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EMO Hannover 2019: Global Machine Tool Community Paving The Way For Industry 4.0

EMO Hannover 2019: Global Machine Tool Community Paving The Way For Industry 4.0

70 companies from ten countries have connected 110 machines and 28 value-added services at EMO Hannover 2019 via the umati standard interface. “umati is opening up a new chapter in production,” says Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, Chairman of the VDW (Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenhersteller – German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), at the umati press conference on 16 September 2019 in Hanover.

“The interface enables machine tool manufacturers to fulfill another Industry 4.0 promise: the simple, fast and secure exchange of data,” continues Prokop. Creating a connection and providing a uniform language for machines, systems and software are essential prerequisites for reaping the benefits of digitalisation in production. The fact that individual companies no longer have to concern themselves with the correct functioning of the network interconnection represents a tremendous step forward.

International acceptance

umati has also already made a strong impression internationally. Three international consortia from major machine tool manufacturing countries have joined the interface: ProdNet from Switzerland, Edgecross from Japan and NCLink from China. In addition, the machine tool associations from China, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Taiwan as well as the European machine tool association Cecimo are supporting the project.

“Choosing the OPC UA standard as a basis for the development of the interface supports international dissemination. It ensures that umati can be used free of charge worldwide,” explains Prokop. 90 companies are contributing to the standardisation work in the Joint Working Group together with the OPC Foundation. The release of Version 1.0 of the Companion Specification, the next milestone, is planned for the middle of next year.

EMO showcase demonstrating the effectiveness of umati

The showcase at EMO Hannover 2019 demonstrates that the interface is already up and running. Each machine has an OPC UA server which sends the data to a data hub which has been set up especially for the trade fair. There, the software value-added services can access the data via OPC UA clients and show what added value can be generated from the resulting data. How the data is coming together can be experienced via a live dashboard at the umati central information booth (E24) in Hall 9.

umati success will be decided by the market

Whether or not umati is successful will ultimately depend on how customers rate the added value of the interface. For their part, manufacturers must provide this added value in a dependable manner. “For this we need reliable partners who can provide the necessary components such as control architecture and software components. We will achieve this through close cooperation with the control manufacturers and, in future, no doubt also with extensive parts of the supply chain,” says VDW Chairman Prokop.

But until then, the umati working group still has much to do. Version 1.0 will be the starting signal for launching actual products. “In the future, the umati brand should represent a promise: anyone who buys a umati machine and has umati interface software should be able to get the data flowing with no difficulty,” says Prokop.

In order to achieve similarly extensive distribution to that of the USB connector in the consumer goods sector, the VDW is working – in addition to the Companion Specifications – on establishing a binding specification for the configuration of communication parameters, defining minimum requirements for implementation, and developing standardised test procedures to assess performance. Further aims include extending the brand’s global reach, defining binding conditions for its use and setting up a viable organisational structure. “Version 2.0 is already on the horizon because there are many aspects which have not yet been tackled, such as production order management on the machines, or tool management,” concludes the VDW Chairman.

 

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EMO Hannover 2019 Boosting Investment Levels With Array Of New Technologies

EMO Hannover 2019 Boosting Investment Levels With Array Of New Technologies

Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, opens the world’s leading trade fair for metalworking

Carl Martin Welcker

Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, together with Lower Saxony’s First Minister Stephan Weil, Member of the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom Adel Al-Saleh, Cecimo President Dr. Roland Feichtl and EMO General Commissioner Carl Martin Welcker, is opening the EMO Hannover 2019, the world’s leading trade fair. For six days, Hanover will once again become a Mecca for the international production technology industry. The theme of the event is “Smart technologies driving tomorrow’s production!” and more than 2,200 exhibitors from 48 countries are set to present their innovations for industrial production.

“Digitalisation and networking have been the subject of much discussion over the last few years, but they are now finally being implemented in the production processes,” says Carl Martin Welcker at the opening press conference in Hanover. Factories are becoming smart, machines and tools are becoming intelligent. They communicate with each other and are raising production to new quality levels. Many exhibitors are showcasing offerings for this. There are over 2,000 hits for the term “Industry 4.0” on the EMO website alone.

