Post-show report: highlights of IMTS-84 Essay

The biennial exhibition of the machine-tool industry–theInternational Machine Tool Show–conclluded in mid-September withexhibitors and editors giving the event high ratings in almost everyrespect.

Attendance did not quite set a new record for Chicago’sMcCormick Places East and West and at the O’Hare Exposition Center(about 97,000, according to the show’s sponsors, the NationalMachine Tool Builders’ Association). But interviews with hundredsof exhibitors left little doubt that those in attendance were seriouslyshopping for metalworking equipment, tooling, and new ideas on how tomake their operations more productive and more competitive. Most exhibitors we talked to had a special glow from their ordercommitments that ranged from at least several, to scores of machines.In addition, the inquiries they were taking home promised to developinto many more orders after the show. Even though the US machine-tool industry has yet to fully recoverfrom its business slump suffered over the past several years, the highlevel of interest and requests for quotations did much to generatepositive attitudes, if not genuine optimism, about a pickup inmachine-tool business in the near future. The show had a record numberof US exhibitors either marketing foreign product lines or working undercooperative ventures with foreign builders.

The positive buying mood was explained this way by one exhibitor,”At IMTS-82, people would come into the booth once, walk around,and leave. Now, they looked at a specific machine, left for a while tocheck out our competition, and then returned to take a closer look. Theywere ready to buy!” A small, Swiss builder of a very specialized machine toolcomplained of a problem he had not experienced for quite some time at atrade show. “With orders for 20 machines, I will now have to goback home and arrange financing, so I can build them all!” From the standpoint of iron on display and the engineering behindit, IMTS-84 can best be described as innovative.

The aim of mostexhibitors was to show how to increase productivity, turn out productsof assured quality every time, and use state-of-the-art technology tothe greatest extent possible. Although it is not possible to review here the products of everyexhibitor, what follows is our assessment of those IMTS-84 examples ofmetalworking’s leading innovations. For a more extensive listingof all exhibits, see Tooling ; Production’s August IMTS-84 ShowIssue with a record number of machine and tool descriptions. Flexibility That’s what nearly everyone at IMTS-84 was trying todemonstrate–their ability to crowd under the growing FMS umbrella. Thephrase “We can be very, very flexible” was heard everywhereyou stopped. People were particularly flexible in defining flexiblemanufacturing.

Everything from simple tooling accessories to massivemegabuck monoliths bore the FMS logo. They seemed to be saying that ifyou really wanted it, they could tailor a system for you with all theflexibility money could buy. An FMS for today Certainly, most of the people walking the aisles did not have anapplication for the major FMS systems on display.

Impressive, yes, butto them it was simply overkill. It was beyond the limits of theircharge cards. They simply wanted a road map on how to move from thestandalone machining centers of today toward the flexible supersystemsof tomorrow in simple, easy, and affordable steps. People want freedom from tooling headaches.

They want tools thatlast longer and cut more chips per minute, and systems thatautomatically monitor for wear and breakage. They want systems thattell plant management exactly what’s going on–a confirmation thateverything’s running just fine or a warning that they need to getinvolved right away. Modular software is an answer to custom tailoring a system to anapplication. Being able to put pieces of existing field-tested softwaretogether, rather than starting from scratch, is a distinct competitiveadvantage.

Hanspeter Schwartz, president, Jones ; Lamson Div, Textron Inc,is confident that starting with a basic FMS cell is the only practicaland affordable way to work yourself up to full-fledged systems.”I’ve heard people say that you should figure on $1 millionper machine for a total flexible line, yet an FMS cell can be obtainedfor less than half that. It’s just like CAD/CAM. CAD is wellaccepted, but it will be a long time before it really starts drivingCAM. The only good CAD/CAM examples today are home grown and veryproprietary.” According to J;L, the key markets for fully automated FMS cellsare aircraft, munitions, bearing, and other automotive-supplierindustries. And the key feature they want is the ability to monitor thetool during the cut.

The FMS cell must get the part to the machine,load it into the chuck, change and store tools, respond to codes, sensetool wear and offset for it, and also monitor tool condition–not justreact to tool failure but anticipate it and correct for it before thathappens. A good example of this was the Kennametal Inc display. It combineda J;L Delta 316B FMC flexible turning center with roboticload/unload, universal programmable interfacing, and a Kennametaltooling system with automativ visual tool-offset and tool-conditionsensing. For more information on the tooling system from Kennametal,circle E100, or information on the Delta 316B from J;L, circle E101. Explains J;L’s Schwartz, “The use of video ratherthan probes here for tool-condition sensing is unique and represents athird generation system. (The first FMS cell, we introduced at theHanover Show in ’81; the second, our block-tool system, atIMTS-82.) This advanced level of tool monitoring is essentiallywhat’s on our latest machine that GM Saginaw bought for theirfactory of the future.

