Additive Manufacturing Predictions for 2016

When new technology arrives on the scene, people often marvel at the expanded capabilities. Beyond the initial amazement however, the actual application of the new technologies are often slower to take off. That’s what has happened with additive manufacturing. As additive manufacturing technology continues to advance and become more mainstream, here’s how it is expected to change the industry in 2016:

Standardization:

Traditional manufacturing processes are here to stay, but that isn’t to say additive manufacturing won’t be seen in more shops. Additive manufacturing could bring about standardization of the industry, so that it is only used for creating products that aren’t attainable using existing methods. Standardization, which some organizations are looking at, could help streamline processes for manufacturers using additive manufacturing.

Skills Shortage:

With more new technology coming into play, the skills gap and demand for workers will only increase. This means there needs to be even more focus on training and recruiting workers for the field, not only in traditional machining methods, but additive processes as well.

Publicity:

When additive manufacturing appears in the news, often it’s talking about 3D cars, houses and other large, luxury items. However, these are far-reaching possibilities that give the public a twisted perception of this process.

Innovation:

Technology drives innovation, so there’s sure to be new and improved projects being made with additive manufacturing. This could help to transform the industry in ways previously thought impossible.

When looking at primarily metal printing, here’s what is expected to happen:

Metal Additive Manufacturing Focus:

There’s a lot of growth in this area, which is anticipated to become a huge focus of 3D printing in 2016. It’s expected to continue rapidly growing in 2016, with many businesses not previously involved now jumping in.

Automotive Industry:

It’s believed that in 2016, major carmakers will invest in direct metal printing. While indirect metal printing could grow within the automotive industry, large amounts of metal automobile components aren’t likely to be printed this year.

Small Footprint 3D Printing Systems:

For the last two years there was increased revenue growth from large-format metal systems sales. However, in 2016, smaller footprint systems could be shifted into the spotlight. Not only being used for research application but also for small-scale manufacturing opportunities.

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What to Know About Aerospace Machining

When machine shops decide to break into a new industry, such as aerospace machining, to gain a new source of income, they’ll have to do some research before they can be successful. They’ll most likely need to buy new machining equipment as well. When looking at getting into the aerospace machining industry, here are some facts to remember:

There are different part families that are divided into three groups:

Structural Components

Usually machined from aircraft grade aluminum and titanium, this category includes wing components, spars, door assemblies, brackets and more.  Since they range in size, the machines used to build these parts need to have the right table sizes. 3-axis machines are the most common choice for component parts, but some require 4 or 5-axis machines. Horizontal machining centers are preferred by many in this field to minimize cutting time.

Non-Structural Components

This groups includes valves, landing gear, pumps, and more. When creating these parts, precision and quality control are required. This is due to the fact that they are involved with the reliability and control of the aircraft. Machines needed for these are 5-axis and Swiss-style lathes.

Engine Components

These components include all of the stationary and rotating pieces found in the turbine and reciprocating engines. Made from high temperature alloys, they are complex in shape. The machines required are both turning and milling. These parts can also range in size from a few inches to over 10 feet in diameter.

When deciding what type of machine to purchase for aerospace machining, most machine shops choose horizontal machining centers over vertical machining centers. This is because HMCs provide superior chip control, automatic pallet indexing and rotation as part of their basic design. While more expensive than their vertical counterparts, their productivity outweighs expense.

No matter which machine is used, machine shops should keep in mind a few features:

  • Spindle horsepower
  • Tool changing capacity
  • Chip conveyor
  • Spindle coolant
  • Flood coolant

With so many features to consider when purchasing a new CNC machine for aerospace manufacturing, it’s best to consult a professional. Brooks Associates has served the aerospace machining industry for over 80 years, making them experts on the right machines for the job. They’ll find the perfect machine, as well as offer training and service.

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Defining Advanced Manufacturing

While America is focusing on measuring advanced manufacturing, it is important to determine what is defined as advanced manufacturing. The term popped up a few years ago, sparking confusion for some. Since it was introduced, many still cannot agree on how to define advanced manufacturing compared to traditional manufacturing.

