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Mazak: Addressing Labour Issues Through Machine Intelligence And Automation

Mazak: Addressing Labour Issues Through Machine Intelligence and Automation

K.S. Chong of Yamazaki Mazak Singapore Pte Ltd speaks about the impact of automation in the metalworking equipment industry. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

K.S. Chong, Senior Director, Solution Engineering, Southeast Asia Headquarters, at Yamazaki Mazak Singapore Pte Ltd, speaks with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News during the recent Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC 2019 event in Singapore, about the latest trends in the machine tool industry, and how automation can help solve bottlenecks and issues on the shop floor.

Give us a brief background on your company, and your role.

K.S. Chong (KS):  Yamazaki Mazak is a Japanese machine tool builder. We produce various types of CNC machines for the metal cutting industry, anywhere from two-axis to nine-axis machines, multi-spindle, multi-turret machines, serving various industries such as automotive, aerospace, semiconductor, and energy, to name a few.

My role is basically to help in before- and after-sales activities such as time study, demonstration, and also turnkey projects. I also help with the proposal of equipment and solutions for the customer’s manufacturing needs.

From your perspective, what are some of the top challenges being faced by manufacturers in the region?

KS:  At this moment, I would say manpower—getting skilled manpower is a big issue for most of the manufacturers in SE Asia. Though they have the jobs or the money to buy the right equipment, getting the skilled manpower or engineers to run the machines or to design or make the fixtures or the process—that is one of the big challenges today.

What about from a manufacturing or technology standpoint?

KS: It is manpower. Humans make machines work. Without good, skilled manpower, it will be difficult to run an efficient manufacturing operation.

What is Mazak doing to help customers alleviate this issue?

KS: We are well known for making machines with our own conversational type CNC controller. We understand that our customers are facing problems to find skilled machinist or engineers to operate eg complex five-axis machines. So, we are building a lot of intelligence into the CNC control to make the machine more intelligent and easier to operate and program. That way, the customer will not need to rely on very high-skilled or high-level engineers to run their manufacturing operations.



What are Mazak’s latest innovations in metal cutting machines/technologies?

KS: CNC control technology has now advanced to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) with deep learning capabilities; making the manufacturing process more intelligent and efficient. More sensors are being employed on machine tools to monitor the operating condition of the machines to improve manufacturing process

What is your approach when it comes to industry 4.0?

KS: Basically, we encourage our customers to try and adopt IoT solutions such as machine status monitoring, in order to collect data on their machine utilization, so that they could address issues such as machine downtime, so as to keep their machines in the optimum operating condition.

By adopting IoT or Industry 4.0 strategies into their manufacturing process or operations, they will be able to get a faster return on investment.

What new industries are emerging right now?

KS: I think at the moment, there’s been a lot of hype on 3D printing and additive manufacturing; this is a very new area. Traditional manufacturing industries who used to use metal cutting machines to produce their products are now trying to explore hybrid additive manufacturing technologies to manufacture those high-value or high-mix, low-volume products.

We saw that trend globally. Therefore, since 5 years back, our headquarters in Japan has already developed several new hybrid additive manufacturing machines.

What is your take on the e-mobility trend?

KS: Our core business is producing CNC metal cutting machines. As far as e-mobility trend is concerned, it is actually using less metal or plastic parts as the traditional engine is replaced by an electric motor.  This means the demand for machining becomes lesser. Actually, I would say it is something that we need to be concerned of—how we are going to find new segments to cover for this shortfall. The manufacturing landscape for the automotive industry will be quite different in the coming years due to e-mobility.

Talks about electric vehicles have been going on for a long time, but there seems to be no massive production or adoption of it especially in southeast asia. Majority of the vehicles will still be those driven by conventional engines.

KS: Correct. Most of these ASEAN countries do not have a good infrastructure yet, such as charging facilities. Also, due to the living conditions of Southeast Asia, which is much cluttered and high density, it is also difficult to implement those infrastructures.

What opportunities are you seeing here in the region?