It can interface on the high end with FMSs likethose at GM or be used as a stand-alone machining cell for job shopsthat need more automation and control.” Flexible systems To Cincinnati Milacron, flexibility is a full line of machine toolsthat can function as stand-alones, modular cells, or full-scale flexiblemanufacturing systems. The challenge as envisioned by Milacron’sJames E Kroencke, vice president, machine tools, is to find “realanswers to the problems facing metalworking managers today: How toincrease productivity, deal with the diminishing skilled-labor supply,reduce inventory, improve quality, shorten lead times, and meet themarket demands for variety and change.” The emphasis in their booth was on practical, stand-alone cellswith relatively simple technology and low initial cost that could beexpanded later into multiple-machine cells or full-fledged FMSs with allattendant material-handling and computer control. Their three-unitflexible manufacturing cell tied together a turning center with 84-toolATC and ID/OD probing, a vertical machining center, and a horizontalmachining center. The machines were linked by a three-axis robot on a44-ft horizontal track that could interface with a system load/unloadstation or be extended for additional machines.

The demonstration partwas a 6″-dia steel tube that was turned (ID and OD, both ends),milled, drilled, tapped, and bored. For more information on theMilacron FMS cell, circle E102. Horizontal nucleus Compatibility of a machining center to the FMS environment wasstressed at the Ex-Cell-O booth. They fell the wrong approach is taking1960’s “iron” and hanging on FMS accessories because thisseldom achieves full FMS potentials and demands significant humanattention. Their FlexCenter Series 20 machining centers feature plug-inperipherals, including multiple pallet-handling systems, multiplespindle-head handling and changing systems, flow-through chipmanagement, and a variety of monitoring and diagnostic systems includingvision, Figure 1. The system shown was based on the 35-hp Model 320horizontal-spindle CNC machine. It demonstrated rough milling,precision boring, contouring, and the multidrilling and tapping ofcomplex hole geometries.

The automatic pallet changer with eight-palletconveyor presented a variety of pump bodies and transmission casingswithin the pallet system’s 1-m-sq part envelope. Tool capacity was 256, based on four interchangeable 64-tool toolconveyors that were changed automatically. An elaborate head-changingsystem consisted of a two-position headchanger that could be linked witheither a six-position head-storage turret (not shown) or the virtuallyunlimited storage system demonstrated with its robot-gantry storage andretrieval of 16 drilling/tapping head arrays. It also included avisual-inspection station to verify all drills and taps in each headconfiguration. Other features included visual part identification, zero-backlashcontouring table, electronic probing, broken and dull-tool sensing,diagnostics, and high-speed spindle options to 40,000 rpm. For moreinformation, circle E103. Turn around the clock At George Fischer Machine Corp, the emphasis was on unattendedproduction in a turning cell, bringing automated manufacturing to low-and mid-volume applications where workpiece variety resembles that of atypical job shop.

A gantry robot can pick up disc-shaped parts lyingflat in a seven-tier Euro-pallet stack and swing them into the verticalplain for chucking without intermediate depositing and repicking themup. After machining the part on one end for end above the spindle axisand rechuck the part quickly. After machining, the robot presents thepart to a postprocess gaging station before returning it to the properpallet. The gantry parts loader also changes chuck jaws automatically froma freestanding jaw magazine of up to 12 cassette-type jaw options,Figure 2. A second gantried carriage, on the same guideways as thepart/chuck-jaw loader, has double grippers to handle tool changing,shuttling between a 120-unit drum-type tool magazine and a six-positiontool turret. Each new tool is automatically gaged by a universaltwo-dimensional touch-trigger probe, automatically offsetting fordifferences between command position and tool-edge position. For moreinformation, circle E104. Prismatic modularity At Fritz Werner’s display, the accent was on a modularresponse to a family of 2-ft-cube prismatic parts, Figure 3.

A DFZ 500duplex cell of two horizontal machining centers was linked by a gantryrobot that also serves a parts washer. This system can handle up toeight different parts in parallel, with a cell computer downloadingprograms to handle machine, tool, and work changes. The robot loadsmachine-tool magazines by part number, and worn or broken tools arereplaced automatically. One operator presets tools, sets up workpieces on standard modularfixtures, enters the part numbers into the computer, and sets up thecell for unattended third-shift operation. Machine utilization rates of90 percent are possible. Another important capability of this system is graphic off-machineprogram verification–simulating mill, drill, and bore operations toassure maximum utilization without tying up the cellhs machines forcostly cut-and-try programming modification.

For more information,circle E105. Tombstone batching A Toyoda flexible machining cell tied two 7000-rpm horizontalmachining centers to a six-pallet pool accessible to either machine. Thesystem automatically shuttles pallets for loading/unloading, holding,searching, and verifying part programs based on reading encoded palletinformation. Tombstone-type fixturing can vertically stack five different partswithin a part family on a single fixture plate.

