All posts by Pierre-Yves Schmid

Gear Summit 2015 captures the macro view and future vision for the industry

Sandvik Coromant successfully hosted the first-ever Gear Summit on March 16th to 19th 2015 in Sandviken, Sweden. Twenty-five of the world-leading decision-makers and experts from the gear industry were invited to discuss the common challenges and the future of gear manufacturing.

Attendees of the first ever Gear Summit on March 16th to 19th 2015 in Sandviken, Sweden
Attendees of the first ever Gear Summit on March 16th to 19th 2015 in Sandviken, Sweden

Axel Küpper, Manager Marketing and Business Development, Gear Milling Solutions, at Sandvik Coromant stated the goal of the summit by saying, “In a world characterized by its increasing tempo, it is more important than ever that we gather to create a common platform and make sure we are working towards the same goal.”
The manufacturing industry has an interesting journey ahead, that’s for sure. “The goal with Gear Summit 2015 is not just to keep updated with the latest game-changers, but to stay one step ahead,” Axel Küpper elaborated.

The discussion and workshop touched upon the opportunities and threats for the gear industry from four different perspectives: political, economic, social and technological. Some of the commonly agreed priorities were:

• The importance of raising awareness about the vital role gear manufacturing plays in the global economy, especially when it comes to policy and decision-makers
• New cutting technologies are about to transform the gear manufacturing business. How manufacturers respond to this shift in technology will shape the future of the competitive landscape
• A rapidly growing middle class will increase demand for products, making the shortage of resources such as raw materials, energy and know-how one of the greatest challenges for future generations
• Gear manufacturing presents advantageous future career opportunities to our future generation, especially within R & D. The challenge is in retaining and attracting the right competences

“It is a great opportunity to gather the top leaders under the same roof and discuss how we, as a group, can come up with solutions to improve our industry. If we manage to do that, it will enhance our ability to improve the situation out in the market place,” said David Goodfellow, CEO at Star SU, one of the world’s largest gear machine and gear tool manufacturing producers.
There were also lively discussions about how to meet challenges in new markets such as Africa and China.“If we can identify at least one or two actions that will help us to bring the best out of the new opportunities into industrial application, that I think would be beneficial,” said Jannik Henser, representing the application-oriented research organization Fraunhofer.

Besides a number of insightful presentations from top leaders from manufacturers like Scania and Siemens, the meeting also gave the opportunity to network, thus encouraging different perspectives from the gear manufacturing industry.

The main part of the event took place in Sandviken in Sandvik Coromant’s new center for metal cutting technology. The event also included a guided tour at Sandvik Coromant’s production plant in Gimo and a visit to Sandvik’s headquarters in Stockholm.

Participant List:

American Gear Manufacturers Association, Siemens, Scania, RWTH Aachen and Fachhochschule Aalen, Fraunhofer, Klingelnberg, Liebherr, Gleason, Star SU and DMG, JTekt, Assiot, Ovako and Overton Chicago Gear.

High-performance machining of aluminium structural parts

In the aerospace industry, high-volume cutting of aluminium structural parts is of major importance. Frame elements or wing parts are generally milled from solid material, and often more than 90% of the raw part is cut away. The tools and machines used therefore must have a reliable and high performance level to avoid scrap and keep the machining times as short as possible.

The new high-performance milling cutters OptiMill-SPM can be used with unmatched feed rates.
The new high-performance milling cutters OptiMill-SPM can be used with unmatched feed rates.

With the new high-performance milling tools OptiMill-SPM MAPAL presents a highly efficient tool solution of roughing aluminium structural parts. One important feature is the cutting edge length that corresponds to approx. 60% of the diameter, allowing the maximum contact depth for the high-performance milling of aluminium to be exploited. The PCD blades are optimally embedded and ensure a high stability. Thanks to the high positive cutting edge geometry and the optimised chip spaces, the cutting force of PCD milling cutters is reduced by up to 15%. The conical design also contributes to the high performance level of the tools. It prevents ending of the tool during the machining process and scratching of the part wall caused by chips.