KS: The opportunities, I would say, would be in the adoption of new technologies such as hybrid additive manufacturing and IoT to complement the current traditional manufacturing processes.

How would you describe the level of manufacturing technology for job shops here in ASEAN?

KS: In Singapore, I would say it is quite matured; but of course, this is a dynamic world. New technologies are coming almost every year, every day. So, industries or SMEs need to be dynamic to adopt these new manufacturing technologies.

What is your outlook for the industry over the next year or two?

KS: There will be a lot of challenges, especially now with this global uncertainty, slow down of the global economy. So, it is anyone’s guess what is going to happen in the next two years. As the saying goes, ‘what goes up must come down, and what goes down must come up’. So, there is a good possibility that those segments that are not doing well today or this year, will slowly recover in the coming years.



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Laser Cutting In An 8-metre Format

Laser Cutting In An 8-metre Format

Langen CNC Metalltechnik GmbH & Co. KG has been successfully processing metal for 30 years. Here’s how the company was able to further increase its cutting capacity by 35 percent by phasing out two equipment, while simultaneously reducing energy consumption. Article by Vanessa Salbert.

Franz Langen (right) in conversation with the operator of the ByStar Fiber 8025. The quality of the cutting edges is essential for the further processing of the parts. A high-quality laser cut eliminates the need for costly reworking.

In northern Germany, Langen CNC Metalltechnik GmbH & Co. KG has been successfully processing metal for 30 years. The family-owned company has continuously invested in state-of-the-art laser cutting technology and infrastructure. Recently, their production hall has become home to a ByStar Fiber 8025 with a customized automation solution from Bystronic.

A green light behind a tinted window, the laser cutting head whizzes around in all directions. With precise and agile movements, it cuts contours out of a metal sheet. The ByStar Fiber 8025 has been in operation at Langen CNC Metalltechnik in the German municipality of Hilkenbrook since February.

“We wanted a machine that cuts efficiently and that is capable of processing large formats. We bend metal parts with lengths of up to eight meters and we, thus, also wanted to be able to cut parts of this size,” explained Franz Langen, Managing Director of Langen CNC Metalltechnik.

Since such a large laser cutting system in combination with an automation solution did not yet exist on the market, a lively exchange was initiated with Bystronic in Switzerland. The result is a powerful 10kW cutting system that cuts 8×2.5-metre metal sheets up to a thickness of 30mm like butter.

An operator from Langen CNC Metalltechnik monitors the cutting process on the ByStar Fiber’s two touch screens. Depending on the configuration, the screens show when which parts will be cut and display all the relevant details of the cutting jobs that are in progress.

Technology and on-site service

Another requirement Langen CNC Metalltechnik had for their ByStar Fiber solution was an automatic loading and unloading system that could handle the large-dimension parts cut by the laser cutting system. And that at any time, the huge cutting table should be able to accommodate either one large metal sheet (8×2.5m) or two standard metal sheets (for example, in the 4x2m format).

“With the Bytrans Cross 8025, we have a system that fulfils precisely these requirements,” said Langen. “The sheets are loaded onto the shuttle table in a fast and reliable process. This increases efficiency and ergonomics throughout the cutting process.”

However, not only the laser cutting machine is important, but also the production environment into which it is integrated. “We needed an alternative solution for the unloading of the trucks that deliver the sheet metal. Before we had the ByStar Fiber 8025, we used forklift trucks,” Langen added.

In order to save time and effort in the future, the company invested in a special magnetic handling technology that can lift sheet metal bundles of up to 5.0 metric tons. “We can now unload 25 tons of sheet metal in just 30 to 40 minutes,” he said.

Cutting capacity increased by 35 percent

The integration of the new laser cutting solution took several months. “We formed a working group for this phase,” Langen said. This was important to ensure everyone involved was on board to help achieve the optimal result for both the staff and the company.

The effort and motivation have paid off. The company currently cuts some 200 metric tons of material per week, which corresponds to 40,000 to 50,000 individual parts.