Hydraulicpositive-pressure part clamps are de-energized via a closed-circuitsystem on each pallet for free movement about the pool without the needfor hydraulic lines or couplings. For more information, circle E106. Observed Michael Wicken, executive vice president and generalmanager, Toyoda Machinery USA Inc, “Few people know that in Japan,Toyoda has designed and implemented over 40 flexible systems. Over thenext two years, our major emphasis will be on small machining cells–twoto five machines–because frankly, this is where the market will be forthe rest of the 1980s.” Flexible assembly Start of the General Electric booth was a nonsynchronousmanufacturing cell, Figure 4, created from scratch by GE engineers in 16weeks to demonstrate the production of rotor-fan assemblies fordishwashers (and destined for their Louisville Appliance Park plant).Although primarily exhibiting the successful linking of CAD to CAM, italso was flexible enough to be easily reprogrammed to assemble othersimilar shaft products. After machining of the rotor, robotic assembly of rotor to shaft,and laser welding of rotor to shaft, the robot palletized this unitvertically for passage into the assembly loop.

The assembly operationsinclude adding a hub, washer, fan blade, sleeve, press-fitting hub andfan to shaft, removal of assembly from pallet for visual inspection, andfinally reloading on an exit conveyor. The three-camera visual inspection system verifies rotor contour(including OD to [plus-or-minus] 0.001″), part position,rotor/shaft weld, distance from end of shaft to end of rotor, and thenlogs and statistically processes the results. A remote FactoryScannersystem monitors the entire machining and assembly cell using the GEnet local area communications network. For more information, circle E107. A beehive of activity At the Mazak booth, the Mazatrol FMS system incluldedcomputer-controlled automatic storage and retrieval of 45 pallets from athree-high vertical storage rack serving two machining centers.

Themachines demonstrated a new Tool-Hive robotic tool storage and exchangetechnique that can store up to 480 tools in 14-tool-high vertical rackson rollers. Also contributing to flexibility was the new Slant Turn ATC millingcenter that combines conventional turning with boring, milling,drilling, and tapping operations–all in a single setup. Two models areoffered, 15 hp and 25 hp, with spindle speeds to 3000 rpm and 16-toolATCs. For more information, circle E108. Flexible machining The contribution to flexible cell technology shown by Maho MachineTool Corp was its FMC 5 HS (high-speed spindle) cell which had an IrobosCNC workpiece-handling robot, an automated pallet changer, amultiple-station pallet-shuttle system, and 120-tool magazine, Figure 5.The center featured multiaxis contouring, tool-life monitoring,photoelectric broken-tool detection, and a turntable load/unload stationfor random sequencing of workpieces.

Several such cells can beinterfaced to a host computer. For more information, circle E109. Flexible gear manufacture Liebherr Machine Tool introduced a flexible gear-cutting system,which intergrates a six-axis CNC hobber with a material-handling systemand a gantry loader/unloader, Figure 6. In operation, a mobilework-storage unit is presented to the system by either a forklift orwireguided cart. Each storage unit can contain up to eight pallets ofrandomly mixed work blanks.

As each pallet is pulled from the storage unit and positionedunderneath the gantry loader, nine photoelectric sensors identify theblanks and their positions. This information directs the gantry loaderand machine-tool CNC to execute necessary changeover routines, e.g.,swap in a new workholding fixture, replace the hob, change theloader’s gripper, enter another gear-cutting program, etc. For hob changing there isn’t enough room in the work area forthe gantry end effector to maneuver.

Here, the loader must bring a newtool close to the work area, then the machine’s CNC moves the hobhead out to make the exchange. Power monitoring is optional for detecting hob wear and triggeringtool changes; however, when using titanium-nitride coated hobs, triggersignals usually are too late for optimum tool life. With proper toolmanagement, optimum changing frequencies can be predicted and programmedinto the system, making a power monitor unnecessary. The hobbing machine CNC monitors for tool breakage, electrical andhydraulic failure, etc, and if detected will shut down the operation.The CNC can store 100 part programs.

A complete hardware and program changeover takes about 4 min. Thesystem’s flexibility permits cutting single-piece lot runs ofunrelated gears, or running a large lot run, completely untended. Theconcept also can be applied to gear shaping.

For more information,circle E110. Designed for efficiency According to Tom Shifo, general manager, WCI Manufacturing SystemsDiv, white Consolidated Industries Inc, their intent at IMTS-84 was toshow a complete FMS in microcosm. “The systems we build extendfrom robot cells through conveyor lines and automated guided vehicles upto those using shuttle cars for extremely large and heavy parts. WCIhas made a definite corporate and financial commitment to the future ofautomated manufacturing, and we realize that future is in the hands ofthe customers we satisfy today.” The show system combined a 25-hp CNC machining center (OM2AOmnimill), CNC turning center (Bullard 6000), automated stacker crane,tool-management system, and linking automated guided vehicles.Completely unmanned, the system’s central controller coordinatedall activity in real time. On the Omnimill, telemetry probing confirmedpart ID, fixture position, and dimensional features machined totolerance.