 

EMO Hannover presenting solutions to mega issues

Welcker sees major challenges and opportunities arising from the transition of the automotive industry – the sector’s largest customer. “Electrification will not happen overnight. Rather, there will still be many optimised fossil fuel-powered vehicles on the road, either with pure combustion engines or hybrid drives,” he said. The introduction of new drive technologies will undoubtedly lead to changes in individual manufacturing processes. However, the EMO General Commissioner strongly believes that highly differentiated solutions must be found to meet the highly disparate needs of cars, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, aircraft, marine engines, mobile machines and e-bikes. If we are to achieve the ambitious CO2 climate targets, it is all the more important to redouble our efforts in the search for future drive technologies, and to ensure that the best solution prevails in each case.

Researchers at FEV Consulting have calculated that fully electric vehicles will have a 19 percent share of the global market by 2030. This relates to 118 million new registrations, the overall number of which is not expected to change significantly from the 2017 figure. They also speak of a 64 percent reduction of the added value in the manufacturing process for pure electric drives, and 24 percent higher added value for plug-in hybrids.

In this scenario, any losses in production can potentially be compensated by new requirements. Improvements to the efficiency of the remaining combustion engines and transmission systems in the form of optimised surfaces, the reduction of noise emissions, protection against component wear (which is more intense in hybrids due to the switch from electric to combustion mode at high speeds) and the redesign of braking systems (required due to the high battery weights): all these factors call for new or modified production processes. In addition, there is the installation of rapid charging facilities nationwide. Complex new production systems are also needed for the manufacture of key electrical components such as batteries, traction motors and power electronics.

 

Sustainability is the basis of the machine tool industry’s business model

Without the use of intelligent technology, it will not ultimately be possible to achieve the ambitious climate protection targets by 2030. In any consideration of such advances, the focus is always on industrial production and thus on machine tools as ‘enablers’. There are demands for lower energy and material consumption levels, higher process efficiency coupled with higher product quality. “In fact, the tool industry is making a major contribution, because its business model is centred squarely on efficiency and waste avoidance,” points out Welcker.

The industry would not enjoy such international success if it was not capable of processing ever new materials – such as lightweight construction in the automotive industry – and of establishing more energy-efficient processes by cutting out entire processing steps, e.g. by combining a number of processes in a single machine. Industry 4.0 is currently giving rise to much talk about ‘digital twins’. These allow optimised machines, components and processes to be designed on the computer before any actual materials are used in production. Power generation, whether conventional or regenerative, ultimately requires sophisticated production technology, too. This is crucial if sustainable principles are to be adhered to in the necessary machining of large parts for wind turbines, in combined heat and power generation, or in the laser machining of solar panels. This is at the heart of what the machine tool industry stands for.

Sustainability has always been a key factor in the construction of the machine tools themselves. The machine tool industry fulfilled the EU’s requirements as part of its move towards establishing a circular (closed-loop) economy long ago: energy- and resource-efficient production, long service lives, incentives for refurbishment, updatability of control systems, second and third lives for products. This makes it an ideal example of how to implement recycling management.

 

Decline in German machine tool production expected in 2019

“EMO Hannover 2019 is taking place in less than ideal economic circumstances,” admits Welcker. After eight strong years for the machine tool industry, global demand for capital goods has been in decline since the fourth quarter of 2018. User demand in all regions of the world declined significantly in the first half of 2019. In the EMO host country of Germany, incoming orders also fell by more than a fifth in the first six months. Therefore VDW (German Machine Toll Builders’ Association) revised the production forecast for Germany to minus two percent.

However, a leading world trade fair such as EMO Hannover can reveal at an early stage the technologies which are likely to attract investment in the future. New offerings arising from digitalisation and the introduction of artificial intelligence, new products made possible through the extensive use of generative processes etc. will open up new dimensions of efficiency and quality in production. Companies should now be getting themselves in shape for the coming years – through strategic realignment, modernisation of production, increased process efficiency.  “There are many potential approaches. The solutions will crystallise in the coming days, not least here at EMO Hannover,” says the EMO General Commissioner.

 

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Renishaw Demonstrates Additive Manufacturing Capabilities For Spinal Implants

Renishaw Demonstrates Additive Manufacturing Capabilities For Spinal Implants

Renishaw has collaborated with two advanced technology companies to demonstrate the advantages of additive manufacturing (AM) in the production of spinal implants. By working with Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) and nTopology, the project shows how streamlined the transition from design to AM can be when working with the right partners.

Manufacturing research organisation IMR designed a representative titanium spinal implant, aimed at the cervical spine (c spine), using advanced manufacturing software company nTopology’s generative design software. IMR then manufactured the implants using Renishaw’s RenAM 500M metal AM system.

