AMB 2016: Robots on the rise

Expert interview with Professor Dr.-Ing. Thomas Bauernhansl / Robotics and automation technology on the rise

Robots are taking the production halls by storm and are being integrated in machine tools and automation systems to create plug-and-play modules. The increasing networking and platform connection leads to completely new control architectures. In brief: The world of machine tools is experiencing dramatic development. This will trigger plenty of discussion between exhibitors and visitors at AMB, the international exhibition for metal working, which takes place in Stuttgart from 13 to 17 September. Professor Dr.-Ing. Thomas Bauernhansl, Director of the Institute of Industrial Manufacturing and Management (IFF) at Universität Stuttgart, as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA), encourages people to take the developments seriously and discuss them in an opportunistic manner.

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Professor Bauernhansl, robots are taking the production halls by storm. Are robots becoming competitors to machine tools?
A robot still cannot replace the machine tool. The robot can only assume non-core processes of the machine. Examples include handling activities, or supporting and accompanying the employee who operates the machine. Typical tasks are deburring, positioning or changing workpieces. But the robot will not do the actual machining or metal cutting, because it doesn’t possess the required accuracy or dynamics. In the future, however, the transition between machine tool and portal robot could become more fluid. Its flexibility and the extremely advanced possibilities of programming speak in favour of robots. The machine tool is increasingly converging with the robot, they no longer stand side by side as separate components.

How is automation technology in the field of machine tools generally developing?
We are noticing that the machine tool competence among automation manufacturers is increasing. They are optimising the layout and system design. The topic of flexibility plays a huge role, i.e. the question of scalability from manual to semi-automated to fully automated and vice-versa. This restricts the integrative approach again somewhat. Components of machine tools must be able to be replaced quickly. For instance, integrating robots or palletising systems quickly and also removing them again. It is not only about versatility and adaptability, but also about efficiency, i.e. the topic of plug-and-produce by the machine operator.

The control technology also has to be adapted. What changes will we experience here?
The classic control technology of the machine tool is heading towards plug-and-produce. Hard-wired hardware-based NC systems no longer have a future. For plug-and-produce the respective components need to be more intelligent, i.e. in the robot arm, gripper, spindle, feed conveyor, etc. These autonomous systems have their own microcontrollers and register on a platform via an interface. They communicate what services they provide, and the employee at the machine can then configure it to a smart workflow. With the ever-increasing bandwidth and latency of the networks, one can outsource services from the machine tool and offer them, for example, on cloud-based platforms. In the end only a few tasks such as security are still performed locally. Functionality as a service is a big trend.

How does automation technology deal with diverse requirements due on the one hand to mass production, and on the other to increasing individualisation of the products?
There will always be mass production, but increasingly the customised product, which is adapted to the individual needs of the customer. The automation of mass production is very advanced. Here it is not only about making the processes more robust through the clever use of data and retrieving the very last percentage. In contrast, customisation demands a high degree of flexibility, i.e. the ability to convert within seconds or even during the process. These topics require a different type of automation technology with corresponding adaptability and versatility, perhaps in the future the ability of independent optimisation in communication with the component.

A question which will also be discussed with great controversy at AMB: Where is Germany on an international comparison?
This topic is gaining considerable momentum in the USA, Japan, Korea and now also in China. In Germany we need to take this development seriously and deal with the issue intensively. The surveys are alarming, on the one hand 80 to 90 percent of companies state they are affected by the development, but only between ten and 20 percent of these companies are giving serious thought to the matter. We have to do more, become more determined and more companies have to get involved in the development. Above all we need to discuss the matter in an opportunistic manner and not only analyse the risks.

Robots at AMB
The manufacturers ABB Automation (Stand 5D32), Erowa System Technologies (Stand 7C77), Fanuc Germany (Stand 7B51), Kuka Roboter (Stand 8A69) and Mitsubishi Electric Europe (Stand 5D74) present their latest generations of robots at AMB in Stuttgart. Over 30 exhibitors showcase handling and automation solutions with robotics.

www.messe-stuttgart.de/amb

Welcome to the Smart Press Shop

Many operators have already wished that their system could tell them exactly what the problem is. In the age of the Industrial Internet, machines that communicate are no longer something to aspire to in the future. At the EuroBLECH trade fair, to be held in Hanover at the end of October, Schuler’s “Smart Press Shop” concept will be demonstrating how networking solutions in forming technology can increase not only process reliability, but also cost-effectiveness in production.

