All posts by Pierre-Yves Schmid

Delcam Professional Services offers free software for CADCAM process automation

Delcam Professional Services is offering free Custom Software Core software to speed up and simplify the automation of repetitive operations in Delcam’s PowerSHAPE design and reverse engineering software, and PowerMILL CAM system.

The Custom Software Core was used to develop an automated manufacturing process for Yooshu’s custom-made sandals
The Custom Software Core was used to develop an automated manufacturing process for Yooshu’s custom-made sandals

Even though both PowerSHAPE and PowerMILL incorporate automatic routines as part of the software, many experienced users like to customise the software to automate further standard, repetitive operations specific to their application or product range. Typically, this is done by recording a sequence of operations as a macro that can be replayed when a similar calculation, or series of calculations, is required. For more complex operations, this can be a time-consuming process and can produce an intricate string of commands that is difficult for other users to understand or to edit.

The Custom Software Core is a library of middleware that allows users to develop code more intuitively than using macros when interfacing .NET applications to PowerSHAPE and/or PowerMILL. The use of an Object Oriented design, together with IntelliSense in Microsoft Visual Studio, means that the software engineer can discover the functionality available when interfacing with PowerSHAPE and/or PowerMILL more easily than recording a macro and pasting together a series of commands.

An additional benefit is that the number of lines of code in the customised application will be reduced, typically by at least 50% compared to using macro commands. Rather than using lengthy blocks of macro commands that are hard for other users to read and understand, the new application comprises easy-to-read function calls, each of which can encapsulate many lines of macro commands.

Using the Custom Software Core also makes it easier to upgrade any custom application from one version of PowerSHAPE or PowerMILL to a newer version. Any changes between software releases to the macro command for a particular operation can be handled by downloading a new version of the Custom Software Core. This new version will ensure that the application will continue to function as before, without any need to recreate macros.

The Custom Software Team within Delcam Professional Services used the Custom Software Core to develop an automated production method for Yooshu, a manufacturer of custom-made sandals. The Team, which combines software development and mechanical engineering skills, was able to develop a system that interfaces with a third-party foot scanner to obtain scan data from the customer’s feet. That data is then passed to PowerSHAPE to design the sandal, and then to PowerMILL to create and post-process the toolpaths used by a robot to cut the custom shape.

The software can be downloaded from

RoboJob offers flexible automation solutions

RoboJob is a Belgian company which offers flexible automation solutions for the automated loading and unloading of CNC machines. With over 25 years’ in machining and over 40 years’ experience in machine building, RoboJob can rely on all the needed know-how to build extremely user-friendly standard solutions that can significantly increase gross margins in the machining industry.

Robojob Mill-Assist E at Doosan
Robojob Mill-Assist E at Doosan

Growing labor costs, declining volumes and shrinking margins. These are but a few of the challenges that many machining companies have had to face in recent years. In order to survive, many of these companies have had to find a way to cut costs, while improving the yield of their costly CNC machines. RoboJob now offers a solution that addresses all of these hot topics.
Helmut De Roovere, co-founder and CEO of Belgium-based RoboJob, understands very well which are the challenges that the machining industry is currently facing in the large majority of countries in Western Europe: “Just like many other countries in Western Europe, Germany has a very high cost of labor. But that is not the only cost that is impacting the profitability of machining companies: CNC machines are expensive and can be used much more efficiently. Machining companies need to make significant investments, but unfortunately, their profits are declining. Where the customers of these machining companies used to place large orders of 2.000, 1.000 or 500 individual production items, this has now gone down to 200, 100 or 50 items. Simply because keeping a stock costs money and globalized markets keep prices very competitive
“It’s an understandable trend from the customer’s perspective, but it does have a huge impact on the machining industry,” De Roovere continues. “If you know that the programming of a CNC-machine to produce 1 individual item takes exactly as much time as it does for 1.000 items, then something needs to be done to improve your flexibility and to manage your costs.”

RoboJob is the specialist in the automatic loading and unloading of CNC machines. RoboJob was founded in 2007 as a subsidiary of Aluro-Group NV for the purpose of autonomously dealing with returning the machining industry back to profitability, which has seen its margins decline year after year owing to the changed market situation.
The Turn-Assist and Mill-Assist are integrated solutions which enable the automatic loading and unloading of turning and milling machines. Both systems can be used for a wide range of dimensions (standard ø 5 to 400 mm) and weights (up until 700 kg).

