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High tech, low tech from Westec.

Manufacturing technology was stretched in both the low and high end of the spectrum during the Westec conference and exposition in Los Angeles as metalworking suppliers explained in great detail how their equipment is faster, more productive, easier to use, more reliable, and provides greater flexibility.

At the high end, GTE Valenite Corp unveiled its Cutting Tool Expert System (CTES), which is used to develop a new family of cement inserts. "SpectraSystem" inserts are used for turning applications ranging from heavy roughing to high-speed finishing of a variety of materials.

CTES is a computer database of actual tool performance data and materials information that is used to produce a CAD-generated model of the proposed tool, which is then passed: through a specially-developed finite element analysis. Results of those computer calculations are then fed into a Valenite-developed animation system which converts them into realistic images of the simulated cutting processes.

Using the simulation, development engineers can watch chips flow across an insert and examine the effect of small changes in geometry, as well as patterns of heat and pressure on the insert and the heat transfer between the chip and insert during the cut.

Once the model of the proposed insert is optimized, the data is transferred into a proprietary system which generates the tool passes required to machine a die for pressing the actual inserts. Tool development time can be cut from years down to months or even weeks using the database and interactive simulation program, says Charles Zimmerman, CTES project manager.

In another software development, L S Starrett Co introduced its SawSpec that permits the operator to monitor actual cutting statistics and make real-time adjustments to the sawing operation.

Starrett explains that among the cutting functions that can be gaged in real time are elapsed time and cutting rate, head descent rate, power draw, blade speed and tension, position, average chip load per tooth, critical buckle, material resistance, and guide run outHigh-tech improvements were also evident among many of the new machine tools that were introduced. Hitachi Seiki USA Inc introduced a new HG-400 that Jim Bushong, vice president-sales, called a "state-of-the-art horizontal workhorse" that reduces cutting time of its predecessor by 35%.

The HG-400 is powered with a 15-hp motor and sports spindle speeds ranging from 12 to 12,000 rpm with a "spindle thru" coolant option which delivers coolant to the tool tip allowing for highspeed machining of a variety of materials from aluminum to steels. It feeds at 590 ipm and rapid traverses at 1180 ipm, tool changes in 1.5 sec, and pallet changes in 5.5 sec.

"What we are talking about is versatility and value," says Mr Bushong. "When we build a machine with all those lectures, it has to cost more. Value is the key," he says, adding that the market is increasingly asking what it can get for its money and what is the payback going to be, going beyond the question of price.

Howard Michael, vice president-sales, Toyoda Machinery USA Inc, agrees. His firm also introduced several new machines, including its FA450 horizontal machining center with increased speeds across the board. It sports a 30/25 hp motor, 100 to 10,000 spindle speeds, 790 ipm traverse, 1.5 sec tool change, and an 8-sec pallet shuttle.

"It's extremely competitive today... almost cut-throat," Mr Michael concedes, adding, "it is very important in the beginning to be able to differentiate ourselves from the competition and push the idea of the value we offer. It's not difficult with good engineers."

At the other end of the spectrum, perhaps reflecting the slow economy, low-tech equipment was also making it to center stage. DoALL introduced a new model of the plain, old manual bandsaw, a piece of equipment that almost every metalworking operation has to have.

John Szot, president, Precision Industrial Distributors, Reseda, CA, showed Mainslide, a portable CNC attachment that claims it vail be "out of the box, onto your lathe, and making parts in less than an hour." Programming is as easy as "using a push-button telephone," requiring no alteration to the machine, says Mr Szot.

The idea of two-axis machine control is also gaining favor. Paul Orth, marketing manager, Southwestern Industries Inc, Rancho Dominguez, CA, observed that there appeared to be more knee mills on display at Westec with two-axis controls than with digital read-out devices.

The firm has been pushing its ProtoTrak retrofit two-axis CNC for six years and has some 3000 units in the field. "When we first pioneered the idea of two-axis control, the idea was pooh-poohed. It was felt CNC should control a minimum of three axes and go up from there. Our attitude was that for nonproduction work, two-axis control solves 80% to 90% of the problems. It makes more sense to do that easily than to try to solve the other 10% and make it tough," Mr Orth claims.

He feels operators are finally realizing they are using more technology than they need and perhaps it's time to take a step back. He characterizes the two-axis control as a step up from the digital readout (DRO). A DRO unit, he explains represents an investment of about $1500 to $2000; a ProtoTrak retrofit on your machine is about 811,000. Southwestern introduced a Trak TRM, a bed mill with two-axis control for about 824,000.