Everyone in manufacturing has a different answer when asked what advanced manufacturing actually encompasses. It varies by country, region, and even sector and shop. There are a variety of factors to consider when deciding how to identify advanced manufacturing.

Many determine it by separating older and newer manufacturing industries. They think of traditional manufacturers such as auto, steel and industrial as not advanced, while the newer industries such as aerospace, medical devices, and pharmaceutical industries are considered advanced.

Others prefer to define it by focusing on what is made, whether the products feature the latest technology, require high levels of design and are technologically complex. Some extend that idea even further, to include how the product is made. They would argue that advanced manufacturing is defined not only by the technology used to make the product, but also by the technology inherent in the product. With this view, using any production technology such as advanced robotics, CAD, CAE, CAM for design, simulation and analysis, high performance computing, additive manufacturing and other intelligent systems for production with information technologies coordinating it falls into advanced manufacturing.

In addition, there are some who think management and leadership methodologies should be included in the definition. These methodologies being lean management, Six Sigma, supply chain integration, and advanced planning and scheduling. There’s also the basic science component to consider. Some say advanced manufacturing involves the rapid transfer of science and technology into manufacturing processes and products.

With all of these ways to identify advanced manufacturing, it can be difficult to determine the metrics to evaluate it. It has also lead to some sectors of manufacturing being under-valued and others over-valued. Finding a composite definition of advanced manufacturing will determine how it will be evaluated in terms of success. It will also help shaping public policy and business strategy.

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All About Lathes

Lathe machines are used for shaping and machining various cylindrical pieces made of hard material. They come in many different types depending on what material is being shaped or cut. Lathe machines can be especially helpful when producing pieces according to specifications.

Its main function is to remove material from a work piece through the use of cutting tools. It shapes the material by holding and rotating it as a cutting tool is advanced into it. It can produce many shapes and forms in various sizes and specifications.

The important elements when using a lathe are the rotating speed, cutting depth, and sending speed. These are decided based on the material, size and shapes of the part being made.

  • Rotating Speed: This is the number of rotations of the chuck of the lathe. When it is high, the processing speed is quick and the surface is finely finished. However, starting with a low rotating speed at the first stage can prevent operation mistakes.
  • Cutting Depth: This affects the processing speed and roughness of the surface. When the cutting depth is large, it’s faster but the surface temperature is increased, creating a rough surface.
  • Sending Speed: This also affects the processing speed and roughness of the surface. When the sending speed is high, the processing speed is faster. If the speed is low, the surface turns out better.

Lathe machines come in three general types. These are engine lathes, turret lathes, and special purpose lathes. Each has specific applications and distinctive characteristics.

Engine Lathes

This type of lathe machine is popular because it can be used for various materials. They can also be adjusted to variable speeds for a wide scope of work, and they come in various sizes. The main components of the engine lathe includes the bed, headstock, and tailstock. This setup makes them easier to use.

Turret Lathes

When machining single workpieces sequentially, this is the machine to use. This eliminates errors in work alignment making it extremely efficient. It also saves time, because there’s no need to transfer the piece to another machine.

Special Purpose Lathes

Usually these machines are used for heavy-duty production of identical parts. They also perform functions that standard lathes cannot.

Brooks Associates can find the right lathe for any shop. From installation to training and maintenance, Brooks is there through the entire process.  Visit their machining website to see the various brands and products they offer.

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Five Integrated Factors in High-Precision Machining

Manufacturers are always trying to find ways to improve their performance. Usually this is through eliminating downtime, minimizing scrap rates, ensuring consistency and producing high-performance precision parts at a reasonable price. When creating a manufacturing strategy to maximize profitability, manufacturers should consider these five factors:

  1. Machine Tools

When machining parts with high precision and accuracy, a highly important factor is the machine tool used. Manufacturers should utilize their machine tools to their full potential. Brooks Associates helps their customers to understand a machine’s full potential by offering training with machine purchases.