The new OptiMill-SPM milling cutters are very successfully used in practice. A milling cutter ø 32 mm with three cutting edges machines a frame element from AlZnMgCu 1,5 with a spindle speed of 28,000 rpm. The tool delivers optimum results with feed speeds of 16,800 mm/min and a cutting depth of 12 mm. The machining parameters were increased even further in a high-pressure test conducted in the testing centre at MAPAL. The milling cutter showed an optimum performance even at a feed speed of 22,000 mm/min. The material removal rate even exceeded 8 l/min in this case.

The OptiMill-SPM tools are available in the diameter range from 6 to 50 mm, both as PCD and solid carbide variants in the standard range. The product portfolio also includes variants with the CFS replaceable head system.

Schneeberger MINISLIDE micro frictionless tables: compact and precise for maximum productivity

Where maximum precision and processing reliability are required in minimal space, the MINISLIDE miniature tables offer outstanding solutions. These new-generation Schneeberger miniature guideways are also extremely rigid and provide a high level of smoothness. Problematic cage creep is completely eliminated or at least reduced significantly.

MSQ miniature tables offer maximum precision resulting from a high level of system rigidity. In addition, cage creep is completely eradicated.
MSQ miniature tables offer maximum precision resulting from a high level of system rigidity. In addition, cage creep is completely eradicated.

The MINISLIDE miniature guideways are available in two designs, MSQ and MS, with rail widths of between 4 and 15 mm and with different strokes. All of this equates to low weight and excellent load carrying capacity and rigidity.
The MINISLIDE miniature tables MSQ 7, 9, 12 and 15 are characterised by a four track design. Large, internal spacings are achieved thanks to their special arrangement. Combined with the tracks offset of 90 degrees, they are able to continuously absorb high forces from all directions and guarantee enormous moment rigidity. As a high number of rolling elements are utilised, system rigidity is enhanced thereby ensuring a high level of precision.
Furthermore, developers of the MSQ miniature guideways have succeeded in completely eliminating cage creep with a well-engineered, robust cage control system. The gear racks are directly incorporated into carriages and rails. Cage and gearwheel are made of premium plastic materials. This compact, robust design and a minimum number of integral components ensure maximum reliability in every operating situation. Even vertical installation or temperature fluctuations will not result in cage creep. This all results in higher ratings for travel speeds and accelerations and thereby reducing cycle times. The bottom line is that you can enjoy trouble-free operation guaranteeing more productive time.
Amongst the special features of the MINISLIDE MS 4 and MS 5 are the fact that they support load capacities ten times greater than traditional 90 degree V profiles, due to the Gothic arch profile of the tracks. External influences, such as uneven load distribution or high accelerations, on this type of linear slide can cause the cage to move off centre as the cage can move freely along its longitudinal axis. Re-centring it by means of corrective strokes takes time and energy. Schneeberger engineers have now succeeded in significantly reducing cage creep in the MS range with 2 important design features : The miniature tables are fitted with single piece cages and in addition, an integrated cage centring piece helps to quickly re-centre the offset cage.

Delcam adds more reverse engineering tools to PowerSHAPE Pro CAD system

Delcam has added a number of new options for reverse engineering to its PowerSHAPE Pro software for the design of products and tooling. The 2015 R2 release of the software also includes improvements to speed up and simplify the editing of product designs to make them more suitable for manufacture.

The new alignment tool in PowerSHAPE Pro 2015 R2 makes it easier to align sets of scan data
The new alignment tool in PowerSHAPE Pro 2015 R2 makes it easier to align sets of scan data

By offering a combination of solid, surface and direct modelling, together with reverse engineering, PowerSHAPE Pro provides the most comprehensive range of design techniques available in a single CAD program. Having all the different technologies in the same package reduces the need to transfer data between multiple programs and so streamlines any product-development process that requires both reverse-engineering and CAD functionality.

PowerSHAPE Pro can connect directly to most scanning hardware to capture and display scan data in real time. The 2015 R2 version includes a new split-screen alignment option that makes it quicker and easier to combine multiple scans, taken, for example, from the opposite sides of a part. The new method also allows more accurate snapping of alignment points, giving greater accuracy in the resulting single CAD model.

PowerSHAPE Pro can be used to take cross-sections through the scan data to generate wireframe for the development of surface models. The wireframe can be simplified automatically into lines and arcs, reducing the number of points needed to describe the item and giving more precise geometry for the re-engineering of the model.