“AM can be used to manufacture spinal implants with lattice structures, which cannot be achieved with conventional manufacturing techniques,” explained Ed Littlewood, Marketing Manager of Renishaw’s Medical and Dental Products Division. “An implant with a lattice structure is lightweight, can be optimised to meet the required loading conditions and has a greater surface area, which can aid osseointegration. Therefore, AM implants can be designed to mimic the mechanical properties of bone, resulting in better patient outcomes. But all of this comes to nothing if you do not have the tools to create the design.”

“Traditional CAD tools weren’t built to design complex lattice structures; the job would be difficult or even impossible.” Explains Matt Rohr, nTopology’s Application Engineering Manager. “nTopology was designed to complement existing workflows and make the job easier. We cut the design time of complex structures from days to minutes which was a crucial component in helping this project run to schedule.”

“Renishaw worked tirelessly with us on improving the AM process for producing the spinal implants,” commented Sean McConnell, Senior Research Engineer at IMR. “Together, we designed a set of experiments that yield the most appropriate parameter settings for the product. As a result, we reduced the amount of post processing required on key features of the implants by a factor of ten.”

Patients with medical conditions including degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis and osteoporosis can require spinal implants to restore intervertebral height. The improved implant design made possible by AM means patients may require shorter surgery time and fewer revision surgeries, saving healthcare resources and costs.

 

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Seco Tools Releases New Duratomic TM Grades For Stainless Steel Turning

Seco Tools Releases New Duratomic TM Grades for Stainless Steel Turning

Seco Tools has announced the release of three new grades specifically for stainless steel turning featuring the company’s latest Duratomic generation and its Used-Edge Detection technology. The new TM grades TM1501, TM2501 and TM3501 secure operations and improve productivity in materials ranging from austenitic stainless steel to high-alloyed, super-duplex stainless steels. The expanded range of 479 total TM insert configurations also includes three new geometries with chipbreakers optimised for finishing and medium-roughing applications in stainless steel.

TM1501 is designed for the highest level of speed, productivity and wear resistance in stable continuous cut applications for austenitic stainless steel components. The first-choice grade for any low to medium-alloyed stainless steel, TM2501 excels as a general grade that provides long tool life and toughness across the widest application area. And a brand-new grade for the toughest high-alloyed stainless steels, including duplex and super-duplex stainless steels, TM3501 also offers good performance across all stainless steel applications.

The addition of the unique FF1 chipbreaker for the TM3501 grade provides superior chip control in stainless steel finishing, while the new MR3 and M3 complements MF4 and M5 in medium-roughing applications. These three Duratomic grades feature innovations based on world-leading coating chemistry developments adapted to manufacturers’ application needs. In addition to offering superior mechanical and thermal properties, this coating also provides the chrome-colored Used-Edge Detection technology, which makes every edge count and reduces potential waste.

 

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A New World Of Laser Tracker Scanning

A New World of Laser Tracker Scanning

Here’s a look at the development path of the world’s first direct scanning laser tracker. Article by Joel Martin, Hexagon Geosystems.

Manufacturing innovations have often been the driving force behind new developments in the field of metrology—the science of measurement. New combinations of hardware and software are allowing engineers to solve problems in new ways that simply weren’t possible before.

In the late 1990s, technological advancements delivered a new device known as the laser tracker, which has gone on to establish itself as a worldwide standard for large-scale alignment and verification tasks. A laser tracker is a portable coordinate measurement machine (PCMM) that uses a laser beam to accurately measure and inspect the features of an object in 3D space. This beam is sent to a spherically mounted retro-reflector touching the object to measure two angles and a distance, thus calculating its position and defining it with an X, Y, Z coordinate.

Laser trackers were quick to find their home in large-scale manufacturing, largely because no other measurement solution could accomplish such tasks. They allowed engineers to perform wing-to-body alignments or even tooling verification faster and more accurately than ever before. But the first generation of laser trackers had their own special issues, such as when line of sight between the laser tracker and the reflector was interrupted and the operator would have to walk the steel sphere back to a home position to pick up the laser beam from the tracker.

This limitation reduced operator efficiency, and consequently cost money, especially if the reflector was being tracked from a distance of some 20m away. While workarounds were available, it was not uncommon to see the connection interrupted repeatedly if there were physical obstacles in the work area such a workers or cables.