Arburg to present industry trends at the Plast 2015

Arburg will exhibit a broad range of efficient plastic part production applications from 5 to 9 May 2015 at the Plast trade fair in Milan, Italy. The Freeformer will be presented for the first time in Italy, demonstrating how one-off parts and small, multiple-variant batches can be produced from standard granulate without a mould in an additive manufacturing process, using Arburg Plastic Freeforming (AKF). The applications on view in the injection moulding area will include multi-component and LSR processing, including automation, as well as applications for the packaging industry and the medical technology sector.

key fobs with an articulated joint (orange part), the Freeformer uses the second discharge unit to construct supporting structures that can easily be removed at a later stage
key fobs with an articulated joint (orange part), the Freeformer uses the second discharge unit to construct supporting structures that can easily be removed at a later stage

“The Plast in Milan is a must for the Italian plastics industry and the perfect platform in order to gain insight into where Italian market is moving and which new areas of activity we can open up for our subsidiary,” explains Björn Noren, Managing Director of Arburg Srl. “Our strengths lie in technically sophisticated precision applications in the areas of medical technology, packaging and cosmetics in combination with complex automation. A special highlight this year will be the Freeformer. This innovative system for the industrial additive manufacturing of one-off parts and multi-variant small-volume batches is close to be launched onto the Italian market.”

Freeformer additively processes two components
With the Freeformer, fully functional plastic parts can be additively manufactured from standard granulate using the patented “Arburg Plastic Freeforming” process based on 3D CAD data, without the need for a mould. As with injection moulding, the granulate is first melted in a plasticising cylinder. Plastic droplets are applied layer-by-layer onto a moving part carrier via the nozzle of a stationary discharge unit, using high-frequency piezo technology at a specified duty cycle of 60 to 200 Hertz.
The second discharge unit can be used for an additional component – for example, to produce a part in different colours, with special tactile qualities, or as a hard/soft combination. At the Plast 2015, a Freeformer will combine standard ABS material with a special support material to produce a key fob featuring a ball joint. The supporting structures are simply removed later in a water bath.

Innovative packaging applications
Arburg will present a broad range of industrial applications and processes in the area of injection moulding in Milan. These will include multi-component injection moulding and liquid silicone rubber (LSR) processing, as well as high-performance machines for the medical technology sector and the packaging industry.

Multi-component and LSR injection moulding
The production of ballpoint pen caps from two components will be demonstrated by a hydraulic Allrounder 520 S with a clamping force of 1,600 kN and size 400 and 100 injection units. An 8+8-cavity mould from Fila is used here. The main body is produced from PP in a cycle time of around 20 seconds, after which it is overmoulded with soft TPE-S.
An electric Allrounder 520 E, with a clamping force of 1500 kN and size 800 injection unit will demonstrate the cost-efficient production of a technical medical part made from PVC. An electric Allrounder 470 E with a clamping force of 1,000 kN and size 290 injection unit will be configured for processing liquid silicone (LSR). iPhone covers weighing 21 grams are produced in a cycle time of around 20 seconds.
Cost-effective automation solution
The Multilift Select is the entry-level model among the linear robot systems from Arburg. It features servo-electric drive axes and is fully integrated in the Selogica machine controller. For the operator, this means: only one data set, a familiar approach during programming and perfect synchronisation of robotic system and machine. Moreover, the Multilift Select is extremely simple to program thanks to the teach-in function.

SpiroGrooving – revolutionizing solution for seal ring groove machining

SpiroGrooving – an innovative method for seal ring grooves developed by Sandvik Coromant ensures high output of quality components and meets tough security demands. Used with the CoroBore XL system, it utilizes a spirograph tool path to create close-tolerance seal ring grooves in a very secure and productive way

SpiroGrooving™ - an innovative method for seal ring grooves
SpiroGrooving™ – an innovative method for seal ring grooves

Machining challenges
Requiring close tolerances and high-quality surface finish, seal ring grooves is a critical feature on many oil and gas components. Conventional methods for machining seal ring grooves often suffer from slow production and poor process security. Multiple-operation approach incorporating both roughing and finishing sequences is another time thief. The tools that are being used are single point- or plunging cutters that are prone to vibration. Adding to the challenges is the common use of difficult-to-machine materials such as solid Inconel 718 and cladded Inconel 625. SpiroGrooving is a machining method used with the CoroBore XL system that utilizes a spirograph tool path to create close-tolerance seal ring grooves in a very secure and productive way.