A table probe checked for broken tools, and an adaptivecontrol maintained optimum cutting efficiency and sensed tool wear. Formore information, circle E111. In-house it first Part of a $6-million two-machine FMS system they are installing intheir Cleveland plant was demonstrated by Lucas Machine Div, LittonIndustries. They estimate they system will cut their production costsby 50 percent, producing machine parts while it serves as an R&Dmodel for future FMS centers tailored to customer needs. The 20-hp machining center from this FMS was on display, with31″-sq pallets of 6000-lb capacity and a 60-tool vertical tooldrum.

The toolholders in the drum are bar coded to verify that thecorrect tool is in each slot by spinning the wheel one revolution,Figure 7. A pick-and-place robot inserts and removes tools from the drumto automated guided vehicles that link with a digital tool presetterthat has an accuracy of 0.005″. For more information, circle E112. Tool warehousing Probably the best example of total flexibility and unattendedoperation was the LeBlond Makino FMS where the warehousing of bothworkpieces and tools is totally automated (each has its own cart system)and of near-infinite capacity. The warehousing of pallets was notdisplayed but stacking systems in the field approach 1500-palletcapacities. This is a system designed to manufacture many kinds of parts insmall-to medium-sized lots.

The tool warehousing system displayed hadover 1000-total capacity, stacked in a huge storage carousel 9 toolshigh (three sets of 3-tool carriers). The 3-tool carriers areautomatically retrieved from warehouse storage, reassembled, and loadedinto one of five slots in the automated vehicle’s carousel, Figure8. The cart then transfers the assembled tooling to the carousel of themachining center requesting the tooling, loading its toolchangercarousel without interrupting machining cycles. For more information,circle E113.

Low-cost turning Certainly one of the more remarkable innovations at the show wasthe MagnaTurn CNC lathe introduced by South Bend Lathe Inc. While nottechnically an FMS, it challenged directly some of the basicphilosophies of highly automated manufacturing system: turning centersdon’t have to cost $80,000 and they don’t need electricservos. The MagnaTurn’s $45,000 price tag is the result of two keydevelopments.

Instead of purchasing an $18,000 CNC control, they boughtan IBM personal computer (straight off the shelves at Computerland) andintegrated it into their machine. What better way to get high computingpower at low cost than with one of the highest volume PCs around? Secondly, they got rid of expensive ball screw drives by developinga proprietary closed-loop hydraulic servo that drives both the spindleand all machine axes. Hydraulics offer high spindle torque at lowspeed, fast reversals, and no adverse effects of repeated reversals. According to Jack Durham, president, South Bend Research Inc, theircomputerized hydraulic system produces 2000 feedback signals/sec, hastotally eliminated hydraulic leaks, and has yet to experience a failureof any kind. They see applications in robots and machining centers asthe next step. For more information, circle E114.

Quality Quality was what nearly everyone at the show wanted, but you haveto be able to measure it before you can manufacture it. Two majortrends here were the development of sophisticated (yet user friendly)packages for measuring parts, and the integration of probes intomachining-and turning-center automation. Nearly everyone offered some type of probing option, and someleading manufacturers said they sold three out of four of their machineswith probing systems. Noncontact methods of measuring on the machinestruggled to compete, but they are still limited to single- or two-planemeasurements and can cost up to five times as much as contact methods.Until they can “see” in three dimensions, their special brandof precision will lose out to simpler mechanical probes. General Electric demonstrated a research development (headed forproduction use by their Aircraft Engine Business Group) that enables aCNC lathe to use the cutting tool itself to measure part dimensionsbefore it makes the final cut, Figure 9. It is based on piezoelectricsensors in the toolholder. GE hopes to add vision soon to detect brokentools and further reduce the need for operator involvement in automatedmachining.

For more information, circle E131. At the Jones & Lamson Metrology Products booth, they weredemonstrating their Vertic computerized video-inspection station thatcan measure to 0.000 05″ in milliseconds. It has dual floppy discdrives, two 12″ video monitors (for simultaneous part viewing andtext display), and programming that is operator friendly.

“The Vertic enables a job shop to produce and sell certifiedparts to automotive and aerospace applications,” explained J&Lpresident Hanspeter Schwartz. “That’s where the future of thejob shop lies. We are dedicated to piecepart inspection with as muchautomation as the state of the art allows. For more information, circleE132. “We see metrology as our number one growth industry, not justfor J&L, but for Textron.

It will have a much higher growth ratethan our other machine-tool product lines. It’s interesting thatour Vertic people were at first dismayed to be by themselves inMcCormick West, rather than part of the J&L main-floor exhibit. Butthe play they got from the pressroom and job-shop people showed thatthere is a real awakening for easily programmed automated inspectionequipment.” At Brown ; Sharpe, a recent major decision was to get out ofthe machining-center business and use their technology inmetrology–precision metal measurement instead of metalcutting. So theydeveloped the process control robot (PCR), a pedestal-type automatichighspeed coordinate measuring machine aimed at FMS and machining cellsystems, Figure 10. They key to fast measurements and flexibility isbeing able to move the measuring arm quickly, and they expect to reachfast-traverse speeds of 20 ips soon.

