Here is a sampling of the technology that caught my eye at the annual exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany.
According to CUMSA, the simplified construction of its Double Rack (DR) series lifters can significantly reduce the size of the overall tool, as well as the required ejection stroke. Additionally, much of the system is oriented along a straight, vertical plane, improving rigidity and limiting the need for multiple angled channels through multiple mold plates. The system features strokes ranging from 14 to 42 mm and drafts ranging to 20 degrees (larger angles available on request).
Although a large booth and lots of traffic evidenced the fact that mold base and component supplier Meusburger is well-known in Europe, representatives stated a desire to expand sales in North America. One offering that U.S. companies have reportedly purchased through the company’s Charlotte, North Carolina office is this assembly/maintenance table. Similarly to an air hockey game, the table generates a cushion of air that facilitates easy movement of large, heavy mold components.
This thread-unscrewing unit from Strack Normalien, represented in the U.S. by Hotset America, is designed to ease the de-molding of parts with internal threads. Via the unit’s touchscreen control, users can adjust parameters to accommodate different thread pitches. Although hydraulic systems are more common, the company says electric versions are likely to become more popular as molders continue to install all-electric presses. The unit also features interior core cooling.
This quick-mold-change system attracted a lot of traffic at Hasco’s booth. Designed for low-volume production, it combines the company’s own K3600 small-series mold (consisting of molding plates, the ejector assembly and all associated components) with the Clever Mold System (CMS) from B&R GmbH. According to the company, the primary difference between this configuration and other quick-change systems is the fact that users change not just core/cavity inserts, but the entire mold assembly. The clamping jaws on the ejector side of the CMS can be adjusted as-needed with a handwheel to accommodate different-size molds, which are further secured by couplings and clamping devices. Keeping the CMS mounted in the press and securing different-size molds without the need for screws or bolts is said to significantly speed job changeovers. Additionally, purchasing multiple K3600s from stock is said to be more cost-effective than producing new molds from scratch.
Hasco also showcased the A 8001 clamping fixture, which is designed for quick changeovers and improved access for five-sided machining of the company’s K plates, ejector plates, and plates of the small-series K3600 mold (see previous slide). Plates are secured via rings that, when tightened, expand to meet the IDs of color-coded bore holes arranged in patterns corresponding to standard plate sizes. Positioning accuracy is 10 microns. Also notable is the fact that Hasco plates interfacing with this system are constructed not of P20, but high-grade stainless that is said to resist rust and other degradation.
Another Hasco display that caught my eye was this demonstration of the company’s Cool Cross circuit, which enables users to cross water lines on the same plane within the mold, even if the lines feed in different directions. To learn more about this system and mold cooling in general, read this December-issue feature article.
The SRT line of slide retainers were among the many innovations on display at Progressive Components’ booth. Designed to hold side actions, particularly in cleanroom environments, these products are available in an expanded range of sizes. They also feature springs that are engineered to improve performance and provide tighter tolerances, while refined force distribution is said to allow more impact-free operation. The springs are also color-coded for easy force range identification, and the same unit can be converted to a different force rating by simply changing the spring.
In other news from Progressive Components, the company has established its Z-Series alignment locks as its new standard, replacing the previous “black and gold” series locks. According to the company, a combination of engagement geometry and particulate capturing enabled these systems to cycle more than 2 million times during independent tests.
No overview of offerings at Progressive Components’ booth would be complete without the CVe mold monitor from AST Technology, one of the company’s business units. Far beyond a simple cycle counter, the system tracks information such as overall mold efficiency, preventive maintenance and downtime. It also tracks when the device has been removed and/or reinstalled in a tool. In addition to the display itself, users can view the data from virtually anywhere in the world via OnDemand software, available for free, or CVe Live software, which provides real-time mold monitoring and a much more detailed breakdown of data (even down to individual shots).
Available in North America through Alliance Laser Sales, laser welders from Vision Gmbh are now available with fiber lasers. According to booth representatives, these systems differ from flash-bulb (Nd:Yag) models in that they don't require a chiller, use less power, and require less maintenance.
This pyramid-shaped part was produced via laser powder cladding. What’s notable, however, is that the component wasn’t produced on a dedicated cladding machine, but on a laser welder—specifically, a new Diodeline machine from O.R. Laser. Featuring powder feeders aligned to deposit material directly into the diode-pumped laser’s path, these systems offer an additional option for mold repair and maintenance. According to the company, laser powder cladding suffers from none of the movement restrictions of the traditional process, in which operators must guide the weld in only one direction at a time to prevent the wire from doubling back on itself. Cladding operations are also fully programmable. Of course, the machine can also be employed for traditional laser welding. Click to the next slide for more information.
The powder-feed nozzles on this Diodeline machine, an LRS EVO, are visible on either side of the laser head. According to the company, one of the biggest advantages of incorporating laser powder cladding is additional material flexibility. For instance, the system can deposit high-carbon steels, aluminum, and other materials that can be difficult to draw into a wire. Lack of a wire, of course, also means precision isn’t restricted by diameter. The company adds that cladding can also be used to build mold inserts from the ground up from softer materials like beryllium copper, which can be coated for hardness later. Finally, even in traditional welding applications, the diode-pumped laser is said to provide higher energy efficiency, less maintenance and other advantages compared to nd:Yag offerings.
