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Key Considerations When Choosing An Industrial Cutting System

Key Considerations When Choosing An Industrial Cutting System

Aaron Zou, regional director for Asia at Hypertherm, discusses the trends shaping the metal cutting industry, the common industrial cutting challenges, and key considerations in choosing your metal cutting systems.

Aaron Zou, Regional Director for Asia, Hypertherm

Founded in 1968 and headquartered in New Hampshire, United States, Hypertherm designs and manufactures industrial cutting products for use in a variety of industries such as shipbuilding, manufacturing, and automotive repair. Its product line includes cutting systems, in addition to CNC motion and height controls, CAM nesting software, robotic software and consumables.

In an interview, Aaron Zou, regional director for Asia at Hypertherm, discusses the trends shaping the metal cutting industry and the common industrial cutting challenges. He also talked about the latest plasma technologies to address those issues as well as the key considerations in choosing metal cutting systems.

WHAT ARE THE TOP TRENDS CURRENTLY SHAPING INDUSTRIAL CUTTING PRACTICES IN THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY?

Aaron Zou (AZ): The current landscape brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transformation of traditional manufacturing practices—forcing manufacturers to leverage on innovations, integrate new technologies to current processes, and to develop new solutions or services to address evolving market needs. This change will continue to be driven by automation and digitalization, where technologies related to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will enable companies to build up smarter production facilities and allow the industry to establish a smart machinery eco-system. By adopting such technologies, businesses can better utilize the ‘down time’ during this pandemic to improve production efficiencies and to implement automated processes, so as to be prepared as normalcy returns and pent-up demand starts picking up.

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON INDUSTRIAL CUTTING CHALLENGES?

AZ: Most manufacturers in the metalworking industry are familiar with increasing customer demands for improvements to their parts design, in a bid to achieve higher quality standards. In fact, many have had to deploy a secondary operation, like drilling or grinding, to correct unsatisfactory hole quality after using a plasma system on a CNC machine.

Another challenge that manufacturers typically experience is related to bevel profiling—an increasingly difficult job due to advanced automation in welding processes. A common approach is for manufacturers to have their parts cut by plasma systems and later achieve the bevelled edges using secondary processes like grinding, mechanical bevel, or oxyfuel. In some cases, manufacturers were able to achieve bevelling using just their plasma CNC machines. However, this usually involves some constraints such as machine bevel set-up (which can take up to 3 hours) and bevel profile outcomes that do not meet the required design tolerance.

Furthermore, manufacturers have to deal with rising expectations and demand for better customer experience. Product quality is increasingly becoming a given, or a ‘standard’ feature, and customers’ expectations are shifting—valuing the experience delivered over the entire duration of their project life cycle more than they had previously. Businesses will need to redirect their focus from merely selling products and services to creating an exceptional overall customer experience.

HOW DO THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES DEVELOPED BY HYPERTHERM HELP BUSINESSES OVERCOME THE SAID CHALLENGES?

AZ: Through the expertise of our team and the feedback collected from our users, we were able to develop a range of specific applications to enhance plasma machine usage with Hypertherm’s automated solutions. SureCut technologies like True Hole and True Bevel were developed to remove the need for secondary operations like grinding to produce high quality parts, and to improve production efficiency by reducing set-up time or the need for trial-and-error.

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Barrel Cutter Shapes A New Milling Trend

Barrel Cutter Shapes a New Milling Trend

Advanced workpiece manufacturing technologies—such as metal injection moulding, 3D printing, investment casting and close-tolerance forging—innovative machine tools, and a quantum leap in digitizing of manufacturing will increase the needs for finishing complex surfaces with minimum machining stock. Article by Andrei Petrilin, ISCAR.

Endmills featuring a cutting edge that is actually the segment of a large-diameter arc were introduced approximately 25 years ago. As the cutting-edge shape of these endmills is reminiscent of a barrel profile, terms such as ‘barrel milling cutters’, ‘barrel endmills’ or, in shop talk, often simply ‘barrels’ soon became common when referring to these types of endmills.

