Technology: The Job Shop Differentiator

Technology: The Job Shop Differentiator

Jan 6, 2017

By Dan Janka, President, Mazak Corporation Featured on AdvancedManufacturing.org Contract manufacturers, aka job shops, are the heart and soul of US manufacturing. Their survival and success are imperative. Ensuring this hinges on a willingness to embrace productivity-enhancing technologies that will foster growth and differentiate them from the competition. For many big OEMs and suppliers, the latest technologies center around highly sophisticated machine tools and systems, monitoring capabilities and automation. But do these same high levels of technology apply to smaller job shops? Most people would agree that the needs of a five-person shop with three machines and a high mix of low-volume jobs will vary greatly from those of a huge production facility with over 50 machines. And, all those systems are fully automated, connected for process monitoring and running job contracts that involve hundreds, if not thousands, of parts and that span several years. There is a need to shift more focus on the job shops and supply them similar advancements but scaled to their facilities and individual manufacturing needs. To accomplish this, many of today’s manufacturing technology suppliers offer all-encompassing—but scalable—technology platforms that take into account the needs of both large and small shops. When we speak of advanced machines and systems designed specifically for job shops, that by no means involves the dumbing down of technology. Instead, it translates into affordable and effective solutions. Case in point are the simple yet innovative machines designed and built at our plant in Florence, KY. These machines offer job shops capabilities ranging from full simultaneous five-axis milling to complete multitasking with twin turning spindles, milling and Y-axis off-centerline machining. These are the same capabilities found on the industry’s more sophisticated machines, Mazak’s included. But through component engineering and redesign, we were able to develop cost-effective machines without sacrificing performance or reliability. Probably the most effective way high-level advanced manufacturing technologies make their way to smaller shops is through machine tool CNCs. Today’s controls are more powerful and capable than any of their predecessors. They provide small shops numerous advanced capabilities, including connectivity and real-time machine monitoring without the need of any additional special equipment. Shops need simple solutions that drive productivity and minimize downtime....

Makers of Turning Cutting Tools Innovate in Tough Times

Makers of Turning Cutting Tools Innovate in Tough Times

Sep 6, 2016

By Bill Koenig, Advanced Manufacturing.org Oil & gas market affects demand for tubing, which has impact on cutting tool makers Makers of cutting tools for turning applications are having to innovate and improve their products amid tough times—the falloff in demand for tubing for the oil & gas industry, a key market. That means, among things, they must continue to up their game in finding ways to cut hard-to-machine materials such as Inconel and titanium while still working on tools—despite the decrease in demand—that produce better tubing that can be used to drill deeper in more isolated places. “As these materials are pushed to be stronger and more heat resistant, due to the depths they are going, the tube gets harder and harder to machine,” said John Winter, product specialist-turning of Sandvik Coromant (Fair Lawn, NJ), which has come out with Inveio, a new coating technology for steel turning and cast iron turning grades. “So the need for new cutting methods, new cutting material and new coatings is a must moving forward.” “The high strength and heat resistance of these alloys plays a huge role in cutting tool selection,” said Eric Jenkins, indexable tooling technical manager of Kyocera Precision Tools Inc. (Hendersonville, NC), said in an e-mail. “Many factors have to be considered, including such things as the shape of the workpiece, the amount of stock removal and/or the presence of scale.” With nickel-based forgings, he said, “Customers can choose between different insert geometries as well as different categories of ceramics and carbides, depending on the specific details of the application.” ‘High-Temp Alloys’ “With the development of new materials like high-temp alloys, cutting tool manufacturers also have to develop new grades and geometries to machine and process these materials efficiently while providing long tool life,” said David Essex, turning product manager of Tungaloy America Inc. (Arlington Heights, IL). What’s more, all companies with ties to the energy sector are going to be called upon to do more. “Rapid changes in price, such as the halving of the oil benchmark between 2014 and 2015, naturally bring into focus the need for oil companies and their suppliers to reduce costs to maintain viable returns,” Paul Markwell,...