The CMM approach provides independent verification of accuracy, andPCR can measure a wide variety of parts as they are produced, checkingall five sides of the part in seconds. It stores data for trendanalysis, notifying the system’s host computer when processingchanges need to be made. Accuracy is [plus-or-minus] 0.0004″anywhere in the volumetric envelop covered by the (up to) seven-axisrobotic arm.

For more information, circle E133. At Digital Techniques, they were demonstrating the most popularmethod of transmitting touch-probe data from probe to CNC: infraredtelemetry. They offer a three-element package: a variety of probes withbattery-powered IR transmitter, an IR receiver (mounted up to 300 ftaway), and an interface board to connect to your CNC control.Repeatability [plus-or-minus]0.

000 030″ with a 50-mm ceramic stylus and factory-preset force setting of 75 grams. The probe can be stored in the tool magazine like any other tooland be used to locate parts, sense surfaces, find hole centers, probefor broken drills, assist in tool setting/verification, and measurelength, depth, and diameter. For more information, circle E134.

Basic measurement Quality Measurement Systems Corp demonstrated an interestingmeasurement system developed by Helios of West Germany. It’s ashaft-measuring center for the production shop, Figure 11. Like aprecision lathe, it has two slides, a variety of probes, and a digitalreadout. Measuring resolution ranges from 0.0002″ to 0.000040″, depending on the measuring.

Four sizes are available with maximum center-to-center distancesranging from 5.9″ to 55″ and maximum diameters of either3.15″ or 6.

3″. The system can measure diameter, length,depth, gear pitch, camshaft profile, taper, grooves, IDs, andcopy-template profiles. For more information, circle E135. Fabrication This was the year when the flexible fabricating system or FFS really came into its own with stand-alone manufacturing cells displayingan ability to handle a wide variety of fabricated parts. The trend toapply CNC to everything that moves or adjusts–in hopes of boostingproductivity or reducing labor-content and operator-skillrequirements–was even more evident than in prior years. This year, robots and robot-like material-handling devices movedsolidly into the fabricating business.

Mechanical manipulators wereused for everything from multiple transfer operations within amanufacturing cell to blank holding during multiple bending on a pressbrake. Over the years, many manufacturers of fabrication equipment feltthat they were not as well received as some of their chipmaking cousinswhen it came to show goer interest and buying activity. Even so most ofthem have hung in there recognizing that even with its emphasis oncutting, being at IMTS was better than not being at IMTS. This year most exhibitors of fabrication equipment came away fromthe show with a good feeling as most displays got good traffic. Mostvisitors came looking to find new equipment to meet real needs and solveimmediate problems rather than just looking to learn. A number of integrated systems and novel individual pieces ofequipment help to illustrate the state of the art in metal-fabricationmachinery displayed at the show.

System flexibility Strippit/Di-Arco Houdaille demonstrated a flexible fabricatingsystem featuring the FC 1000 III and Blanking Center CNC Right AngleShear integrated with material handling/transferring, and parts sorting,Figure 12. Parts of various sizes were punched in a single worksheetand then separated by shearing, all in one continuous operation. Anautomatic loader moved each worksheet off the supply stack into a readyposition while the previous sheet was being fabricated. The turrethole-punching machine was the pivotal component of the flexible system,and featured increased hit speeds, travel speeds, and tooling capacity. With te blanking center and its CNC/CRT control, parts were nestedon the worksheet for maximum yield from each piece of material andmatched to worksheet inventory sizes to reduce inventory costs.

Aparts-sorting conveyor system channeled common parts into holding binsfor transfer to further finishing and forming operations, and sorted outall scrap as it came from the shear. FAB V turret-press software is compatible with the Apple, IBM, andRadio Shack lines of personal computers, and features geometric-shapemacro commands, tool sorting and run-time calculations, absolute andincremental offset, and permanent memory for frequently used patterns. Strippit/Di-Acro also introduced a new, high-powered laser calledLaser-tool that adds the versatility of laser cutting to turret holepunching. The laser is the new Turbolase T1500, a high-powercarbon-dioxide laser that offers kilowatt-class performance in a compactpackage. For more information, circle E140. Rotary flexibility Trumpf America has added a third axis of operation to its modelTrumatic 180 WD CNC punching machine. A new tool adaptor permits theautomatic rotation of any tool to any required angle by program command,Figure 13.

The Rotary Ram increases the application potential of eachtool. The operator no longer has the time-consuming task of settingshaped tools into special die adaptors. The machine simultaneously positions the punch and die to therequired angle at a speed of 200 degrees/sec. The Rotary Ram isprogrammable in 0.01-degree increments. Indexing is bidirectional through 360 degrees and takes place during material positioning formaximum speed. For more information, circle E115.