At first, the use of these barrel-shape mills was limited more or less to a few specific applications, such as machining 3D surfaces of complex dies and turbomachinery components. However, advances in 5-axis machining and in CAM systems have significantly expanded the boundaries of barrel endmill applications.

At the same time, the design principle of a cutting edge as the segment of a large-diameter arc has been realized successfully in other types of milling cutter—the tools for high feed milling (HFM), also referred to as ‘fast feed’ (FF) milling. The concept provides a toroidal cutting geometry that ensures productive rough machining at extremely high feed rates due to a chip thinning effect. Unlike high feed milling tools, barrel endmills are intended not for roughing but for finish and semi-finish machining of 3D surfaces with low stock removal.

Traditionally, ball-nose and toroidal cutters perform these machining operations. However, the large-diameter arc of the endmill cutting edge results in a substantial reduction of the cusp height generated between passes machined by a ball-nose or toroidal cutter. Another advantage of this type of cutting edge versus ball-nose and toroidal cutters is a significant increase in the distance between passes (a stepover or a stepdown, depending on the direction of a cutter displacement after every pass)—at least five times more without degradation of the surface finish parameters! (Figure 1) This means that the number of passes and, subsequently, machining time can be noticeably reduced. Increasing the distance between passes also improves tool life and, therefore, diminishes tool cost per part.

The classical barrel shape in endmills has undergone some changes to make these cutters more versatile. Combining a ball-nose tip with peripheral large-arc cutting edges creates a multi-purpose ‘cutting oval,’ which facilitates the use of a barrel endmill as a ball-nose milling tool. 

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Fagor Arrasate Participates In The Development Of Smart Shears For HSS

Fagor Arrasate Participates In The Development Of Smart Shears For HSS

Fagor Arrasate, specialist in the design of forming and cutting lines, takes part in a European investigation project to design smart shears for high-strength steel (HSS) with a predictive system which warns about cutting tool deterioration.

The project, called IntellCutProcess, will analyse the various parameters that are involved during the cutting process, such as cutting strength, the die looseness or separation, or the cutting angle. The data obtained will allow for the optimisation of the cutting tool regarding aspects such as the material used and the protective coating.

The shear will be equipped with sensors which will measure the different cutting quality indicators, such as the burr height and the cutting area profile. With this information, the system will be able to monitor the cutting tool’s degradation state, so as to uphold the highest quality and cutting precision. In addition, the predictive system will make it possible to plan the required interventions with scheduled production downtimes, which increases the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness.)

In order to validate the results of the research, a fully sensorised shear prototype for the cutting of heavy thickness metal sheet will be built first. Afterwards, the new equipment will be installed in an actual operational cutting line.

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An All-rounder In Metal Cutting

An All-rounder In Metal Cutting

Here’s how a 5-axis universal machine revolutionised the production processes at Polar-Form Werkzeugbau GmbH. Article by GROB.

G550 5-Axis universal machining centre at POLAR-FORM Werkzeugbau GmbH.

Permanent bottlenecks in the milling area and high time and cost pressures in production have, over the years, convinced POLAR-FORM Werkzeugbau GmbH to purchase a 5-axis universal machining centre with automation. An internal technical committee with all decision-makers and machine operators determined what the new machine was capable of or, better still, what existing problems it had to solve. This included issues such as deep hole drilling, milling, high payload weight, large additional tool magazine, large working memory, enormous data volume, limited space, pronounced reliability, and perfect automation.

After intensive market research, three machines were finally selected. The final decision was made in favour of a 5-axis universal machine from GROB, which is equipped with a circular pallet storage system and additional tool magazine.

“We never had any doubts about our decision, but what this machine can really do only gradually became clear to us,” says Polar-Form Production Manager Dietmar Klötzle.

Optimal Configuration – Perfect Training

The detailed work began once it was certain that a machine from GROB would be purchased. Despite the limited space available, the GROB layouts and installation plans enabled the perfect location to be found quickly. 

