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Is Plasma A Viable Alternative To Laser?

Is Plasma a Viable Alternative to Laser?

Laser is renowned for delivering excellent fine feature and hole cutting thanks to its narrow kerf – roughly 0.2 mm to 0.4 mm (008″–.015″) on mild steel with oxygen and even narrower when using nitrogen to cut mild steel up to 25 mm (1″) in thickness. Fibre laser also produces excellent cut angularity and can cut to very tight tolerances, in the range of 0.007″ (0.2 mm).

HYPERTHERM’S invention of high definition class cutting, along with continued advances in torch and consumable technology and the introduction of XD technology in 2008 are responsible for markedly improving the cut capabilities of plasma over the past two decades. And now a new class of plasma cutting, called X-Definition, is further enhancing plasma’s ability to tackle high precision applications. When installed on a high quality cutting machine and equipped with linear ways and elliptical racks, Hypertherm’s new XPR300 plasma system, featuring X-Definition cutting, is capable of maintaining ISO 9013 Class 1 and 2 tolerances and ISO 9013 Range 2 and 3 cut quality.

Furthermore, an XPR300 plasma system can deliver an edge surface finish that is generally smoother than fibre laser in the thicker ranges and has extremely consistent edge quality over the full life of a consumable set.

As plasma kerfs can range from 1.5 mm (0.05″) thickness on very thin metal and up to about 5 mm (0.225″) on 25 mm (1″) thick material at 300 amps, a laser system can actually be the best option if extremely fine feature cutting or small holes (with a less than 1:1 thickness to diameter ratio) are required. But, if high quality perimeter cuts are called for, and tolerances in the range of 0.020″ are acceptable, the higher cut speeds associated with plasma, especially when cutting material thicker than 10 mm (3/8″), could make plasma a better option. At this thickness, for example, a 170-amp plasma X-Definition process would deliver high quality cuts at speeds two times faster than a 4kW fibre laser using oxygen.

In addition, Hypertherm’s invention of the True Hole process for mild steel in 2008 and further refined with the launch of the XPR300 provides users with the ability to easily fabricate bolt ready holes down to a diameter-to-thickness ratio of 1:1.

Another application which may favour plasma is bevel cutting. Especially with the advent of True Bevel technology, it has become much more feasible to cost-effectively bevel cut right on the cutting machine and eliminate secondary operations. And, because cutting bevel angles increases the effective thickness of the plate being cut, plasma can have a significant advantage.

In addition, it is important to consider the initial investment cost associated with an X-Definition plasma system as compared to laser. A complete XPR300 plasma system mounted on a high quality cutting machine and capable of cutting 25 mm (1″) at speeds of more than 1,900 mm/min (75 ipm) would likely cost somewhere between US$175,000 and US$225,000. A comparable laser system can easily cost three to four times more depending on the power level.

Beyond this, plasma is a much more forgiving process when it comes to cutting so called “dirty” steel such as plate with oxidation and other imperfections. It really makes no difference to the plasma arc. This is not true, however, with fibre laser. Lastly, while plasma does require personal safety devices for noise and glare protection, fibre laser systems require the construction of a safety enclosure around the entire system to protect from the potential harm of the fibre laser beam.

Article contributed by Hypertherm.

Indexable Tools Challenge Solid Carbide For Small Diameters

Indexable Tools Challenge Solid Carbide for Small Diameters

Rotating one-piece solid carbide tools traditionally dominate the market for diameter ranges of up to 20 mm (.75”) and indexable tool manufacturers have not yet succeeded in penetrating this solid stronghold. Several important factors contribute to the historical perception of solid carbide as a better bet for tooling reliability. 

SOLID carbide tool accuracy compares favorably with that of indexable tools, particularly for small-diameter endmills and for tools with diameters beyond the range. However, the role of reduced accuracy for tools of small diameter (for example, a milling cutter’s radial run-out) increases in significance as a factor affecting tool life.

An indexable tool is made up of a tool body, replaceable inserts, and mechanical parts such as clamping screws or wedges, which secure the inserts in the body. Decreasing the tool diameter necessitates reducing dimensions of the assembly components. Reducing the size of the securing elements leads to weakening their strength and the tool becomes unable to withstand cutting loads under normal machining data. This seriously limits the tool application and further decrements may cause degradation of the entire assembly structure.

The prices of small rotating tools are also often high compared to the assembled concept, which adds to the perceived limitations of indexable tools in the small diameter range.