“Thanks to the new fibre laser system from Bystronic, we have been able to increase our capacity by 35 percent, in spite of phasing out two CO2 laser machines, while simultaneously achieving tremendous energy savings,” Langen said.

Langen CNC Metalltechnik has been manufacturing for more than 30 years. For the past 20 years, the company has relied on cutting technology from Bystronic. The company currently has some 220 employees at its 40,000 square meter site and trains apprentices in six different professions. Most of the parts they produce are used in the special machinery, vehicle, and shipbuilding industries.

“We work for approximately 20 large customers, but we are also pleased to accept small jobs,” Langen said. “We never decline an order.”

In general, the company maintains sustainable, long-term business relationships. “We have been supplying to our oldest customer for almost 30 years,” Langen concluded.


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Arrow Precision Relies On STUDER Grinding Tech

Arrow Precision Relies on STUDER Grinding Tech

Increasing global demand for Arrow Precision’s crankshafts recently prompted a search for a premium quality, highly-productive grinding machine that had the capabilities to grind crankshaft main bearing journals and pins to the company’s challenging dimensional and surface finish standards. Here’s what drove the company to select Studer.

StuderWIN software helps the operator achieve complex grinding tasks.

Established in 1974 by David Arnold, and currently under the direction of David’s son Ian, Arrow Precision continues to abide by the founder’s guiding principles of quality, innovation and service. The Hinckley, Leicestershire-based business’ highly skilled workforce have access to a wide range of premium quality machine tools enabling the company’s high-quality connecting rods and crankshafts to deliver ultimate levels of performance.

Having gained a global reputation for the components it produces, Arrow Precision now supplies three main automotive sectors. The company manufactures OE connecting rods and crankshafts for use in performance production road cars for prestigious customers throughout the world. In addition, a custom service is provided offering unique forgings, custom designs and the one-off manufacture of complete sets of rods for classic and vintage cars. Last but not least, the motorsport industry’s insistence on dealing with vendors with high-levels of technical expertise, flexible manufacturing process, and fast delivery times, means that Arrow Precision is now a major supplier to this most challenging of automotive sectors.

Increasing global demand for Arrow Precision’s crankshafts recently prompted a search for a premium quality, highly-productive grinding machine that had the capabilities to grind crankshaft main bearing journals and pins to the company’s challenging dimensional and surface finish standards. Having assessed several machines from leading manufacturers against a demanding list of criteria, a practical demonstration of a Studer S41 CNC universal grinding machine convinced Arnold that the advanced Studer offering was the ideal answer to the company’s requirements.

The S41

With distances between centres of 1,000/1,600 mm, centre heights of 225mm/275mm and the capability of machining workpieces with a maximum weight of 250kg, the Studer S41 CNC universal cylindrical grinding machine was designed to accommodate medium to large workpieces. While majority of daily grinding tasks can be efficiently performed on the machine, the S41 can also be configured for single-purpose use.

Studer’s S41 boasts a wide range of advanced technical features, such as the StuderGuide guideway system, high-precision axis drives with linear motors, and extremely fast direct drive of the B-axis, ensuring great flexibility, high precision and short auxiliary times. Given the diverse nature of the S41’s users, potential customers are able to choose from a large number of wheelhead variants. With up to four grinding wheels, the S41 fulfils virtually every requirement for complete machining.

The S41 is based on a robust Granitan S103 mineral casting machine bed. Developed and produced in the company’s own plant using the most modern industrial techniques, The advantageous material structure, has proven its value over many years. The excellent dampening characteristics of the S41’s machine base ensure outstanding surface quality of all ground workpieces. The use of Granitan S103 extends the service life of the grinding wheels, leading to reduced downtimes. In addition, temporary temperature fluctuations are compensated by the favourable thermal behaviour of this remarkable material.

The Studer S41’s versatile universal workhead enables both live spindle grinding and grinding between centres. The machine can also be fitted with a specially designed chuck workhead for chuck applications. The workhead is mounted on low-maintenance roller-bearings that have an excellent roundness accuracy of below 0.0004mm (optional, 0.0002mm). Fine adjustment allows for cylindricity corrections in the 1µm range during live spindle operations. As with the machine’s tailstock, its workhead is also equipped with an air cushion lift-off to simplify movement during setup and resetting.