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In a modern servo press line from Schuler, around 30 industrial PCs are networked with one another. This is the only way to ensure a high level of productivity and safe part transport from one press station to the next. Single presses, laser blanking lines, and various automation components also already have the necessary interfaces for comprehensive networking.

 
The necessary interfaces are already available
What is the maximum speed at which a specific sheet metal can be formed? Forming simulation provides valuable information for the virtual optimization of the entire system. To stay with the example of a servo press line: long before the tool sets are clamped into place, the virtual model of the system produces one part after another.

By simulating the entire system, including all press stages and automation components, the time needed for part transport is minimized. Schuler offers tools for optimizing output, helping to reduce the time required for commissioning considerably. The customer can also get information on the energy required for production.
Optimization based on simulation

The systems provide data measured by sensors installed at numerous points, for example to monitor the press force. By drawing the right conclusions from this information, this area also has huge potential. If the press force progression deviates from a particular pattern, this indicates irregularities in the process. These solutions gather important information that can be used to maintain the line, thereby preventing damage to the machine and tool.

If it becomes apparent that not everything is running smoothly, the service engineer can connect to the customer’s system online. In nine out of ten cases, problems can already be solved remotely through the Schuler Remote Service. Condition-based maintenance can therefore help save a lot of money.

Many of these examples are already common practice at Schuler. “Schuler has the key advantage of having equipped press plants throughout the world for decades, from the decoiler through to the automatic racking system”, says Chief Technical Officer Dr. Stephan Arnold. “This experience helps enormously when it comes to developing intelligent functions for the ‘Smart Press Shop’ and the press plant of the future.”

www.schulergroup.com

Optimize thermal management during plastic injection with GF Machining Solutions’ AM S 290 Tooling Additive Manufacturing (AM) solution

One year ago, GF Machining Solutions signed a strategic partnership with global Additive Manufacturing (AM) leader EOS, headquartered in Krailling, Germany. The partnership demonstrates the companies’ commitment to advancing AM as a leading technology and working together to ensure its seamless integration into the conven-tional manufacturing chain.

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The AM S 290 Tooling, based on the established and proven EOS technology, is a system dedicated to the mold and die industry and from now on world-wide available. A System 3R MacroMagnum chuck is fully integrated into the building system. In combination with the Reference Point Calibration software, it permits the absolute location of parts relative to the X/Y plane of the building platform, which in particular supports manufacturing of hybrid workpieces. It further integrates building platform handling with other machining processes to separate workpieces or accurately refurbish building platforms for re-use.

The integrated chuck is intended to be used in combination with standard pallets (e.g., used for hybrid parts) or building platforms equipped with a standard reference element. This signi-ficantly improves the ability for upstream and downstream integration of the AM process in the whole production process.

The hybrid mold insert is the most economical solution for parts characterized by geometrically simple and complex sections. Depending on material and size, such hybrid parts can be created by directly generating the additively manufactured part on top of the conventionally manufactured base or by separately finishing and assembling both parts.

With this system, GF Machining Solutions focuses on mold inserts with conformal cooling/ heating channels. These inserts can be used for any kind of plastic products in all segments. Thanks to AM enabled conformal cooling, customers can reduce their cycle time, increase their productivity and improve the overall quality of, for example, a critical plastic part with thin walls.

Advantages of AM are now well understood and its industrialization is a major step toward the future. GF Machining Solutions is actively collaborating with EOS to speed up development of this solution which will be a major step in fulfilling Industry 4.0 requirements.

Both in mold and die and other applications in various segments, GF Machining Solutions is at the forefront of efficiently blending traditional and new manufacturing technologies, not by optimizing parts and process flow but also by improving data flow and systems connectivity.

www.gfms.com

LNS Turbo SFcompact: LNS Group unveils revolutionary fine filtration technology

The Swiss LNS Group, world market leader in machine tool peripherals, unveils a revolutionary fine filtration solution – the SFcompact. “The SFcompact combines more than 30 years of knowledge in designing, manufacturing and servicing chip and coolant management products for the machine tool industry. It is the culmination of years of development and testing – a true high‐tech fine filtration solution complementing the rich product portfolio of LNS”, explains Jamie Towers, Global Product Manager CCM at the LNS Group.

