This month's technical features take a look at what works in rough milling applications with solid carbide end mills; how portable, direct computer controlled coordinate measurement can streamline processes and reduce inspection backlog; how incorporating multiple-gate nozzles means smaller molds, small presses, a balanced fill rate, reduced residence time, temperature control and design flexibility; and how advanced process cooling technology can optimize mold performance.
Regular departments include a profile of JMMS, a software case study, Under the Scope on understanding the repair task, Keeping Up with ISO reviews changes to clauses 4-6, The Bottom Line breaks down various accounting methods for mold shops and our Tip of the Month share pointers on how to avoid mold reload and rework with machine probes.
The issue also includes our monthly Gardner Business Index: MoldMaking, End Market Reports on the medical and packaging industries and a Product Focus on hot runner technology.
Beneath the sun and mountains of Pfronten, Germany, sits a 79,000-square-foot facility focused on technology, not just machines. And last week it was the site for DMG MORI’s annual Open House, where 88 high-tech machines, six world premieres and an industry outlook were presented to visitors from around the globe, including me. Here, I want to share a few of the highlights that just may be of interest to you.
With its dates always at the beginning of the new year, this event serves as a nice indicator of the business year ahead, and according to Dr. Rudiger Kaptize, Chairman-Executive Board & CEO at DMG MORI AG and Executive Officer at DMG MORI Co. Ltd., the upcoming year “looks calm with no clear downward trend.” And with all the technology and innovation DMG MORI showcased during the week it’s hard not to get excited about the future.
One standout for me was the XXL Center that is dedicated to building 12 large machines per year and represents the company’s systems approach to improving its best sellers. The machine that caught my eye (whose size alone gets your attention) was the DMU 600 Gantry linear, which is quite impressive for mold machining. This universal, high speed cutting machine is for five-side/five-axis machining of large workpieces and is said to set new standards in dynamics and surface quality. Linear drives in the X, Y and Z axes permit highly dynamic finishing processes with optimal contour accuracy that yield significant productivity gains because post processing is greatly reduced. It’s made of a cast iron Y-crossbeam and X-traverse and the reinforced concrete side walls are part of the foundation. The standard version is designed for workpieces weighing up to 165 tons and a table measuring 16 x 10 feet in a work area of 20 x 12 x 5 feet.
Another highlight was the Lasertec 210 Shape for milling and laser texturing plastic injection molds up to 6.6 feet on one machine in one setup. A HSK-A63 or HSK-A100 interface allows changeover time from milling to laser operations in 5 minutes! This rigid machine permits unlimited design possibilities for geometrically-defined surface textures in free-form surfaces, does not require the use of chemicals, offers a fully digitized process chain and includes 3D texturing software from bitmap to the finished texture.
Advancements with the Lasertec 65 3D, the company’s hybrid laser deposition welding and milling machine for manufacturing, repair and coating, drew people to its display on the show floor. These include its now closed-loop process using the AM Analyzer that helps continually measure melt pool size and the laser powder to ensure a constant melt pool via a camera in the beam, multimaterial capability, two nozzle sizes (3mm and 1.6mm), exclusive hybrid CAD/CAM and an adaptive process control.
Other machine tool highlights include, the second generation of its CTX gamma 3000 TC, DMU 160 P and Ultrasonic 20 linear, the fourth generation of its duoBlock, the DMU 600 G linear and the Dixi 125. Celos + Industry 4.0 were also showcased to demonstrate the importance of integrating machines into a company via a Condition Analyzer that involves self-optimizing machines with more than 60 sensors that monitor temperature, vibration, lubricant and forces--X, Y linear guides with sensors for vibration and grease, Z linear guide with sensors for hydrostatic and compact guidance, bearing X,Y, Z axis with axial force sensors and a ball screw unit with a vibration sensor (axial and radial).
ICOMold is an Ohio-based custom plastic injection molder that manufactures molds, parts and prototypes for a variety of industries, and that stands by its online quotation system for fast, interactive quotes. Denny Scher is the marketing manager for ICOMold and he recently shared the benefits of its online quoting solution.
"A handful of the largest custom plastic injection molding companies have developed new, interactive systems with very large backend databases that can automatically provide quotations, in many cases requiring little to no human intervention. We are one such company," says Scher.
Scher explains, ICOMold released its online quotation system in 2014. It enables the customer to upload a CAD file to the system and use dropdown menus to choose all the specifications (parts, plastic material, color and finish). Multiple injection mold projects can even be included in the same RFQ. When all the options have been selected, a click on the Submit button sends the information to a huge database. The request is then processed against a large amount of data and cost information in the system to return the quote, automatically, to the customer. And today, the customer is not necessarily always the engineering type.
"One unique aspect of the ICOMold online quotation system, in particular, is that it serves a dual purpose. Not only does it serve as an interactive quotation tool, but it also functions as a project management system once the project is launched. The customer can track his project status through the system, and communicate with the sales engineers and project managers on a discussion board. The all-in-one system eliminates communication delays that can happen with emails and phone calls. It also allows users to upload important files and documents, keeping all the project information in one place that’s easily accessible by all parties," says Scher.
MMT reader and contributor, The Rodon Group, offers five key trends that they believe will significantly impact the plastics industry and manufacturing overall.
1. New lightweight materials have been tested in automobile impact studies, and are now beginning to migrate into other products that require durability. Sports equipment, like helmets and boots, use these new polymers.
2. The new automated factory will utilize collaborative robots equipped with vision systems that can be easily trained to perform various tasks. The new automated factory will utilize collaborative robots equipped with vision systems that can be easily trained to perform various tasks.
3. A focus on creating renewable materials (also called bio-based plastics) that no longer depend on fossil fuels. Many companies are starting to take a serious look at these alternatives. For example, companies like John Deere are developing new composites using soybeans and flax.
4. One trend that can’t be denied is near-shoring. Companies throughout the world have realized that getting closer to the source of their products just makes sense.
5. Usng the Internet of Things, manufacturers will become more reliant on networked devices, sensors, and digital communications to improve productivity and control costs from remote locations.
According to Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA), U.S. businesses, nonprofits and government agencies will spend more than $1.6 trillion in capital goods or fixed business investment (including software) this year, financing a majority of those assets, these trends impact a significant portion of the U.S. economy.
ELFA President and CEO Ralph Petta says, “Equipment acquisition is critical in driving the supply chains across all U.S. manufacturing and service sectors. Equipment leasing and financing provide the source of funding for a majority of U.S. businesses to acquire the productive assets they need to operate and grow. To assist businesses in planning their acquisition strategies, we have distilled recent research data, including the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s 2016 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook Report, industry participants’ expertise and member input from ELFA meetings and conferences to provide our best insight for the Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2016.”
1. U.S. investment in equipment and software will hit a new high, but moderate in growth as businesses hold back on spending.
2. End of zero interest rate policy will spur other businesses, particularly small businesses, to invest before rates go higher.
3. The growth of equipment acquired through financing will increase solidly, but more slowly.
4. Businesses will begin preparing for new lease accounting rules.
5. China’s economic woes will be a global concern.
6. Equipment investment will vary widely by industry vertical.
7. Customer demand for greater flexibility and convenience will increase the use of non-standard financing agreements.
8. Low oil prices will continue to impede energy investment.
9. Eyes will be on 2016 presidential election for potential policy shifts.
10. Looming “wild cards” could influence business investment decisions.