The solution to this issue was first provided by Hexagon in 20XX when the PowerLock feature was first introduced to their Absolute Tracker range of laser trackers. However, laser trackers still required the skilled hand of a well-trained operator to deliver reliable results.

A Breakthrough Driven by Automotive

The next great development in the history of laser tracker systems came after a major automotive OEM challenged several metrology leaders to design a system that could track a handheld device capable of non-contact scanning a surface around an area the size of a car with tracker-like accuracy.

Although it wasn’t immediately met, this challenge was behind the introduction of the first large-volume wireless probe, which worked like a “walk around CMM” by allowing the operator to use its common stylus to measure a part in a way similar to using a CMM or portable measuring arm.

This breakthrough was made possible by the introduction of a new type of laser tracker that, rather than simple 3D measurement, could measure with “six degrees of freedom”. These “6DoF” laser trackers, the first of which was the landmark Leica Absolute Tracker AT901, were capable of measuring not just a single point, but an orientation around that point about a full six axes.

Most importantly, from a productivity standpoint, this new device allowed the measurement of hidden points within recesses, or simply points on the back side of the measurement object, without repositioning the laser tracker.

Early benchmarks showed that this new probing capability could provide an increase in throughput of up to 80 percent over traditional reflector measurement. This technology created such a dramatic shift in the way objects were measured that the reflector—the very tool that had until now been key to the functionality of the laser tracker—ended up being used far less often for measurement tasks.

Introducing Scanning

The idea of surface digitisation with a laser tracker is nothing new; an operator in 1995 could be seen dragging a reflector over the surface of an aerostructure to create a simple point cloud. But the introduction of the 6DoF tracker opened up the possibility to take this a giant leap further.

But laser tracker based large-volume scanning has accelerated over the past six years. An example is a laser scanner with extreme speed that is tracked by a laser tracker and attached to a commercial of-the-shelf robot. This scanner-tracker integration effectively turns a standard robot into a very accurate shop floor measuring machine.

This fundamental shift in measuring from physically touching a part to measure it to “just scanning it” has allowed manufacturers to completely rethink their metrology workflows and equipment.

At around the same time that 6DoF probing and scanning was changing the workflows and typical applications of laser trackers, 3D terrestrial laser scanning was beginning to find its first applications in large scale manufacturing. This high-speed LIDAR scanning technology was originally deployed for geospatial land surveying, allowing an operator to collect millions of points very quickly in the course of capturing the surface of buildings or the surrounding landscape.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are handheld scanners with an ultra large stand-off area of up to three feet with a scan line of over two feet wide that captures huge amounts of data very rapidly. Other contemporary scanners allow the operator to measure objects the size of an average car from a single station (position) in less than 30 minutes. The need to scan very large objects quickly with metrology-grade accuracies has driven different manufacturers to integrate their laser trackers to several different scanners. In addition to the hand scanners described above, there are also examples of structured light scanners located by laser tracker, as well as terrestrial laser scanners using laser trackers to control their global accuracies.

The Industrialisation of Terrestrial Measurement

Laser trackers have the inherent ability to hold very tight tolerances over very large distances. This important feature renders the marriage of laser trackers and terrestrial laser scanners as a natural progression. Terrestrial laser scanners can measure millions of points very quickly, but it can be a challenge to register these point clouds together while maintaining metrology grade accuracies. It is exactly this need that lead the industry to another advancement in laser tracker technology—a scanning absolute distance meter that pushes laser trackers into the next level of usability. A scanning ADM that measures at an internal rate of over one million points per second is now integrated in a new line of laser trackers. The technology can register submillimetre noncontact surface scans with metrology grade SMR laser tracker measurements—all within a single battery powered IP54 sensor for factory floor usage or remote outdoor applications. This new product line effectively bridges the gap between laser trackers and lidar scanners.

Looking to the Future

Manufacturing has changed dramatically since that aerospace engineer was tasked with aligning the wings to the fuselage of the 747 more than 50 years ago. The modern airplanes replacing this legendary gem require an increasing amount of data-driven processes with an even higher level of precision was achievable before. In the past, some level of misalignment in the aerostructure could simply be “trimmed out” during flight testing, but today that equates to inefficiencies of the aircraft. To reach the fuel efficiency requirements of the burgeoning aerospace industry, new inspection processes and technology must continue to advance.

