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MAKINO’S Holistic Approach In The Manufacturing Of Automotive Lighting Mould

MAKINO’S Holistic Approach In The Manufacturing Of Automotive Lighting Mould

The rapid development of today’s automotive industry had a chain of stringent requirements for the making of automotive lighting. The quality of automotive lighting mould is critical to automobiles. For example, the surface roughness of the mould must be mirror finishing band flawless. The complexity and functional characteristics of the components for automotive lighting systems are continuously changing. As such, it brings up various and new requirements for moulding. Hence, mould manufacturers of automotive lighting are progressively seeking a breakthrough with the development trend of the automobile industry.

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Say Hello To ATHENA: Makino’s Voice Control Technology

Say Hello To ATHENA: Makino’s Voice Control Technology

Designed to run an EDM or CNC machine, ATHENA’s new voice-interoperability and intelligent-learning technology help owners reduce training requirements by providing new operators with their voice-enabled digital assistant.


Tomorrow’s technology is here aptly represents Makino’s capabilities as the world’s most accurate and highest quality metal-cutting and Electrical discharge machines (EDM) producer. Makino’s breakthrough technology like ATHENA is not only a solution to the manufacturers’ problems both large and small but a revolutionary Industry 4.0 move.

“The precision engineering manufacturing is facing an acute skilled labour shortage. As a pioneer in the machine tool industry, Makino is addressing the problem caused by this skill gap with breakthrough technology like ATHENA. This new technology will revolutionize manufacturing by making it easier to both learn about and use a machine tool, as well as to efficiently operate on a day-to-day basis.” says Frankie Chan, Product Manager of Makino Asia.

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A New Approach To Aircraft Titanium Machining

A New Approach To Aircraft Titanium Machining

Makino introduces a new approach to overcome the challenges in titanium parts machining for aerospace manufacturers. 

The appeal of Titanium is no mystery. Its material properties of toughness, strength, corrosion resistance, thermal stability and light weight are highly beneficial to the construction of today’s aircraft.

However, aerospace manufacturers producing titanium parts quickly discover the difficulty these material properties present during the machining process. The combination of titanium’s poor thermal conductivity, strong alloying tendency and chemical reactivity with cutting tools are a detriment to tool life, metal-removal rates and ultimately the manufacturer’s profit margin.

Producing titanium parts efficiently requires a delicate balance between productivity and profitability. However, in standard machining practices these two factors share an inverse relationship, meaning greater productivity can come at a higher cost due to rapid tool degradation, while the desire to increase profit margins by extending tool life may result in decreased metal-removal rates and extended cycle times.

Overcoming this issue requires a new approach by Makino in which all components of the machining process are developed and integrated specific to the material’s unique challenges—requiring a reassessment of even the most basic machine tool design considerations. This was the concept for the new T-Series 5-axis horizontal machining centers with ADVANTiGE technologies, and the results speak for themselves—four times the productivity and double the tool life.

Changing the Rules

In the past, and even in some shops today, titanium is typically machined using multi-spindle gantries and machines with geared head spindles. While these technologies have been effective, the growing complexity of part geometries and required accuracies have brought forth several limitations, including machine and spindle vibration, poor chip removal and limited tooling options.

In support of the aerospace industry’s demand for titanium, Makino established a Global Titanium Research and Development Center, managed by a select group of engineers with knowledge and experience around titanium in both academic and industrial backgrounds. 

The company’s breakthrough, ADVANTiGE, is a comprehensive set of technologies that includes an extra-rigid machine construction, Active Damping System, high-pressure, high-flow coolant system, Coolant Microsizer System and an Autonomic Spindle Technology.  Each technology is designed specifically for the titanium machining process, providing dramatic improvements in both tool life and productivity.

Creating a Rigid Platform

Rigidity of a machine tool is one of the single most important components in titanium machining, heavily influencing the equipment’s stable cutting parameters. 

Machines designed with low rigidity offer limited stable cutting zones, dramatically reducing the maximum level of productivity that can be achieved across all spindle speeds. To increase the productivity of a low-rigidity machine, manufacturers have only one option: taking lighter cuts and increasing spindle speeds, resulting in dramatic reductions in tool life.

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Digital Transformation In A Time Of Crisis

Digital Transformation in a Time of Crisis

As COVID-19 strikes, all companies in various sectors are facing a huge challenge of sustaining their businesses. People are being forced to make hard decision on whether to close their doors or digitally innovate even further. Article by Makino.

COVID-19 has paved the way for digital transformation as businesses shift operations to cope with office closures, restricted movement and supply interruption.

Digital transformation has always made sense but adoption has been slowed as people deal with some of the overwhelming concepts around Industry 4.0, the sheer size of the task, and struggle to figure out where the value is coming from and where they can find the “digital dividend”. 

Now, the needs are compelling and urgent and those that fail to transform will likely be left behind and risk becoming irrelevant and uncompetitive.

Transformation in Manufacturing Industry

To create an ecosystem that is digitally enabled, one must have the ability to model a disruption in real-time, the agility to respond to that disruption, and the resilience to cope with whatever the world has to throw at it. 

This is demanded not only by the manufacturers, but also by their customers, inventors, creditors, and insurers. As a result, an extensive digitisation of the shop floor, including its integration with all the other systems, is becoming essential rather than nice to have. It provides the necessary first layer of high-quality data, upon which another layer of insight generation, decision support, and control of production processes—all in real time—must be superimposed. Such systems must become an order of magnitude better than what exists today.