Just-in-time fabrication A CIM-flexible fabricating system, introduced by W A Whitney,includes the 647 ATC-Fab-Cell. The company’s message was that”just-in-time” fabrication can be a reality whether complete,unmanned flexible fabricating systems or individual Fab-Cells betterserve a particular customer’s needs. They highlighted new software with an automatic nesting system toimplement the user’s daily fabrication needs in the mostcost-effective way. It does this by analyzing machine production rates,labor costs, inventory control, and material utilization cost variablesto determine how different parts, in various multiples, can be nested atrandom for production at the lowest possible cost. Just-in-time fabrication and appropriate lot sizes (productionmatched to demand) are made possible by means of the Whitney 647 ATCFab-Cell system, which includes automatic nesting, automatic feeding ofraw material blanks, plasma-arc cutting, an automatic tool-change robotwith tool storage/management system for 80 tools, and automaticunloading and sorting of small parts and scrap. For more information,circle E116. Automated press feed “A first-hand look at the metalforming shop of thefuture” was how Tranemo Corp described its display.

Center stagewas what the firm termed an integrated Flexible Press System (FPS)featuring a hydraulic press with robot parts handling, automated diechanging, and computer control. The press can be fed by a combinationcoil straightener/feeder from the side of the frame, or it can be fedwith blanks loaded on a wagon pallet at the front of the press. Blanksare fed automatically by a new robot parts-handling system called theFlexarm 1800, Figure 14. Developed by Tranemo, the system consists of two electric-driverobot arms; one mounted at the front of the press for loading and asecond mounted at the rear for extracting completed parts. Both armsare controlled by an integral computer. Suction cup grippers can liftup to 60 lb. Feed length and speed are adjustable. The Flexarm system may be used with a broad range of existingmechanical and hydraulic presses.

Production capacity is oftenincreased by 40 percent or more depending on the application and volumeof parts. When not in use, the robot arms can be positioned away fromthe work area for manual load/unload operation. A programmable automatic die changer, on a moving pallet, shuttlesto and from the press inserting and removing dies weighing up to 11,000lb. Since dies are changed from the side of the frame, in-line feedingof multiple press installations is possible. The Tranemo tool-clampingsystem automatically secures the die to the press bed without usingbolts or other conventional clamping devices. Return-flange toolingcombines up to eight bending operations into one press movement, makingit especially useful in manufacturing panels, doors, and similarcomponents.

For more information, circle E117. Automated blank loading Schuler introduced a new and more sophisticated third generationloader/unloader called the Handler II-2. This unit is said to greatlyincrease the potential of automation systems on existing press lines.It can be used with supplementary equipment such as blank loaders,transport units, turn-over devices, and rest stations for totalpress-line automation. It can also be employed as a device for loadingor unloading any press in a line. Controls for Handler II-2 include a new generation, closed-loopservo-axis package and on-board programmable control logic for operatorinterface and machine device monitoring. Speed and acceleration areprogrammable, as is dwell time at travel end points. A major pressbuilder, Schuler manufacturers machines for nearly all areas ofmetalforming including deep drawing, blanking, minting, perforating,impact extrusion, fluid forming, and metal flow forming to near netshape.

For more information, circle E118. Thickness compensation Scanam-Donewell introduced a new CNC, multiaxis press brake, whichincorporates Y-1 and Y-2 axes that provide control to each end of theram, individually, by linear scales. Material thickness compensationautomatically resets ram travel when material varies end to end.Antideflection mounting of the linear encoders assures[plus-or-minus]0.0005″ repeatability of the ram. The brake can beprogrammed at the control or off-line. At their IMTS booth, a robot part handler was used to operate theCNC press brake. This unit was equipped with specially designed springand piston-loaded suction cups to permit the grippers to follow thenonlinear upward motion of the formed blank.

The application ofrobotics to press brake operation is said to dramatically increaseproductivity while reducing production costs. Robots are available insingle-station floor units or as overhead gantry systems to serve anumber of machines. Another interesting product introduced by Scanam-Donewell was agraphics control for the Donewell CNC press brake. The CNC 7000 seriescontrol leads the operator through the bending sequence, permittingdirect angle programming. It displays the part shape as the operatorproduces the program. With its 128k memory, the unit can store programsfor up to 262 parts with as many as 524 total bend sequences and amaximum of 24 bends per part. For more information, circle E119.

Press features Behrens Machine Co displayed their new Model 625L turret punchpress equipped with an integral Coherent Model EFA-50, 650-Wlaser-cutting system. This systems also included the Behrens Model IBH user-friendly CNC control and an automatic unloading front partsconveyor. For more information, circle E120. Summit Machine Tool Mfg Corp introduced a 55-ton hydraulic pressbrake with what is said to be the most advanced hydraulic cylinder design to achieve an absolute straight line of bend. According toSummit, it eliminates inaccurate bending that is commonly caused by acombination of deflection of the ram and table, and uneven wear on toolsin conventional machines. Summit says it has overcome these problems inits family of press brakes by the placement and adjustment of thecylinders.