I have been involved with laser trackers since the early days and witnessed the evolution of this solution as it has grown and matured at a consistent rate. It has been amazing to watch some of the smartest minds in metrology push the power and usage envelope on this technology, considering its humble roots. Today, laser trackers are utilized in almost every type of large-scale manufacturing from aerospace to power generation. The emerging trend towards noncontact scanning is pioneering another giant leap for a technology that seems to have no limits.

 

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Creaform Adds Academia 50 3D Scanner To Its Educational Solution Suite

Creaform Adds Academia 50 3D Scanner To Its Educational Solution Suite

Creaform has added the ACADEMIA 50 3D scanner to its ACADEMIA educational solution suite. This professional-grade, portable 3D scanner is the ideal solution for teachers looking to show students the benefit of handheld 3D scanners and their use in real-life applications, such as reverse engineering, industrial design and quality control.

Easy to set up and use by teachers and students of all levels, ACADEMIA 50 uses structured white light technology to scan objects made of any material, surface type or colour. Its technical specifications highlight its performance levels, with an accuracy of up to 0.250 mm (0.010 in) and a measurement resolution of up to 0.250 mm (0.010 in).

ACADEMIA 3D scanners are part of a turnkey educational solution that includes: 50 free seats of scan-to-CAD and inspection software to show students how to address any conventional or innovative engineering workflow, five-year ACADEMIA Customer Care Plan and self-training documentation. Creaform offers teachers a free Creaform ACADEMIA Sample Kit that gives academics didactic material to enhance their curricula.

“This latest addition to our ACADEMIA educational solution suite attests to Creaform’s commitment to the educational sector by offering the designers and engineers of tomorrow the tools they need to help them excel in their careers,” said François Leclerc, Marketing Program Manager at Creaform. “We offer a complete education solution that does not sacrifice on quality or performance — all at a cost the educational institutions can afford.”

 

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Interroll’s New Plant In Thailand Fully Operational

Interroll’s New Plant In Thailand Fully Operational

Interroll (Thailand) Company Limited has moved to a new, state-of-the-art plant in Phantong (Chonburi) in order to seize growth opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Interroll Thailand has completed its relocation to a new location in Phantong (Chonburi) which provides a shop floor of more than 4,800 square meters as well as a 700-square-meter office space in attractive Interroll design.

The construction of the new plant in Thailand is an important part of Interroll’s consistent globalisation strategy. Growth markets in Southeast Asia—especially Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar—show a good demand for Interroll products, with significant potential for the long-term future. Moreover, an increase in the base of installed material handling systems in the region provides additional opportunities for services in the region.

“We are running a state-of-the-art location with improved capacities here,” says Grisorn Nakapong, Managing Director of Interroll Thailand. “The locally manufactured products are Rollers, RollerDrive, Pallet Flow, and Drum Motors service. Our customers can also count on upgraded Drum Motor services, which we provide at this location.”

 

Increased productivity and shorter delivery times

By the end of 2019, a production line for the Modular Conveyor Platform (MCP) will be added. Moreover, the container loading area has been laid out to support big orders of Pallet Flow for markets in Southeast Asia. The facility also provides an in-house canteen for the employees as well as multipurpose areas for sports and team building activities. Modern office concepts facilitate communication among employees and within project teams.

“By introducing product lines with One Piece Flow and a high degree of automation, we have further raised our productivity significantly,” says Jens Strüwing, Executive Vice President Products & Technology at Interroll. “The new plant enables us to shorten delivery times for our customers in the region by 30 to 50 percent and to produce a much larger range of our solutions in proximity to our Southeast Asian target markets.”

 

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EMO 2019: Mobile Hybrid Machining For The Tool And Die Industry

EMO 2019: Mobile Hybrid Machining For The Tool And Die Industry

Up until now, tool and die processing required large components to be transported to the respective machine. The start-up company Picum MT is presenting its system for the mobile machining of workpieces at this year’s EMO Hannover. A spin-off of the Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Machine Tools (IFW) at Leibniz University Hannover, Picum MT developed the lightweight and compact Picum system that is designed to handle all necessary work, including machining and build-up welding directly on the component itself. Picum is especially useful for revisions, tool adjustments or repairs. In line with the concept “machine to the workpiece” instead of “workpiece to the machine,” the use of large conventional machine tools and time-consuming transport is no longer required.

