Jun 24, 2023

Smarter Machinery to Meet New Challenges

Whether manufacturing parts for top-tier industries such as aerospace, auto, or medical, or operating as a custom job shop, achieving high tolerances and precision surface finishes are a must.

More than 200 exhibitors in the Abrasives, Sawing, and Finishing pavilion will showcase a diverse range of new and improved equipment. But the varied equipment has a few things in common: ease of use and improved communication; higher productivity with fewer setups; and, for many, the ability to operate on a nearly unattended basis.

While a lot has happened since the last in-person IMTS in 2018, manufacturers face many of the same issues. Labor shortages, for example, continue to plague the industry. As a result, companies are increasingly turning to equipment that simplifies operation and maintenance.

Data analysis is also critical to productivity. This is evident throughout the pavilion, with many exhibitors touting the capability to remotely access data from machines. Cloud-based applications crunch numbers and provide graphical displays on smart devices, allowing managers and need-to-know personnel to obtain real-time reports on cycle time, uptime, downtime, and error alerts.

Russell Riddiford, president of Wixom, Mich.-based Anca Inc., is anxious to get back to in-person industry events and meet with customers.

"With a long four-year wait since the last IMTS, I am excited to show our visitors the latest technological advancements from Anca," he said. "We will present technology that helps solve the challenges faced by many manufacturers."

Several heavy-duty grinders that use the Anca Integrated Manufacturing System (AIMS) will be featured at the company's booth (237406). The platform optimizes cutting tool production through streamlined manufacturing, automation, and connectivity. With AIMS, customers can achieve continuous, unattended production that reduces non-productive machine time, with smart automation that connects sequential tool production processes and offers connectivity across the whole factory, according to Riddiford.

At IMTS, AIMS will drive a manufacturing cell in Anca's booth configured with various equipment, including an unattended manufacturing workflow of two varieties of endmills on one MX7 machine.

"An important part of this workflow is the closed-loop measurement and compensation process using Zoller Genius as a measurement station," said Jan Irzyk, AIMS product manager. Depending on customer requirements, he added, AIMS can "automatically transfer a tool from the ground batch, clean it, measure required geometries, and transfer the results to the respective grinder where grinding parameters compensation is taking place to achieve the required dimensional tolerance of the batch."

United Grinding, Miamisburg, Ohio, is introducing a next-generation human-machine interface called C.O.R.E. (Customer Oriented REvolution) that has a new controller and operating system that make the interface simple for training and use, said Jacob Baldwin, the company's director of corporate marketing.

"This interface lowers the learning curve to get operators up and functional on machines in a much faster period," he said.

IMTS attendees can visit United Grinding at Booth 236802, which will feature demonstrations of C.O.R.E. panels on a Magerle MFP30 five-axis grinding center, a Walter Helitronic Vision 400 tool grinding machine, and a Studer S31 universal cylindrical grinding machine.

Partnerships are always a big part of IMTS. This year is no different, with suppliers teaming with customers to improve the overall productivity of their equipment.

One such collaboration pairs filtration specialist Transor Filter USA, Arlington Heights, Ill., with Star Cutter, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based grinder manufacturer. The partners will demonstrate Transor's One Micron Filtration system on Star Cutter's line of equipment.

The filtration system can help produce both carbide and HSS cutting tools, according to Transor CEO Irv Kaage. "The combination of One Micron Filtration and temperature control (0.1º C) has maximized their productivity," Kaage said.

He added that Star Cutter will offer Transor as a filtration option on its specialized tool and cutter grinders such as the NXT, which also will be displayed. The automated NXT five-axis tool grinder will be equipped with a robot loader and flat blade/insert clamping fixture for a live demonstration of automated production.

Transor can be found at Booth 237440, while Star Cutter is in Booth 237013.

Vendors also are using IMTS to cross-market their wares, including equipment typically used in the medical industry.

Oakland, N.J.-based Royal Master Grinders Inc. (Booth 236626) is introducing a "new concept" to the machine tool world: automated needle point grinding. The grinder is currently used in the medical device industry for orthopedics, but the company is looking to expand into industrial manufacturing applications such as core pins for injection molding.

"We’re bringing this grinder to IMTS 2022 to open up new markets for us," said John Memmelaar, vice president at Royal Master. "It has strong potential in a lot of new applications and maybe a couple we haven't considered yet."

Meanwhile, Medical Manufacturing Technologies (MMT), a provider of medical device manufacturing solutions, has expanded its equipment portfolio to include electrochemical and centerless grinding applications, catheter laminators, and catheter tipping, cutting, drilling, and punching technologies.

"We are excited to showcase the grinding and cutoff technologies available under the MMT banner," said Robbie Atkinson, CEO of Charlotte-based MMT (Booth 237307).

The company's Glebar and Tridex brands, he added, are "recognized throughout the industry for precision, quality, and reliability."

The Abrasive/Sawing/Finishing pavilion will house some powerful heavy-duty grinders. The equipment is impressive in terms of both hardware and software.

Ferndale, Mich.-based Unison Corp., for example, offers its Model 3000, a five-axis CNC profile grinder that uses the company's EZ Software to customize and modify tool geometry with an HMI that is operated by a "fill-in-blanks" model and then verifying the part by using the machine's real-time 3D Parts Predictor.

The Model 3000's computer control monitors machine functions and alerts the operator to problems encountered during grinding. It can be networked and monitored via the internet and features a remote connect system.

The unit is designed for tool blank preparation and can rough and finish grind in one pass with its 9,000 rpm and 10,000 rpm direct-drive spindles. The grinder features Yaskawa AC Drive Amplifiers and servomotors, as well as an Automatic Pick-n-Place Parts Loader/Unloader for continuous grinding. Showgoers can see the system in action at Booth 236630.

Steve Yulga, director of sales and marketing for DoAll Sawing Products of Savage, Minn., said the company has improved several products. IMTS attendees can "gain a better understanding of how our sawing products can help them streamline their sawing operations," he added, by visiting DoAll at Booth 237067.

DoAll's SC-150A circular saw is designed for high-volume throughput and can cut a range of metals. The cold saw offers automatic operation, fully digital controls, and features solid, heavy-duty construction—providing more rigidity and reduced vibration—resulting in higher cutting rates, exceptional accuracy, superior surface finish, and increased blade life, according to the company.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Cosen Saws International Inc. (Booth 236931) will display band saws with the company's V_Drive technology. Working with a PLC and software, the system adjusts machine amperage based on material density to improve cutting efficiency.

The Cosen G320 band saw, which is used to cut different grades of aluminum, can now cut harder, denser materials such as titanium, Hastelloy, and other nickel-based metals. The G320 also features Smart NC-100 technology that is programmable for as many as 100 different jobs, including quantity and length of cut. The controls automatically compensate for kerf loss and don't need repeated manual calculation to index.

Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Worcester, Mass., has developed several new products to support the metalworking industry's changing material requirements, said Will Lang, director, technical business development. One examples is Norton's Quantum Prime grinding wheels, which feature nano-crystalline ceramic grain. The technology "delivers exceptionally high grinding efficiency and part quality, as well as significantly longer wheel life than traditional ceramic grains," Lang said.

Norton's Abrasive Process Solutions (APS) program can determine the most optimal grinding or finishing system for an application. The APS Program, along with the APS Robotic Automation Cell, provides abrasive process development, optimization, automation, and in-house testing.

"With the development of new, harder-to-grind materials, tighter finishing specifications, and a move toward more automated and controlled manufacturing processes, we need to adapt to meet the needs of our customers," Lang said. "To address these needs, we continually develop custom solutions that improve the performance of grinding processes."

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Larry Adams