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December 7, 1998

13 Min Read
IMTS '98:  Bigger, better than ever before

The latest International Manufacturing Technology Show, IMTS '98, was the largest IMTS ever held in the 71 years since the show debuted in Cleveland in 1927. It was also the largest industrial trade show ever held in the Western Hemisphere, occupying more than 1.4 million sq ft of exhibit space at the now completely renovated McCormick Place Complex in Chicago.

IMTS '98 housed more than 1400 exhibitors, up from 1381 at the last show in 1996, in 10 different product-grouped pavilions. It hosted 121,764 attendees. Cincinnati Milacron took the opportunity on opening day to announce it had sold its machine tool group to Unova. Such supplier business news was well paced by the faster, smarter, friendlier, and more accurate hardware and software solutions introduced at IMTS '98, many of them targeted at what OEMs are calling a growing market-you guessed it, injection molding.

TechnotrendsYou can read information on new products of interest to the molding and moldmaking community below and draw your own conclusions. Meanwhile, the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT, founded in 1902 as the National Machine Tool Builders Assoc.), sponsors of IMTS '98, have compiled a detailed report on technology trends in evidence at the show. Here are a few highlights:

  • Metal cutting. Accuracy at high speeds is the name of the game in chip-making processes these days. Since the introduction of carbide inserts and the increase in cutting speed they made possible, much of the industry's efforts have gone into speeding up setup time and part changes and reducing inventory and processing time. Now, new advances in tooling materials and machine design technology have called for new advances in machine accuracy at higher speeds. OEMs showed machines with spindles designed to operate at up to 42,000 rpm with high feed rates and high acceleration rates.

    To accommodate higher speeds, OEMs now more frequently use polymer concrete beds, modular designs, integral motors, and linear guideways, as well as linear motors on larger machines. Also, owing to the personnel crisis in manufacturing, machining centers have become more highly automated, so operator skill levels can be minimal, and interactive troubleshooting is a growing trend.

  • Turning. The turning industry is responding to customer need by incorporating a broader and more innovative mix of configurations and options, like multiple/sub-spindles; ram turrets; quick-change and live tooling arrangements; built-in automation; gantries and robot manipulators; and in-process probing, gauging, and compensations. Lathe spindle speeds are increasing, up to 20,000 rpm, as are accuracies. One new system produces finished parts that are round to within .19 micron and sized to within 1.4 microns over the entire 8.5-hour run.

  • Controls. Open architecture, PC front ends, PC controls, and Windows-based operating systems are trending toward becoming industry standards. Our AMT source is reminded of the shift from NC to CNC when describing the impact of PC-based products and open architecture on manufacturing technologies.

  • EDM. Finer finishes are the primary area of improvement in ram-type EDM processing. Improved power supply circuitry and betterdielectric fluids are helping users achieve those finishes. In many shops, AMT says the time it takes to make electrodes is the major production bottleneck. At IMTS '98, special machines designed for high-speed machining of graphite were on display. Rapid prototyping techniques also are attracting the attention of electrode producers.

In wire, steeper taper angles and thicker cuts are the order of the day. New wire materials, such as steel cores, are being developed to withstand greater pull and absorb more energy for improved cutting.

New developments in machining technology

The injection molding industry is a significant focus for companies making metalworking machinery, and a number of IMTS exhibitors introduced products that are especially suited for moldmaking applications. Let's look at a few of them.

Fadal's Advanced Technology System (ATS) for its vertical machining centers brings together all its technology for machining molds and electrodes into a package that sells for just $120,000. Three key systems work together in an ATS machine to provide faster feedrates while, at the same time, increasing part surface detail. Advance Feed Forward control algorithms provide more table speed; Dual Cool Power refrigeration delivers increased repeatability; and a new 15,000 rpm Vector Drive high-speed, air-over-oil spindle balances out ATS with cutting tool surface speeds that can pace the increased feed rates. Fadal's entry level VMCs sell for just $40,000. Phone: (818) 407-1400.

