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The buying season is upon us. WESTEC and EASTEC are in the books. A report on WESTEC appears in this issue of T&P A report on EASTEC will appear in the July issue. So far so good. The show-going public has turned out in sufficient enough numbers to justify some optimism about the return of much-needed investment in capital equipment by U.S. manufacturers. We simply must keep pace with an increasingly competitive global market.

Indicators are pointing up. Machine tool sales are up rather dramatically (40.4 percent vs. 2003) for the first couple of months albeit from the extraordinarily low levels that we suffered through in the last two years.

In this issue, Mike Whitney's Behind the Numbers points to favorable trends in GDP (strong underpinning), corporate profits (significant improvement), consumer spending (confidence high), personal income (up), major trading partners (GDPs growing), and price and credit (favorable). The key question: how sustainable will recovery be? Only time will tell.

In the mean time, machine tool builders continue to turn out an extraordinary number of new machines--whether standalone, multi-tasking, multi-machine cells, or flexible transfer machines--with the latest technologies and combinations of processes.

Familiar machining concepts of milling, turning, drilling, grinding and the like are being joined in unusual combinations on individual machines. New variations of old technologies are able to crush with ultrasonics, burn with lasers, or sever with abrasive-filled waterjet.

Cutting tool manufacturers are taking the hardest man-made materials, configuring them with mathematically precise geometry, holding them securely, and cutting virtually any material productively.

Toolholding concepts have been developed to handle the highest of high-speed machining processes. Workholding innovations can transform machining centers into production centers capable of handling parts and families of parts. Automation is found on individual machines, in cells, on transfer lines in every conceivable form. Robots of all types continue their inexorable march through the factory.

And controlling the whole manufacturing process from CNC controls on individual machines to enterprise-wide networks are the latest versions of software.

In the August issue of T&P, you'll have a chance to preview the news-making products that will be displayed at IMTS 2004. It'll give you a chance to prep yourself for your visit to IMTS. Of course, if you're a manufacturer of machine tools or related products, feel free to submit them to us to be included in our pie-show coverage in the August issue.

You're invited. Please R.S.V.P.
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Title Annotation:at large in the shop
Author:Lorincz, Jim
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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