changing system on a Mikron HPM 800U high-performance machining center, a standalone robot paired with a GF AgieCharmilles CUT 2000S wire EDM and a fully automatic tool/electrode changer with a GF AgieCharmilles FORM 20 sinker EDM.

The highlight of the display is new System 3R Transformer automated cell technology, which is expandable and scalable allowing automation of one or two machines and then easy expansion to include up to 12 stations.

The basic components of the Transformer system are a robotic pallet changing unit and modular racks or rotating magazines that store pallets fitted with referencing chucks from System 3R. 

Together, the modular nature of the robotic handling, rail and magazine components and easily updated software enable a Transformer system to be expanded or modified in a few days. Its modularity and simple connectivity allows for the expansion of the rail system while the rest of the system continues to operate.

There are two control modes for the Transformer system: (1) the machine tool sends direct commands to the robot and (2) the use of WorkShopManager software that links all machining processes together.

The Transformer automation system is suited to lights-out production of small to medium size precision components in tool, die and mold building operations.

On the self-contained automation side is the five-axis Mikron HPM 800U, which is designed for the production of tools, molds and high-value parts. It features a sturdy, compact design with a large working space, an integrated pallet changer and tool magazine options that accommodate up to 210 tools.

Visitors to the booth also experience the automated FORM 20 sinker EDM equipped with an integrated Rotary Tool Changer (iRTC) that easily and automatically permits jobs requiring either multiple similar electrodes or several electrodes varying in size and geometry. 

 


By: Matthew Danford 10. September 2014

10,000 Reasons to Consider Additive Manufacturing

 

MC Machinery Systems marks the sale of its 10,000th Mitsubishi wire EDM in North America at this year's IMTS show, but a special plaque is far from the only highlight of booth N-6825. Even as the company celebrates the past, it’s looking toward the future with the unveiling of hybrid additive/milling technology that could prove just as revolutionary as EDM. “In the ‘70s, EDM was like magic, and today, laser sintering of powdered metals is viewed in much the same way,” says Greg Langenhorst, technical marketing engineer. “It’s taking away the restrictions of conventional machining.”

Langenhorst emphasizes that research into much-needed new materials is ongoing. However, he and marketing manager Pat Simon say the company is confident that North American manufacturers are ready to take advantage of the new Lumex Avance-25 hybrid machine, offered in partnership with machine tool builder Matsuura. Simon adds that the 10,000-EDM milestone speaks to the company’s focus on the needs of this market and its capability for service and support, both of which were critical factors in getting Matsuura on board in the first place. As was the case with EDMs, the machine is expected to interest moldmakers in particular (although the company is also targeting aerospace and automotive applications).

The purchasers of the aforementioned 10,000 EDM machines will all be listed on a large, commemorative display along one wall (buyers of multiple machines get multiple listings). The 10,000th went to TNT EDM, a tool and die manufacturer that purchased three MV2400s. Notable features of the MV Series—the company’s latest EDM line—include cylindrical drive technology (an alternative to flat-plate linear motors that is said to provide less heat, cogging and backlash), an improved power supply, and more reliable automatic wire threading in deeper cavities.   



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