GE Fanuc apparently agrees with the growing need for a simpler, two-axis control. It introduced Power Mate.C CNC system which has single-axis or optional two-axis capabilities.

It carried the idea of simplicity a step further by introducing its Super CAP (conversational automatic programming) function aimed at the low-range, two- to four-axis CNC market. CAP functions enable the operators to program CNCs by responding to explanatory drawings and questions on their display screens.

Beyond casing the task of operator-to-control communications, DynaPath Systems Inc introduced its Remote Programming System Translator module. RPS can translate programs developed on or for DynaPath formats for use on machines equipped with GE Fanuc controls or vice versa, translating GE Fanuc programs into DynaPath's format.

No longer must parts be held captive to the machines for which they were programmed, permitting efficiencies such as prototyping on one machine/control combination and running production on another, the company claims.

Simplicity of operation was key in several other products introduced at the equipment exposition:

* Darex Corp, Ashland, OR, unveiled "the world's most user-friendly, super-precision drill sharpener" claiming "if you can operate a door knob, you can sharpen drills." The design eliminates the need for any setting adjustments.

* Huron Machine Products, Ft Lauderdale, FL, offered a Quick-Change Chuck Jaw System that lets the user "change jaws in less than 30 seconds on an existing chuck." Conversion costs about 81000.

* Kurt Manufacturing Co, Minneapolis, MN, held a sneak preview of its Cluster Tower Cube Vise that permits increased small part productivity and accuracy without the expense of custom vises or fixtures. It allows for four, six, or eight precision Kurt Vise holding stations with access to three sides of your part at one time.

* Traub Automatics Inc, along with its Western Division tech center located in Los Angeles at Machinery Sales Co, exhibited its TD26 screw machine equipped with a unique feeding system. It can handle cold-headed rivets or bolts that need some minor secondary turning operations where a screw machine can perform as well as, or better, than a CNC lathe.

The automation provides a loading speed as fast as 1 sec, designed for quick changeover of parts. The entire loader can swing out for changeover or adjustment. The system can include a wide-opening collet for feeding bolttype parts over the head while clamping on a smaller shank diameter.

* Renishaw Inc, Schaumburg, IL introduced a Quick Check machine-tool checking gage to verify CNC tool accuracy in minutes. It measures contouring accuracy, squareness, backlash, repeatability, and linear scale error and costs less than 85000.

As you might expect in the middle of the aerospace-intense West Coast market, EDM and grinding manufacturers were making news.

Toyoda introduced its GL4 series of CNC machines available as straight or angle-head slide cylindrical configurations. They're equipped with the new Toyoda GC32U 32-bit processor featuring intelligent interactive programming and color graphics. The CRT permits an overview of all operations at a glance through graphic display of the part, wheel path, and wheel path data.

It also provides quick retrieval function keys permitting CRFF access to maintenance-related functions. Setup and initial part program entry and taper adjustment are reduced by 50% compared with previous models.

Chevalier Machinery Inc, Santa Fe Springs, CA, showed a new single-axis CNC control grinder featuring an overhead rotary dressing attachment complete with a compensation system. That permits automatic compensation of the preset dressing in cycle. Rough and finish grind cycles can also be preset.

Jones & Shipman Inc demonstrated its Format 5/150 CNC surface grinder with the capability to use both controlled axes simultaneously. That enables complex profiles to be generated on the wheel and/or workpiece. The sophisticated control system permits grinding complex shapes to close tolerances with a minimum of operator involvement.

Grinding-wheel manufacturers were also on hand with new products. Norton unveiled its CVSG abrasive grain which combines the technologies of CBN and aluminum oxide with a new vitrified bond to achieve superabrasive-level grinding performance using conventional machinery.

Norton explains that CVSG does not require extraordinary machine rigidity nor the addition of powered rotary truing and dressing devices as it is single-point truable. The company's tests show that superabrasive-level stock removal can reduce cycle times by more than 70%.

Atthe other end of the hall, Cincinnati Milacron was touting its "future technology, available now"--Marathon 2 vitrified cubic boron nitride grinding wheels featuring an open structure that utilizes a patented bonding technology.

Wear is said to be reduced by as much as 35% versus standard CBN while horsepower is cut by up to 20%.

In the EDM arena, Mitsubishi introduced its V-series of sinker machines featuring "fuzzy logic" control of 32-bit processors.

