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Report from IMTS 96.

Even Carl Sandburg's celebrated "city of the big shoulders" had to shift its weight to accommodate IMTS 96.

The biennial manufacturing technology show spread across more than 1 million sq ft of Chicago's McCormick Place for a full eight days. During that time, it kept the nearly constant attention of a record-breaking 120,000-plus persons, including legions of metalworking's makers and shakers from around the globe. They moved through the convention center's three buildings to see, and to buy, the latest in manufacturing technology -- from machines to tooling, from software and controls to automating devices and in-process gaging to post-process parts cleaning equipment.

Even before the doors had opened, the show's sponsor and ringmaster, AMT -- The Association for Manufacturing Technology, McLean, VA, billed IMTS as the "factory of the future." Making up about one-third of that ad hoe factory were six product-specific pavilions and one focus area for tooling, workholding, and tooling systems. Overall, IMTS aimed to make the average 2.5-day visit by an attendee as productive as possible.

Unquestionably, IMTS 96 proved that the outlook for metalworking manufacturing continues to be positive, even after several booming years. Many exhibitors told T&P that their expectations were being exceeded. A number of them confided that they had more of what they described as solid, quality leads in the first four days of the September exhibition than during the entire 1994 show when $649 million in sales of machinery was credited to IMTS. That number will surely be bettered after IMTS 96.

Optimism extended over a range of exhibitors, who targeted the small- and medium-size shops, as well as large production operations. Cincinnati Milacron, for instance, had an ambitious goal of 1000 leads/day and confidently expected to surpass that number. Charlie Hartle, president and CEO of Landis Grinding Machines, Waynesboro, PA, reported that at least one machine earmarked for display never made it to the Windy City because the company had sold and shipped that latest offering to a customer even before the show opened.

Meanwhile, hexapod technology, which had captivated showgoers at its IMTS 94 debut, returned to McCormick Place, under the aegis of Geodetic Technology International Ltd, West Sussex, England. The company reported that it had sold several nonexclusive licenses around the world. A major Japanese machine tool manufacturer will unveil a for-sale version of the hexapod technology at the Japan machine tool show in November. Geodetic claims it had issued no technology licenses in the US.

A number of business mergers and planned alliances were announced. Gleason Corp, Rochester, NY, the leading producer of bevel gear producing machines, announced its planned acquisition of Germany's Hermann Pfauter GmbH, to solidify its foothold in the market for cylindrical gear production equipment as well as gaining a 76% interest in Pfauter-Maag Cutting Tools Inc, a US-based producer of cylindrical gear cutting tools. (A close-up look at Gleason appears in Manufacturing Update on pg 23.) Mitsubishi EDM, Wood Dale, IL, announced that it will become the exclusive distributor for Ingersoll GmbH gantry-style sinker EDM machines in North and South America. Ingersoll's large sinker EDMs give Mitsubishi an entree to the automotive moldmaking market. Bodine Assembly and Test Systems, Bridgeport, CT, used IMTS as its launching pad for its joint venture with Holland, MI-based Transmatic, which produces precision, deep-drawn parts. The new company, Assemblex, will provide contract assembly services to the automotive, electrical, medical, and general consumer industries. Big news in the EDM industry is the planned marriage of Agie and Charmilles Technologies under Georg Fischer ownership. US operations will be headed by Harry Mosier, T&P learned, as details sift out from Switzerland.

Showcasing trends

Here are some key manufacturing trends discerned at IMTS 96 by T&P's editors:

* Speed is king in spindles, tool change, rapid traverse, and even in on-machine robotic loading and unloading, which is becoming an increasingly popular way to automate a process. Higher speed spindles are made possible by unique magnetic spindle bearings (an IBAG spindle running on a Mori Seiki VMC) that can run at 36,000 rpm and much higher, effortlessly. Linear motors are driving rapids above 1000 ipm, up to the 2000 range and beyond with maintenance-free operation. Even gantry-style robots were moving at 1400 ipm -- on a Hitachi Seiki TF 20 turning center.

* Automation with linear rail guided vehicles (RGV) and palletizing systems are vying to be the enabler of choice for "cell-able" manufacturing in which one machine or a number of machines are fed by palletized workholding devices. Cells are readily expandable, and the process is controlled by a master controller and software, while individual machines are controlled by their own CNCs.