High quality and process security
This solution is ideal for making seal ring grooves in pre-clad machining of steel and stainless steel. The unique internal coolant feature of CoroBore XL facilitates machining in advanced materials. Roughing and finishing are carried out in the same operation, which significantly reduces machining time and improves productivity. Altogether, this ensures high output of quality components and process security when machining seal ring grooves.

How it works
SpiroGrooving uses a circular spirograph tool movement in a taper. This reduces chip thickness, enabling light cutting action and increased feed. Parts of the insert cutting edge have an interrupted cutting behaviour, eliminating long chips tangling to the tool and spindle. With a unique NC-code generator, SpiroGrooving is programmed just in a few easy steps.

New positioning system doubles positioning speed for 450 mm

Known for innovation, Swiss firm Schneeberger AG Lineartechnik is currently developing a new positioning and movement system that will bear the name Double Gantry. Initial tests and analyses prove that speed of positioning can be almost doubled in applications such as wafer production. The Double Gantry should be on the market from mid-2014.

As of mid-2014, with the Double Gantry Swiss company Schneeberger AG will bring to market a positioning system which can almost double the production speed of wafer manufacturing production and testing systems.
As of mid-2014, with the Double Gantry Swiss company Schneeberger AG will bring to market a positioning system which can almost double the production speed of wafer manufacturing production and testing systems.

Mobile telephones, tablets, laptops and many other, routine electronic products are becoming ever more efficient and/or smaller. This is due to the semiconductor chips, miniaturisation of which seems to be endless. Inserting and testing structures (data highways) in these tiny electronic parts requires systems whose accuracy of movement has to be within micrometres and nanometres. The major chip manufacturers also expect optimum speed, as this has a direct impact on profit. In addition to the optical system, in order to best satisfy the requirements efficient positioning units are in great demand in production and test facilities. They ensure that the wafers dotted with hundreds of chips are quickly and accurately positioned.

Schneeberger AG is a leading provider of such movement systems. Markus Kindler, the company’s Engineering Systems Manager, explains: “There are major differences between the precision requirements of our customers and end users. Ever greater positioning accuracy, which falls within tolerances of tens or hundreds of nanometres for a movement area of 250,000 mm2 is, however, expected with progressive miniaturisation.” To explain: the ratio between a nanometre and a metre is roughly equivalent to the difference between the size of a hazelnut and the Earth.

Double Gantry: less weight, more speed
With their sights on greater efficiency, Schneeberger’s engineers are currently developing a new positioning system, which has already been comprehensively tested. The initial results are a reason for Markus Kindler to expect a real quantum jump in terms of increased performance: “We are assuming that the Double Gantry will double positioning speed in semiconductor chip testing, which will ultimately considerably increase productivity.”

The name Double Gantry reflects the decisive technical principle: two gantry axes are used. The X and Y axes are uncoupled. This is possible by arranging them in a cross and achieving independent movement through multiple guide rails. This innovative structure means the lower axis does not have to bear the weight of the upper axis, which massively reduces the lower axis’s speed in the usual stacked configuration. In the Double Gantry, the X and Y axes each bear their own weight, as well as that of the axis of rotation, the wafer and the clamp system.

Best values in terms of speed to precision
Speed and precision are equally important for achieving a high production speed. In the final analysis it’s a question of approaching clearly defined structures as quickly and accurately as possible. Production speed suffers if a positioning system moves quickly to a defined position, but has to be adjusted there for a long time due to lack of precision. It is therefore worth approaching the predefined structures quickly and accurately.

Schneeberger AG Lineartechnik
St. Urbanstrasse 12
CH-4914 Roggwil
[email protected]
Tel. +41 62 918 41 11

Fritz Studer Award 2014 – Innovative Grinding Technologies

As market and technology leader in cylindrical grinding, STUDER decided to endow the fourth research prize, the «Fritz Studer Award». In the fall of 2014 applications were submitted from many European countries.