All Key Machining Processes With One Machine

The extremely compact and lightweight Picum system is based on conventional 5-axis serial kinematics. The machine is mounted on the workpiece and positioned over the machining point. Before processing starts, the system automatically detects the exact position and orientation of the workpiece in relation to the machine and adapts an NC code to the current situation. An innovative quick-change system makes it easy to switch between machining processes, for example from build-up welding to milling.

The axis system is attached using an adaptive framework. This ensures maximum rigidity at low weight. Various compensation methods enable Picum to achieve a level of precisions that meets the highest toolmaking standards. The system can be easily repositioned for machining extremely large surfaces. The software recognises the new situation and auto­matically transforms the NC code.

The compact Picum system can be transported to the deployment site in a small van, trailer, or airfreight container. Unlike transporting a very large tool or die, users benefit from lower transport costs and save a significant amount of time. Picum MT is marketing a system that combines the accuracy of a machine tool with the flexibility of a robot and the mobility of a drilling machine. Typical applications can be found in industries that manu­facture large parts, including aerospace, automotive, energy technology, mechanical and plant engineering, shipbuilding, and process engineering.

 

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EDM: Past, Present And Future

EDM: Past, Present and Future

As the industry moves toward Industry 4.0, EDM machines are expected to become more intelligent as manufacturers incorporate more and more advanced functionality to enhance the productivity and efficiency of the system. Article by Makino.

The electrical discharge machining (EDM) process utilises short bursts or pulses of electrical energy to erode and machine conductive materials. This process can be thought of as machining with lightning bolts, called sparks. With EDM, the number and power of each spark can be precisely controlled, thus, by modifying the amount and power of the discharge spark energy, the material removal rate, attained surface finish and resulting accuracy can be predictably and repeatedly controlled.

While EDM is commonly thought of as a slower form of metal removal compared to conventional milling and some other processes, recent advancements in EDM technology have led to significant improvements in processing times and finish quality for even the most complex and involved part geometries.

But what has now become an essential process for die/mould shops, aerospace, automotive and other manufacturers humbly began with a failure.

Brief History of EDM

In the early 1940s, two scientists in the former Soviet Union, B.R. Butinzky and N.I. Lazarenko, experimented with methods to prevent erosion of tungsten contacts caused by electrical sparking during welding. Although they didn’t find a better welding method, they discovered how to control metal erosion by immersing the electrodes in oil or water. From their research, Butinzky and Lazarenko built the first electrical discharging machine for processing metals that were difficult to machine with conventional milling, drilling or other mechanical methods such as tool steel and titanium.

Butinzky and Lazarenko drew on ideas developed by English physicist, Joseph Priestley, who wrote about the erosive effects of electricity on certain metals back in the 1770s. The Russians’ early work became known as spark machining because electrical discharges caused sparks that could be controlled to manufacture specific shapes.

Machining with Electricity

In conventional machining, the material is removed by cutting tools that turn or grind against the workpiece with a mechanical force. In the EDM process, sparks of electricity create short bursts of high energy that instantly melt and vaporise the material without making contact. Due to the non-mechanical and non-contact machining process, EDM is referred to as a “non-traditional” type of manufacturing.

The key to EDM machining is the passage of electricity from a tool (electrode) to the workpiece, which must be composed of conductive material like steel or aluminium. The tool, which can either be a small diameter wire, hollow tube, or an electrode mechanically machined into a negative version of the workpiece’s final shape, is then placed and maintained in close proximity to the workpiece during the EDM spark erosion process.

EDM technology has evolved into three distinct machining approaches:

  1. Wire EDM: Wire EDM uses a small diameter copper or brass-alloy wire to cut parts much like a band saw. Traditional uses are to make punches, dies, and inserts from hard metals for die/mold tooling applications. Uses have since expanded to include part production uses over a wide array of industries.
  2. Sinker EDM: Sinker EDM uses electrodes machined from a special graphite or copper material into the shape or contour feature needed on the final workpiece. Typically, uses include the production of small or complex cavities and forms for die/mould tooling, but have also found use in many production applications.
  3. EDM Drilling: EDM drilling uses a small diameter hollow tube electrode made from copper or brass alloys to erode holes into the workpiece. This method is typically used to prepare start holes for the wire EDM process, but have also progressed to producing small hole features found in dedicated production applications such as turbine engine components and medical devices.

Why Use EDM

One of the key advantages in EDMing is the machine’s capability to work on small corners that cannot be cleared by the milling process. Also, when it comes to precision parts, very small work pieces are prone to damage when machined with conventional cutting tools because of the excess cutting pressure. You won’t have this issue with EDM.