* Turning machines are taking more live tooling on-board, as well as automation, to produce parts complete in one chucking or passed between spindles to work front and backsides with milling, drilling, and slotting among other machining processes. Workpieces coming off some machines looked as much prismatically machined as turned, boasted one machine builder.

* More and more machines are being imported from the Pacific Rim and Eastern Europe to meet low-end-market demand for lathes and vertical machining centers or manufactured, especially in Eastern Europe, for niche market entries by major machine builders.

* Cutting tool suppliers looking for every competitive edge continue to develop color-coded systematic methods for selecting their inserts rather than someone else's, to make users captive customers with automated vending machine devices, or to service customers with streamlined supply relationships.

* Abrasive machines continue to make advances through fundamentals in machine construction and design using traditional granite and Meehanite castings or opting for newer polymer-based castings for improved shear damping and thermal stability.

* Machine platforms for forming and fabricating processes are continuing to mix and match forming, thermal cutting, welding, and automated loading and unloading as well as exploring the possibilities of water jet, high energy welding, and increasingly tapping the reliability of hydraulic press forming.

Suppliers are jumping on the electronic superhighway and offering everything from directories of application services and products to on-line assistance in purchasing equipment. One new service from Techspex On-Line is available through an alliance with Tooling & Production and Metlfax magazines.

Machining centers

IMTS 96 validated industry predictions that high velocity machines are giving the machine-tool business a second resurgence in this decade. Machines are not only fast but so flexible as to allow easy adaptation to new volume requirements. AMT's vice president of technology Charles Carter called this development a "sea change." Everyone else who moved through McCormick Place might have summed it up this way: "Speed thrills."

Ingersoll Milling Machine Co, Rockford, IL, gave the public a first look at its innovative High Velocity Manufacturing (HVM) technology. Developed in conjunction with Ford Motor Co, HVM units, which cost about $1 million a copy, have been ordered by major aerospace and automotive OEMs. HVMs are single-spindle modules featuring 15,000-rpm spindles and 3000-ipm axis speeds achieved using linear motors capable of handling high acceleration/deceleration rates. Ford is up and running machining cylinder heads and engine blocks at its Dearborn, MI, plant.

Okuma America Corp, Charlotte, NC, enters the low end of the vertical machining center market with Cadet-Mate. The new machine features an 8000-rpm, 14.7/10/7.4 hp spindle motor, a 20-station automatic toolchanger, and Okuma's OSP700M CNC control. Bringing this $79,900 machine into the US market is a strong statement by the 98-year-old company. "This new machine is the next step in the evolution of our Charlotte production mix tailored to the American market," Okuma America president John Hendrick told T&P. By year's end, it was reported, a second machining center will be produced in Charlotte.

Oak Brook, IL-based Kitamura Machinery of USA Inc displayed its Mycenter -7X, which moved from a 5000-rpm to a 10,000-rpm spindle with 50-taper tools. It has a high speed and heavy-weight load ATC capacity: 1.2-see tool-to-tool and 6.4-sec chip-to-chip. The Mycenter-H400 HMC utilizes table traverse design for the Y- and X-axis movements, a feature that reduces workpiece/spindle interference common with traveling column design. It also features a spindle with 10,000 rpm, a two-step geared transmission, and an indexing table that will move 90 deg in 0.5 sec.

Haas Automation, Chatsworth, CA, continues to move up in class with an even larger vertical machining center, the VF-10. It's a machine designed for job shop and small manufacturer production of molds and even large and bulky aircraft parts with a 120" X travel and either 40- or 50-taper spindle. The company will move; into its new $30 million Oxnard, CA, plant in January.

DMG America Inc, Schaumburg, IL, underscored its commitment to the US market by reporting that its field service corps of engineers, parts support, and hot line service have been expanded. Among its new machines was the DMC63V vertical machining center with spindle speeds to 8000 rpm, rapid traverse to 1181 imp, and a 24-station tool magazine. Since its introduction in June in Metav, 62 of the machines have been sold.