The machine’s direct-drive workhead is primarily used for live spindle grinding of heavy workpieces and for high-precision C-axis applications. When form grinding, the range of parts is expanded by the design configuration of the S41’s direct drive. This design also allows the installation of a high-precision measuring system directly on the spindle.

To an ever-increasing extent, the claim of ‘complete machining’ includes the ability to efficiently perform accurate form and thread grinding operations. These processes are made possible by the position of the S41’s speed-controlled C-axis. The standard C-axis with measuring system on the drive motor is suitable for thread grinding. A direct measuring system is mounted on the workhead spindle (C-axis) to ensure the highest form accuracy. Acceleration and grinding forces are absorbed without difficulty through the high dynamic rigidity of the axis drives.

The machine’s generously dimensioned tailstock barrel, designed for the deployment of Morse 4 taper centres, glides in the tailstock housing. Its centre pressure can be adjusted with the delicate precision required for grinding high-precision workpieces. If required, the tailstock can be equipped with a hydraulically actuated barrel retraction for workpiece changeover. Fine adjustment enables cylindricity corrections in the range below 1 µm when grinding between centres. An air cushion lift-off facilitates simple movement during setup and resetting. A cooling lubricant is passed through the tailstock and totally covers the barrel and diamond holder, to guarantee optimum thermal stability.

Arrow’s S41 is equipped with an Arobotech automatic 3-Point Steady Rest.

Promise delivered

The recently installed S41 is now fully operational on two-shifts and delivering on all of the claims made by Studer. Also, in some areas the machine is exceeding Arrow Precision’s expectations. For example, as the flexible machine can perform both external and internal precision grinding tasks, in addition to the external grinding of crankshafts journal and pins, the S41 is used to grind internal features such as flywheel location bores. Crankshaft bores that previously took 30 minutes to grind on a manual machine now take less than three minutes to complete. As well as producing outstanding levels of surface finish on crank journals and pins, the Studer S41 is now achieving sub-micron levels of diameter grinding accuracy.

“As demand for our crankshafts has grown to such an extent that a strain had been placed on our existing grinding resources, we decided to source a new, high-precision CNC universal cylindrical grinding machine,” Arnold explained. “As achieving the specified diameter and surface finish characteristics of crankshaft journals and pins constitutes, the most critical crankshaft machining process, the highest standards of precision grinding is of paramount importance, therefore our new grinding machine needed to be of the highest possible technical standard.”

Since the company manufactures crankshafts in series production and in short runs, in addition to producing runoffs, it re required a machine with great flexibility and quick change over times.

“Furthermore, as we are often tasked with manufacturing crankshafts with really short lead times by our autosport customers, we needed a fast, extremely efficient machine,” said Arnold. “In addition to the S41 proving its outstanding flexibility, speed and technical capabilities, it helped our purchasing decision that we were aware of Studer’s excellent reputation for the quality of the company’s machines and for if its levels of customer service. The assistance provided by Mark Maurice of UK Studer agent Micronz was invaluable in helping us to specify the machine, arranging a demonstration at Studer’s HQ in Switzerland, ensuring a trouble-free installation and organising our operators’ training.

“As our operators received excellent on-machine training, and as Studer’s controls and software is so intuitive, our staff soon mastered the S41. Although, it helps that on the rare occasion that we have a problem, Studer personnel are just a phone-call away and able to provide and instant solution.

“Not only has the exceptional speed and efficiency of our new Studer CNC universal cylindrical grinding machine removed the possibility of production bottlenecks from our grinding department, the extra capacity it has created and the additional capabilities it provides has opened-up addition commercial opportunities for us.