The Indexable Option

Indexable tools possess several distinct advantages that makes applying these tools within the above range very attractive in the eyes of the customer. In many cases, especially in rough machining, changing a worn cutting edge by simple indexing provides more economic benefits as compared with having to replace a whole life-expired solid tool with a new tool. In addition, there is no need to use up time and resources on regrinding and recoating worn-out one-piece cutters.

Tool manufacturers have made significant progress in developing reliable designs that could be commercially viable against the solid carbide concept. Work in this direction has already shown results, and assembled mills and drills with interchangeable cutting heads are proving to be a realistic alternative to solid carbide tools.

Competitive Performance

 The introduction of tools with replaceable solid carbide cutting heads signifies a change in focus. ISCAR provides two examples of this concept with the ISCAR MULTI-MASTER milling line and the CHAMDRILL line in drilling.

Performance and accuracy characteristics have positioned the new tools to be functionally competitive with solid carbide designs. Versatility of these lines, where a head can be mounted in different bodies and vice versa, where a single body can carry different heads, facilitates various assembly combinations and contributes to reducing the number of items in a tool stock.

Another important design approach which is the “no set-up time”, characterises these lines, as a worn-out head does not require spending time on set up and can be replaced while the tool is still clamped in the machine tool spindle. This cuts cycle time and, consequently, reduces production costs. In contrast, replacing a worn-out solid carbide mill or drill inevitably leads to a new set-up procedure.

In addition, the concept ensures sustainable use of cemented carbide with all the associated advantages. The principle of “indexable” carbide tools has distinct merits and features strongly in tool design within the diameter range that is under discussion. The minimal diameter of MULTI-MASTER milling heads is 5 mm and that of SUMOCHAM drilling heads is 6 mm, while the MULTI-MASTER combined countersink heads for center drilling feature a minimal 1 mm diameter.

The LOGIQ Factor

 ISCAR has recently introduced a new range of small-size indexable rotating tools under its new LOGIQ line campaign. The company proposes several families of cutters with a nominal diameter of up to 20 mm. A brief look at some of these families can provide a clearer understanding as to whether the new tools will be able to breach the solid stronghold wall.

The new families of indexable milling cutters within the diameter range of 8-16 mm attract the most interest. They have several common features: the cutters carry triangular-shape inserts with three cutting edges and the mechanical part that secures the inserts is represented by a screw. These families are intended for milling square shoulder or fast feed (high feed) milling. But it is here that the similarity ends, and the difference begins. While the design of the HELI3MILL and MICRO3FEED families for tool diameter 10-16 mm is committed to the classical principle of insert securing, by clamping screw through the central hole of an insert, the NANMILL and NAN3FEED families for tool diameter 8-10 mm have adopted another concept.

Within such a small diameter range, the central clamping screw, as noted previously, does not provide an acceptable solution. According to the new concept, the screw is located above the insert, and the screw head plays the role of a wedge. This approach provides reliable and rigid clamping, and ensures a durable homogeneous insert structure with no hole. Allowing for the insert indexing to be quick and simple.

It is predicted that these new families will be particularly effective in manufacturing compact parts and in machining small-in-size cavities, pockets and small parts utilised in industrial sectors such as die and mold making, as well as in producing miniature components.

Small Change, Large Impact

 A 1 mm change in size: is this a lot or a little? For indexable tools in the small diameter range, it does make a noticeable difference. ISCAR’s new SUMOCHAM 5 mm diameter drilling head represents an important step ahead in expanding the application fields of indexable drills.

Within the small diameter range, indexable tools can offer precision and performance advantages that position them competitively against the more traditional solid carbide tools.  Indexable tools are beginning to shear their way into metalworking practices and the industry is taking note.

Article contributed by ISCAR.

Indometal 2018 – A Testament Of Indonesia’s Metalworking Innovations

Indometal 2018 – A Testament Of Indonesia’s Metalworking Innovations

The fourth edition of Indometal has concluded last month. Held at the JI Expo from 17 – 19 October 2018, the exhibition welcomed over 6,700 quality visitors from 25 countries, which is a 15 percent increase from its last edition.