Toshiba Machine Co America, Elk Grove Village, IL, demonstrated high speed milling of hardened steel, carbon fiber materials, and hard materials using small tools with its ASV40 vertical NC milling machine with an aerostatic-bearing equipped spindle that can run from 1500 to 50,000 rpm. Time to mill a connecting rod die was reduced from 7 hours on a 8000-rpm machine to 1/2 hour, according to Sam Otaka, deputy general manager-sales engineering, Machine Tool Division.

Newest addition to Niigata's line of horizontal production centers extending cube size to 1000mm, the SPN63, was unveiled with a 40 hp spindle that accelerates to 10,000 rpm in 2.7 sec. Toolchange for a 44 lb tool takes 1.4 sec and chip-to-chip time is 3.8 sec. Rapid traverse speeds of 1575 ipm on the Rolling Meadows-based company's line of horizontals is achieved through its stationary column/traveling saddle design that limits the mass that must be moved.

IBAG North America, Milford, CT, demonstrated high speed metal removal with its active magnetic bearing spindle on a Mori Seiki MV40M VMC. The HF200-MA cuts aluminum with thin sidewalls at 35,000 rpm using HSK 50E tooling and can be used in milling cast iron and hardened mold and die steel. The spindle floats in a magnetic field eliminating wear and the need for lubrication. Cutting mode information can be captured in real time and used for adaptive process control.

Cutting-edge combos

Machine tool builders pulled out all the stops in exhibiting cellular combinations of standalone machines, modular machining stations, and other production configurations. As builders and systems integrators will attest, dollars add up quicker than buying machines one at a time.

Reasons for the dramatic emergence of cellular machining can be found in controls and software, high speed cutting capability, and high speed positioning using linear motors. Controls such as Giddings & Lewis's Navigator demonstrated the power of overall control of the manufacturing process with individual CNC control of machining centers. On display was a RAM cell that includes a RAM 630 HMC, a new rail-guided vehicle, and the Navigator cell manager.

From Chatsworth, CA, Fadal Engineering brought its special version of the 4020HT VMC, featuring an automatic pallet changer that enables the operator to unload finished parts and load material on the off-line pallet while the VMC continues to machine parts on the on-line pallet.

Mazak Corp, Florence, KY, showed its FH-480 HMC integrated with a Palletech base configuration of a seven-pallet system, pallet shuttle, and load station. The FH-480 can handle large volume outputs without losing flexibility for constant changes in designs and lot sizes. More important, as with all such cellular configurations, the cell can be increased from a single machine installation to eight machines, with up to 100 pallets and four load-unload stations.

Sporting its new streamlined corporate name, Makino Inc, Mason, OH, showed how it's taking its technology-transfer philosophy to market by industry -- Aerospace, Automotive, and Die/Mold. Makino exhibited its J55 CNC Machining Station, which provides high speed flexible machining in both transfer line and standalone high volume, short-cycle applications. Key is the Sequential Rotary Pallet Changer (SRPC), which fulfills the function of a dial-index unit with planetary index tables.

And weighing in from Detroit, was Cellular Concepts Co, which demonstrated the flexibility of its three-axis Model H-15W CNC Wing Unit by installing three of them around a precision dial index table to create a CNC system for flexible, high production machining under GE Fanuc Cimplicity Man-Machine Interface Windows-based control. For the job shop, Cell-Con introduced its Bulldog H-450 standalone HMC with pallet changer and an expanded 22-tool ATC.

Gary Byron, president of Lamb Machining Systems, Warren, MI, told IMTS visitors that "no single approach to production systems, be it dedicated or flexible, can meet all of today's widely varying requirements in terms of volume, product variability, and product mix. To be competitive, manufacturers need systems formed from the mix of technologies that will best support their cost and volume goals, and deliver the level of responsiveness they will need."

Or they can turn to a whole class of machines that is carving out a new niche between high volume dedicated rotary (or linear) transfer line technology and standalone CNC machines. These machines rely on the stability of traditional dial design, the newfound power of CNC controls, and the ability to add multiple CNC heads to machining stations.

The show was nothing less than "fabulous" in terms of sales and leads Hydromat Inc's Bruno Schmitter, president and CEO, told T&P, underscoring the popularity of machines that can sell between $350,000 and $1,000,000-plus. His sentiment was echoed by other members of this growing coterie of machine suppliers.