The training of the employees took place on-site at POLAR-FORM. Even in the initial phase, the trainees practiced on a range of parts that are actually produced at POLAR-FORM.

“The idea behind this was to have the machine demonstrated on POLAR-FORM parts and not just on any sample parts,” says Klötzle. Since the programming of the machine was also carried out on-site using a CAM program, all the employees concerned could be called in and thus were trained from the very beginning. This way, all of the basic settings were quickly covered via testing and the horizontal spindle concept of the new GROB machine could be illustrated very clearly.

Machine programming was also very simple, since it was possible to load the programs much more elegantly than before via the programming station, and this no longer had to be done directly at the machine. “It soon became apparent just how well the CAM system communicates with the G550 and Heidenhain control system,” recalls Michael Gür, team leader for rough cutting at POLAR-FORM. Now the cycles can be transferred one-to-one to the G550—a procedure that was not possible with the previous machines.

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Guhring Philippines Discusses Metal-Cutting Tool Landscape And Outlook

Guhring Philippines Discusses Metal-Cutting Tool Landscape And Outlook

Dale Andrew Reyes, president of Guhring Philippines Inc., talked about mould manufacturing challenges, opportunities and trends in the country, as well as his outlook for the rest of the year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Dale Andrew Reyes

Guhring Philippines Inc. (GPI) is a subsidiary of Gühring KG, one of the leading manufacturers of rotating precision tools for metal cutting. Established in 2009, GPI was initially a representative office, supporting local distributors through technical services. Due to the growing demand for Gühring tools in the Philippine market, the subsidiary was formed in September 2014 to directly support and cater the demands of its customers.

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Dale Andrew Reyes, president of GPI, discussed mould manufacturing challenges, how they are helping their customers address these issue, and the opportunities they are seeing in the country. He also described the state of metalworking industry in the country, as well as provided his outlook for the rest of the year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

WHAT ARE THE KEY CHALLENGES IN MOULD MAKING?

Dale Andrew Reyes (DR): The most common we have seen is the efficiency. Some mould manufacturers are still used to old machining parameters without realizing that the machines and tools have evolved through the years. Machines nowadays have higher power output, can run at faster speeds, and have better accuracy. Cutting tools have also evolved in terms of material grade, geometry, and even coating. A lot of mould makers are not maximizing the capabilities of their machines and are still using low grade cutting tools which results to poor output.

WHERE DOES GUHRING COME IN TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE?

DR: We at Guhring apply a more holistic approach in tackling this issue. We not only recommend the speeds and feeds of the tools, we also advise the customer on what possible changes they can do to improve the overall process. This will result in savings for the part of the customer. Savings in terms of tooling cost—tool life improvement, replacing multiple tools with one special tool—and in terms of process cost—faster cycle times, elimination of unnecessary processes.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN THE PHILIPPINE MARKET?

DR: The demand for metal cutting tools has risen dramatically in recent years due to the increasing adoption of precision, digital services, and software. The rising popularity of the manufacturing industry has made a positive impact on the growth of the market. However, the impact of the recent crisis on COVID-19 has greatly affected the anticipated exponential growth. Now, we are seeing opportunities on a smaller scale machining industries, hardware, and machine shops with a higher potential to adapt with the new normal as the bigger manufacturing industries are struggling to catch up with the economic losses.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY IN THE COUNTRY?

DR: Currently, the state of metalworking industry in the Philippines is adjusting to the latest manufacturing technologies. Companies are willing to invest, learn and adapt in order to compete and become more cost-efficient in their production. We realize most of our customers value the advance processes and tools we are offering them. Together with the training and support we provide, and their willingness to adapt to positive changes, we believe our customers will soon be able to match global levels.

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CNC Upgrade Programme Provides US Cutting Tool Maker With Major Productivity Advantage

CNC Upgrade Programme Provides US Cutting Tool Maker with Major Productivity Advantage

Thirty-two-year-old insert grinders given new lease of life—and production times now reduced by 10 minutes per part. Article by NUM.

