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Cuts complex 3-D shapes.

Cutting complex shapes and heat-sensitive materials poses fewer challenges for Tolo Inc since the firm coupled Flow International Corp's Paser II abrasivejet cutting system with a GMFanuc S-10 six-axis robot. Previously, Tolo used conventional machining methods, band sawing, boring, routing, hole sawing, and torch cutting.

Today, at its Santa Ana, CA, facilities, Tolo's skilled personnel use abrasive waterjets to cut metals (such as titanium, Inconel, stainless steels, carbon steel, tool steel, aluminum alloys, brass, and copper); composites (including fiberglass, graphite, Kevlar and Spectra-reinforced thermoset, and thermoplastic composites), as well as plexiglass and plastics such as Lexan and Delrin. When cutting non-metals such as cork, rigid and flexible foams, and rubber sheet, Tolo uses non-abrasive waterjets.

With its six-axis robot, Tolo is able to cut the materials listed above in complex 3D shapes and configurations--results that could not be accomplished on a simple X-Y cutter. The system can be programmed to follow complex 3D contours of any shape and is usually programmed by "teaching" the robot to repeat motions that are first performed manually by the operator.

Abrasive waterjet cutting of composites offers other advantages. Heat and dust are not generated, and low cutting force simplifies tooling. When cutting Kevlar and Spectra fiber composites, the abrasivejet method allows for cutting-to-finish dimensions, and cutting of complex shapes without special tooling. Also, using abrasivejet, there is no delamination of plies, and no edge fraying or fuzzing of laminated layers.

For more information from Tolo Inc, Santa Ana, CA, circle 273.

Longer lasting power brushes

Abrasive-filled nylon power brushes using composite polymer hubs have been introduced for metal-finishing applications. The composite hub securely anchors each filament in a dense construction that provides even fill material around the brush. This eliminates the irregular fill, out-of-balance conditions and vibration problems common to brushes with metal-hub construction.

The Nylox composite-hub brushes are manufactured by co-extruding nylon 612 monofilaments with silicon-carbide or aluminum-oxide abrasive grains. The dies and tips of the filaments act as flexible files to produce uniform finishes on complicated parts with intricate shapes. Tooling and production applications include fine finishing, deburring, and edge blending.

Because the filaments are less stressed, nylon abrasive brushes with composite hubs are reported to last longer than those with metal hubs.

For more information from Weiler Brush Co Inc, Cresco, PA, circle 295.

Automated edge finishing

A new "intelligent" machine developed for automated edge finishing of planar parts is faster, less expensive, and produces higher quality finishes than other systems.

The prototype system, developed at Sandia National Laboratories, consists of a motorized "XY" table that can be moved along two axes, position control hardware, a force sensor, and the control computer. A stationary bracket holds a pencil grinder used for deburring. The hardware, which typically costs about a third of most robotic systems, is paired with Sandia-developed software that runs on PC-based systems.

One of the key features of the system is its ability to "teach" itself what path to take without requiring prior knowledge of the part's shape. Before beginning edge-finishing operations, the system controller is ordinarily provided with an engineering drawing or CAD database in order to learn the shape of the part. However, if no drawing exists, the system uses automated "trajectory learning" to determine the tool's path. The operator positions the table and tool at a starting point and the system "learns" a path by repeatedly probing the part edge guided by the force sensor. Each contact with the part defines a data point for the subsequent path. It is also able to accommodate part misalignments and tool differences autonomously.

A key area that the system is expected to have a major impact in is precision manufacturing. In industry, edge-finishing operations on precision parts, which are typically performed manually, can represents as much as 30% of manufacturing costs.

For more information from Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, circle 296.

Cryogenic developments

A cryogenic machining process developed at Wright State University has the potential for doubling machining productivity and increasing industrial output in the United States. A Wright State team headed by Shane Y Hong, PhD, associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering, is working with seven companies on a machining method that can be used by all manufacturing industries. Any manufacturing industry, from aerospace to automotive can use cryogenic machining, Mr Hong says, and existing machines can be adapted to use the technology. The method could be in industrial use within three years.

The cryogenic process uses liquid nitrogen to replace the oils now used as coolants in metal cutting. Advantages, according to Mr Hong, are increased precision and cutting speed, lower costs, and reduced pollution.

The Wright State cryogenic machining method, he believes, has the potential of doubling machining productivity by increasing cutting speed. "Even with a conservative estimate of a 1% increase in productivity, this would mean an increase in industrial output of $1.5 billion," he says. "This clearly explains why industry is so interested in participating in this project." Participating firms include General Electric Aircraft Engines Div, Delco Chassis Div of General Motors, Lucas Ledex Inc, Millat Industries Inc, Cincinnati Milacron Inc, Kennametal Inc, and the BOC Groups Inc.

For more information from Wright State University, Dayton, OH, circle 299.

Connections without cables

Mitutoyo's new Mu-Wave System allows radio data transmission from Digimatic measuring tools thus eliminating the need for connection cables. A special Digimatic micrometer and Digimatic caliper have been developed with built-in transmitters for the system. Additionally, an add-on transmitter is available for standard output gages. With this add-on unit, any of Mitutoyo's hundreds of different electronic gages can be given wireless transmission capability.

Other features of the system include the ability to individually identify multiple gages sending to a single receiver and a transmission range of up to 33 ft. Integration of the Mu-Wave System to a standard SPC arrangement enables users to transmit data directly to a host computer for analysis.

For more information from Mitutoyo Measuring Instruments, Paramus, NJ, circle 298.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Technology Update; Tolo Inc.'s abrasivejet cutting system
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Oct 1, 1992
Previous Article:Apprenticeships: a training edge.
Next Article:Viper strikes with laser cutting.

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