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Speed, automation dominate exhibits.

Speed and automation were the overriding themes that greeted visitors to the Japan Machine Tool Fair (JIMTOF) in Tokyo last October. Faster spindle speeds, faster automatic tool changes, and faster pallet changes--all were packaged in machines with smaller footprints and coupled with gantry loading devices and robots of all shapes and sizes.

"If you attended the IMTS in Chicago last September, just imagine all the machines plus many more, but with robots, autoloaders, stackers, gantries, and pallet pools," is how Robert Kups, vp-manufacturing technology, Fluidpower Group, Parker Hannifin Inc, Cleveland, OH, described his experience after visiting the show and several plants there with a team of Parker manufacturing executives.

"The Japanese market is the spark of technological development," claims Helmut Weidemann, sales manager, Hurth Machine Works, a German manufacturer of grinding equipment. Hurth has been selling in Japan for many years. It was a venture that was very profitable until the Japanese learned to build their own machines, he explained.

Even though it is not nearly as profitable as it once was, he believes it's imperative to be marketing there. He tells of a machine he was trying to sell to the Japanese several years ago. It had a 15-minute tool change. The Japanese insisted it be reduced to 1 minute. Hurth, prompted by the Japanese insistence, persisted and finally achieved the goal.

"That development made us extremely competitive, not only in Japan, but around the world," says Mr Weidemann. He contends that if you have the technological advantage, the Japanese will buy from foreigners--even though they prefer to deal with their domestic peers.

That tendency was obvious just by watching where most of the visitors to the show were gathering. Crowds in the hall holding the importers were sparse compared with the shoulder-to-shoulder masses swarming over the domestic equipment builders' booths.

Takaji Hiramatsu, manager of the business department of the trade fair commission, indicated that 624 exhibitors from 29 countries represented a 10% increase from the 1990 show. Visitor count, however, was down. He speculated it was because of the recession in Japan. US manufacturers had reserved 46 booth spaces but had canceled 20 of them.

Even so, several US exhibitors that T&P talked to indicated satisfaction with participating in the Japanese market.

Optical Gaging Products Inc of Rochester, NY, has been exhibiting at JIMTOF since 1982 and has found Japan to be one of its best markets. OGP featured its SmartScope integrated video measuring microscope system. If your product meets the demands of the market and you provide service and training "you can sell there," claims OGP's Kjell Westin, who heads up international sales.

Another long-time exhibitor was The Gleason Works, also of Rochester. It exhibited its Phoenix line of six-axis gear cutting and grinding equipment. The newest entry in the line is the 175HC gear cutting machine, which can handle parts 175 mm in diameter, and a companion 200G gear grinder. Both feature a smaller footprint and take up less floor space.

"The new machines, however, are not simply shrunken versions of the larger Phoenix machines. They are completely redesigned from the floor up," explains Gleason's Alan Finegan. The smaller footprint, he indicates, was built with an eye to the Japanese market, where size is important because of the premium placed on floor space.

Gilbert Rolka, an applications engineer working in Japan for Kennametal, is another who feels "no resistance to Kennametal simply because it is American." He indicates that Kennametal's latest introduction to Japan, the KT105M tough cermet milling insert, has sold 100,000 pieces since May.

Kennametal introduced several new products to the Japanese market, including its PCD diamond-tipped milling cutter with an aluminum body designed for high-speed cutting of aluminum. At one-third the weight of its steel-bodied counterpart, the lighter weight cutter facilitates use of larger milling cutters in automatic tool changers.

Here is a sampling of some of the new ideas in equipment that T&P spotted:

Two for One--Toshiba Machine introduced its GMC-95 double-column machining center capable of handling both heavy-duty grinding and a complete range of cutting with the same spindle. The spindle speed ranges from 15 to 12,000 rpm, driven with a 22 kW motor. A three-gear shift provides capability from low to high speed while assuring high torque and rigidity for machining workpieces up to 2500 Kg.

An ATC holds 30 tools and cycles in 4.5 seconds. A rotary-type trueing/dressing unit is built in the column, eliminating any limitation on work and operating strokes. Rapid traverse rate is 15,000 mm/min; feedrate is up to 5000 mm/min. The machine sells for about $900,000.

Vibro-broaching--Nachi-Fujishi Corp unveiled a new way to remove distortions caused by heat treatment on complicated shapes such as splines. Ultra-fine diamond grains are electrocoated on the broaching tool, and the workpiece is broached via low-frequency vibrations in the axial direction.

A four-post column construction provides rigidity to withstand the vibration force and a wide work space to handle diameters up to 340 mm. The vibration force is 40 kN; stroke is a maximum 245 mm; frequency is a maximum of 70 Hz.

Screw Machine Substitute--More entries are in in the race to replace the thousands of Acme-Gridley Screw Machines at work for years throughout metalworking. The machine tool arm of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries introduced the M-T35E, a CNC six-spindle automatic. It claims changeover time has been cut 90% over conventional multispindle machines. In addition, it permits continuous machining of three different, but similar, parts simultaneously.

A variable-speed AC motor eliminated change gears while CNC replaced slide-controlling cams. Preset tool holders can be mounted or exchanged within 30 seconds per set. A quick-change collet system reduces change time to 30 seconds per spindle. Machining accuracy is 0.0004".

The machine is similar to a CNC multiple-spindle automatic introduced by Traub at IMTS in Chicago last September, but may be available for as little as $600,000 when it is introduced in the US market in a couple of years.

Miyano unveiled its E6-26D NC-hydromatic multispindle automatic featuring what it calls a hybrid, NC/hydraulic control mechanism. The NC function incorporates a hydraulic system in its tool slide units and is capable of controlling up to eight axes of the end tool and cross slides.