CNC Upgrade Programme Provides US Cutting Tool Maker with Major Productivity Advantage

The all-new Flexium+ CNC system.

US cutting tool manufacturer McQuade Industries Inc. has gained a highly cost-effective productivity advantage by implementing a CNC upgrade programme for a line of 5-axis insert grinders. The upgraded machines are much easier to set up and operate, which has enabled the company to shave more than ten minutes per part off the production time of complex geometry cutting tools.

Founded in 1978, McQuade Industries has built an enviable reputation in the metal cutting industry for the very high quality of its precision indexable cutting tools. Based in Clinton Township, Michigan, the company produces a diverse range of cutting tools, including boring bars, milling cutters, generating heads, draw bar style tooling and cartridges, as well as complete turnkey tooling packages. It also provides customers with fast turnaround tool regrinding and repair services, backed by extensive expertise in special carbide and precision form inserts.

The machines that are being upgraded are RS12 insert grinders, originally manufactured by Ewag AG in Switzerland. McQuade installed a number of these highly regarded precision grinders back in 1988, and over the years they have provided stalwart performance. However, as McQuade’s Production Manager, Donald Ostgen, explains, “After 30-plus years, even the best machines can begin to show signs of their age! Although still in good mechanical order, the grinders’ control systems were beginning to lack the flexibility we needed for some of today’s more complex tool geometries, leading to lengthy set-up and machining times.”

Preserved Investment

Aside from the fact that the insert grinders still represent a valuable asset, McQuade had developed a large number of part programs over the years, which ideally would need to run on any replacement machines without requiring modification. The company therefore decided to preserve its investment by implementing a programme to upgrade the machines’ CNC systems, and subsequently engaged the services of Advanced Machine Technologies LLC (AMT), a specialist CNC retrofit company based in Owosso, Michigan.

The original RS12 insert grinders were fitted with NUM 760 CNC systems, NUM Guttinger NGS 610 servo drives and NUM/SEM brushed servomotors.  

Having partnered with NUM on numerous automation upgrade projects over the past 22 years, AMT has considerable experience in replacing legacy systems such as these. In this instance, the company recommended upgrading to NUM’s latest-generation Flexium+ 68 CNC system, and replacing the drives and motors on all five axes with NUMdrive X digital servo drives and new NUM brushless servomotors. 

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Grade Upgrade

Grade Upgrade

Has the development of new tool materials already reached its peak and is experiencing stagnation? Find out more from Andrei Petrilin and Marcel Elkouby, ISCAR.

Grade Upgrade

Fig 1: CBN grade IB20H insert for hard part turning.‎

Building a house begins with laying the foundation. The strength and the reliability of the whole house depends on how strong the foundation is. In cutting tool engineering, this foundation is a cutting material.

There are various types of cutting materials: cemented carbide, polycrystalline diamond, high speed steel, and ceramics, to name a few. Each type contains different grades. At various stages in metal cutting history, the introduction of each cutting material and its use has led to a significant change in the level of cutting speeds and, consequently, productivity. However, if the previous century, especially its second half, was marked by the rapid progress of tool materials, today we do not see any significant new solutions in this field. Does this mean that the development of new tool materials has already reached its peak and is experiencing stagnation?

Of course not. It is simply that the new developments are deep within the cutting material and are focused on its structure, and can be observed only with the help of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), electron backscatter diffraction (EBCD), and other sophisticated methods. They cover a tremendously complicated world of coatings that is extremely diverse despite its very small thickness, measured only by microns. 

Cemented Carbide

Grade Upgrade

Fig 2: Parting tool carrying IC1010 grade insert‎.

The most commonly available cutting material today is cemented carbide (primarily coated), also known as ‘hard metal’, ‘tungsten carbide’ or simply, carbide. In terms of performance, it represents a reasonable balance between efficiency, tool life and cost. A combination of cemented carbide, coating, and post-coating treatment produces a carbide grade. Only one of these components—the cemented carbide—is an essential element in the grade. The others are optional.

