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Westec mirrors times.

"Simple to learn. Simple to own. Simple to justify." That sign, sitting atop a low-cost Millennium CNC knee mill on display in the Anilam booth, which was touting the merits of its "ultimate in user friendly" Wizard DRO, pretty well mirrored the tenor of the times to anyone walking through the various halls of Westec, the metal-working manufacturing exposition in Los Angeles in March.

Price, cost of ownership, and low tech were center stage for the most part. For example, Sony Magnescale introduced its Millman, "an economical, complete two-axis DRO system for milling machines." Tom Moran, president, explained that the product, for the first time, brought magnetic DRO technology in line, price-wise, with glass-scale systems.

Across the hall, R Stephen Flynn, president of Jones & Shipman, was confirming that "the economy has created a very price-sensitive market," by showing a creep-feed low-end grinder selling in the $200,000 range vs its big brother going for close to a half-million dollars. Hansvedt was touting the fact that its "price-beater," the Workman model small EDM, carried the orbiter feature and sold for only $24,200.

In the North Hall, Henry Glick of Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Control was responding to the same market stimulus. "We were hearing from the field that there is a real need for a simple control which could deliver high-speed processing and exceptional accuracy at an affordable price," he said in introducing the C3 control, a compact CNC which has completely integrated the control function with the drive system.

Aimed at single-axis applications, it'll sell in the $3000 to $6000 range. An upgraded C3-S model provides a second axis system capable of either dual-system, two-axes independent control, or a single system, two-axes simultaneous control. It'll sell in the $4500 to $8000 range.

Along the same line, GE Fanuc Automation showcased its new low-end Series 20 CNC for small general purpose lathes and milling machines. It's aimed at small shops that previously have not been able to justify moving to CNC.

At the same time, Heidenhain appeared to be taking coordinate measuring technology to a new level with its introduction of the PP 109 R exposed incremental two-coordinate measuring system. Developed for measuring and positioning tasks typical of the semiconductor industry, the encoder can determine the position of a measured object with measuring steps from 1 |Micro~m to 10 |Micro~m in the plane of measurement.

The system consists of a grid plate and two scanning heads. The measuring standard is a regular grid of square elevations approximately 0.2 |Micro~m in height, deposited on a glass substrate. The grid is scanned without contact according to the interferential measuring principle. Each scanning head provides sinusoidal output signals with a signal period of 4 |Micro~m and one reference signal for each axis.

The exhibition itself, an annual event, reflected the slow economic times, particularly evident on the West Coast, where reduced defense spending has hit metalworking industries hard. There were some 500 exhibitors, fewer than in the past, and fewer potential customers were plying the wider-than-usual aisles.

Even so, most exhibitors were positive. Jim Asakawa of Okamoto, the grinding systems manufacturer, agreed that, although the market is very price sensitive, he was having a "good show. The number of visitors is down but the quality of decision-makers is up," he added.

Others weren't so positive. As one exhibitor quipped, "how can you really tell if more decision-makers are here until several months from now, when sales come in as a result of the show effort?"

Although no startlingly new technology was unveiled at the show, several companies did create a stir with some new products. Among companies introducing new machine tools were:

Haas Automation, a manufacturer of rotary table and vertical machining centers, unveiled a low-cost horizontal machining center that will be ready for delivery later this year. It was Haas' first venture into the horizontal machining center arena.

The 6-ton VH-1 features travels of 18" on all axes, a geared head that delivers 100 ft-lb of torque at just 400 rpm, a 10-hp spindle with speeds up to 7500 rpm, and a 24-position tool changer. It will sell for about $75,000, says Peter Zierhut, manager-sales and marketing.

Fadal Engineering Co previewed a low-end vertical machining center, the VMC 15, it will offer at $43,500. Aimed at the smaller machining jobs market, it features a 7.5 hp spindle, a 16-station tool changer, and X-, Y-, and Z-axis dimensions of 20"x16"x20".

The company, which features Fadal-brand CNC controls on its machining centers, also introduced its CNC 32MP containing an embedded PC-compatible computer that uses MS-DOS 5.0 operating system.

The control includes a process dubbed the Visualizer, which permits the user to program from a blueprint to a machined part via a graphic interchange. Its ability to do solid-model rendering shows the operator how the part will be machined. On-screen 3D imaging depicts the machining process from start to finish and shows machining problems in red should the part program contain an error.

The program was developed by Gibbs & Associates, in cooperation with Fadal, and is also available as CAM software under the title Virtual Gibbs.

Kitamura Machinery of USA introduced its Mycenter-Zero/APC vertical drilling and tapping center to the North American market. It was first unveiled at the Japan Machine Tool Show last November. Dubbed the Spark Changer, it has a 16-station tool changer that goes tool-to-tool in 0.9 seconds, has a 3.9 second chip-to-chip pallet changer and a 1,575 ipm rapid feedrate.

The cartridge-type spindle (5 hp driving up to 8000 rpm) is designed to withstand heavy cutting loads without slipping. It also includes the Kitamura table traverse design for X and Y axis movement that reduces workpiece/spindle interference.

Bridgeport Machines was drawing a crowd introducing two versions of its VMC 760 vertical machining center. One features a 7.5 hp continuous duty fan-cooled AC motor and 16-tool changer; a second version has a 20-tool changer and 10 hp continuous motor. The X, Y, Z axes are 30", 20", and 19", respectively.

The firm was also touting the fact that its Discovery 300 and 308 bed-type milling machine and machining center now sport a new 32-bit PC-based control, the Bridgeport DX32, featuring interactive graphics, conversational and G-Code programming, and menus to prompt the operator through a part program. It permits the operator to program a new part while another is being machined.

Cincinnati Milacron continues to expand its Avenger line of turning centers. Its latest are the 200 (8") and 250 (10") model chuckers and universal-type CNC lathes featuring "done-in-one" capability with live tooling and a subspindle for second side operations.

Drive for rotating tools is 8 hp at speeds to 8000 rpm. Fully interpolated C-axis contouring is standard.

Swiss toolmaker Tornos Bechler was heralding a new, four-axes sliding headstock CNC automatic, Model ENC74, capable of handling bar stock down to 1 mm. Kevin Hayes, national sales manager of Tornos Technologies US Corp, explained the machine was designed to handle complex, micro-sized parts such as needed in the medical and dental fields and for the fiber optics and electronics industries.

Tornos technicians compare production rates with the fastest cam machines pointing to a NC two-axis, four-position end-working attachment, with three counter operations and a pick-up spindle, coupled with speeds up to 15,000 rpm.

In addition to machine tool manufacturers, there were many tool and insert manufacturers on hand introducing new products. Kennametal showed a new sialon insert grade Kyon 2100 engineered for high-productivity machining of superalloys. Rogers Tool Works introduced an addition to its Thread Master series, Turbo-Thread, designed to take advantage of the flexibility of thread milling on CNC machining centers. Iscar introduced the Heliquad, a second-generation Helimill insert with four helical cutting edges. It can be used for a variety of applications such as drilling, milling, chamfering, and turning. Sandvik unveiled the T-Max 290 square-shoulder milling cutter program with coarse, close, and extra-close designs, each featuring four sharp cutting edges.

But perhaps the most unusual new product unveiled by a tool maker came from Newcomer of Latrobe, PA. Its Tool Management Center is based on a vending machine concept, which not only dispenses inserts but tracks use by operator, area, or job. The information and stock status is available by fax or modem to any location, including back to the stocking distributor.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Management Update; Los Angeles metal-working manufacturing exposition
Author:Modic, Stanley J.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Mold and diemaking in transition.
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