"Essentially, the machine reads actual burn conditions, instantly comparing those parameters to a pre-programmed model and making adjustments immediately to produce quality parts every time," explains Bill Isaac, national sales manager.

Sodick Inc introduced the AP200L, a super-precision wire-cut EDM designed for machining and finishing ultraprecision extrusion dies, injection molds, and semiconductor tooling. It's claimed to match profile and jig grinding in producing tools, but with ultra-fine finish accuracies to within 0.0001". It also showed a large-tank model A750L which can handle parts 30"x 18"x 12.5" high.

Hansvedt EDM added the MS-4 Foreman to its line of ram machines. The fully automated CNC moldmaking system boasts high accuracy and energy efficiency. A "new generation" digital 40-amp power supply incorporates both fixed and variable pulse output for consistent low electrode wear.

Its conversational software makes programming positions, depth of cut, orbiting patterns, and power-supply settings simple via a computer input knob or an auxiliary keypad. A menu guides the operator through the setup.

Charmilles Technologies Inc, traditionally known as the higher-priced premium machine, introduced a line of lower priced ($100,000 and below) machines thus getting into the entry-level EDM market. The quality Swiss image, along with the lower price is opening new doors for Charmilles, says Dan Nierste, vice president-sales and marketing.

Acu-Rite Inc, Jamestown, NY, introduced a vision readout for EDM, which is claimed to reduce set-up time and operator fatigue. It's equipped with a video screen to display machine travel and position.

Among the machine-tool makers, several were weighing in with new models.

Emco Maier Corp introduced to the North American market its Emcoturn 425, introduced last year at the European Machine Tool Show in Paris. It features mirror-image production--producing two parts at a time on double main spindles turning at 5000 rpm at 15 hp---double synchronized sub-spindles, and a double turret for up to 24 tool positions.

Sunnen Products Co showed a new high-production Bore Sizer multispindle honing machine. The DMS3 is designed primarily for running parts with bores from 0,233" to 2.055" in diameter and up to 6" long.

The machine incorporates three spindles using Sunnen's Single Stroke Honing tools. A 12-station rotary indexing table allows parts to be continuously loaded, unloaded, and cycled to each of the three tools which progressively enlarge the bore. A fourth spindle is optional.

Cincinnati Milacron continued to' unveil results of its WolfPack program. The Maxim 500 is the first in a series of new horizontal CNC machining centers. With a 33-hp, 7000-rpm spindle, it can handle a range of machining chores from aluminum to cast iron to steel. Pallets change in 10 sec while tools change in a 3.5-sec cycle.

The unique one-piece cast iron base has deep wells for chip and coolant containment, while parallel coils run from front to back to dispose of chips. The toolchanger capacity ranges from 40 to 180 tools. The new configuration resuited in 40% fewer parts.

Kitamura Machinery of USA Inc showed its redesigned Mycenter-2 vertical machining center featuring box guideways with X- and Y-axis traverse speeds at 944 ipm. Its geared spindle has a range of 70 to 7000 rpm. Optional spindles up to 20,000 rpm are available.

Tool change time can be as little as 1.7 sec thanks to bidirectional magazine rotation and a waiting pot system.

Saeilo Machinery Inc has created the MCH-3 horizontal machining center which Frank Harris, national sales manager, calls the "affordable horizontal" selling for about $125,000. Spindle speed ranges from 60 to 6000 rpm, cutting feedrate is up to 394 ipm with rapid traverse at 945 ipm. The 12"x 12" table indexes at 5-deg intervals. A new version will offer 1-deg indexing. The toolchart-get is limited to 16 tools.

Fadal Engineering Co, North Hollywood, CA, introduced a shuttle-type pallet changing system featuring two pallets, 19"|x39". Cycle time is 16 sec, while maximum weight on the pallet is 400 lb. The company claims it meets the requirements for higher production jobs which require multiple part fixturing and long part changes.

Fadal also introduced Hydro Sweep, which it claims is a new concept in chip removal for vertical machining centers.

Coolant jets transfer chips from the trays to the conveyor, eliminating the need for augers or belts. The system is computer-controlled 'with the timing sequence adjustable to the volume of chips to be removed.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
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Title Annotation:Management Update; Western Metal and Tool Exposition and Conference
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:May 1, 1992
Previous Article:Cell roughs and finishes housings in ine chucking.
Next Article:Bending metal with lasers.

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