Multi-Tasking Metal Cutting and More at IMTS 2022

One of the hottest trends in CNC systems are the advancements in the single-set-up concept embodied in the new multi-tasking machines exhibited in the Metal Removal Pavilion at IMTS 2022.

Multi-tasking machines combine cutting with turning, milling, drilling, tapping, deep-hole boring, hobbing, skiving, broaching, grinding and surface preparation. Hybrid multi-tasking machines add laser hybrid, friction stir welding, additive and hot wire EDM. By performing all work in a single clamping, these machines cut set-up time, eliminate the risk of losing zero when parts move between workstations, and free operators to perform other tasks.

These machines especially appeal to job shops that would previously move parts between a lathe, vertical mill, and other machines to produce a final part profile. With labor scarce and demand high – orders of manufacturing technology surpassed $650 million in November 2021 and are up 11.4% from 2020 (read report) – multi-tasking machines are a simple way to boost efficiency and quality with fewer operators. Even better, exhibitors are launching a new generation of more affordable machines with new controls and conversational programming. They are making a concentrated effort to remove barriers to technology adoption.

IMTS 2022 also embodies the ‘one and done’ concept, as there is no more efficient way to explore new manufacturing technology than a single visit to McCormick Place, says Peter R. Eelman, vice president and CXO at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS. Lean companies need smarter approaches. Connecting with the exhibitors in the Metal Removal Pavilion at IMTS 2022 helps them develop new strategies for more efficient part manufacturing.

Automation and Data

Because almost every strategy for manufacturing efficiency includes automation, CNC machines now come prepared with such features as an automatic door and robot interface. Machine designs have changed to facilitate the ability to install a robot in front of a machine while also allowing operators to easily access the machine's work envelope or tool magazine for set-up or manual process intervention.

Machine manufacturers are also making it easier to harvest data by connecting machines with open standards such as MTConnect, says Benjamin Moses, director of technology at AMT. The emphasis is on tapping into the efficiencies possible through online data analysis applications, whether that's related to CNC machine components or parts production. A recent report from McKinsey noted that benefits include decreasing downtime by 30 to 50% and increasing throughput by 10 to 30%. Visitors will be surprised at how easy it is to harness the power of data. All it takes to start is a conversation with exhibitors in the Metal Removal Pavilion.

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