Mazak, Gibbs to Collaborate

A new strategic collaborative partnership agreement between Gibbs and Associates, developer of GibbsCAM® CAM software for programming CNC machine tools, and the machine tool manufacturer Mazak-USA (Florence, Kentucky) is intended to optimize support for Mazak’s multitask CNC machine tools, including the Integrex, Integrex E-series, Multiplex, Quick Turn Nexus, and Super Quick Turn models. The companies have entered into a nondisclosure agreement that will allow them to exchange information about and collaborate on next-generation solutions.

“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with Mazak to support their line of multitask machine tools,” stated Robb Weinstein, Gibbs and Associates’ senior vice president of sales and strategic planning. “Multitask machine tools represent one of the fastest growing segments of machine tools, and Mazak is the leading provider worldwide.”

Mazak customers make up a significant percentage of GibbsCAM MTM™ users. “Working with Mazak, GibbsCAM will provide a powerful NC programming solution able to support the wide variety of capabilities and configurations Mazak offers. With GibbsCAM, Mazak users will have the capability, flexibility, and ease of use needed to optimize the productivity of their Mazak machine tools,” concluded Weinstein.

The growing popularity of Mazak’s multitask machine tools has been attributed to the many benefits they can offer, including reduced part cost, increased throughput, even shipment flow and cash flow, better part accuracy, reduced fixturing and tooling, simpler setup, and the accommodation of unattended operation.

“Multi-task machining is a key element of our product strategy,” said Chuck Birkle, marketing vice president of Mazak Corp. “By joining with Gibbs, we can ensure that our customers are able to take full advantage of the range of capabilities of their Mazak machine tools.”

Mould Makers Will Have Pavilion at NPE 2006

Custom moulders, product designers, and OEMs from around the world seeking design and tooling solutions at NPE 2006, the International Plastics Showcase, can expect to see a wide range of alternatives within a single, new multiexhibitor pavilion of US and Canadian mould makers, according to an announcement by The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. (SPI), sponsor of the triennial NPE show. NPE 2006 will take place June 19–23 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The North American Moldmakers Pavilion, an NPE innovation, is jointly sponsored by the SPI Moldmakers Division, American Mold Builders Association, and Canadian Association of Moldmakers.

“The pavilion will expand the range of mould making options available to visitors beyond the already extensive array of tooling-related companies that normally exhibit at NPE,” said Walt Bishop, executive director of the SPI Moldmakers Division. While regular NPE exhibitors in the sector will be participating in the pavilion, it provides an attractive opportunity for newcomers as well, particular smaller companies, added Bishop.

Among the incentives available to prospective pavilion exhibitors are a 25% lower space fee than is normally charged to companies not members of SPI; a high-traffic location in the East Hall; and prominent signs and displays for the pavilion placed in key areas of McCormick Place. A conference on timely business and strategy topics, such as mould market analysis and forecasting, rapid product development, shop management, global issues, and education and training, also will draw interest.

One purpose of the pavilion is to showcase the capabilities of North American mould makers to visitors from overseas. Remarked Cyndi Butcher, president of the Canadian Association of Moldmakers, “A number of our members, particularly the smaller mould shops, do not normally have the opportunity to meet face to face with prospective customers from abroad. The North American Moldmakers Pavilion is a way for these companies to take part in a world-scale trade show.”

NPE 2006 will be the largest international plastics show of the year. At least 2,000 companies are expected to exhibit in more than 93,000 m² of space, one-third of them coming from outside the USA. More than 75,000 industry professionals will attend the exposition.

Composites Experts to Meet at Delcam

Companies wishing to benefit from the current boom in composites manufacturing can learn more about industry opportunities at a free half-day seminar being hosted by Delcam plc at its Birmingham headquarters on Tuesday, October 11. Supported by the National Composites Network, the seminar will bring those new to composite materials and those hoping to win more business in the field in touch with experts from both the commercial and technical sides of the industry.

The presentations will begin with a market overview by Mike Turner of materials supplier Hexcel. Next, Mary Goertz of Boeing will discuss specific opportunities within her company, which will be using a high proportion of composite materials in its new Dreamliner aircraft.

Other presentations will cover marine applications, low-cost manufacturing techniques, and advances in liquid moulding techniques. In addition, Lee Scott from Unimerco will describe his company’s latest cutting tools for composites machining, and Delcam will show how its range of Power Solution software can help designers and manufacturers of composite components to increase productivity, maximize quality, and shorten delivery times.

Following the presentations, delegates will enjoy a buffet lunch and then have opportunities to hold informal discussions with the speakers and tour Delcam’s toolroom.

The composites industry is growing. These materials are used increasingly to replace metals and wood, and new applications are found, especially in the aerospace, automotive, and marine industries, as their properties are developed.

The host company believes that the toolmakers that support component manufacturers and have suffered from the recent decline in UK toolmaking can find new opportunities in the composites area. Skills employed in producing complex injection moulds could be transferred relatively easily to the manufacture of tooling for the compression moulding and reaction injection moulding of composites. Similarly, firms that have been making models and patterns for the metals industry could turn to producing similar items for composites manufacture.