A digitally-controlled ratio valve activates a hydraulic cylinder in each slide, thus carefully regulating oil flow. Simultaneously, positioning on the linear scale is fed back to the NC unit, closing the loop on the control circuit permitting precise slide positioning beyond the capability, it's claimed, of ordinary hydraulic automatics. The system eliminates mechanical stoppers and dogs. Repeatability of slide positioning is within 30 microns.

The unit should be on the US market next spring at a price comparable to a standard hydraulic machine with two axes of NC/servo slide control.

EDM Giants--A large Ram-type EDM which uses an electrode up to 750 kg in weight to process parts up to 10 tons was introduced by Makino. It features a table size of 98.4"x47.2".

A wire EDM that can handle pieces 1200 mm x 1000 mm x 500 mm was introduced by Sodick. It can handle pieces as deep as 500 mm. It features water-submersible cutting with Sodick's EF Circuit, which prevents electrolysis erosion during the rough cutting stage by using original pulse-control technology while operating at the same speed as conventional electrical sources.

Super Spindle Speeds--Niigata Engineering Co showed its UHS10 ultrahigh-speed milling machine, featuring a 100,000 rpm spindle speed and a 12 degree taper. Feedrate is up to 394 ipm, while a small pick-feed permits surface roughness Rmax of 0.00001. Table size is 29.5" x 17.5". Traverse rates on slideways are 945 ipm (X axis) and 709 ipm (Y axis).

The unit is aimed at the mold and die making industry. On one example cited--a 1048 steel mold base of a speaker cone--machining time was cut from 13 hours to 32 minutes.

Showa Tool Co took the upper limit of its traction drive speed accelerators to 50,000 rpm, assuming an 8 to 1 speed ratio. Its lightweight and compact design permits use with an ATC. Coolant is supplied from the position block through the housing to the cutting edge. The accelerator features ceramic bearings. Power is transmitted by bearing steel rollers and a special traction grease.

On the Cutting Edge--All the world's major manufacturers of tooling and inserts were on hand to introduce products that were tougher and harder. Cermet materials were in, as were new grades of coatings, all claiming longer tool life.

For example, Mitsubishi Carbide's UC6010 insert features new coating and substrate technology. Triple coating layers result in 50% higher performance in turning hard materials such as steel and stainless.

Toshiba Tungalloy unveiled a turning toolholder, which held inserts through a one-action, double-clamping operation. A spring pin brings pressure on a shim under the insert, while a clamp covers the top simply by turning the clamp screw.

Robots, Gantries, & Cells--The Japanese seem much more committed to automation and flexible machining cells than US manufacturers. They are driven by a forecasted labor shortage brought on by their aging population. Few exhibitors could be found not touting a customized version of robots feeding a single machine or cell, or a gantry arrangement tying together a cell of machines performing various functions.

Okuma had, perhaps, the most extensive such display. It showed its LB15 II turning center with subspindle being fed by its OR5 small high-speed robot. The company called a cell of two LCC-15 compact chuckers tied together with an OGL5 gantry loader a "Compact Shop" and featured a machine-mixed robot line, which included a traveling robot feeding a vertical machining center, NC lathe, measuring station, and a workpiece table.

Makino introduced several machines including the A55 with a No 40 spindle capable of up to 40,000 rpm and an ATC time of 0.9 seconds. It included robot feeding and automatic clamping so a part could be loaded during the machining cycle. It also has a three-tiered, space-saving, 21-pallet magazine.

There was no shortage of five-axis machining centers. Mori Seiki showed its MB-16 bridge-type machining center with integrated U-axis control machining and grinding capability. Mazak reintroduced its HV800 with high-pressure coolant capability to facilitate chip removal.

Mitsui Seiki also was featuring high-pressure coolant capability on its newly introduced HJH63B jig borer. The high-pressure coolant feature facilitates chip removal and a constant temperature at the cutting edge.

Mori Seiki also introduced its M-300L vertical machining center with twin tables. While machining on one table, parts can be loaded on the table adjacent to it. The spindle moves from table to table rather than having the pallet change.

Hitachi Seiki showed a vertical machining center robot automated cell (VG45), including a robot-fed, two-pallet changer and an NC indexing table. It also displayed its TG25 high-rigidity NC lathe cell, including a subspindle and robot loading.

In stand-alone equipment, Kitamura Machinery unveiled its Mycenter-Zero APC Spark Changer vertical drilling center. It claims a 40 m/min X and Y axis feedrate, 0.9 sec tool change (2.3 sec chip-to-chip), 3.9 sec pallet change, and a 16-tool ATC.

Grinding Galore--Toyoda introduced a GZ50 cylindrical grinder with a wheel speed up to 200 m/sec. It can handle CBN wheels from 0.25" to 2" wide. Toyoda claims the superfast, thin wheel permits grinding of various shapes with the same wheel. Mitsubishi also unveiled a grinder capable of 200 m/sec wheel speed.

Okamoto, responding to the sagging economy, introduced its 2010BHNC, touting the fact that it was a good value at a price 40% below comparable grinding machines. One reason for the economical cost: the table is driven by ball screws with a smoothness comparable to hydraulic cylinder-driven units.

Okamoto also had robots feeding its machines. It showed a surface grinder with an 18-pallet magazine. In a refreshing moment, the sales person admitted it was more for show than for sale, as he couldn't think of an application where it could be employed.

Speed and labor saving was also the theme at Wasino, which showed a high-speed reciprocating table at 1000 strokes per minute that reduced rough cutting from 30 to 10 minutes. It also showed a surface grinder with in-line measurement capability, eliminating the need to remove and then rechuck the part for a quality check.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:16th Japan International Machine Tool Fair
Author:Modic, Stanley J.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:Empathy, detail keys to industrial might.
Next Article:Whiskers toughen ceramics for hardest cuts.

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