Cemented carbide is a composite material comprising hard carbide particles that are cemented together by binding metal (mainly cobalt). Most cemented carbides used for producing cutting tools integrate wear-resistant coatings. There are also various treatment processes that are applied to already coated cemented carbide (for example, the rake surface of an indexable insert). New developments in cemented carbide, as a tool material, are concentrated in three directions: carbide production technologies, advanced coating methods, and innovative post-coating techniques. Considerable success has been achieved in each of these directions; this is reflected in the wealth of new products introduced to the market by leading cutting tool manufacturers.

Cutting tool customers might analyze the grades using parameters such as productivity, tool life, and performance. Indeed, the question of how a new product was created to meet customer requirements fades into the background as applicability and efficiency form the main measure of progress from the customer’s  point of view. 

Upgrading Carbide Grades

In upgrading carbide grades, ISCAR is very sensitive to a challenge faced by the metalworking industries. In this context, ISCAR’s tool material solutions—developed considering the trends of modern metalworking—can be quite indicative. Take, for example, difficult-to-cut materials such as titanium and heat-resistant steels and exotic superalloys. Recently, the share of their application in industry has increased significantly. Along with the aircraft industry, a traditional consumer of these materials, they may be increasingly found in power engineering, automotive, and oil and gas branches. The growing usage of the materials demands technological solutions, including machinery and cutting tools. The new tools require an appropriate foundation, made of advanced cutting tool materials,  to achieve the desired cutting geometry. And for the construction of this foundation, ISCAR offers its new effective ‘bricks’—upgraded carbide grades. 

 

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On The Safe Side When Drilling

On The Safe Side When Drilling

Walter Tools is completing its D4120 product range. With dimensions of 2, 3, 4 and 5 × D, the Tübingen-based company offers a wide range spanning diameters from 13.5 to 59 mm. Specially developed outer and centre inserts ensure precise balancing of the cutting forces. To this end, centre inserts slightly larger than the outer indexable inserts were selected and equipped with a corner protection chamfer. Besides greater process reliability, this plays a crucial part in increased precision and minimal drilling noise. Walter offers a version with wiper edge for high surface finish quality. The drilling body features two coolant-through channels and a measuring collar (Dc) for easy drill identification, even when assembled. Polished flutes and a hardened surface optimise chip evacuation and wear resistance.

The combination of D4120 and four-edged indexable inserts offers users cost-efficiency advantages and the greatest possible flexibility thanks to a coordinated system. This is of interest to users, both in the case of difficult machining operations, such as cross holes, chain drilling and inclined inlets and exits, and because these drills can be used in ISO materials P, K, M, N and S. Users in general mechanical engineering, mould and die making, and the energy and automotive industries could therefore benefit from outstanding precision in the hole diameter, a high degree of process reliability and cost-efficiency. Alongside the standard dimensions, Walter also offers the D4120 in special dimensions via Walter Xpress with faster delivery times.

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A Strong Partner For Every Sawing Task

A Strong Partner for Every Sawing Task

Metal Cutting Service relies on the KASTOwin for cutting demanding materials such as aluminium and titanium. Article by KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG.

Thanks to the new saws, MCS significantly increased its productivity and the quality of the sawn parts.

‘From a two-man company to a much sought-after service provider for industry and trade.’ This summarizes the success story of the California company Metal Cutting Service (MCS). In 1956, Milon Viel and his father-in-law, Ross Clarke, founded the company, which initially focused on the development and manufacture of aluminium window frames. Both men brought their aviation industry experience to the new company—and that would pay off later. MCS decided to specialize in cutting various materials exactly to customer specifications, especially for companies that did not have their own sawing capabilities, and this decision laid the foundation for the successful development of the company.

Today, MCS is a partner and supplier for many well-known manufacturers in the aerospace, defence, aluminium and steel distribution and semiconductor industries. The customers supply the materials to be cut, and they get them back exactly to their ordered specifications. Complex geometries and large dimensions are an MCS specialty: the company saws plate, bar, forging, and extrusions up to 50 inches (1,270 mm) thick and 700 inches (17,780 mm) long. The spectrum of materials ranges from plastics and acrylic materials to steel and special metals that are highly temperature-resistant.