This year’s exhibition also saw visiting groups from a diverse mix of industries across Indonesia including leading companies such as Barata Indonesia, Cikarang Perkasa Manufacturing, Epiterma Mas Indonesia, Growth Asia, Honda Power Products Indonesia, Hyundai, Isuzu, Inalum and more. While from outside of Indonesia, the exhibition also welcomed visitors from countries such as France, Germany, Japan, and visiting delegations that represent various metal and steel sectors from the Czech Republic, as well as the China Foundry Association.

Driven by the expertise of GIFA, METEC, THERMPROCESS and NEWCAST by the Messe Düsseldorf Group, the exhibition had presented showcases in foundry technology, casting products, metallurgy and thermoprocess technology. It also hosted 203 exhibiting companies from 22 countries, including national pavilions and country groups from China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy and Taiwan. This enabled the industry to leverage on the vast knowledge presented and enhance their manufacturing and processing capabilities.

Indonesia: A Marketplace Of Opportunities For Companies

During the keynote address at the opening of the seminar by Mr. Doddy Rahadi, Director of Metals Industry, Ministry of Industry, Republic of Indonesia, emphasis was placed on the significance and importance of steel as a raw material in infrastructure projects and many industrial sectors. Mr. Rahadi also reiterated Indonesia’s need to continue growing its steel industry in order to meet the demands of the domestic market. This reflects  the  recent government focus  on  Indonesia’s Making Indonesia 4.0 initiative and the country’s enhanced upstream investments, which has led to the government to target investments on oil and gas projects which is expected to reach US$17.04 billion this year according to the Energy Ministry. Commenting on Indonesian’s strong market potential and prospects was Ms Sherry Liu, Chief of Marketing Department from Sinomach Foundry and Metal Forming, who said: “In China, the foundry and metal forming equipment market is already at its optimum, we want to explore more markets along with the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. The market in Indonesia is booming, so indometal is a good opportunity for us to seek more business to market our products.”

Her thoughts were echoed by the Korean inorganic binder producers, Dr Revotek, who shared that their company achieved the objectives that they had set out for their first-time participation at indometal. Mrs Park Jaepyeong, the company’s representative, said: “Throughout this exhibition, we have learnt a lot about the metal and steel industry in Indonesia and had a lot of meetings with buyers and companies. Indonesia is an emerging market and the future consumption of metal is great. In that perspective, the industry here has a bright future, and we will come back again to expand our market reach not only to Indonesia, but to the rest of the region. “

A Busy Show Floor Reflecting The Needs Of The Industry

The strong visitor attendance at indometal 2018 alongside the 70 percent participation of international companies to the exhibition, further confirmed indometal’s ability to be a trade platform that provides qualified leads and business opportunities for the metal and steel sectors. “We recognise the importance of cross-industry collaboration and discussion in today’s context, and along with it the ‘in-roads’ required for such strategic leverages. We are pleased to be that choice marketplace for new partnerships and dealerships to be formed between international and local businesses,” said Mrs Rini Sumardi, Director of Wahana Kemalaniaga Makmur, PT (WAKENI), which is a joint organiser of indometal.

Similar sentiments were gathered from visitors from the bustling show floor, and Mr. Ilangovan M, from RM Netra Exim, India, has said that, “This is my first visit to indometal, I found many good testing machines for my company, and at the same time, I am also happy with the wide range of products on the show floor.” His comments resonated with Ms Juliany, Sales Manager of CV Wahana Niaga Distribusi, who commented that, “Our main objective is to add new products such as galvanised steel. I am very interested in some of the products from Krakatau Steel and Gunung Steel Group, and I will bring this new information back to my company for further discussions with management.”

Thought-Leadership At Concurrent Events

The exhibition was also a platform for industry professionals to share best practices through the series of seminars and technical presentations. Mr.Wallter Doloksaribu, Junior Manager of Inalum (Persero), said: “I am from the smelting business and I learnt a lot from the technical seminar conducted by Wesman Thermal Engineering Processes, as I am looking for innovations in combustion and burners. They present a technology that is energy-saving of up to 15 percent, which is something that I will share with my company.”

As a knowledge promotion and sharing platform, the trade fair also featured a series of content-rich conferences by leading associations and organisations that were well-attended by over 200 participants from around the region. Beyond covering trending industry topics, new innovations, applications and technologies, as well as a comprehensive outline of market developments in Indonesia and the region, the conferences, also provided a beneficial forum for industry players to discuss and explore possible collaborations across the smelter, mineral processing, aluminium and motor vehicle industries, and even on manpower and workforce issues dotted by shifts in the demand and supply curve.