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Kennametal Releases HARVI I TE Four-Flute Solid Carbide End Mill

Kennametal Releases HARVI I TE Four-Flute Solid Carbide End Mill

Kennametal announced the latest addition to its best-selling HARVI line of high-performance solid end milling tools, the HARVI I TE four-flute solid carbide end mill. With a radical new design, the HARVI I TE delivers outstanding performance in a broad range of materials, including steel, stainless steel, high-temperature alloys and cast iron –with tool life to match. And thanks to significantly reduced cutting forces, this game-changing tool can be used on any machining center or mill-turn center in the shop.

“The HARVI I TE consistently outperformed competing four-flute end mills in both wet and dry machining tests on a variety of materials and applications, with unprecedented tool life in many cases,” said Bernd Fiedler, Manager, Solid End Milling.

“It performs exceptionally well on heavy roughing and finishing cuts alike – from deep cavities and full width slots to shoulder and dynamic milling.”

Kennametal engineers designed the HARVI I TE to address four key problems that plague more than 90 percent of all milling applications: chip evacuation, tool deflection, corner stability, and breakage due to radial cutting forces. The result is a tool that’s durable and versatile enough to tackle the lion’s share of milling applications.

Consider chip evacuation. The HARVI I TE has an innovative flute design that helps curl and break chips into manageable pieces, while a series of chip gashes within the flute lift those chips up and away from the workpiece. Both serve to promote coolant flow, eliminate chip re-cutting, and improve tool life. A twisted end face and unique gashing further promote chip evacuation but are also responsible for the HARVI I TE’s awesome ramping and plunging capabilities.

Tool deflection is reduced thanks to the tool’s parabolic core, as well as an eccentric, faceted relief along the entire flute length that significantly lowers cutting friction. This relief also increases edge strength, making the tool a versatile solution.

Together with a variable helix angle and asymmetric flutes it dampens vibration before it can negatively affect machining operations.

“The HARVI I TE improves process stability, surface quality and chip evacuation,” said Fiedler. “Most importantly, it maintains these benefits even at increased feeds, speeds, and depths of cut – delivering maximum metal removal, tool life and productivity.”


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Ensuring High Precision

Ensuring High Precision

Ingun Prüfmittelbau GmbH relies on the high-precion SwissNano technology to ensure success in the world of test and measurement. Article by Tornos.

Ernst Dietrich

Any company claiming to be the ‘market leader in test equipment manufacturing’ really has to perform excellently. Ingun Prüfmittelbau GmbH has become a synonym for permanent innovation and top-quality products boasting absolute precision. Among others, the company owes this prominent position to an intelligent manufacturing strategy and to machinery that has been selected with due care. And here, Tornos’ SwissNano machines play a key role.

In 1971, Ingun Prüfmittelbau opened its doors for business with the production of test probes and test fixtures with only only seven employees. Almost 50 years later, the staff has grown to more than 300 employees worldwide, and Ingun is now one of the leaders in test equipment manufacturing, offering a range of test probes and test fixtures used to test the electrical function of electronic components such as PCBs.

Generally, products such as harnesses used in cars, battery packs for bicycles or state-of-the-art smartphones, laptops and PCs are tested for correct operation with an Ingun product. As devices are getting smaller and smarter, it is inevitable that their PCBs are getting smaller whilst featuring more functions and closed-loop control circuits. Examining and testing PCBs are becoming more and more complex, and Ingun is making every effort to continue coping with these technical challenges as they evolve. Its spring-loaded test probes ensure reliable and consistent contact security for more than 25,000 different types. Both standardised and customised test fixtures as well as an extensive range of fixture accessories for individual upgrade are the company’s second mainstay. The company’s R&D department is working closely with the production and assembly departments to provide the customers with tailormade solutions.

Infinite Diversity

The diversity of the components to be tested requires an appropriate range of products, and Ingun takes pride in finding the adequate solution for each task. In addition to standard probes, the company also offers high-frequency and high-current test probes. The latter ensures the safe transmission of high currents with little heating as well as precise measurement thanks to minimum internal resistances.