Makino's V55 VMC is designed to provide quality machined finishes that virtually eliminate the need for EDMing and benchwork even with molds requiring intricate, contoured, and mirror surface finishes. Key to the machine's performance are Makino's high-speed/high-definition/low-heat Flush Fine technology and its advance milling process that adjusts feed rate to match pick rate. Phone: (513) 573-7200.

Reko Machine Builders Inc.'s new Roka-2000 is a compact, high-speed, gantry machining center for roughing and finishing 40-by-40-by-80-inch molds. Because the cutter moves around the stationary workpiece, the Roka-2000 can accommodate workpiece loads up to 35,000 lb while not requiring too much floorspace. Its footprint is 122 by 215 inches, and it stands only 180 inches high. Feeds of 800 inches/min and speeds exceeding 7000 rpm quickly cut molds. Phone: (519) 737-6974.


BMC2416 machining center from Hurco.

Hurco Machine Tool Products introduced its smallest machining center, the BMC2416, part of the Advantage Series. This vertical machining center has a small work envelope of 24 by 16 by 20 inches and an 80-by-80-inch footprint, but it is powerful. It features 10 hp and a 100+ lb-ft torque a-c spindle drive. It has a maximum 8000 spindle rpm and features rapid rates in X and Y axes of 945 inches/min. The Z axis is rated at 590 inches/min. The BMC2416 is equipped with an Ultimax SSM control. Hurco also introduced a new larger vertical machining center in the BMC6434, which is part of the Performance Series and features the new Ultimax 4 programming station. Phone: (317) 293-5309.

Boston Digital's BostoMatic 12 is a fully equipped, three-axis precision machining system for high-speed machining of graphite or metal priced at about 35 percent less than competitively equipped machines. It's extremely compact and comes fully feature-loaded. Capable of 3-D contouring feedrates to 600 in/min and accelerations of 1G, the BostoMatic 12 is equipped with .5 µm glass scales and can achieve ±.00006 inch. Phone: (508) 473-4561.

Cincinnati Machine (formerly Cincinnati Milacron) introduced several new models at IMTS '98, including the following machine tools:


V55 vertical machining center from Makino.

  • A family of VMCs, including the Arrow E economy models. The Arrow 750E on display had a 30-inch X-axis stroke and can be equipped with a special ultra-high-speed machining package with a 40,000 rpm I-Bag spindle.

  • Hawk model CNC turning centers that combine high processing efficiencies and micron-level accuracies with operator ease and PC-based Acramatic 2100 CNC.

  • A 180° tile-spindle Magnum H5 five-axis machining center designed to cut cycle times and setups when handling complex contoured parts and the low-cost, high-performance five-axis Lancer V5-2000 vertical CNC machining center with a twin-axis tilt spindle for contoured aluminum parts machining.

  • Two new PC-based Maxim


Arrow E economical vertical machining center from Cincinnati Milacron

HMCs, including the 400EP HMC for job shops and the 630 HMC for everything from aluminum to cast iron and steel. Phone: (513) 841-8280.

Deckel Maho introduced its new DMC 60 U milling machine, a highly productive machine that features five-sided and five-axis machining. It has traversing paths of 600 mm (longitudinal), 700 mm (transverse), and 550 mm (vertical). The milling head, which swivels from the vertical to the horizontal position in five seconds, can be fully utilized for automatic five-sided operations on the pallets. The standard version of the machine features a 12,000 rpm motor spindle. Phone: (847) 781-0277.

Toshiba's Flexmachine is a machining center, boring machine, milling machine, and drilling machine all in one. Operated in quick changeover CNC or manual modes, the Flexmachine comes with a large diameter quill-type spindle that can extend up to 16 inches as standard. Other standards include 39.4-by-39.4-by-27.5-inch travels, 6600 lb table-loading capacity, a spindle speed range up to 1600 rpm, and CNC control. Phone: (847) 593-1616.

