Moldmaker Making Machines

By: Christina M. Fuges 18. September 2014

This Grand Rapids based provider of highly complex tooling systems rolled out an extended product line at IMTS--the Fidia GTFM, a large bridge-style five axis milling machine. Paragon D&E President David Muir was on hand to discuss how collaboration between Paragon, Fidia and Delcam brought to market this machine tool and how it all began.
Earlier this year Paragon ordered new equipment from Fidia, the twelve month lead time was simply too long, so Muir saw this as an opportunity.  The two companies began working together in 2004, and then in 2008 they designed and installed the largest multi-axis milling machine in North America. 
This forced discussions on how to best manage the project that was growing on two continents. Paragon assembled a roster of domestic suppliers to help with machine structure fabrication and coordinatied a supply of milling technology with Fidia’s engineering and manufacturing team in Italy.
The machine is made in Michigan with U.S. and Italian components. This has enabled them to stick to the timeline. Commissioning of the new machine began in late August, and full production is to start next month.
“We built this first machine for ourselves,” said Muir, “but it quickly became clear that the shorter lead times and a strong local installation team would benefit the entire industry. The integration with Delcam’s PowerMill simply increases the machine’s output and capabilities.”
If the market responds well to this new machine technology offering, manufacturing for Fidia will be completed at the existing Paragon facility in Grand Rapids. The company is prepared to hire additional skilled machinists to keep pace with customer demand in this new product line.

Digital Edition of September's AM Supplement Now Available

By: Christina M. Fuges 16. September 2014

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.

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

By: Christina M. Fuges 12. September 2014

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”.


IMTS: Automate Your Way out of the Skilled Labor Shortage

By: Christina M. Fuges 11. September 2014

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. 


IMTS: The Need for Speed

By: Christina M. Fuges 8. September 2014

One of the major highlights so far this week is Delcam’s Vortex high-efficiency area clearance strategy. Delcam (Windsor, Ontario, Canada; Booth E-3222) reports up to a 70-percent increase in Vortex roughing speed, depending on variables such as cutting tools, material and machine tool. Following its initial introduction in PowerMILL, Vortex has been added to FeatureCAM, PartMaker and Delcam for SolidWorks CAM systems. The latest enhancement is in the ordering of toolpaths to minimize lifts and air moves, which increases overall efficiency.  Visitors can see Vortex as well as a number of high-speed and high-efficiency strategies for five-axis in PowerMILL, Featurecam and PartMaker.

Continuing the speed theme, Delcam is also excited to share details about its sponsorship of the Bloodhound SSC (SuperSonic Car) adventure, a project whose goal is to set a land speed record by creating a vehicle capable of 1,000 mph in summer 2016 in South Africa. Visitors have a chance to experience the extreme sport through the Bloodhound simulator.

Delcam supported the project with its manufacturing software and expertise, and also produced vehicle components. Delcam partnered with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Center with Boeing (AMRC) to manufacture the front suspension sub-assembly using Delcam PowerMILL’s Vortex machining strategy.  It produced vehicle components in its Advanced Manufacturing Facility at its Birmingham headquarters.

Visitors can see some of the parts, such as the steering support column, on display in the booth. Delcam Professional Services manufactured the steering support column that ensures the car remains on track during its world land speed record attempt. It was produced on a Hermle C50 UMT machining center.  

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