Growing Demands – Also on Sawing Technology

The company has been based in the City of Industry, a suburb of Los Angeles, since 1975. Owner and president David Viel joined his father in 1977 and worked through college, coming on full time in 1981. David became president in 1993 when his father took semi-retirement to have more time for his hobbies. David’s expertise and industry knowledge first led him to research and purchase the first Kasto saw for MCS. But he was not alone in his desire to look for a new machine tool supplier.

“In the past, we mainly worked with multipurpose saws, so every machine basically did every job,” recalls plant manager Curt Steen, who has been with MCS since 1996. “As the requirements of our customers and the variety of their orders increased, however, we had to become more technically specialized, so we purchased different types of saws for the wide range of tasks we had to tackle.”

Steen also made a significant contribution to this development, since he worked with KASTO saws earlier in his career and greatly appreciated their performance. At MCS, he now played a decisive role in driving technological progress, relying on the machines of KASTO. In 2004, the company invested in the first KASTO saw, a KASTObloc U 5 log bandsaw. Five additional saws have been added since then. The latest additions to the MCS KASTO family are three bandsaws from the versatile KASTOwin line with cutting ranges of 18 and 22 inches (460 and 560 mm).

The KASTOwin line is designed for the serial and production sawing of solid materials, pipes and sections. With their broad range of standard equipment, these machines are suitable for a variety of tasks, and thanks to their sturdy construction, the saws are strong enough for their tough working life at MCS.

“We work up to six days a week, all year round in two shifts—and we have to process large and heavy parts,” says Steen. “So, I definitely say we are not known for being easy on our machines!”

The saws must also be suitable for operation with carbide blades to ensure a high level of productivity—and the KASTOwin also meets this requirement.

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Flexible Sawing Solution For Additively Manufactured Parts

Flexible Sawing Solution for Additively Manufactured Parts

The growing additive manufacturing industry has demanded new requirements in the sawing process. Article by Behringer.

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has become more and more important in nearly all industries. 3D printing is a ground-breaking and innovative technology that has the potential to bring intermediate changes in manufacturing, society and business. As a crucial medium connecting the virtual and actual world, 3D printing enables the transformation of digital files into tangible objects.

According to market analyst firm Inkwood Research, the global 3D printing market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent from 2019 to 2027 and reach a value of US$ 44.39 billion at the end of the forecast period. While North America is the dominating region, Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for 3D printing.

One important and growing segment of the 3D printing market is the metal additive manufacturing industry. Metal additive manufacturing is increasingly becoming popular among automobile manufacturers across the world. This is because additive manufacturing helps automakers to build stronger and lighter parts within a short period. The technology is now widely adopted by various Formula 1 teams, including Scuderia Ferrari, Williams Martini Racing, and Mercedes-AMG Petronas to produce lighter components such as rear wings, gearbox assemblies, and bodywork to improve the performance of their cars. Many supercar manufacturers are also adopting metal additive manufacturing to reduce overall cost, lead time, and weight. The rising adoption of metal additive manufacturing in the automobile industry is expected to fuel the growth of the market. According to a report by market analyst Technavio, the metal additive manufacturing industry is expected to grow by $4.42 billion during 2020–2024. 

High Sawing Precision

The additive manufacturing processes make it possible to produce simple as well as complex parts in different materials. 3D printing offers many advantages, such as higher design flexibility, and the individualization of the products (a batch size of one). From a process perspective, the additively manufactured parts are printed on a base plate via a supporting structure. To use and process the 3D printed parts, they have to be detached from the base plate.

To address this trend, and in line with the 100th anniversary of Behringer, the company expanded its product portfolio with the release of its 3D-Series of sawing machines. Available in two models—the two models HBE320-523 3D and LPS-T 3D—the high-performance sawing machines were developed for cutting additively manufactured parts in different sizes and shapes.

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Sheet Metal Fabricator Cuts Inspection Time by 60%

 

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