Handing over of the Fritz Studer Award 2014 through Dr. Gereon Heinemann (Managing Director Fritz Studer AG, right) to the winner Dr. Eduardo Weingärtner.
Handing over of the Fritz Studer Award 2014 through Dr. Gereon Heinemann (Managing Director Fritz Studer AG, right) to the winner Dr. Eduardo Weingärtner.

The research award targeted graduates from European universities and higher education technical colleges. All graduates, who have dealt with scientific topics or have had an applied research focus during their studies or as a subject in a dissertation and who are able to proffer substantiated results or partial results from their work can participate in the competition. The aim of the work is to strengthen the innovative power of the machine industry with technically feasible approaches.
The submitted topics were to be dedicated to one of the following fields:
− Innovative machine concepts or components for machine tools in precision machining
− Alternative materials in mechanical engineering
− Simulation models of dynamic and thermal behavior of machine tools
− Control and sensor concepts for machine tools
− New or further developed manufacturing technologies, especially in hard-fine machining, such as grinding, hard turning, etc.
The submitted projects were assessed by an expert jury. The jury was composed of Prof. Dr. Konrad Wegener, Institute of Machine Tools and Manufacturing at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Dr. Heinrich Mushardt, United Grinding Group AG and Dr. Frank Fiebelkorn, Head of Product Development, Research and Technology at Fritz Studer AG. The decision criteria for assessment included, for example, the ease of implementing the findings in the machine industry, novelty and idea of the research work, scientific content, form and correctness of statements and results.
With the topic of «On-Machine Wire Electrical Discharge Dressing of Metal Bonded Grinding Wheels», Dr. Eduardo Weingärtner from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Institute of Machine Tools and Manufacturing (Switzerland) had the honor to receive the Fritz Studer Award 2014.
The focal points of Dr. Weingärtner’s research are the examination of wire erosion as an alternative process for dressing metal bonded diamond grinding wheels. Dr. Weingärtner is involved not only in the development of a wire erosion dressing unit and its integration into a grinding machine but also in the modeling, simulation and optimization of the wire erosion dressing process. In his dissertation he developed a special wire guide, which is key to the feasibility of a reliable dressing process, as the precision and efficiency of the process were thus able to be increased considerably. With the thermo-electric model developed by Dr. Weingärtner, the performance of material removal by erosion can be predicted; the influence of relative speed on the erosion process is more easily comprehended and graphitization of the diamonds can be analyzed.

Evolution in the cleaning of powertrain components

What strikes the observer first about the new EcoCFlex 3 is Dürr Ecoclean’s proprietary scara manipulator replacing the standard 6-axis jointed-arm robot, as well as the machine’s exceptional design. A view under the hood reveals further details contributing to its superior process reliability, quality, energy efficiency and availability rates in pre-cleaning and final cleaning of powertrain components.

On the new EcoCFlex 3, one CNC controller for the machine and the integrated scara manipulator replaces the previously required PLC and robot control unit.
On the new EcoCFlex 3, one CNC controller for the machine and the integrated scara manipulator replaces the previously required PLC and robot control unit.

In the pre- and final cleaning of powertrain parts such as cylinder heads, engine blocks and crankcases, robot cells not just improve flexibility. They also allow parts to be cleaned in short cycles, which makes them an indispensable asset in advanced engine and transmission manufacturing lines. With over 400 robot systems built, Dürr Ecoclean of Monschau possesses plenty of experience and has gained extensive customer feedback on optimization potentials. Both went into the development of the new EcoCFlex 3 which is available in two sizes as a 3M and 3L version.

About the Dürr Group
Dürr Ecoclean is part of the Dürr Group worldwide and has over ten sites in eight countries with approximately 800 employees.The Dürr Group is one of the world’s leading mechanical and plant engineering firms. Products, systems and services offered by Dürr enable highly efficient manufacturing processes in different industries. Business with automobile manufacturers and their suppliers accounts for approximately 65% of Dürr’s sales. Other market segments include, for example, the mechanical engineering, chemical and pharmaceutical industries and the woodworking industry. Dürr has 93 business locations in 28 countries and generates annual sales of approx. € 3.2 billion with around 13,700 employees.