Today’s manufacturers are tasked with producing parts faster and better than ever. To meet the needs of the modern consumer world that demands personalization, speed and quality, manufacturers are increasingly on the hook to drive efficiency, reduce operational costs and all but eliminate human error. To that end, the use of CNC machining in machine shops,
popular in manufacturing for some time, is becoming even more important. While CNC machining improves overall processes, especially for projects requiring large amounts of complex metal and plastic parts, it still comes with its own set of challenges. Because of this, manufacturers are implementing other technologies to complement and even enhance the outcomes of CNC machining.
Collaborative robots (cobots) and CNC machines make a great pair. While CNC machines are fast and efficient, they also require human tending, a very repetitive task consisting of loading materials and unloading finished parts. This can become an extremely boring task for workers, leading to error, quality control issues, injuries and high turnover rates. In addition, skilled factory workers are often left waiting idly by machines with long cycle times, which is a huge waste of labor and money. This is where collaborative robots come in as a cost effective, automation tool for CNC machine tending. Not only do cobots relieve workers of this tedious task, freeing them up to perform more meaningful workflows, they also increase part quality and output.
CNC milling devices are one of the most widely used CNC machines, and are often dealing with smaller, customized one-off jobs or prototypes that can take time away from producing larger, revenue-generating parts. Without the proper support or additional CNC mills, machine shops suffer the consequences of dealing with missed deadlines and dissatisfied customers. But now, desktop 3-D printers have proven to be a cost-effective solution, accompanying CNC machines. Moving low volume jobs to 3-D printers allow CNC machines to focus on the production of revenue-generating, high-volume work. 3-D printers are a great alternative to CNC machines for small jobs, as they are able to work with a variety of materials and provide fast turnaround times, along with the right level of strength and accuracy for these jobs.
High Torque Retention Knobs
CNC machines inherently have flaws associated with the tool holder not properly fitting in the spindle and the poor design of traditional retention knobs. When a standard retention knob is tightened, it can produce a bulge in the taper that prevents full contact and proper seating in the spindle, preventing the tool holder from making contact with up to 70 percent of the spindle’s surface. This bulge can lead to decreased productivity caused by poor tolerances, vibration, chatter, poor finishes, shortened tool life, excessive spindle wear and tear and shallow depths of cuts.
High torque retention knobs can increase productivity and provide machinists with a much-needed competitive edge. Designed with a longer reach to reduce the bulge in the taper, high torque retention knobs improve spindle contact to nearly 100 percent, which in turn reduces vibration and chatter, and increases precision of cuts.
CNC machining started in the 1940s, and the technology has evolved over the past several decades. Now, the adoption of innovation is at an all-time high. Implementing industrial automation and new technology like cobots, 3-D printing and high torque retention knobs alongside CNC machines provides machinists with modern approaches to a traditional process. This modernization allows organizations to push forward, overcome industry challenges and adapt to new customer demands, and provides them with a needed competitive edge.
About the Author
Sue has spent the last two decades marketing for emerging technologies, building new categories, and applying science to the art of marketing. It took one look at Baxter to sign on to Rethink Robotics – a human-safe robot out to change the world. When not promoting “all things Sawyer and Baxter”, she is focused on “all things food”: where to eat it, how to prepare it, how to write another cookbook about it.