There are other innovative ways to accomplish the same machining objective. Fuji, in turning, won't make a turning machine without an onboard robotic loading/unloading device. In machining centers, Chiron America, Charlotte, NC, has weighed in with its Flexline system of multiple machines run by a single operator. From three to eight single-spindle or dual-spindle machines with up to 15,000-rpm spindles can be configured to complete parts on one machine or to run as a transfer line to complete parts using multiple machines. Parts are automatically and rapidly loaded and unloaded via an integrated robotic partchanger.

Turn, turn, turn

IMTS 96 reconfirmed the idea that the turning machine has evolved from an "old reliable" piece of equipment to one of the most versatile, profit-producers in any shop. T&P predicted in its show preview that "the familiar lathe is becoming anything but familiar as its functions blur the line between lathe and machining center." That prediction held up well in Chicago.

"The transition from production with dedicated spindles to CNC production with production flexibility is over," Klaus Voos, president, Index Corp, Shelton, CT, told T&P. "Today's machines combine manufacturing processes with CNC in economically engineered packages." To illustrate, he pointed to Index's V300 vertical chucking machine that features an inverted vertical moving spindle with stationary cutting tools underneath tthe spindle. In addition to gang-style or turret tooling, specialized processes such as multiple spindle drill and tap heads, high frequency drill and mill spindles, grinding spindles and even laser welding and induction hardening equipment can be accommodated. Also shown was the G300 slant bed CNC turn mill center with a bar capacity of up to 3.54", chucking capacity up to 12", and shafts up to 47" in length.

"Making its North American premiere was the Tornos Bechler Deco 2000, a Swiss-type, single-spindle automatic from Tornos Technologies, Brookfield, CT. Particularly aimed at the highly precise components market of medical machining, it features an electronic control system called Parallel Numerical Control, which is operated by software designated as TB-Deco, a joint development with Fanuc. Two versions, a five-and a nine-axis, were demonstrated a seven-axis model is also available.

One could hear the wolves howling at Cincinnati Milacron, Cincinnati, OH, with the introduction of its new Falcon 200 Turning Center --" value-priced" in the $70,000s. Created for high output production, this Wolfpack-engineered center turns bars up to 2" dia at speeds of 4500 rpm. A centerpiece of the Milacron exhibit was "Your Profit Shop," which was intended to help job shops relate to the economic implications of their machine choices.

Hardinge Inc, Elmira, NY, introduced its low-cost CNC turning machine, the Cobra 42 CNC slant-bed lathe with "continuous machining accuracy performance of 0.0005" after warmup." Priced at $46,900, the Cobra 42 features 1 5/8" (42mm) bar capacity, 12-station turret, and 5000 rpm spindle.

Introduced by Clausing Industrial Inc, Kalamazoo, MI, at the show were the Storm Slant Bed CNC lathes in three series, the 100, 200, and 300 models. Storm CNC lathes are designed to handle 80% of lathe users needs 24 hours a day. Prices range from $60,000 to $80,000 for machines that have big capacity turning with 10 hp to 30 hp spindles and chucks from 5" to 12".

Among the Falcons and Cobras, one could also find Panthers. Rem Sales Inc, East Granby, CT, exhibited the new Tsugami Panther BZ and BX Series Swissturns that feature high performance, low cost Swiss-type solutions in fixed and independent slide models for 12/18 mm work. The BZ Series boasts spindle speeds up to 12,000 rpm, near zero chip-to-chip time, and an integral serials spindle motor for optimum acceleration/deceleration. There are seven OD and three ID tool stations. The BX Series, a gang-style Swissturn with five- to seven-axis capability, presents itself as a fast, flexible, cost-effective alternative to turret-style machines for applications requiring balanced turning and simultaneous, overlap machining capabilities.

Wasino Corp USA, Wayne, NJ, offered its SG-5DT, a double-end turning machine that can grip rod or bar stock in two synchronized chunks and turn the bar in the middle. The work is then parted where it was machined, leaving a turned end on each of two pieces of barstock. Result: the opposite ends of two parts are machined at once. The turned features can be precise mirror images or completely different in diameter, length, or contour. Stock can extend beyond both chucks as far as necessary, allowing parts to be of any length.