Medical Technology Process Chain To Be a Focus at EuroMold 2005

At the EuroMold 2005 world fair for tool and mould making, design and application development taking place in Frankfurt November 30–December 3, a highlighted topic will be the growing medical technology market. The German medical technology industry is—after the United States—a leading force in the world market, according to a survey ordered by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and published in April.

This market is characterized by high-quality development and rapid innovation potential: every second product is less than two years old. Market volume is about €18 billion. Experts assume continuing worldwide growth at least until 2010.

EuroMold is the first trade fair ever to present the multidisciplinary field of research and application in medical technology in terms of the complete process chain from design via prototyping to series production. Exhibitors from various areas, including product development, microinjection moulding, medical optics, medical design, cleanroom technology, rapid prototyping, tool and mould making, CE and FDA certification, and other sectors, will be presented in Hall 5.0 of the Frankfurt Exhibition Centre, organized to reflect the process chain. Thirty-two exhibitors had booked by press time.

To accentuate the special topic optically, fair organizer DEMAT GmbH has developed a very attractive booth concept based on a large table that will be exhibition space and meeting point at once. Each booth module will be available from two sides such that visitors can approach selected exhibitors or explore the complete competence network. The idea is to offer an ideal business-to-business atmosphere for both EuroMold visitors and exhibitors.

Haas Automation Europe Moves into New $5-Million Headquarters

Haas Automation Europe, the European arm of US machine tool builder Haas Automation Inc., has relocated to its new 3,500-m² headquarters and showroom in Zavantem, Belgium, just 10 minutes from the Brussels airport.

The move, which was substantially completed during the first two weeks of May, comes only three years after the company first opened its European operations at Brussels’ Paespsem Business Park. Since then, Haas’s business in Europe has increased dramatically, and the company has outgrown its original location.

In addition to providing expanded office space, the €4-million ($5-million) new building incorporates a 750-m² showroom, allowing some 25 Haas machines from the company’s extensive and growing range of CNC machine tools to be exhibited and demonstrated simultaneously.

As Haas Europe Managing Director Peter Hall puts it, the relocation marks an important milestone for the company.

“Since establishing Haas Europe we’ve exceeded our annual sales targets in all of the key European markets,” Hall says. “In the past year alone, we’ve experienced a sales increase of more than 80%. This is in line with the growth Haas has enjoyed in other markets around the world, and reflects the universal appeal of low-cost, high-quality CNC machines.”

The new headquarters also includes a massive, comprehensive spare parts warehouse run by factory certified support personnel, which will provide same-day dispatch for more than 90% of requisitions, and dispatch 100% of requisitions within 24 hours. The new facility also includes a modern, fully equipped training area and classroom where Haas personnel will instruct Haas service engineers and customers from all over the Continent.

“As both our European customer base and our distributor network increase, we intend to offer the best service and support in the industry,” Hall says. “Our investment in the new office and showroom will help ensure we do just that.”

Haas Automation Europe handles the European operations of Haas Automation Inc., the largest machine tool manufacturer in the United States, which is headquartered in California.

Union Tool Europe Appoints New Distributor for Netherlands

One of the world’s major manufacturers of end mills for the mold and die industry, Union Tool Europe SA of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, has appointed SVM Freestechniek of Valkenswaard, Netherlands, as its new distributor for the Dutch market.

SVM is owned by Hans Smits, who has many years of experience in CNC high-speed machining.

“SVM has a complementary portfolio of products,” says Smits. “The addition of the Union Tool end mill range fits perfectly into this. This complete solution strategy and experience we offer will be invaluable in launching this new partnership, offering the support and service demanded by new and existing customers and helping them with hardmilling.”

SVM has already started building up its stock so that it can offer fast deliveries from its facilities, with back-up supplies from Union Tool’s main European supply base in Switzerland. This will ensure continuity and reliability for all users.

The agreement was made official at the EuroMold show in Frankfurt this past December.

Annual Report Puts RP Industry Under the Microscope

A worldwide progress report on the rapid prototyping, tooling, and manufacturing industry reveals areas of growth and opportunity, as well as market segments that are experiencing disappointing results. The Wohlers Report 2003 by Wohlers Associates Inc. reflects an industry poised for growth in both technologies and applications, thanks to its emphasis on research and devlopment. The report covers all facets of the industry, including business, product, market, technology, and applications.

“3D printing was a bright spot in 2002,” says Terry Wohlers, the primary author of the report and president of Wohlers Associates. “However, there was a sharp contrast between the sales of 3D printers and conventional rapid prototyping systems.

“A staggering number of R&D; projects are underway around the world, and much of this work is turning into patents and products,” Wohlers adds.

Organizations are now extending the application of RP technology to the production of finished goods. Some believe this practice, termed rapid manufacturing, will rapidly grow and ultimately overshadow the rapid prototyping and rapid tooling markets. The report includes a new section on the opportunities, applications, and benefits of rapid manufacturing, as well as the associated obstacles and considerations.