With conventional cutting, extremely hard materials will affect the high wear rate of the cutter. This is not the case for EDM. In fact, apart from cutting these hard pieces of materials, the EDM process also provide excellent surface finishes.

Moreover, EDM enables the processing of complex shapes that would otherwise be difficult to produce with conventional cutting tools.

Over the years, many new machine technologies have helped improve the performance of EDM systems, enabling higher cutting speeds to produce parts faster than before.

One example of the latest technologies in EDM is Makino’s U6 H.E.A.T. Extreme wire EDM, which features an industry first 0.4mm (0.016”) coated wire technology that increases rough machining rates up to 300 percent compared to traditional 0.010” brass wire, while maintaining comparable wire consumption rates of 0.6–0.7lbs/hour. As a result, the new machine is able to significantly improve rough machining speed without increasing manufacturing costs.

Addressing the Labour Skills Challenge

Despite the advancements in EDM, there continues to be challenges facing the segment. One issue is labour, in particular, the lack of skilled EDM operators.

As new technologies are being incorporated in EDM, the need for programming skills, and the setting up and operation of more complex machines with more and more functionality are increasing. This, in turn, requires more knowledge and skills needed for ordinary operators.

One way of addressing this is the introduction of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications for EDMs to reduce the otherwise long learning curve required by the system, enhance user experience and efficiency, and reduce machine downtime.

Makino’s expanded Hyper-i Control family and Remote Monitoring features intuitive, intelligent, and interactive functions that utilise familiar smartphone/tablet functionality that provide operators with a powerful and user-friendly interface.

Its unified control system for both wire and sinker EDM machines provides operators with enhanced functions to improve productivity, regardless of operator skill level. The large 24” class HD touch-screen display provides a commanding view for the operator and utilises intuitive and familiar touch Pinch/Swipe/Drag operations similar to smartphones and tablets.

Straightforward machine operation is accomplished on the Hyper-i Control with a three-step process of Program/Setup/Run flow, and there are many helpful intelligent tools and functions for the operator that provide greater convenience and flexibility, such as the standard full-function advanced Handbox. In addition, digital onboard electronic manuals, instructional training videos, and the advanced E-Tech Doctor help functions provide the operator with practical resources at their fingertips to remain highly productive.

Another EDM technology from Makino is the HyperConnect application, which facilitates machine-to-machine connectivity. HyperConnect is a suite of IIoT applications for EDMs that enhances user experience and efficiency and reduces machine downtime. They are available on all Makino EDMs equipped with Hyper-i control systems. Some of the features of HyperConnect are as follows:

  • The app enables shop managers and operators to monitor and control EDM processes from any PC, smart device, or other Hyper-i control systems on the network. It has four primary connectivity features for shop personnel to monitor, plan, and troubleshoot EDM operations.
  • EDM Mail relays machine status information to operators via email during unattended operation to help reduce downtime and support multitasking abilities. It delivers periodic, timed interval updates of a machine’s operating conditions and alerts operators of a machine stoppage.
  • Machine Viewer is an application that permits networked access to the control’s NC operation screens, which allows operators to remotely view the machine control and process information from any office environment PC or enabled smart device.
  • Machine-to-Machine Viewer gives operators remote access to view and control a networked EDM from another machine, preventing unnecessary foot traffic across the shop floor.
  • PC Viewer provides operators with remote access to all software on a networked PC directly via the control and includes accessibility to any CAD/CAM software, specialized shop tracking software, and Microsoft Office applications.

Future of EDM

It’s been a long time since the discovery of EDM for metalworking. As the industry moves toward the fourth industrial revolution, EMD machines are expected to become more intelligent as manufacturers incorporate more and more advanced functionality to enhance the productivity and efficiency of the system.

One way “intelligence” is being added to the machine is through voice-enabled machine interaction. It is just like your iPhone’s Siri—but instead of asking for directions or calling a certain person in your address book, you are giving instructions to a machine regarding the processing or machining of a particular workpiece.

Makino is the first adopter of ATHENA, the first ever voice-operated assistant technology created specifically for manufacturing work. Developed by iTSpeeX, ATHENA is designed to enable operators of all skill levels by simplifying human interactions with industrial machines. For example, with one voice request, ATHENA can search through a machine’s maintenance manual and display the needed information right at the machine.