The workpiece that was being machined in one chucking on Hitachi Seiki's HiCELL 23 high speed, single-turret, four-axis turning cell looked surprisingly like one produced on a machining center. In fact, the Itasca, IL-based company said there's hardly a compound milling, drilling, or turning job that can't be done in one chucking on the HiCELL machine that features a ten-station tool turret that can accommodate conventional or rotating tools and a 12-tool ATC to serve the turret.

A truly new and quiet solution to multispindle automatic screw machines was introduced by Davenport Machine, Rochester, NY. (Details of its much ballyhooed LS 522 can be found in Product Spotlight on page 99.)

The hole truth

TM Smith Tool International, Mt Clemens, MI, highlighted its Smith Super Taper (SST) ultraprecision, quick-change stub-drilling system, with president D Fred Smith himself noting that traditional drill parameters are outdated. "Traditionally," he said, "stub drill have been considered any drills with a length no greater than five times the drill diameter. If the drill diameter was a 0.5", the drill would be no longer than 2.5". Today, customers using a 0.5" drill expect the same concentricity 5" from the spindle nose as they used to expect 2.5" from the nose."

The Southern strategy for drilling and tapping came by way of Rome, GA, and Suhner Industrial Products Corp, which introduced a new generation of drilling and machining spindles. Its new BEX15 series machining unit was offered for use on various materials. The BEX15 has a compact but stable spindle body. The spindle, with 5/8" drill capacity, may be equipped with up to a 1.8 kW motor. A spindle speed of 28,000 rpm is also an option for machining specialty materials.


As far as grinding machine tools are concerned, a lot of small machines were introduced at IMTS. Many have been created using the technology of larger production machines and modified to fit the budgets and special needs of small, narrowly focused markets. For machines designed anew, the overall trend is toward very stiff machines with CNC controls for superabrasive applications.

Jones & Shipman, Kennesaw, GA, for instance, displayed its new Surform grinder, which company president Nelson Beaulieu said was redesigned "with a clean sheet of paper." Thermal expansion is controlled by the circulation of coolant through systems components, while bearings on both live and dead centers are located as close to the workpiece as possible to minimize part movement during grinding.

Erwin Junker Machinery Inc, West Springfield, MA, debuted its BUAJ 30cylindrical grinder, which allows several separate grinding operations in a single part clamping. The machine operates in three modes.

Cincinnati Milacron launched its new Viking Centerless grinder. Saying "we looked at every element in the grinding system for stiffness," the project's chief engineer, Horst Maack, noted that the machine has static stiffness and damping characteristics that perform well using CBN grinding wheels. Meanwhile, Weldon Machine Tool Inc, York, PA, offered its new AGN4 machine, fitted with autoload facilities and ideal for production on small parts. Weldon's offering typifies the move toward combining proven technologies with newer methods to produce machines that can handle small-scale production. As Weldon president Jim Flinchbaugh puts it, "It may not be rocket science, but it is good engineering."

Controls, software

Software and controls took center stage with important introductions in literally every category of metalworking. Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Controls, Mt Prospect, IL, introduced the "first" 64-bit printed circuit board CNC. Designed for high speed machining, the 64-bit RISC processor connects to a personal computer using the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) Bus and can handle up to eight axes.

Meanwhile Siemens documented the advantages of embedding a universal interpolator within its Sinumerik 840-D CNC capable of directly executing NURBS-defined geometries without need of a post processor. According to Klaus Wucherer, vice president of Siemens AG Automation, machining speed has been increased 50%. "Workpiece accuracy has been improved and the old block-to-block process speed is no longer relevant," he told T&P. The significance: CAD files can be directly loaded to CAM stations and to the factory floor and back to the CAM stations with changes to the files, but without need for post processing.

Boston Digital Corp, Milford, MA, made this a "software" show for its BostoMatic VMC hardware. It introduced its new BDC3200X Fanuc-compatible control said to be 35% faster than previous models. Also introduced was the Therm-atrol Spindle Growth Compensation System, as well as the Eliminator Anti-Vibration System, which does away with Z-axis vibration during rapid reversals as in mold and cavity making.

And Fagor Automation Corp, Elk Grove, IL, introduced among the variety of its CNC controls, DROs, and digital drive technology a new line of special rotary transducers with from 9000 to 90,000 lines/turn with squarewave lengths for linear feedback for travels between 120mm (4") and 30m (98 ft).