Another new option is the ability to morph a complete solid or surface model to a mesh. This can be used to compensate for spring-back when pressed parts are released from their tooling. Morphing can be used to update a nominal CAD model to match the part as it is made in reality or to modify the surfaces of the tool so that the part can be produced in the desired shape represented by the CAD model.

On the modelling side, analysis of models has been made easier as the Smart Feature Selector now displays the type and parameters of each feature interactively as the cursor is moved around the model.

In addition, the ability of the Smart Feature Selector to find, select and edit multiple similar features has been extended. Now, any number of items of the same type, not just similar features, can be edited in a single operation. For example, all the arcs within a model could be set to the same diameter or all the holes could be made the same depth.

Two enhancements have been made to the tools for the creation and editing of curves. Firstly, the Composite Curve tool has been more efficient so that it needs fewer clicks to create the curve, even when following fragmented edges. Secondly, the Re-point dialog now displays the deviation between the original curve and the new one, and it is also possible to re-point a curve to a known tolerance. This makes it even easier to create high-quality, smooth surfaces when re-engineering scan data or when remodelling an existing design to allow it to be manufactured.

Moulding Expo to become the meeting point for suppliers and buyers

In cooperation with the new trade fair for tool, pattern and mould making, the BME Forum entitled „Purchasing of tools“ will be held at the same time in Stuttgart.

During the sixty years of its existence, the BME has become established as a technical association for purchasing and logistics in Germany,. The objective of the BME is to promote science, education, training and the exchange of experiences in all areas of materials management, purchasing and logistics.
During the sixty years of its existence, the BME has become established as a technical association for purchasing and logistics in Germany,. The objective of the BME is to promote science, education, training and the exchange of experiences in all areas of materials management, purchasing and logistics.

With the German Association for Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME) and its BME Forum entitled “Purchasing of tools”, Moulding Expo has found the perfect partner to achieve this goal. On 6 and 7 May 2015, the BME will stage a 2-day seminar concurrently with the trade fair in Stuttgart. This seminar is expected to attract more than 100 purchasing experts and managers who want to continue their training. Representatives from the areas of tool-dependent parts, tool purchasing, strategic purchasing, technical purchasing and commodity management tooling will be present in Stuttgart.

“The event will be highly beneficial to the participants,” said Professor Robert Fieten, the initiator of the Forum. “For example, the international procurement markets for tools, purchasing strategies or supplier selection will be examined during technical talks and discussions. However, the discussions will also focus on topics such as solid cost accounting and the conclusion of watertight contracts in order to ensure, for example, title to supplied tools. The BME has already successfully staged this Forum for six years. Buyers, i.e. our primary target group, tell me that there is nothing comparable. Some buyers therefore repeatedly attend the Forum. If that isn’t a complement!, said Professor Fieten, who has taken over responsibility for technical management of the Forum.
Staging the BME Forum during the first Moulding Expo in Stuttgart was a joint idea between Ralf Dürrwächter, Marketing Manager at the Association of German Tool and Mould Makers (VDWF), and Florian Niethammer, Project Manager for Moulding Expo at Messe Stuttgart. “We considered how we could reach the target group of buyers. It has never been possible before for buyers to combine advanced training with a very special trade fair tour in Stuttgart,” said Niethammer.

Exclusive tours of Moulding Expo are planned for participants in the BME Forum. “We are delighted that the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) will support us with its expertise during the tours of the trade fair,” said Niethammer. Alfred Graf Zedtwitz from the VDMA Tool Manufacturing Association will act as the tour leader at 15.30 on 6 May 2015. One day later, Ralf Dürrwächter and VDWF Vice Chairman Anton Schweiger will perform this task at 15.15. “We will collect the buyers in shuttle buses and then offer them an exclusive tour of the trade fair under expert guidance,” said Florian Niethammer.

The BME Forum will feature a number of first-class speakers, including Bettina Planegger from Daimler AG, Sinasi Oezen from Robert Bosch GmbH and Chris Groger from Carl Zeiss SMT GmbH. However, Professor Thomas Seul, President of the VDWF and Vice-Rector of Schmalkaldenwird University of Applied Sciences, will talk about German tool manufacturing as an innovation leader in global competition, developments on the market, the challenges in tool purchasing and the success strategies in this respect.

KUKA receives Innovation Award

KUKA receives the German Business Innovation Award for the LBR iiwa and the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award for autonomous navigation.