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Compared to the traditional drum filter conveyors, the SFcompact persuades with its compact dimensions and high filtration efficiency. Mr. Towers: “The floor space used by the SFcompact is 30% less compared to filter drum conveyors, and is easier to integrate – in most cases no special tank is required.” The filtration performance is outstanding: The SFcompact is designed to offer self‐cleaning filtration down to 50 microns. It handles most materials and chip types effortlessly. “A patented, automatic dual cleaning system ensures repeatable and reliable filtration.”

Increased productivity
The LNS experts designed the SFcompact with one goal in their mind: increasing the overall productivity in a compact format. “With the SFcompact, our customers can improve the filtration efficiency considerably”, explains Towers. Improved filtration efficiency has positive effects for the whole production process: Less chips in the tank result in reduced machine cleanouts and reduced machine downtime. Improved coolant life and reduced machine wear help to minimize coolant and maintenance costs. And last but not least, a cleaner and more efficient coolant leads to improved part finish. Mr. Towers: “All of this adds up to an excellent return on investment for our customers.”
Reliable and flexible
The LNS engineers focused on highest quality materials to make the SFcompact reliable and easy to adjust and service. The filtering module system is totally enclosed and robust. “Hard wearing materials on curves, sprockets, belt rollers and brushes guarantee long component life”, adds Jamie Towers. The modular construction of the SFcompact makes maintenance very easy. A filter module can be changed in only 30 minutes. Towers: “Serviceability is an important aspect. All the key components are easily accessible, often without removing the conveyor from the machine tool, and all components are widely available through the global LNS network.” The modular system also makes it easy to adapt the filtration flow to the specific manufacturing needs. For example, the number of filter modules used depends on configured coolant flow rate of the machine tool. “The flow rate capability is flexible, meaning we have the same great performance of a drum conveyor but in a more compact and adaptable package”, says Towers.

www.lns-europe.com

Warm / Hot Forming Lubricants Improve your heading process!

Among a wide range of lubricants dedicated to the requirements of Cold Heading Machinery, CONDAT will present on Fastener Fair Italy show new solutions to provide high duty lubrication with optimum safety and budget.

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The weight reduction in automotive and aeronautic markets have pushed the fastening industry to use new materials. Titanium, Inconel, stainless and high strength steel are now commonly used but their forming properties are weak. To reach high productivity, it is necessary to warm the wire before the heading process from 250°C up to 900°C.
For technical parts, with forming ratio higher than 70% and massive parts with wire diameter bigger than 20 mm, the internal temperature can easily reach 250°C due to significant material flow. In both cases, the lubricants must be designed to work at very high temperature. From 250°C to 900°C,  Condat offers solutions to improve your process:
•    For Temperature until 250°C
Extrugliss Warm Green oils avoid degreasing issues due to sticky and burned residues which occurred at such temperature. This range, based on renewable chemistry, can be used also for lubrication of your press.
•    For preheated wire until 500°C
Extrudex warm forming lubricants benefit from high thermal stability which enhance lubricity performances. Friendly for operators and safe for the workshop environment as they reduce smokes and mist.
•    For preheated wire until 900°C
Extrudex hot forming oils are specifically designed for aerospace market to work on titanium and nickel alloys. They allow a homogeneous coating on the parts for optimum surface finish and no deposits on dies and punch. These safe lubricants present a very high flash point to reduce the risk of fire.
•    For lubrication of the cold forming machinery
Gliss Warm Green lubricants are specifically formulated to reduce cross contamination issues and keep the long term performances of Condat’s heading oils. Available now from 68 to 220 cst viscosity.

www.condat.fr

Affolter launches groundbreaking Worm Screw Power Skiving technology

Affolter Technologies SA, the technology and world market leader in micro gear hobbing centers for the watchmaking and micromechanical industries, launches a groundbreaking innovation: Worm Screw Power Skiving (WSPS).

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“This cutting-edge technology was developed by our engineering experts in an intensive R&D process. Worm Screw Power Skiving allows us to finish a high-precision worm in only 6 seconds. If done by worm hobbing, every piece will take 25 seconds”, explains Managing Director Vincent Affolter. In other words: WSPS makes producers 4 times more efficient. Mr. Affolter: “This will increase the productivity and efficiency of manufacturers in the automotive and aircraft industries considerably.”

