July 2014: Tapping on a Punch Press
- Selecting Abrasives for Welding and Metal Fabrication
- Training Welders
- An Enterprise Solution for Fab Shops
- The Next Big Thing in Finishing
- Machining on a Turret Punch Press
- New Power Tools
Selecting the right abrasive and using that abrasive correctly for welding and metal fabrication applications can make a big the difference in maximizing output and minimizing cost. Still, with today’s tight deadlines it’s often tempting to use whatever abrasive is handy, without stopping to consider which abrasive product is best for the particular machine being used. Use the right abrasive and wheel for better finished products, reduced costs, and better productivity.
Virtual reality welding is one way to achieve both consistent learning and engagement in your workforce. Since its introduction in 2009, the VRTEX® 360 has carved a niche, not only in the welding classroom but also in the welding workplace, filling multiple roles as a versatile training and diagnostic tool. Virtual reality technology brings welding to life in a 3D environment – something today’s younger workers are familiar with and are comfortable using.
The computer-based technology easily helps welders become familiar with new techniques while assessing their competency on techniques they already know, without using the resources required for hands-on screening in an actual booth. Users put on a real welding helmet and pick up a specially equipped MIG gun or stick electrode holder to “lay down” a weld in a strikingly realistic virtual world, thanks to special virtual reality displays embedded in the system’s customized welding helmet.
Let’s be frank: Manufacturing software is in tumultuous flux, with developments and program functions expanding in all directions at once (see this month’s Editor’s Letter). It feels as if the thing we need most is a roadmap showing what connects with what.
That’s the result of expanding capabilities and innovations – good things in themselves, but a challenge to follow. We’ll need some patience, because there is no doubt that it is giving a substantial competitive edge to those who employ the latest control and management systems in a serious way. Fortunately for us, fab shop functions are more clear-cut than most, the software is beginning to mature and stabilize, and we’re seeing two basic approaches to achieving control. One is extensive customization, and the other is modularity. Not everyone needs everything. May the best approach win.
Of all the processes that occur in a job shop – cutting, punching, folding, bending, grinding and more – finishing might be one that doesn’t get as much attention. But that doesn’t lessen its importance, even if it’s a secondary operation. Often, secondary operations can make or break a part.
And it’s for this exact reason that companies like 3M and Norton are always doing research and development in order to further advance the utility of these processes – to find the next big thing in finishing that can help you produce better parts. To that end, both companies have introduced new technologies such as specially developed abrasive grains and resin systems that leverage unique chemistries to offer time-saving properties.
In our last issue, we featured an article about where exactly punching fits in this current era of increasingly more powerful laser cutting (see “Punching in the Age of Lasers” in our June 2014 issue). As it turns out, punching is still very much relevant, and has found a niche for itself in machining, specifically tapping and forming.
Tim Brady, punching and combination product manager for Amada, elaborates, “Kind of the key point to making a part is as little handling as possible – being able to contain it all within one machine. In other words, if you punch a part out, and then have to take it somewhere else, either to another machine for tapping or – probably more traditionally – to somebody hand-tapping, you have to have someone sitting there doing that tapping all day. But by being able to just fold that into the original operation of making the part eliminates all that.
Job shops are faced with many types of work on a daily basis, and power tools manufacturers want to make sure that they have the right tool for each of these tasks. As a result, they’re constantly coming up with new and innovative tools to help operators work harder and more efficiently, yet without requiring more effort. The tools in this article are no exception to this rule. And, in fact, you might be surprised by some of them.