Packer Technologies Takes Over Technical Agency K+P Agile

Packer Technologies(PTI), a newly created engineering firm, has taken over the management of K+P Agile, a highly respected technical agency that assists design engineers, plastic component users, and manufacturers in the development of cast plastic and metal components. K+P Agile is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Packer Group, a corporation of technology-driven companies that provide a wide range of consulting and technical services and products to manufacturers, industrial processors, utilities, builders and contractors.

PTI provides technical expertise and resources to the metal casting industry. It specializes in reducing costs in development, design and manufacturing. Its expertise encompasses such functions as reverse engineering, rapid prototyping, analysis, testing, and rapid tooling. PTI also provides contract management for all phases in the production cycle.

Router Cutter Optimized for Cavity Milling in Aluminum

Carboloy, part of Seco Tools AB, has added a new high-productivity routing cutterto its range. Optimized for slotting, square shoulder, and pocketing operations in aluminum, the new router cutter is designed to work with an array of different insert nose radii and is available in cylindrical shank, shell mill, and Combimaster two-piece designs.

The new routing cutter offers a high metal removal rate of 185-245 in.³/min. and a minimized runout of 0.0008 in. on a master insert edge. It has a very positive axial rake for good chip evacuation, and tolerances of h6 on the shank and arbor hole. A rake angle of 24° provides a mirror-like surface finish. The cutter is pre-balanced by design for applications running up to 10,000 rpm.

Additional features include constant chip groove along radii, open flute, safety slot, and an optimal ramping angle design that minimizes body weight

High Speed Injection Molding

How do you achieve high-speed production of complex parts?

Answer:

The key component is an understanding of the volumes required. If the volumes are a million pieces per year, sometimes a four-cavity mold is needed or a high-quality tool. For high-speed or high-volume production, using high-quality tools is important. The tools should hold up with very little maintenance in this process.

Given a million pieces per year, a four-cavity small part is appropriate. To reduce the price of the parts as much a possible, hot-runner systems are needed to run high-speed molding. These systems eliminate the scrap from production; therefore, the parts are the sole result of the process.

Given five to seven million pieces per year, multi-cavity molds (eight-, sixteen-, twenty-four, thirty-two-cavity molds) are needed. Hot-runner systems and high-volume tools become very important. It is critical money be invested upfront in the development of this process. Based on the performance of these high-speed tools, the costs will be recovered in the future.

How does involving your mold-maker early in the process impact your engineering and development of new plastic molding products?

Answer:

plastic mold

plastic mold

The mold-makers involved in the trade of high-quality tooling must have several years of experience. The majority of mold-makers go through apprenticeship and training programs sponsored by the state.

Not only have they received state certification, they have trained on the production floor. By observing the production staff, mold-makers gain an understanding of the process and the end result of the types of products manufactured. Performance results are obtained during this exercise.

Getting the plastic mold maker engaged in the beginning also brings up a lot of ideas and develops the thought process for production. Based on their years of experience, it can be systematically determined how to produce high-quality tools with a very small margin of error in molding.

This lends itself to the best product possible with the least amount of down time. It incorporates the types of steels used, the types of molds used, as well as the types of engineering required. Any aspect of the process is accentuated by the experience of the mold-makers and their recommendations. It is crucial they be consulted at the very beginning of product development.

How do you move tools from overseas or execute mold transfers?

Answer:

When transferring plastic molds from overseas, the best practice is to find a facility that has an in-house tooling capability. It is important the facility is able to accomplish large-scale repairs on molds. Therefore, the skills required for execution are available within the company itself.

Since the company receiving the tools or the mold transfer is highly trained, the tools are sent there to be taken apart and examined. This step in the transfer process allows the manufacturer to assess if the tools were properly built. In numerous cases, tools are shipped with a combination of U.S. and European (metrics) supplies mixed together within the same molds.

These are some of the issues that need to be addressed to ensure proper procedures are taken to straighten the tool out. Otherwise, it cannot be made into a moldable product. Another concern is standardization of the molds. The molds should run in standard molding machines built for the industry.

The type of material needed to run in a particular plastic mold – engineering or otherwise – must be a consideration as well. The molds must be capable of meeting the volumes required for the materials involved. Some tools may not have the capacity to run the necessary volumes for the entire duration of the process.

A lot of tooling that comes from overseas may be prototype, not production tooling. The type of steel or engineering used during production may not be standardized or in line with manufacturer expectations. Prototype tools are not designed for high-volume production. It is important the tools are assessed properly.

What are the best practices in new product mold design?

Answer:

After product development has been secured and generation of plastic parts has begun, the best practice is to have those plastic parts designed by an expert. Generally, this would be a trained plastics engineer specializing in the various aspects of the process: tooling, molding, and plastics.

The engineer reviews the product line to confirm the plastic parts are moldable, the material used is appropriate, and the types of machines required. The results of the engineer’s assessment can be interpreted as to whether the product line is capable of being molded or not.

In order to save costs on the front end, work with a plastics engineer that specializes in tooling and molding. Based on this expert opinion, the feasibility of the product line may be determined.