For more information, circle E121. Rousselle Presses Inc introduced a new line of press brakes whichmarks its first entry into this type of equipment. Introduced were two,4-ft brakes with capacities of 25 and 40 tons, and 8, 10 and 12 ftmodels available in 90 or 135 tons.

Rousselle claims a significantdesign difference in these press brakes is the use of hydrauliccylinders over–not at the ends of–the slide. This deflection-freefeature results in a square and parallel workpiece over its entirelength. For more information, circle E122. Hydra-Tool Corp introduced a new press brake and a new shear attheir display. The HTC 22-ton, 4-ft press brake uses a single cylinderto power the ram and a heavy torque tube assures parallel movement. Thedepth positioning of the ram is controlled by two positive mechanicalstops that are infinitely adjustable with a handwheel. For moreinformation, circle E123.

A new programmable punch rated at 125 tons, shown by Hill Acme, canhandle a variety of plate sizes to 18″ X 36″ and thickness upto 1″. Stroke length is 2″ with 30 strokes/min possible in1/2″ stock. For more information, circle E124. The Peddimat CNC plate-processing center demonstrated byPeddinghaus Corp included both drilling and burning stations in oneunit. It can process material up to 2″ thick and 24″ wide inunlimited lengths.

Peddinghaus says that increased productivity isachieved by combining many labor-intensive processes into onefabrication center requiring only one operator. It is designed forone-pass fabrication of connection, gusset, and base plates. For moreinformation, circle E125.

EDM Displays featuring electrical-discharge equipment were among thebusiest and best attended at the show. The major emphasis centered onnew, more sophisticated control systems to permit greater flexibility inpart production and to reduce to eliminate the need for operatorattention while the equipment is running. Many manufacturers were alsoanxious to show off beefed-up power supplies that, they say, will permitthe newer machines to remove metal up to twice as fast as older modelswithout measurably affecting accuracy or the finish of the cut surface. Wire-cutting machines tended to be larger and more powerful withsignificantly faster cutting rates.

New ram machines tended towardsmaller units to provide lower cost machines to serve the lighter-dutyend of the market and bring EDM within the reach of the smaller shops. Nearly all new machines feature CNC control. Many ram units offerautomatic tool (electrode) changers and are suitable for untendedoperation. The Elox Div, Colt Industries, featured a robotized FMS cell usingtwo EDM units to produce a turbine blade from a workpiece blankmeasuring 3/4″ X 1″ X 2″.

The cell includes a high-speedwire-cut system, a vertical ram machine with four-axis CNC control, amultichannel power supply, an automatic toolchanger, and a GMF-M1A robotfor loading, unloading, and transferring workpieces. Production began with the robot loading the workpiece blank intothe wire-cut system that trimmed the ends and then cut the blade rootsection. A skim cut was taken to produce a fine surface finish afterthe part was indexed 90 degrees. The robot then transferred the part to the vertical CNC systemwhere a female electrode formed the blade section.

The last step was machining a series of holes into the edge of theblade with a row of fine cylindrical electrodes, after which the robotmoved the finished part to a washing station and then to a container. Other introductions included four high-speed wire-cut machines withpower supplies that permit cutting speeds up to 220 cu mm/min; a new,Model SP high-precision wire-cut system for dimensional accuracies to0.0002″; and a touch-display CRT system for simplified operation.For more information, circle E126. Filling the gap According to Randall L Bormann, national product manager, AgietronCorp, “The tool and die shop that doesn’t have EDM won’tbe able to stay in business, and the moldmaking shop that doesn’treplace conventional EDM with CNC EDM will be noncompetitive.” Bormann said the latest advances involve four areas: automation ofthe equipment, greatly increased cutting speed, significant improvementsin contouring capabilities, and improved surface quality. “Becausemuch of the expertise we used to depend on the operator for is nowpreprogrammed into the computer, he only needs to define such workingparameters as wire material and diameter, workpiece material andthickness, surface finish requirement, and form tolerance. The computerwill not only tell what settings to use, it will recommend severaldifferent sets of settings and give the correction values for eachsetting.

” A new series of electrical-discharge machines introduced byAgietron feature improvements in cutting speed, automation, andcontouring capability. The cutting speed has been more than doubledwith reportedly no loss of cutting accuracy or quality of the cutsurface. This increase is made possibe by a new power supply designthat controls the spark-producing electrical impulse. New automation features allow untended multiple-workpiece machiningfor extended periods of time.

