PM Blog

April saw the Gardner Business Index: Precision Machining expand to 55.1. Compared with the same month one year ago, the Index is 1.8% lower, indicating slowing growth. Index readings above 50 indicate expanding business activity while a value of 50 indicates no change, and a reading below 50 indicates contracting business activity. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying components of the Index revealed that it was led higher by accelerating activity in supplier deliveries, production and employment. The Index—a calculated average of its six components—was pulled lower by exports and backlogs and only slightly by new orders. No components reported contracting during April.

For the first time since January, the export activity reading registered above 50, indicating export activity expansion. When combined with slowing growth in new orders and an April increase in production and supplier deliveries activity, backlog activity remained subdued. In the six-month period ending in April, the backlog components have registered an average reading of 50.3. Industry employment remains optimistic, as activity in this area has trended upward since the fourth quarter of 2018.

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Micromachining is a significant presence in the Swiss industry. In order to qualify as Swiss-made, the majority of the parts of a product such as a watch must be assembled in Switzerland, and at least half the tiny parts of the movement have to be made in the country. To provide these parts, the Swiss need an industry that can make things small. Precision manufacturing is a selling point, and it serves other industries in Switzerland, including the manufacture of medical devices.

To meet the demands of these industries, DC Swiss (available in the U.S. directly through DC Swiss in Switzerland or through the Mikron Tool Group, official representative for DC Swiss in the U.S.) specializes in the development and manufacturing of high-precision threading tools, forming and tapping solutions as well as various SCS-certified control devices for a variety of materials and applications in the 0.3-mm to 160-mm (0.0118" to 6.294") thread diameter range.

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Production Machining’s May Digital Edition is now available. This issue features emphasis topics of Cutting Tools and Parts Cleaning, with special coverage of Swiss-Type Machining. For the cover story we visit a New Hampshire high-volume precision solutions manufacturer who upgraded its data collection and organization methods, maximizing output and competitiveness on its Swiss turning machines.

We also take a look at Rollfeed turning technology, which adds a third axis to turning operations, rolling the cutting tool with a special insert geometry across the surface of the part for reduced machining times, minimized tooling costs and high surface qualities. Our parts cleaning coverage is about a shop that implemented a trichloroethylene replacement material in its vacuum degreasing unit to clean a customer’s micromachined parts more efficiently.

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As the 17th International Trade Fair for Industrial Parts and Surface Cleaning approaches, you might be wondering whether it is worth the trip across the pond to attend. Here are five reasons to attend this trade show, held Oct. 22-24, 2019, at the Stuttgart Exhibition CenterStuttgart, Germany:

Learn more about parts2clean 2019 here, and read my blog post about my first visit to to the show in 2017 here.

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“It’s not rocket science, but it’s high-tech,” says Gerrit van den Hoonaard, Vandurit’s managing director, when asked about what’s behind the company’s Rollfeed turning technology, which was introduced in 2017 and is now ready to be rolled out on a global level. Developed together with machine tool manufacturer Emag, this novel turning technology is indeed high-tech, as it yields a better surface finish and is up to 90 percent faster than ISO turning operations that require several tools over many steps. “A complete machining process from three component sides is now possible with only one type of insert, making many tool changes redundant,” Mr. van den Hoonaard says. He adds that this innovative way of turning is by no means a niche application, but is a general turning process covering about 70 percent of all turning applications. Among the contours that can be produced are end faces and cylindrical surfaces, chamfers, and convex or concave surfaces.

“There are restrictions when it comes to Swiss-turn applications and ID turning of diameters less than 30 mm,” Mr. van den Hoonaard explains. “But otherwise it’s designed for OEMs, Tier-1 suppliers or local job shops who want to boost their productivity by reducing the overall turning cycle time and even eliminate grinding when it comes to applications requiring a particularly high surface finish such as gearshafts and bearings. Sometimes, skiving can be the answer, but it cannot be used for facing. Similar technologies such as Weisser’s rotational turning machines one surface, but Rollfeed turning allows complete machining in one setup.”

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