IMTS: Automate Your Way out of the Skilled Labor Shortage

GF Machining Solutions is on a mission this IMTS to help industry overcome the skilled labor shortage and stay competitive at the same time. Their solution is automation.


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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.