The only operator involvement is to setup the workpiece(s) in the machine tool and read the program into thecontroller. With its pivot-head system, this equipment can cut taperangles up to [plus-or-minus]30 degrees without repositioning of theworkpiece. The extended geometry of the computer software allowsprogramming one contour on the top surface of the workpiece and adifferent contour on the bottom surface. The computer will calculatethe required tapers along the sides and the machine tool will preciselyfollow the cutting path laid out by the computer. For more information,circle E127. The difficult made simple In another display, Sodick demonstrated EDMing with simpleelectrodes, showing what is possible when today’s technology ispushed to its limits. These demonstrations relied on four-axispositioning and contouring, automatic electrode redressing, andautomatic tool changing. In one demonstration, the Model CNC-1D cut a multihelical gearusing an uncomplicated graphite electrode, automatically changing fromroughing to finishing, and from pressure flushing to vacuum flushingduring the finishing cuts at each of 12 positions.

The larger Sodick A3C-R cut a spiral groove using an ordinaryball-nosed copper electrode, Figure 15. This pre-programmed operationincluded redressing of the electrode inside the work tank, thus allowingthe same electrode to be used for both roughing and finishingoperations. For more information, circle E128. Toolholding and workholding Toolholding and workholding devices have undergone only subtle,evolutionary design improvements over the years. Now, the demands ofadvanced-technology machining systems have speeded up this processgreatly. This was the case in many of the chucks, jaw changers, barpullers, vises, clamps, and toolholding systems on display at IMTS-84.

The advance of automated machining cells and flexible manufacturingsystems has pointed up the need for chucks with faster changeovercapabilities, and the versatility to handle a wide range of partdiameters. Also, since many shops engage in both tended and untendedmachining operations, these devices should also be capable of fastmanual gripping changes. Show examples An 18″ power-operated universal 3-jaw chuck from New Britain Machine, Figure 16, permits workholding changeovers in 2 min or less;this heavy-duty chuck is well suited to small-batch production runs andfrequent changeovers.

It features 1-1/2″ of master-jaw travel toaccommodate up to 3″ of change in chucking diameter. Top jaws andinserts are also available to expand gripping capacity to 15″. Formore information, circle E136. For fast jaw-changing requirement in automated machining cells, SMW Systems Inc offered new power chucks that allow the automaticsimultaneous changing of all three top jaws, by the same robot used forpart loading and unloading. With this system, top jaws are carried on an aluminum pallet, withthree slots spaced at 120-degree intervals. The robot grips the piloton the back of the pallet. This pilot is the same size as theworkpiece, so the robot’s gripper does not need replacing to beginjaw changeover. Chuck programming is handled through the machine’scontrol and requires no alteration to control software.

The systemallows the machining of several different parts in sequence withoutoperator intervention. For more information, circle E137. Even simple workholding items like vises, bar pullers, and clampscan stand periodic enhancing and improvement. The Multivise from JamesMorton, Figure 17, has three sets of stacked jaw plates, and eachindividual plate can move backward, forward, up, or down. This enablesthe vise to securely hold a wide range of odd- or circular-shapedworkpieces. It can be used as a jig for short-run applications.

Twomodels are available, with jaw capacities of 3″ and 6″. Formore information, circle E138. Increasingly innovative toolholders and toolholding systems haveemerged to meet the demands for more rapid set-up, higher torque, andfaster cutting speeds. New systems configured to both ID and ODapplications have also become available.

QCS Tool Systems Div, Illinois Tool Works Inc, claims their QCStoolholder system provides substantial reduction in downtime, highersetup repeatability, absolute concentricity, elimination of trial cuts,increased rigidity, and higher torque and cutting speeds. The system isbased on two mirror-image halves of a precision helical-generated gearset. One half of the gear set holds the tool for either ID or ODapplications, while the other half is attached to the machine with aretention system that clamps the halves together.

When interlocked, thecurved gear design is self-centering, and has position repeatabilitythat can be measured in millionths of an inch. The elimination of theshank common in traditional toolholding arrangements results in highertorque transmission, reduced weight, increased cutting speeds, andimproved accuracy. For more information, circle E139. Automated tooling system GE Carboloy’s new MATS modular automated tooling systemincorporates toolholders with two industry-standard designs. On theturret end is a rotary-type tool-mounting system known as the CATV-flange tapered shank, and on the workpiece end, a conventional turningor boring toolholder head. This allows the use of familiar turning-toolconfigurations and economical precision-pressed indexable-carbideinserts.

MATS components can be applied to both horizontal and verticalturning centers, as well as machining centers, Figure 18. They can besupplied for manual, semiautomatic, or automatic operations. For fullyautomatic system applications, toolchangers can be supplied in stylesfor both open-bed and slant-back lathe configurations. Tool-storagemagazines for use with fully automatic installations typically contain72 tool positions.

The magazines are removable from servo-indexer baseslocated at the machine, so they can be handled by robot-carriers orother handling equipment and interchanged among various machines withinthe plant. For more information, circle E141.

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