The next edition of indometal will take place in October 2020 at the Jakarta International Expo, Kemayoran. For more information, please visit www.indometal.net.

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EuroBLECH 2018: Post Show Review

EuroBLECH 2018: Post Show Review

The 25th International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition, EuroBLECH 2018, ended last week after four successful show days. A total of 56,301 visitors from around the world came to Hannover to get an overview of the latest innovations and digital technologies for sheet metal working and to invest in new manufacturing machinery. A total of 1,507 companies from 40 countries exhibited at this year’s show.

“There was a great atmosphere at the show, with an excellent mood on the exhibitor side as well as the visitor side. Many exhibitors presented themselves this year with even more impressive stands. They showcased an enormous variety of new machinery and innovative solutions, and many of these were, once again, demonstrated live at the exhibition stands”, said Evelyn Warwick, EuroBLECH Exhibition Director, on behalf of the organisers Mack Brooks Exhibitions. She also added that, “there was a noticeable technological advancement within the last two years. Many exhibitors demonstrated how well the industry is prepared for digitalisation and how these new technologies can be used within a manufacturing environment.”

“We are very pleased with the positive results of EuroBLECH 2018, which, compared to the previous exhibition, attracted a consistently high visitor number across the four show days from Tuesday to Friday. Therefore, EuroBLECH 2018 ends with a record floor space of 89,875 net square metres and a sustainable visitor figure, which of course is also due to the booming industry. Many exhibitors reported positive sales figures”, concluded Warwick.

A total of 58 percent of exhibitors came from outside Germany at this year’s show. This represents a further increase in international attendance by four percent. The preliminary results of the exhibition survey show that 37 percent of visitors came to EuroBLECH from outside Germany, resulting once again in good international visitor attendance. Major visitor countries, next to Germany, included Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, India, Great Britain, Poland, Austria and Belgium.

A great majority of the visitors came from the industry (73 percent), followed by visitors from workshops, trade and services. The most important sectors visitors belonged to include engineering, sheet metal & products, steel and aluminium construction, the automotive industry and its suppliers, electrical engineering, iron and steel production as well as rolling mills and heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.

97 percent of the visitors were also from the trade and besides the high number of international visitors, the exhibition could, once again, register a high percentage of visitors from the top management with decision-making and buying capacity. The percentage of visitors involved in decision-making was almost consistent at 79 percent.

The preliminary results of the exhibition survey show that both exhibitors and visitors at this year’s EuroBLECH were highly satisfied. The visitors praised the comprehensiveness and international range of the products on display as well as the quality of the exhibition stands and the many live demonstrations of digital processes. The exhibitors praised the qualified and international audience with its high percentage of decision-makers. The exhibitors also stated that they had made a large number of new business contacts. More than 70 percent of all exhibitors stated on-site that they intended to exhibit again at the next EuroBLECH in 2020, which will take place from 27 – 30 October 2020 at the Hanover Exhibition Grounds in Germany.

In addition to EuroBLECH, Mack Brooks Exhibitions is organising a range of sheet metal working exhibitions in different markets: the next BLECH India will take place from 25 – 27 April 2019 in Mumbai. AsiaBLECH 2019 will be held in Chengdu City from 20 – 22 November 2019. The first BLECH France is taking place from 21 – 23 January 2020 in Paris, France.

Winners Of The EuroBLECH 2018 Online Competition

Once again, EuroBLECH put innovative technologies and a professional audience in the focus with this year’s EuroBLECH Online Competition. “Step into the digital reality” was the theme of the awards and the winners were chosen online by the sheet metal working community. The winners were officially awarded with a trophy on the second day of the show.

TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG won the award in the category “Digital Transformation” for their indoor localisation system, Track&Trace, which is based on Ultra Wide Band Technology (UWB) and can determine the unambiguous position of markers in real time with the help of satellites.

In the category “Best Start-Up”, Fractory Solutions OÜ from Estonia received the award for the development of their on-demand sheet metal manufacturing platform Fractory.co which streamlines the outsourcing process. Through this platform, customers can get instant quotes and lead times by uploading a CAD drawing which makes the ordering process ten times faster and more economical.

Q-Fin Quality Finishing received the award in the category “E-Mobility”. They presented their “F200 XL” which was designed for the deburring, grinding and edge rounding of very small, light sheet metal parts.

Further information about EuroBLECH as well as new videos and pictures of the show are available on the show website: www.euroblech.com.

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