Fundamental Facts on Multitasking Machine Tools
Published on : Wednesday 06-07-2022
Before investing in a multitasking machine tool there are certain things to consider, cautions Sagar Kadam.
Multitasking is often associated with nouns such as proficiency, productivity, and effectiveness. Multitasking has indeed turned into a necessity from a mere luxury in today's world, where we are surrounded by advanced technology and strict deadlines. From all-in-one printers to smartphones, combining capacities into a single product speeds up tasks while increasing overall efficiency. The same can be said for the manufacturing and machining industries. Combining multiple functions into a single machine can augment your machining process dramatically and provide an incredible RoI.
Basic facts about a multitasking machine
Multitasking machines merge the working of two or more customary standalone machine tools to create a single ‘super’ machine. For example, many machine tool manufacturers had already combined one or two lathes with a machining centre to provide more job options. However, in recent years, additional capabilities like gear cutting, grinding, and even laser hybridisation, have begun to be integrated. The beauty of multitasking machines is they come in a variety of configurations, allowing you to invest in what is best for your shop.
Different functions and capabilities of multitasking machine
Multitasking machines tools, as their name suggests, are the pinnacle of productivity. By combining several functions into a single machine, you significantly reduce setup times as well as human error by completing the portion in a single operation. These machines offer the following capabilities and functions: laser hybrid, grinding, broaching, turn-cut, skiving, hobbing, mill-turning, 5-axis machining, helical milling, surfacing, milling, turning, and more.
Why choose multitasking machines?
Automated Processes – Precision machining necessitates highly skilled labour, yet for the current manufacturing skills gap, most shops struggle in finding qualified workers. Because a multitasking machine can perform the functions of about three machines, hiring just one highly skilled machinist instead of several can help. This way one can continue in expanding their shop while maintaining their machinists' excellent reputation.
Shorter Lead Times – To set a part on a single machine will speed up the operation, allowing one to complete parts more quickly. It is not uncommon to see six operations cut down to just one.
Extreme Accuracy – The precision of multitasking technology is well known. There is less room for human error with only one operation to set up than with multiple machines and setups. With extreme accuracy and consistency, most multitasking machines are capable of holding tolerances as tight as 0003".
Better Prices – Setup time accounts for the majority of customer costs in low-volume projects. One can almost cut the setup hours in half by using a multitasking machine.
Streamlined Quality Control – Errors that occur early in the process may not become apparent until much later during the process, when a complete batch of parts may require being remade. This issue does not arise with a one-operation workflow because one can inspect a part after every operation has been completed to ensure it meets the highest quality standards.
Multitasking machines – Key points
The following are some key points related to multitasking:
Reduction in the Labour Cost and Consolidation of Processes – If a multitasking machine is not used, several machines must be used for producing a finished good from a material, and each time a worker must install, remove, as well as transport the material. All such tasks are conducted via a single machine with a multitasking machine, preventing the requirement for workers in attaching and detaching materials or moving materials between processes. When materials are set, these are set to be finished, which reduces the workload on workers.
Space Saving – Because there is no need for multiple machine tools for various processes, the machines in totality can be reduced, and factory space can be more efficiently utilised. The factory's overall production capacity can be increased.
Superior Quality – In terms of machining accuracy, with the rise in mounting and dismounting operations, accuracy deteriorates and positioning during mounting is critical. Previously, each process required the installation and removal of materials, which could result in minor deviations. However, via machining with one multitasking machine, the installation and removal process, which can reduce machining accuracy, is eliminated, while maintaining uniform accuracy of the finished product.
Different situations where multitasking is practical
Machining Non-continuous Surfaces – The machining of a surface that is non-continuous may result in interrupted cutting, such as grooves and undercuts. This operation produces poor surface finish, unwanted impact load, and early tool wear in traditional turning. The tool in multitasking is a milling cutter designed specifically for interrupted cuts having cyclic load.
Machining Materials Producing Long Chips – Chip disposal can be difficult in turning, and determining the right chip-breaking geometry especially for cutting tools is not an easy task. The milling cutter utilised in multitasking produces a short chip, which improves swarf handling significantly. Because it offers a low rotary velocity, multitasking is ideal for machining an eccentric shaft.
Eccentric Machining of Rotating Parts – It is used for machining eccentric rotating components like crankshafts and camshafts. These components’ off-centre masses (eccentric cam, crank journal) cause unbalanced forces which degrade performance in traditional turning. Multitasking with the workpieces’ low rotary velocity will help to mitigate this negative effect.
Machining Heavy Parts – The heavy parts rotation that defines the cutting speed in traditional turning is limited by the machine tool's main drive. If the drive cannot rotate large masses at the required velocity, the cutting speed will be far from optimal, and turning performance will be poor. Multitasking allows you to effectively overcome these challenges.
Users of multitasking machines can complete an entire operation with the help of a single machine; only a change in the corresponding tool or software is required. It is critical to select the correct machine when making the machine selection. A good initial step is in clearly identifying the machine needs most critical to your operations by compiling a comprehensive list that includes both your business goals and the needs of the machinists who will work on the machine. Most importantly, before investing in a multitasking machine tool there are certain things that you need to consider such as to know the machining parameters and then buy a machine for matching them; choose the machine supplier wisely, understand the inherent issues with multi-axis machines and ways of addressing them; and consider the software needed to support the multitasking.
Sagar Kadam is an executive with Market Research Future (MRFR), a global research company. MRFR enables customers to unravel the complexity of various industries through its Cooked Research Report (CRR), Half-Cooked Research Reports (HCRR), Raw Research Reports (3R), Continuous-Feed Research (CFR), and Market Research & Consulting Services.
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