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5 Machine Tools Tech Trends That Will Shape Our Future

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1. Artificial Intelligence for accurate metal cutting
2. CAD/CAM is the future for SMEs
3. Industry 4.0: The fourth industrial revolution
4. Selective Laser Melting: The next big thing in machine tools
5. The Power of Fibre Laser Tools

From Industry 4.0 to Smart Factory, the future is going to be here before we know it! There are many emerging technologies that will revolutionise the manufacturing sector. Here are the key takeaways from our in-depth industry analysis:

1. Artificial Intelligence for accurate metal cutting
Artificial Intelligence (AI) based machining performance in machine tools is going to be the future, opines Jagannath V, Sr. Vice President – Sales, FANUC India. He adds, “As we graduate towards Bharat stage IV and soon to VI in 2020 the need of the hour is going to be minimal carbon emission and sulphur. Hence the metal cutting accuracies with respect to engine parts are going to become more stringent while substantial size reduction for the power or torque delivered.”

At the same time tracking of cutting results of each part going into engine would be of paramount importance to assess performance and take corrective action if necessary in future, Jagannath points out.

According to Jagannath, some of the AI technologies which will become prevalent would be Smart Adaptive control and Smart Thermal control along with machine tools connectivity.
2. CAD/CAM is the future for SMEs
Machine tool industry is the backbone of industrial development for a country. It directly reflects the health of manufacturing industry. Machine tool industry strives to develop best technology to meet user expectations and productivity. In terms of hardware machine tool industry has done tremendous progress by using best drives, scales, rigidity, advance spindles etc. Over last two decades almost every machine tool manufacturer was busy in delivering higher RPM or higher feeds of machines. Before that it was more towards accuracies. Certainly these are very important features of any machine tool to produce quality part as well as higher productivity. However there are different challenges with SME and mid segment or large industries, observes Nitin Wakode, Associate Vice President PSG, Onward Technologies Ltd. He claims, “Almost every machine shop in SME sector is in rat race to deliver more in shortest time to get best ROI. Considering today’s machining rates it’s a cut throat competition in market for the hourly rates.”

This segment expects lower machine tool cost, higher life, higher feed and spindle speeds, fairly good accuracies. Skill level of machine shop operators is decreasing continuously hence they wish to reduce dependencies on skills. “For SME segment technology which will change their future is implementation of CAD/CAM/DNC etc. This will help them use a process rather than skill,” Wakode said.

Mid- and large-scale industries where CAD/CAM/DNC is already implemented since last few decades are facing different challenges. The major challenges are more number of machines to manage and getting real time data, managing vendor deliveries, sharing data for collaborative manufacturing or concurrent engineering. Many large size industries have more than 100 machines in their shops. It’s a big challenge to maintain their real time scheduling, downtime, productivity, quality track, their preventive maintenance schedules, consumables stocks, manpower scheduling . Here the challenges do not end with making plan but to monitor each equipment on real time basis is biggest challenge towards better controllers and Industry 4.0 compatibility.

3. Industry 4.0: The fourth industrial revolution
According to Wakode, Industry 4.0 is being referred as the fourth industrial revolution one can also call it as Internet of Things (IoT). Germany is facing big problem of skilled labour as well as skilled engineering professionals to manage the large shops with automation, higher productions, multiple quality reports, multiple customise requirements and their specifications, managing raw material, consumables, tool, special equipment and different operation sequences. Everything with minimal human inputs was challenge which led to development of this concept of Industry 4.0 originate in Germany by Davies in 2015.

Today use of IT and networking has evolved businesses, facilities and machines throughout the system to use data in real time. Equipment are being made smart like your Smartphone. Equipment use smart networks which help them analyse and self-awareness which was not possible earlier. The idea is to make every equipment connected in network to provide its data and it can get data and commands from network to function based on requirements. Industry 4.0 will help equipment to make decisions based on the data received from internet. They can plan – re-plan for adjusting the real life conditions and scenario.

In a country like India the mid- and large-size industry can adopt this easily but SME sector will have to follow slowly considering the investment, Wakode said. “We have enough low cost manpower to handle most of the shop floor decisions and priorities and challenges hence SME can adopt it slowly. But it is for sure if want to be a part value system of any large company then you are expected to implement this in order to be a part of network as vendor for some specific part.”