Sourcing Spotlight: FAQs for Selecting a Precision Machine…

Sourcing Spotlight: FAQs for Selecting a Precision Machine…

Feb 22, 2016

“Sourcing Spotlight: FAQs for Selecting a Precision Machine Shop” By Del Williams, Design-2-Part Magazine Answers to frequently asked questions can help OEMs find a reliable CNC machine shop for high tolerance work that is also competitively priced  In industries like aerospace, defense, and medical, finding a CNC parts manufacturer capable of delivering the necessary quality, fast and reliable delivery, and competitive price can seem an elusive combination. It is akin to discovering the rare five-tool player in baseball that can hit for average, with power, field, throw, and base-run that doesn’t have a record-breaking contract. Fortunately, such precision shops do exist. The difficulty, however, is in finding a shop that will actually deliver all that it promises in reality, and not just on paper. Muddying the water, CNC shops – whether reliable and skilled, or not – all claim to deliver all of the above and more. Many have the same type and quality of machining equipment, but that alone doesn’t make for consistent parts, every time. Quality standards such as ISO and AS certifications go a long way, but these are also not enough to separate the best from the rest. And then there is price. While not as important as quality for industries such as aerospace, defense, and medical equipment manufacturing, if the choice is between parts manufacturers that on paper appear similar, it will become a determining factor. But if the price is too good to be true, it probably is, and the result can be sub-par quality, missed deadlines, higher total overall costs, failures in the field, damage to reputation, and even litigation. So how can OEMs choose the right shop for parts? While there is no magic bullet, the answers to a few FAQs will go a long way toward selecting a CNC machine shop that can deliver the requisite combination of consistent high quality, speedy delivery, and competitive cost. For high tolerance work, how do machine shops ensure perfect quality every time? ”Perfect” quality means that when an OEM places an order for parts, they will be within the tolerances specified. These tolerances can be 0.0001 inch and tighter, and they apply to straightness, hole size, outer diameter...

Job shop cuts CNC programming time

Job shop cuts CNC programming time

Jan 9, 2015

By Manufacturing Group, Aerospace Manufacturing and Design New software speeds Honeycutt’s milling productivity up to 20%. Honeycutt Manufacturing Inc.’s CNC programming system was showing its age. It was difficult to use and presented particular difficulties in programming mill-turn machines. Company engineers selected Delcam’s FeatureCAM CNC programming system because it is more intuitive and does a better job of addressing mill-turn and other advanced machining methods. The new CNC programming software has automated many tasks that used to have to be done manually, saving time and virtually ensuring that the program will run correctly the first time. The end result: typical parts that used to be programmed in 12 to 16 hours can now be programmed in 3 to 4 hours. Sophisticated machining Honeycutt’s forte is its ability to produce parts with complex geometries to demanding tolerances in relatively short delivery times utilizing sophisticated CNC machine tools such as a Tsugami SS-26 mill-turn, Nakamura Tome WT-300 mill-turn, Mori Seiki SH-50 horizontal machining center, Hitachi Seiki HG-400 III horizontal machining center, and Matsuura VX-1000 vertical machining center. As the company upgraded its machines, the original CNC programming software had difficulty in fully taking advantage of their capabilities. “Another shop in the area recommended FeatureCAM as being particularly good for mill-turn machines,” says Steven Honeycutt, manufacturing engineer for Honeycutt Manufacturing. “We demoed the software and found that it greatly simplified the task of mill-turn programming. So we purchased one seat and began using it to program our mill-turn machines. Later we tried using FeatureCAM to program our milling machines and found that it was better for these machines as well. So we bought two more seats of FeatureCAM and now use it for all of our programing.” FeatureCAM automatically handles many aspects of programming that used to be manual. For example, the company’s mill-turn machines have a sub-spindle with a chuck that feeds bar stock and then grips it while a series of operations are performed, Honeycutt adds. Programming how far to pull the bar out and where to grip it has been changed from a complex code-writing exercise to just a few mouse clicks. Milling operations on a mill-turn machine are programmed with exactly the same...