Based on data supplied directly from Porsche, the machining of this aluminum LMP1 model shows off the surface finish and precision capabilities of DMG MORI's HSC 70 Linear five-axis machining center. Specifically, booth representatives credit linear motors in all axes; internal spindle-cooling circuit (flange, jacket and shaft); and rigid construction for the ability to achieve surface finish of less than 0.03-micron Ra. They also credit toolpath strategies available in the HyperMill CAM software from Open Mind. Each individual tire reportedly took 6 hours to machine, as did the bottom of the car. The top portion required a full 60 hours of machining time.
Hurco’s European customers have different requirements than those in the U.S., where the machine tool builder is headquartered. At least, that’s the view I came away with after hearing that European sales of this model, the VMX42SRTi, outpace U.S. sales by a factor of 10. Features include full five-axis capability; linear scales; coolant-through spindle; C-axis, direct-drive torque motor; motor-driven spindle; a 40-tool-capacity ATC; and a twin-screen, conversational WinMax control with features like AdaptiPath. By keeping tool engagement constant, AdaptiPath is said to facilitate rest machining, a strategy normally reserved to CAD/CAM packages, while also improving tool life and metal-removal rates.
Another U.S. machine tool builder exhibiting at Euromold was Unisig, a manufacturer of deep-hole drilling machines. Of particular note to our corner of the industry are the builder's USC series machines, which combine deep-hole drilling with machining capabilities. The company stresses that its focus has been on integrating not just machining capability, but high-performance capability, including spindle speeds, power, torque and rigidity comparable to dedicated machining centers. The idea is to significantly reduce the need to move molds to different machines—boring mills, gundrills, and so forth—at the outset of the process. Instead, users can perform initial 2D work, contouring, compound angle machining, deep-hole drilling and more on four sides of the workpiece in a single setup. The company continues to work to scale its technology to smaller models. Most recently, it released the USC-M38, which offers a 39.4 × 47.2 inch table (versus the larger USC-50’s 47.2 × 59.1 inch table).
One display that caught my eye at CAD/CAM developer Open Mind's booth was the ShopViewer. Essentially, this system operates just like an extra seat of software, with full access to all menus and features, except the program can't be changed. The idea here is to put the system on the shop floor (either on a PC or, as shown here, a touchscreen monitor) so that operators can better understand exactly what is going on in a part program. Beyond providing operators with peace of mind and the potential to get questions answered without having to leave their workstations, the system enables them to suggest changes that might make programs more efficient, or even to catch errors missed by simulation (if a toolholder in the program doesn't match the toolholder on the machine, for example). According to booth representatives, future versions may provide some limited functionality (the ability to adjust feeds, speeds or stepovers for example). Nonetheless, the essential goal will remain the same: improving synergy and streamlining communication between programmers and the shop floor.
Delcam previewed a new rib-machining module for the latest version of its PowerMill CAM software, scheduled for release in January. According to the company, the new module makes it easier and safer to program machining of cavities for narrow ribs, even when the cutter’s length is much greater than its diameter. In addition to eliminating the need for EDM, the dedicated rib-machining strategy is said to provide better finish than a standard finish-machining option while also improving efficiency by limiting air moves.
Traditionally known for injection molding presses, Arburg has applied its expertise to the additive realm with the Freeformer system. Rather than being limited to certain materials in powder or liquid form, the Freeformer employs the very same pelletized material that’s fed into the hopper of a typical injection press. In addition to expanding the range of materials that can be used for additive applications, this provides parts that are fully functional in some applications. In fact, booth representatives said a part produced on the Freeformer shares as much as 80 percent of the strength, stiffness and other properties of an injection molded part.
Given difficulties with the complex tread segments and “sipes,” the tire mold component shown here was produced additively on a ProX 300 from 3D Systems. However, the company’s latest offering for direct metal printing—that is, the additive production of non-porous metal parts with properties similar to castings—is the ProX 400. This machine not only offers the company’s largest workzone to date, but is the first to be engineered fully in-house since moving into direct-metal printing with the acquisition of Phenix Systems in 2013 (more recently, the company announced plans to acquire CAD/CAM developer Cimatron). Notably, the Prox 400’s removable build chamber can be atomized prior to the manufacturing process and de-powdered afterwards outside the machine. This improves throughput by eliminating the need to wait for these pre- and post-processing steps before starting a new metal printing job.
3D Systems also showcased stereolithography (SLA) machines that can provide fast turnaround for certain types of tooling. According to the supplier, the urethane gasket on the filtration system shown here is just one example of an application at Parker Hannifin, a company that reportedly saves more than $250,000 per year through SLA printing.
This display—just one of many at additive manufacturing system manufacturer Stratasys’ three different Euromold booths—showcases tooling produced via fused deposition modeling (FDM). According to the company, this process can provide a cost-effective alternative to metal molds for tool and part validation, functional prototyping and clear and opaque materials. In all, the company launched 11 new 3D printers and materials at the show. New developments include FDM machines with touchscreen controls and faster production times; an FDM thermoplastic suitable for food production tooling and other sterile applications; and cross-platform availability of triple-jetting technology, which is said to enable vivid color in multi-material 3D printing applications.