He further adds, “Digitisation of data, complex manufacturing system, advanced machine tools, implementation of SAP / ERP / PLM, IoT, networking, smart factories, smart cities, real time data requirement in smart network have invited a situation which is addressed by Industry 4.0 only hence going to be a technology that will drive and shape our future.”

4. Selective Laser Melting: The next big thing in machine tools
DMG MORI already has extensive expertise in the field of laser deposition welding with powder nozzles (laser metal deposition) through SAUER GmbH. The company REALIZER in turn has over 20 years of experience in “Selective Laser Melting” (SLM).With the integration of REALIZER in the product range from SAUER, DMG MORI now offers the key generative manufacturing processes for metallic materials from a single source. The first result of this cooperation is the LASERTEC 30 SLM.

With the new LASERTEC 30 SLM SAUER GmbH and DMG MORI are consolidating their position as the world’s first full-liner in additive manufacturing with both hybrid and selective laser melting machines.“Selective laser melting in a powder bed opens up completely new areas of application for our customers. That is why this is the perfect complement to our LASERTEC 3D machines in the field of advanced technologies,” says Christian Thönes, Chairman of the Executive Board of DMG MORI Aktiengesellschaft.

The LASERTEC 30 SLM is equipped with a powder bed that has a volume of 300 × 300 × 300 mm. With this method powder is applied in layers onto the work platform and melted by means of selective exposure. When the melting procedure is finished, the platform is lowered to the amount of the respective layer thickness and the procedure then repeated with a new layer of powder. The process enables the production of high-precision 3D components with layer thicknesses of 20 to 100 µm depending on the surface quality and build-up rate – and it does so with no great impact on the production costs. Even complex grid and honeycomb structures, which cannot be realised with other methods, can be produced in high quality in this way.

As SLM technology allows the use of different materials, its fields of application range from the automotive and aerospace to the dental and medical industries and on to include tool and mould making. Thanks to a low porosity (0.1 to 0.5 per cent) the components made of aluminium, stainless steel alloys, titanium and Inconel excel through extremely good properties similar to those of the basic material.DMG MORI also offers application-specific fibre laser sources of 400 Watt to 1 Kilowatt.

The LASERTEC 30 SLM guarantees efficient and cost-effective production thanks to its low argon consumption of only 70 l/h and integrated powder conditioning that ensures optimum powder handling. Moreover, the exchangeable powder module means it takes less than two hours to change the powder. An end-to-end software solution with a uniform user interface from CAD-File (RDesigner) to process control (ROperator) simplifies operation of the LASERTEC 30 SLM.

In order to round off the SLM manufacturing process ideally DMG MORI also enables subsequent machining on its highly dynamic machining centres from the group portfolio. This guarantees maximum component accuracy and best surfaces.

5. The Power of Fibre Laser Tools
In the light of the innovation that has been taking place since last few decades, it certainly has changed the course of world’s history. “When it comes to naming advanced machine tool which has huge potential to shape the future, it has to be the laser tools,” said Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd (SLTL). “The utility features this tool suffices are beyond the match.”

The fibre technology, to be specific has proved to be a saviour for the entire human race, right from its invention. On the contrary to its existing applications, this technology had invented for the enhancement of telecom sector. Within few years, it got experimented in some other procedure like metal forming and cutting. After tireless attempts, an Indian scientist attained this breakthrough in cutting metal by using same fibre technology which went on to be known as fibre laser technology.

“Prior to fibre laser, it was plasma and CO2 laser technology was into existence, however, they had their own set of limitations such as lack of productivity, accuracy, and utility in small set ups,” he explains. “Fibre laser put an end to all these limitations with orbit shifting outcomes.”
According to Patel, “Primarily, it (fibre laser) went on to become the most effective metal processing tool at cutting the cost yet delivering the incredible productivity. The vital enhancement in productivity has been achieved due to the speed fibre laser brought to the metal cutting works. The power of fibre laser technology is what sets it apart from the other contemporary laser alternatives.”
When it comes to undertaking meticulous metal processes, the fibre laser marks it marvel in the same, with the facility of controlling pulse. It enables to control the power and concentration of the laser beams and accomplishes the tasks for as small as micro-machining. Metal cutting, marking, engraving, welding, micromachining are the procedures which fibre has been taken to the all-new height by the fibre laser machine.

“Having known to its vast utility, the fibre laser holds the key to the future where not only the industrial process but the day to day work of a routine human life will be executed by it. Considering the current momentum at which the technology is being adopted and implemented, that future might be just at round the corner,” concludes Patel.

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