The complexity of the test probes is not evident at first sight. They generally consist of a barrel, a spring, a plunger and a probe with gold-plated tip. It’s getting really interesting, though, when it comes to the sizes and the material to be machined. For Ingun, outer diameters smaller than 0.8mm are already large and the turning of 0.12mm cross holes and of 0.19mm studs are usual tasks. For the most part, brass as well as copper-beryllium alloys are machined. Most recently, the share of Teflon and other plastics has also been increasing as these materials have inherent insulation.

Since the time slots between engineering, prototype construction and test phase were becoming smaller and smaller, and external suppliers weren’t able to supply in short term, Ingun established its own turning shop in 2012. Even if Ingun is operating on a global scale today, the company is acting on the maxim to exclusively produce in Germany to ensure its high-quality standards.

At the Forefront of Technological Development

From the very beginning, Ingun’s turning shop has been planned as a high-end solution for the development of new technologies. In close collaboration with design engineers, innovative solutions are sought and exceptional technologies are experimented with. The standard just isn’t good enough for Ingun’s turning shop. Here, the benchmark is set. Only until a process is running steadily will it be outsourced to external local suppliers, who then will produce about 80 million turned parts per year.

The fact that the turning shop is now equipped with 15 machines proves that this concept worked out. These machines already include six SwissNano machines from Tornos and two machines of this type will follow by the end of this year. The first SwissNano was purchased in 2014, when the turning shop had to manufacture a most challenging, highly complex test probe with a crown on its face. The technical parameters perfectly matched. The machine is small, compact, easily accessible, stable and precise. But was it able to prove this in practice? It was. In the course of elaborate turning trials in Pforzheim, Germany, the machine showed what it had to offer. In this context, Ernst Dietrich’s team unanimously praise the support offered by Tornos. Together, they developed solutions for process optimisation.

With a shortened bar loader, the vibration could be further reduced. In this regard, the specific oil extraction system and the pick-off device directly mounted on the spindle are some very interesting features. Such details emphasise the high demands Ingun makes on its machines. The company does not content itself with the standards and is always looking for improvement. At the same time, Ingun has shifted to the in-house production of its entire parts series, thanks to the use of the SwissNano machines, which provide the company with additional flexibility.

A Close Partnership

The SwissNano convinced the responsible Ingun managers from the very beginning—and they have not been disappointed to date. The machine is amazingly fast, highly precise, and is easily accessible and easy to convert. With an annual ratio of two thirds set-up work and one third turning work, the latter is a decisive aspect. For Dietrich, the turning shop manager, the optimisation of the set-up times is essential. That’s why the workplaces and processes are optimised accordingly in special workshops. The possibility to change over in ‘next to no time’ between turning with or without guide bush and the resulting flexibility of the SwissNano are features that are appreciated as well in this context. This is extremely important for a company that rarely has to machine the same part again. Another aspect applauded by Dietrich is the TISIS software.

“My colleagues have felt at ease with it from the very beginning. The machine is easy to program; important features are already registered, and the simulation function provides reliable protection against interference and opens up possibilities to further optimize the program,” he says.

This passion to permanently push the envelope is typical for Ingun. The company promotes junior staff members and gives them the opportunity to prove themselves. So, the team being responsible for the Tornos machines is still very young, yet very competent and is fully committed to the tasks on hand. In addition, these young employees can benefit from the wealth of experience of their older colleagues. In this department, cycle times of just 15s for extremely complex test probes are the rule rather than the exception.

Based on these positive experiences, the SwissNano machine will remain the machine of choice for Ingun. This, however, does not mean that they will rest on their laurels. The company is even thinking about a strategic partnership with the Swiss manufacturer. In the coming years, Ingun will continue to grow at a tremendous pace and will thus need machines on which the requested micro-precision can be achieved in no time and at high flexibility. Tornos’ SwissNano provides Ingun with the ideal basis for this.


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A Look At Walter’s Two-in-One Machining Concept

A Look at Walter’s Two-in-One Machining Concept

For 17 years now, tool manufacturers have been successfully implementing Walter’s two-in-one concept in production. Here’s a look at what exactly is behind this concept. Article by Walter Maschinenbau GmbH.