With its LBR iiwa lightweight robot, KUKA has won the German Business Innovation Award in the large company category. CEO Dr. Till Reuter was presented with the award at a gala in the Gesellschaftshaus at the Parlamentsgarten in Frankfurt attended by around 500 guests from the worlds of business, science, politics and society.
The German Business Innovation Award is the world’s first innovation award and is presented in four categories. For the 34th time now, the partners of the award are acknowledging the most significant scientific, technical, corporate and intellectual innovations in German business. The prize is sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

Technology Transfer Award for flexible autonomous navigation in the production environment

One week earlier, KUKA picked up another renowned award: the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award that was presented at the European Robotics Forum in Vienna. KUKA received this award together with the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg for the successful technology transfer with the title: “Flexible Autonomous Navigation for Industrial Shop Floor”.

The technology transfer includes various processes for autonomous navigation, allowing the implementation of entirely new production and logistics concepts in the Aerospace and General Industry (GI) sectors using KUKA omniMove heavy-duty platforms. Autonomous navigation forms the basis for various mobile robotic applications and can be applied to any vehicle, with or without a robot arm.

I am delighted by these awards. They are recognition of our innovative strength. Human-robot collaboration and autonomous navigation are also important key technologies for the factory of the future,” said CEO Dr. Till Reuter as he took to the stage at the innovation award ceremony together with the LBR iiwa team. “Winning an award is always a team effort. I would like to thank all those colleagues who have worked on our innovative product – the LBR iiwa – and contributed to its success.”

NCG CAM v14 is Officially Released

NCG CAM Solutions Ltd, UK officially released NCG CAM v14. This major release includes a number of new features including UV surface machining, the ability to cover pockets, tools to align 3+2 axis, ability to quickly change the background colour, enhancements to translucency, 5-axis along curve machining, tool axis alignment curves for 5-axis along curve strategy as well as many enhancements including improved automation of the drilling in macros, the ability to copy and paste all of the strategy parameters and the ability to do rest finishing using a toroidal reference cutter.

5-Axis Along Curve Machining
5-Axis Along Curve Machining

In NCG CAM v14, UV surface machining is a new feature. This new feature will allow the user to select either a single surface, or a series of appropriate adjacent surfaces, and then to generate machining passes using the selected surfaces and the underlying UV direction parameterisation. This can be done by either a given number of passes, or a step-over distance.

This is not totally automated at this stage and requires the user to investigate the UV surface parameters with a view to swapping them to align them to a common machining direction. The UV directions are indicated by arrows.

New functionality to cover pockets is now available to allow the user to create planar patches from curves, machining passes, or remaining passes. Creating planar patches from the highest inaccessible passes in a Roughing Toolpath will cover and protect pockets of remaining stock, preventing smaller cutters falling into un-machined regions.

New tools are now available to help the user to align 3+2 Axis boundary planes.
Boundary alignment is a particular problem when there is not a planar surface with a suitable normal to orientate from.

The user is now able to quickly change the ‘Background Colour’ by either using the Drop-down Menu, or clicking the ‘Right’ button on the mouse. Previously 6 mouse clicks were needed to change it, via the Tools Options page.With the surfaces displayed in Shaded mode, it is now possible to change the translucency of all surfaces in a single operation. One use for this is to enable the user to see the holes inside the part when drilling.

A new feature has been added to the 5-axis module, 5-axis along curve machining. This will allow the cutter to follow a given curve, and the tool axis will remain normal to the underlying surfaces. One example of the use of this feature is to cut windows or trim profiles and edges into components made of composite materials.

Tool axis alignment curves for 5-Axis along curve strategy is a new feature that will allow the cutter to follow a Curve, then a second folder containing additional direction vectors will determine the tool axis. When machining, the tool axis will gradually tilt through these vectors, as it follows the curve.

Many other enhancements have also been added in NCG CAM v14, including improved automation to the drilling macros to make it possible to setup Macros to define drilling canned cycles and make them ‘Data Independent’ in the same way that milling operations can be setup as Boundary independent by selecting new Boundaries. Also the ability to Copy all the strategy parameters from the dialog page to the copy buffer, which will allow the user to be able to paste the copied parameters into a similar dialog in another NCG CAM session, reducing programming time and errors.