Mitutoyo/MTI Corp, Paramus, NJ, has jumped into the highly competitive two-axis CNC/three-axis DRO market with its new CNC retrofit system. It's priced at $12,200 and features a 586 DX microprocessor and is Windows 95-based.

Cutting tools

For a long time, the focus regarding cutting tool materials was directed toward withstanding higher temperatures and machining forces. This year's IMTS, however, showed that the focus has shifted to engineering products for specific application requirements. Those in the shops "are getting out of the mold of doing things the same way," noted Ivars Roberts with the sales and applications team at Iscar Metals Inc, Arlington, TX.

Case in point: inserts used to turn stainless steels always fail because of edge build-up. Traditional solution: new inserts resistant to such build-up. New materials from R&D efforts are not always readily available to solve the problem, explained Karl Katbi, product marketing manager for Valenite Inc, Madison Hts, MI. Valenite's answer is to make it easier for the user to select the right insert for the job. It unveiled its SpectraTurn Application Guide, a color-coded guide that covers 95% of turning applications and the nine grades and 13 chipbreakers that make up its SpectraTurn line. The Valenite guide is unique in that it diverges from traditional ISO groupings and bases its recommendations on the similarity of machinability indices for workpeice materials that share common failure modes. It also includes recommendations for selecting the right Valcool cutting fluid for steels, stainless steel, and cast irons.

Meanwhile, says Gregory J Moreland, marketing manager for Stellram, Lavergne, TN, "Everybody's looking for a few key suppliers who can solve a whole range of problems." Which, in turn, gives rise to such offerings as Guhring Inc's i/ESPANDA software package, which tool programmers and engineers use to evaluate and compare cutting applications, or Kennametal's "electronic commerce" for cutting internal procurement costs.

Cutting tool users may benefit most, however, in the quality and consistency of edge prep honing for superabrasive inserts because of a unique package that Ewag Corp, Lincoln, RI, introduced at IMTS 96. It consists of a "non-aggressive" brush honing technology and electronic gaging equipment to complement Ewag's manual and CNC insert grinding machines. "For the first time, cutting insert suppliers will be able to deliver inserts with consistent and certifiable edge prep and radiusing within microns and users will be able to verify the fact," Andre M Grosjean, executive vice president, of Ewag's Geneva, Switzerland-based partner, told T&P.

Cleaned and scrubbed

Protein has joined oils and synthetics in the job shop. Monsanto Corp, St Louis, MO, introduced Glacier, a biodegradable metal-working fluid based on proteins. Targeted for a broad range of applications, Glacier has already been field-tested. "It has been used in the manufacture of products ranging from engines to door hinges," said Winsor Cho, Glacier business manager. "It's also been successful at OEMs like Amera-Seiki, which is displaying its use for ferrous metals at this show. With these accomplishments under our belt, we're now looking for additional partners to optimize Glacier under a broader range of machining applications."

Mobil Oil Corp, Fairfax, VA, displayed its DTE Excel, a hydraulic oil formulated without zinc. That chemistry allows the water separated from the spent coolant to remain free of heavy metals. The company's DTE 20 Series oils are recommended for most hydraulic applications, including high pressure systems and systems with servovalves.

Tri-Mer Corp, Owosso, MI, introduced a fully networked air-pollution-control system engineered for large multiple scrubber installations through the chemical processing, as well as in metal finishing and semiconductor manufacturing. The scrubbers of the Tri-Mer LoadShare are networked so that each becomes a fully functioning back-up for the others in the event of an overload or malfunction.

Ingersoll-Rand Cleaning & Finishing Systems, Livonia, MI, introduced a new line of Mod-Kleen industrial washers -- from multistage conveyorized washers to agitation tank washers and tabletop ultrasonic washers. All these units use aqueous-based cleaning solutions that overcome problems associated with ozone-depleting, organic solvents. "Customers are looking for variations of the basic product," noted John A Laursen, marketing manager of the company's Centri-Spray line. "They not only want to get the part clean but they want to get it to another operation. So we provide the material-handling [aspect]."
COPYRIGHT 1996 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:International Machine Tool Show
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Oct 1, 1996
Previous Article:Small shops automate milling power.
Next Article:Gearmaking: increasing hardness through cryogenics.

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