Now more than ever, the ability to be flexible and agile in your production is a key competitive advantage in the metalworking industry. The more process steps you can eliminate, the leaner your become, with improved efficiency and less waste—in terms of the time it takes to switch to a new machine to do a second process, and the energy needed to run the machine; what more in a volume production operation.

From a production viewpoint, the two-in-one concept means that users can completely erode tools (PCD or polycrystalline diamond) and also completely grind tools (carbide) using one and the same machine. What is more—and this is one of the key advantages of a two-in-one concept—both processing methods can be used on one and the same tool without the time-consuming step of switching to a second machine. This is especially necessary and more efficient in the case of modern PCD tools where the carbide blank already has soldered PCD.

The ability to erode, grind, or even do both in one clamping operation gives the user an unparalleled level of flexibility in their production processes. Walter Maschinenbau GmbH’s two-in-one machines can be used to process any PCD tool in any field, whether it be the wood, automotive or aerospace sectors, or even special applications. As the use of complex and modern full-headed PCD tools is constantly increasing, so is the demand for combined processing, i.e. eroding and grinding using a single machine. This trend is already clearly evident when one considers the new kinds of PCD tools required, amongst other things, for carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) processing in the aerospace sector, for example. Combined processing is the only way to efficiently produce such PCD tools.

A further advantage can be derived from this in business terms: The fact that the user can perform both eroding and grinding or combinations of the two processing methods using one machine means that investing in such a two-in-one machine represents a risk-free introduction to the PCD field for companies that have not been able to or have not wanted to produce such tools until now. If it turns out that the PCD business does not develop as expected, the same machine can simply be used to completely grind the previous product range.

Enhancing the Two-in-One Concept

Ever since presenting it to the world at the EMO tradeshow in 2001, Walter has been continuously further developing this two-in-one concept, and today offers a total of three machines based on it. Even back then, the company knew that a powerful grinding spindle was essential for perfect production results and that many tools could be manufactured more efficiently with rotary eroding than with wire eroding.

In 2006, Walter introduced a software module that boosted the benefits of the two-in-one concept because it now also allowed electrode/grinding wheel changers to be automatically implemented. That same year also saw the introduction of ‘Fine Pulse Technology’ for all two-in-one machines, setting new standards in terms of the surface quality, cutting edge roughness, and process reliability of PCD tools.

In particular, the generator was recognised as a central element and therefore has been completely redesigned. Improvements in eroding software and a variety of other factors based on the machine design were also optimised as part of Fine Pulse Technology. The difference to the other tools on the market can even be seen with the naked eye on the most common PCD types with 10µm grain size. A tool produced with Walter’s technology on a two-in-one machine shines on its free surface, similar to a polished (ground) tool. Even coarse-grained PCD types, which previously could not be fine finished on the market, can be eroded with the new technology, and a perfect surface quality can be produced.

In some cases, even entire steps in the production chain can be omitted because the eroded tools no longer have to be re-sharpened or polished. Finally, the Helitronic Tool Studio software solution was enhanced with the software licence ‘Eroding’ in 2017, making the tool shaping process even easier and clearer, especially for PCD tools.


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Cutting Tool Inserts To See Ballooning Sales

Cutting Tool Inserts To See Ballooning Sales

The global cutting tool inserts market is likely to account for about US$ 18.1 Billion by the end of the assessment year 2019, and is estimated to expand at a CAGR of about 7.0 percent during the forecast period of 2019-2029, according to a report by Persistence Market Research. Among the type of material, the carbides segment is anticipated to grow at a noteworthy rate, owing to their cost effectiveness and durability, thereby contributing to the relatively high growth rate of the carbides segment over the forecast period.