This will give operators more ease of control and will not just save time in training and onboarding new machinists, but also in giving experienced machinists the information they need when and where they need it.

 

Read more:

Metal Removal? There’s A Robot For That!

Improving Metal Cutting Productivity With A High-Powered Sawing Machine

Global Metal Cutting Tools Outlook

 

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China, SEA & Pacific Projected To Be Lucrative Regions In The Global Waterjet Cutting Machine Market

China, SEA & Pacific Projected To Be Lucrative Regions In The Global Waterjet Cutting Machine Market

According to a findings specified in the report on the Waterjet cutting machine market, the market is expected to witness steady growth over the forecast period (2018-2026), led by increasing industrialisation and manufacturing sector in emerging regions across the globe. The long-term outlook for the global Waterjet Cutting machine market is expected to remain positive and the market is expected to expand at a CAGR of nine percent during the forecast period.

 

Global Waterjet Cutting Machine Market: Dynamics

Waterjet Cutting has emerged as a versatile, cost effective and accurate alternative to conventional cutting methods such as plasma, mills, lasers and EDM for many applications. Waterjet Cutting machines find applications in many industries such as metal cutting, automotive, aerospace, defense, semiconductors, disposable products, food, glass, ceramics and paper. This process cuts material without creating heat or any mechanical stress. Waterjet Cutting offers certain green benefits as this is a cold cutting process, which eliminates waste and slag deformation, which is quite common in laser and plasma cutting processes. This cutting technology offers great accuracy, productivity and efficiency. That apart, Waterjet cutting machines are more economic than laser machines. Abrasive jets are much faster than EDM, which removes metal at a comparatively slow rate. In comparison to plasma cutting, Waterjet s operate at a much lower temperature and there is no heat affected zone while the material is being cut with a Waterjet cutting machine. These are some of the factors positively impacting the growth of the Waterjet Cutting machine market

 

Global Waterjet Cutting Machine Market: Segmentation Overview

  • On the basis of pump type, the Waterjet Cutting machine market has been segmented into direct drive pump and intensifier pump. The intensifier pump segment dominated the global market in 2017 and the segment is estimated to witness relatively high growth during the forecast period, which can be attributed to the higher efficiency and ability to deliver higher pressure as compared to direct drive pumps
  • On the basis of application, the two dimensional cutting segment is estimated to witness significant growth during the forecast period, due to the high demand for the metal fabrication industry
  • On the basis of pressure range, the Waterjet Cutting machine market has been segmented into up to 4200 Bar and more than 4200 Bar
  • On the basis of end use, the metal fabricating segment is dominating the market, followed by automotive and ceramics

 

Global Waterjet Cutting Machine Market: Regional Overview

North America, followed by Europe, dominated the global Waterjet Cutting Machine market in 2017. SEA & Pacific and China are expected to be the most lucrative regions for the growth of the Waterjet Cutting machines market and these regions are creating significant opportunities for the manufacturers of Waterjet Cutting machines. Furthermore, increasing investment in automotive and manufacturing sectors in emerging regions creates a significant opportunity for the Waterjet Cutting machine market. Additionally, the Waterjet Cutting machine market is expected to witness significant growth in developed economies over the forecast period, owing to the healthy growth of construction and metal fabrication industries.

 

Global Waterjet Cutting Machine Market: Vendor Insights

The report highlights some of the leading companies operating in the global Waterjet Cutting machine market such as A Innovative International Ltd., Caretta Technology s.r.l., CMS Industries, DARDI International Corporation, Flow International Corporation, Foshan Yongshengda Machinery Co., Ltd., H2O Jet, Hornet Cutting Systems, Hypertherm Inc., International Waterjet Machines, Jet Edge, Inc., KMT Waterjet, Koike Aronson, Inc., Metronics Technologies S.L., OMAX Corporation, Plasma Automation Inc., PTV, spol. s r.o., Semyx, LLC, STM Stein-Moser GmbH, Sugino Machine Limited, TECHNI Waterjet, TrennTek GmbH, WARDJet and Waterjet Sweden, among others.

 

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Further reading:

Automotive, Electrical/Electronics Industries Driving Global Industrial Robotics Market

Collaborative Robot Market To Exceed US$11 Billion By 2030

FMI: ‘Energy Efficiency’— the Key Marketing Touchpoint of Bandsaw Machines Market Players

Smart Data in the Metalworking Industry

 

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