  1. Cutting Tools

When selecting cutting tools, manufacturers should be concerned with extending tool life. There are many advancements including tailored cutters, improved toughness, wear and thermal resistance. They should also consider the type of tool, and how it will affect the material being cut.

  1. Work Material

The material being cut is a major determiner in the selection of the machine tool, cutting tool, cutting fluid and machining parameters. This is because materials have different mechanical and thermal properties, which work better with certain tools. These should all be thought about and chosen cohesively for the best precision and quality.

  1. Cutting Fluid

Selecting the right cutting fluid for a specific job can reduce costs and improve performance at the same time. This can improve the quality of the surface finish as well. When choosing a fluid, manufacturers have the choice of using a straight-oil or a water-miscible fluid.

Straight oils are petroleum products made from crude oil. These offer the maximum amount of lubrication and the least cooling capacity. To improve performance they are often blended with additives.

When it comes to water-miscible fluids, there are three kinds that are widely used. These are soluble oil, synthetics, and semi-synthetics. Soluble oil is oil dispersed in water. It offers the greatest amount of lubrication of the three. Synthetics fully dissolve into water and are the most stable of the fluids. Semi-synthetics blend oil and synthetics for a combination of lubrication, stability, and cooling performance.

  1. Machining Parameters

The parameters of a machine, which include speed, feed depth of cut and cutter path should be taken into consideration when aiming for precision.

To continuously improve and manufacture more precise parts, manufacturers should understand how these five factors are integrated with each other. When they understand that, they can choose the best combination of tools, machines, materials and cutting fluid to increase their precision and ultimately their profitability.

Find the right precision machine tools by contacting Brooks Associates. Visit their website to see the wide variety of brands and machines they carry or ask them about scheduling a machine demo.

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The History of CNC Machines

CNC machining or Computer Numerical Control originally came from NC or just Numerical Control. NC machines didn’t necessarily use computers, they could be controlled by other factors. CNC machines control tools through a computer program.

When these machines first came on the scene, there was a large increase in productivity for machine tools because they could be run without requiring constant attention.

The first commercial NC machines, which ran from punched tape, were slow to catch on with manufacturers. To make them more popular, the US Army bought and loaned out 120 of these machines to manufacturers.

Even though the manufacturers began to familiarize themselves with these machines, there was a problem. Each manufacturer was pushing its own language for defining part programs, because a universal language didn’t exist.

During the 1960’s many developments helped to better these machines:

  • G-code language became standardized for part programs
  • CAD replaced paper drawings
  • Minicomputers became available making CNC cheaper and more powerful

The next decade brought slower economies and rising employment costs. This was a platform for CNC machines to begin replacing older technologies. Eventually, the Germans and Japanese caught on and became successful in the CNC machine industry.

Over the last few decades CNC machines have become even more advanced and easier to work with. Microprocessors have made CNC controls even cheaper. Learn more about the newest CNC machine technologies by visiting the Brooks Associates website.

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The New England Advantage

A recent report identified Connecticut and New England as having a distinct advantage over the rest of the nation as manufacturing continues to become more high-tech. This report “The Case for New England’s Manufacturing Revolution,” said the region benefits from highly skilled workers and an established network of suppliers and customers.
Designed to disprove the idea that manufacturing is a dying industry, the report also found that the median wage for advanced manufacturing jobs is between $70,000 and $80,000 per year. The industry has been showing strong numbers for a few years now.
In 2012, in the advanced manufacturing sector, Connecticut had 124,754 jobs out of the 376,517 in the entire New England region. The number of advanced manufacturing jobs in the area has to do with the high demand from the commercial aerospace sector.
There’s a backlog in orders of airplanes that will take many years to fill. Any airline that orders a Boeing 737 has a minimum wait of eight years before the aircraft can be delivered. Demand like that definitely helps keep the industry on its toes.
Many are confident that the industry will continue to provide jobs and contribute to the economy in the New England region. Brooks Associates continues to contribute to the New England advanced manufacturing industry by providing their customers with the machinery and service needed.

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