 
Big demand
Many producers in these industries need to manufacture large quantities of high-precision worms. The WSPS technology focuses on small worms with a module of 0.3 to 1.5. “Such worms are used in car seats or trunks, for instance. We see a big demand in the automotive industry, but also in other sectors”, explains Mr. Affolter.

 
Extremely fast process
The idea behind the new technology: Unlike in worm hobbing, where the hob turns much faster than the workpiece, the Affolter experts inverted the process. “The workpiece turns extremely fast, with 2 new spindles up to 12’000rpm, while the cutter turns much slower. Only highest quality machines like the Affolter AF100 plus and AF110 plus can reach this speed and at the same time provide the necessary stiffness”, states the Managing Director.

 
AF110 plus: convincing results
Over the course of the recent months, the Affolter engineers redesigned the well-established Gear Line model AF110 to optimize the WSPS process. The result is the brand new Gear Hobbing Machine AF110 plus. The workpiece spindles were successfully remodeled to reach the high speeds needed. The Affolter Marketing and R&D team also focused on completely redesigning the machine. “We integrated a cutting fluid filtration system and a chip disposal solution. This allows us to cope with all the requirements imposed by the workpiece up to module 1.5 and the production of large volumes of chips”, says Mr. Affolter. Additionally, the Affolter engineers and the marketing team improved the ergonomics through a redefinition of the machine base and surrounding as well as the human-machine interface. The very flexible AF110 plus also convinces with a function that allows to operate at reduced speeds with the hood open (Full Safety setup machine mode). Extensive test runs proved very successful, as Vincent Affolter recounts: “We achieved outstanding results processing both steel and brass. The new AF110 plus and the WSPS technology will open completely new opportunities for our customers.”

 
In the spotlight
A prototype of the AF110 plus will be showcased at the trade shows AMB in Stuttgart from 13-17 September and Micronora in Besançon/France from 27-30 September. Furthermore, Affolter will present the WSPS technology at IMTS in Chicago from 12-17 September and 
JIMTOF in Tokyo from 17-22 November.

www.affoltergroup.ch

MachineWorks New Software Development

MachineWorks Software sets the standard for CNC Simulation and Verification component software in the industry. More than 60% of CAM developers in the world have integrated MachineWorks technology into their applications and benefited from MachineWorks’ cutting-edge functionality since 1994.

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What’s New in MachineWorks?
The forthcoming MachineWorks release contains many exciting developments, one of them being the support of cloud-based applications for CNC simulation and verification. This new feature allows networked devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops to visualise MachineWorks simulations running in the cloud.
A new geometry query API makes rendering integration much easier for applications. It has been designed to be future-proof and flexible.
Customers who use both MachineWorks and Polygonica will benefit from a new API to provide a seamless transition between the toolkits, allowing direct and efficient transfer of geometry and associated data.Real-time gouge detection has been extended to support more machining types, including linear, rotational, arc and B-axis turning and multi-axis wire EDM.
Although Rapidcut simulation was already extremely fast, the new multithreaded Rapidcut engine makes it even faster by taking advantage of multi-core CPUs.
Where is MachineWorks embedded?
Leading CAM software suppliers, CNC Controller and CNC Machine Tool manufacturers from across the world integrate MachineWorks’ industry-proven APIs into their software applications in order to create systems with complex simulation, real-time verification and look ahead collision detection in the full envelope of the machine.
Tools up MachineWorks’ Sleeve
MachineWorks also provides tools for toolpath optimisation, for healing solids and for easy integration such as MachineWorks Simulator that produces a working prototype within a day and help customers get quickly to market. MachineWorks Support team is there for the customers every step of the way and continue to provide support and innovative solutions throughout the full extent of the partnership, becoming an invaluable asset for the developers using MachineWorks.

Use of MachineWorks
MachineWorks functionality offers real-time simulation and verification for any type of CNC machining including kinematics, multi-axis, mill-turn, robotics, Swiss-type turning, Wire EDM, hybrid machining (subtractive + additive manufacturing) with features such as on-the-fly crash and gouge check, target part comparison, material removal and infinite zooming.

www.machineworks.com

Pierre-Yves Schmid, publisher