Learn How to Increase Productivity at IMTS

Exhibitors at the IMTS 2018 Metal Cutting Pavilion will feature smart machining technology including connectivity, automation, process integration and updated controls that can increase productivity.


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As the machining technology displayed at IMTS has advanced, so have the discussions that take place between exhibitors and customers at the show’s Metal Cutting Pavilion. According to Marlow Knabach, executive V.P., National Engineering at DMG MORI USA, “The conversations at IMTS have changed from spindle speeds and traverse rates to how to deliver pertinent information so job shops and manufacturers can better manage their assets.”

Demonstrations from exhibitors will help start these conversations. Mr. Knabach predicts that visitors will be able to see smart machines that can monitor critical elements including spindle bearing temperature, spindle vibration, ballscrew temperature, coolant level and tool wear. This can help users identify potential sources of downtime before they occur.

These technologies can help companies develop new approaches to increase efficiency, says Peter R. Eelman, V.P., exhibitions and business development at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS.

In addition to connectivity, Mr. Eelman highlights a few more technology trends that Metal Cutting Pavilion exhibitors at IMTS 2018 are featuring.

Automation and CNC Integration

CNC manufacturers and automation providers have been working together to provide seamless integration between the CNC control and the robot control. According to Paul Gray, Ph.D., manager for path planning, front-end design and R&D at Hurco, automation integration used to be expensive and difficult because of the I/O connections and need to reprogram a programmable logic controller (PLC) when changing parts. “With software systems talking with each other over an Ethernet connection, users can now bundle all aspects of the job together,” he says. “We’ve created a new level of flexibility and simplicity in part change-over in production cells.”

Hurco will demonstrate automation integration as part of its 50th anniversary celebration at IMTS 2018. A collaborative robot will 3D scan visitors’ faces, generate a solid model from that data to create a tool path and then either a five-axis CNC will cut the head from cylindrical aluminum stock or a three-axis CNC will cut the form into a brass coin. Both CNCs will be connected to fully automated robot systems that are coordinated by a centralized job management system.

Process Integration

Like automation, process integration continues to fuel the technology needed to remove manual intervention and drive up overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) rates. Machine manufacturers are accomplishing this by adding more capabilities, such as inspection, gear hobbing, gear skiving and grinding processes. “By incorporating inspection software and a touch probe, the machine can confirm part profile before removing it from the machine, eliminating the need to re-orient the part if it requires additional processing,” Mr. Knabach says. “By reducing the number of times a part is handled and fixtured, process integration inherently increases part accuracy and improves OEE.”

These multitasking machines work well for companies that have limited floor space and for those who don’t need a dedicated gear hobbing/skiving machine, such as R&D or maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) centers and job shops serving the transportation industry.


CNC and control manufacturers all want to improve the customer experience, and according to Mr. Eelman, companies are turning to software experts to bring new perspectives to the manufacturing industry. Entering G-code is being replaced by importing and editing digital models, and graphically intensive controls are being designed to engage younger generations as they enter the workforce.

Dr. Gray says solid model import technology, in which 3D CAD models are imported directly to the CNC control, can drastically reduce programming time. “Users don’t have to punch in numbers or scroll through screens,” he says. “They just click on the parts of the CAD model that they want to cut, and solid model import automatically creates the data blocks.”

New technology is also making it easier to edit part features. Dr. Gray says it can now be as simple as selecting the geometry on a touchscreen and the corresponding code (NC) or data block (conversational) will automatically appear. Users don’t have to waste time searching through lines of code to find what they need to edit.

Mr. Knabach says human-machine interfaces (HMIs) that present information about machine operations at specific points and times are more engaging for operators. Controls now feature multi-touch monitors with icons. Companies are also developing apps to help operators prepare, optimize and process production jobs.

Mr. Knabach also notes that controls are now being designed to connect with higher-level enterprise and other production systems via standards such as MTConnect. “Holistic integration of CNCs into the rest of the organization is now our standard approach so that we can harness the advantages of Industry 4.0,” he says.

Expanding Technology

Mr. Eelman says staying current with new metalcutting technology has a much broader focus at IMTS 2018. “The CNC still forms the heart of machining, but users that want high utilization rates will evaluate CNCs in the context of a digitally connected production cell that includes automation, CMMs, enterprise systems and other devices.” He adds that the Metal Cutting Pavilion, along with the nine other technology pavilions at IMTS, gives visitors a rare opportunity to evaluate these new technologies in one place.


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