Key applications of cutting tool inserts such as threading, milling & shearing, parting and grooving, and drilling & boring, are expected to drive the cutting tool inserts market growth at a significant rate. The stainless-steel segment is estimated to retain its market share over the forecast period. According to the report, the demand for cutting tool inserts is expected to be driven primarily by the rise of automotive industry, oil & gas sector, construction industry, urbanisation, and the increasing demand from other end use industries. Furthermore, massive demand from automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), automotive refinishing service companies, construction companies, general industrial manufacturers & maintenance service providers, marine service companies, manufacturers of cans, coils, and wood & transport industries will contribute to the demand for cutting tool equipment, which, in turn, will augment the demand for cutting tool inserts.

Europe’s Increasing Investments In Asian Markets Fueling Market Growth

European investments in Asia are motivated by the need to reduce costs, to exploit benefits of the local supply chains and to be close to an untapped customer base which enables them to better understand user needs and better serve their customers. European machine tool builders’ investment strategies abroad vary from strategic alliances to joint ventures, from the acquisition of foreign companies to opening production facilities in third countries. Increasing investments of global car manufacturers in emerging countries, for instance, India, China and Brazil, along with large publicly funded energy and infrastructure projects in these countries, make them attractive enough for European investments from machine tool builders.

APAC and Europe to be the Top Revenue Pockets

Geographically, APAC and European markets are picking up pace in the global cutting tool inserts market, owing to expansion of industrial infrastructure and an upsurge in the automotive and oil & gas industry over the years. Europe being an automotive hub has a lot of scope for transportation industry including railways. Most of the metal used in this industry is machined using the cutting tool inserts thus accounting for better sales of the same. The transportation segment is anticipated to soar the cutting tool inserts market in Europe. The demand for cutting tool inserts is majorly driven by its applications in various sectors such as aerospace, automotive, marine, medical, woodworking, die & mould, driven by growth in global GDP. Moreover, stable economic growth in developing countries such as India, Brazil, China, and ASEAN countries, and rising urbanisation and expenditure in these regions, acts as the major growth factors that are propelling the growth of the cutting tool inserts market.

Furthermore, the APAC region is also expected to remain the most attractive region in terms of market attractiveness by market share index, on account of the largest volumes of cutting tool inserts consumptions expected by the region, over the forecast period, mainly driven by China. A high growth rate due to considerable industrial activity in the region is expected to contribute to the rising demand. Europe is expected to hold a significant market share in terms of both value and volume after APAC region, owing to growing automotive and other end use industries and infrastructural developments in the region.

Vendor Insights – Key Companies Focus on Global Footprint Expansion

The global cutting tool inserts market highlights some of the key market participants operating in the global cutting tool inserts market, such as Kennametal Inc., Sumitomo Electric Carbide Inc., Sandvik AB, Knight Carbide Inc., Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, Total Carbide Ltd., Asahi Diamond Industrial Co. Ltd., Knight Carbide Inc., Tomei Diamond Co. Ltd., KYOCERA Corporation, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, SHOWA DENKO K.K., YG-1 Co. Ltd., Element Six, ISCAR LTD., NGK Spark Plugs Co. Ltd. (NTK Cutting Tools), among others.


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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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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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Smart Data in the Metalworking Industry


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Tungaloy Introduces Full Profile Threading Inserts With Four Cutting Edges

Tungaloy Introduces Full Profile Threading Inserts With Four Cutting Edges

Tungaloy is expanding its TetraMini-Cut, an indexable thread turning tool series with four edged insert, to include full profile threading inserts for machining external threads in ISO metric thread standards.

The TetraMini-Cut insert comes in a compact profile with four economical cutting edges. Its unique insert clamping ensures high repeatability, accuracy, and tool life predictability. The new full profile threading insert can be mounted on the existing standard TetraMini-Cut toolholder for 60° V-profile or grooving inserts. Since the insert cuts a complete thread profile including the crest, no deburring of the thread profile is need. In addition, the optimised tool design provides minimal interference when turning towards the tailstock of the lathe. Inserts are offered in two grades: SH725 allows free cutting of fine pitch threads in small diameter bores and AH725 for universal threading applications on Swiss type as well as general lathes. The enhanced lineup of TetraMini-Cut series provides customers with increased productivity.


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