Digital Transformation with Makino

Makino has been actively moving towards the trend of digitalisation. Its facility is designed to meet the growing demand for high-quality products and sophisticated precision engineering capabilities by adopting Industry 4.0 and the principles of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Despite transforming the facility into a Smart Factory, Makino also acts as a partner which helps their customers to drive them and motivates them towards transformation.

Retool Your Business Processes to Compete in the Global Die/Mould Market

Common practice and misconceptions can lead mould, tool and die owners to conclude that automation offers few benefits to their businesses due to the demands for tight tolerances and one-off or small runs of complex 3D shapes. In today’s competitive global marketplace, with pressures to improve quality and pricing without increasing investment in machines or labour, the time is right to consider taking a production approach.

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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.

 

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Makino Strengthens Presence In Vietnam With New Technology Centre

Makino Strengthens Presence In Vietnam With New Technology Centre

Machine tools and solutions provider Makino recently opened its Ho Chi Minh City Technology Centre in Vietnam. Located in the Saigon High Tech Park over an area of 4,700 square metres, the two-storey technology centre houses a showroom, training facility, parts centre and offices.

Neo Eng Chong, CEO and President of Makino Asia, said, “Opening the Makino Vietnam Technology Centre supports Makino’s strategy and our commitment to strengthen our support to customers, both before and after sales,  and share our expertise to the precision engineering industry with turnkey solutions and technology knowledge transfer.”

The Makino Vietnam Technical Centre boasts machines with high-speed milling and EDM applications to bring technology closer to customers in Vietnam. The new centre will support technology and knowledge transfer, training facility, local service support and application engineering solution.

Nguyen Thanh Hoa, Country Manager of Makino Vietnam, said, “Makino’s pride is always on quality and service, to provide a holistic customer experience to all customers. The Makino Vietnam Technical Centre serves to demonstrate the latest machining technology and solutions from Makino, as well as from our technology partners.  Customers will benefit from our one-stop solution for every size and industry.”

 

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Makino Asia’s Smart Factory Meets Sophisticated Precision Engineering Capabilities

Makino Asia’s Smart Factory Meets Sophisticated Precision Engineering Capabilities

Makino Asia, a leading provider of machine tools used across various industries including automotive, aerospace, medical, semiconductor and electronics, has recently showcased its smart factory at its regional headquarters in Singapore. The facility is designed to meet the growing demand for high-quality products and sophisticated precision engineering capabilities in Asia by adopting Industry 4.0 and the principles of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The smart factory consists of an assembly factory and state-of-the-art machining factory, leveraging seamless automation and digital technologies to achieve high levels of productivity and connectivity between its robots, machines and other peripheral systems.

The combined facility is expected to increase machine production capacity to almost double its previous capacity. The new machining factory and existing assembly factory are connected by a link bridge for staff, and a canopy area for the transfer of materials between the two factories using automated guided forklifts (AGF).

The facility is also fitted with energy-saving and efficient solutions: green energy from installed solar panels within the compound helps to generate about 2,400 megawatt hours of energy annually. This is equivalent to taking 200 cars off the road, avoiding 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions over the same period. In the machining factory, a chilled ceiling system is used to ensure maximum energy efficiency of its air-conditioning system while maintaining high quality, reliability and optimum performance of Makino Asia’s manufacturing operations.

Neo Eng Chong, CEO and President of Makino Asia said, “Makino strives for a ‘Quality First’ mindset across the organisation, from the manufacturing of our products to the development of our people and the business. We are extremely proud of our expanded smart facility in Singapore that will enable Makino Asia to better support our Customers in the region and Singapore’s vision to become a global Advanced Manufacturing hub.”

He added, “The automation and digitalisation of the entire facility serves as a way for us to achieve increased productivity, capacity or energy efficiency. More importantly, it embodies our vision to provide more than just machines for our Customers, by providing the most effective and efficient solutions that meet their needs. The establishment of the IoT Centre to provide real-time support is another milestone to enrich partnerships with our valued Customers.”

The monitoring and tracking of machine conditions in real-time enables Makino Asia to provide proactive and predictive services to Customers. This ensures optimum machine performance at all times so that Customers are able to consistently deliver high quality products.

Lim Swee Nian, Assistant Managing Director of the Singapore Economic Development Board said, “Global precision engineering manufacturing leaders are accelerating the adoption and deployment of Advanced Manufacturing technologies from Singapore, to better serve the evolving needs of their Customers. We are pleased that Makino will be deepening its 45-year presence in Singapore through the launch of its digital transformation journey. As Makino Asia focuses on building its Industry 4.0 capabilities to develop and scale new solutions, we are confident that it will create value-added roles and upskilling opportunities for Singapore to succeed in the digital manufacturing economy.”

Makino Asia embarked on its digital transformation journey in 2016 with a plan to invest around S$100 million over five years to expand and boost the capabilities of its facility in Singapore. The company also established two new departments focused on automation and digitalisation to catalyse digital transformation in the company.

Besides having “smart” machines and solutions, Makino is committed to upskilling all its employees to keep up with fast and ever-changing developments in the manufacturing landscape. Makino Asia’s new and current employees undergo a Workforce Transformation program focused on equipping them with automation skills, digital literacy skills and safety skillsets. The courses are mandatory for all employees to keep abreast of the digital technologies being used to manage automated equipment.

The manufacturing sector in Singapore remains a key pillar of Singapore’s economy. It accounts for around 21 percent of Singapore’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 14 percent of the total workforce. Rapid technological advancements and digitalisation are changing the face of manufacturing. Developments in Advanced Manufacturing presents opportunities for companies to leverage on new technologies to drive productivity and growth.

 

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