Latest and greatest products on show at NMW 2011

Industry Update machinery expert James Abbott provides this special report on the latest CNC technology and tooling at the recent National Manufacturing Week exhibition in Melbourne…

There was no shortage of innovation at this year’s National Manufacturing Week and Austech shows in Melbourne earlier this year.

Here are some of my favourites:

CNC Machines

The multi tasking machines by Mazak on the John Hart stand. The Quick Turn Smart (QTS) Series by Mazak offers excellent efficiency when it comes to traditional slant bed technology.

Mazak claims that the secret behind the rigidity of their machine is their new MX Hybrid Roller Guide System on the X and Z axis. However, you are still limited to 12 stations on the turret.

If you find the limited tool stations is a problem for your machine shop, then perhaps you would get more value from the Integrex series which bridges the gap. The entry level machines are the J-200 and J-300 which are differentiated by 8” and 10” chucks respectively.

They eliminate tooling interference because the tools are stored in a carousel, out of the way, which means you can also change tools during cycles. These multi tasking machines offer a lot of versatility and a much smaller footprint.

When it comes to the slant bed turret lathe, there was no shortage of choices. And with the variety of configurations, user interfaces and features, it begs the question, what should you choose? What is particularly interesting is that most machine tool builders theses days mount the turret on linear guideways as opposed to box slideways.

This has traditionally been a point of contention when it comes to build quality.

However, now it comes down to the work you intend to do on the machine. If you are
machining large castings with interrupted cuts, a machine with box slideways might be the better choice, because of the rigidity.

On the other hand, if the extent of your machining doesn’t go much beyond high tensile steel in hex or square bar, then linear guideways may be more than satisfactory.

Milling stations in the turret seem to becoming a standard option these days. Most machine tools with this feature power the milling station through a gear train, which seems to be more than adequate for the investment.

The Quick Turn 200 series by Mazak offers 5.5kW on the milling spindles, which would have to be enough power for most work on the machine. More power at the cutting tip
means a better surface finish and tool life.

Jet cut tooling is new from Iscar, but only useful if you are running a high pressure coolant system. Essentially, the geometry of the tooling is designed such that the coolant is directed at the chip, which means less wear and less friction. There is also the Heliturn range of tooling which offers more aggressive chip breaking geometry and if your machine has the power, you could be removing a 5mm depth of cut at 0.8mm/revolution.

According to Torsten Kirmaier of Iscar, the high pressure coolant creates a hydraulic wedge between the chip and the insert which means you can use higher cutting speeds whilst also extending tool life. Iscar have been getting results from as little as 10 bar, but recommend from 70 bar up to 300 bar for best results.

CNC machine tools are a big investment for small to medium size business, which means it makes good sense to claw back the best return possible. And there is only one way to do that – automate.

The machine tools are very capable of determining tool wear and making their own
compensation. Add a barloader and you have an unattended, fully automated machine tool, just add bar stock.

Depending on space, these come in either long or a short version, for either 1.2m or 3.6m long bar stock up to Ø80mm.

The only differentiating factor is that the short version requires a spindle liner through the lathe.

So you like the new technology but not sure how to apply it in your business? Look to The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) which has always focussed on educational

It now has an online training division, Tooling U (, a range of industry driven web based classes for the individual, small and large business, and technical colleges.

A learning management system can track progress and maintain results. They have more than 400 unique courses that cover a range of skills including CNC operating systems.

* James Abbott is Managing Director of Challenge Engineering, specializing in CNC machining and based at South Granville, Western Sydney.

Challenge Engineering
Ph: 02 9632 0010