Mazak's Super Quick Turn 250 series features many of the company's latest innovations. Available in two-, three-, and four-axis configurations, it has the fastest rapid traverse, 1180 inches/min, of any turning center in its class according to the company. Its integral direct-drive a-c spindle motor eliminates belts and pulleys and is temperature controlled for high reliability, very good surface finishes, and longer tool life. Greater metal removal efficiency is also achieved through its powerful 25-hp, 5000-rpm spindle motor that offers a 2.5 second accel/decel. Machining repeatability is .00006 inch, and positioning accuracy is ±.00016 inch. Phone: (606) 342-1700.


Super Quick Turn 250 machining center from Mazak.

Bridgeport Machines introduced turning centers redesigned to better withstand the rigors of high-production turning. Two new models of Romi's latest generation G-series slant bed production lathes are being marketed with a full range of automation accessories. Both feature a headstock and base redesigned for greatly improved thermal stability. The G10 offers speeds up to 6000 rpm, a 6-inch power chuck, 1.875-inch bar capacity, and a 12-station turret. And the G30, the largest Romi G-series model, offers 40 inches between centers and a 10- or 12-inch hydraulically operated chuck for turning large parts. Phone: (203) 367-3651.

Current EDM introduced its Model CT300 CNC EDM drill, which is capable of drilling a .040-inch hole in 1-inch tool steel in approximately 35 seconds. The machine offers virtually burr-free drilling and allows drilling from all angles, using .004- to .256-inch-diameter electrodes. It is also capable of drilling hole depths of 50 to 300 times the diameter from all angles. For good positioning accuracy, the CT300 features direct-to-shaft feedback for the X,Y,Z axes. Phone: (650) 966-9676.

Hardinge designed its economical, heavy-duty Cobra 51 CNC lathe for fast metal removal rates and fine surface finishes on most two-axis lathe parts. The machine features an ANSI A2-6 precision spindle with a 2-inch through-collet capacity and a 6-inch jaw chuck capacity. Its 20-hp spindle is fully programmable in 1 rpm increments from 45 to 4500 rpm with a torque rating of 63 ft-lb. A 12-station bidirectional turret is standard, providing shortest-path tool positioning with precise indexing repeatability of 1.27 µm. Also new from the company for more complex machining is the Conquest TwinTurn 65 CNC turning center. Two 21ÿ2-inch spindles are standard, each with maximum speeds of 4000 rpm. Phone: (607) 734-2281.


DMC 60 U universal machining center from Deckel Maho.

Monarch featured its two new, compact Monarch-Spinner Ultra Precision Turning Centers to attendees whose work requires splitting tenths. Hard turning was demonstrated on Model SB. And the spotlight was on the sub-spindle versatility of Model PD. With true 40° slant beds and high-precision spindles, these machines achieve positioning accuracy to 20 millionths and repeatability to 10 millionths. Also on display was the new Monarch-Spinner CNC TM Turning-Milling Center. It features a 1.65-inch bar capacity and combines the capabilities of a five-axis machining center with those of a twin-spindle 20-hp turning center. Phone: (607) 753-6001.

Chevalier Machinery's Smart-818 CNC grinder features easy-to-use, 34;conversational34; PC-based controls with a 15-inch color monitor and full keyboard, which allow operators to switch between manual, semi-automatic, fully automatic, or CNC operation. The controls also feature a simulation mode that lets operators quickly program those single-part runs frequently performed by moldmakers and toolrooms. The Smart 818 accepts an optional air or liquid cooling unit to minimize temperature increases during peak operations. And the machine has features to improve accuracy when performing delicate side grinding. Phone: (562) 903-1929.

F.M. Deckel's five-axis CNC S20PCNC5 is a tool grinder that marries advanced Pentium-processor PC-based control running versatile Windows software with a patented vertical tool spindle design that ensures maximum rigidity, ideal axis movements, and easy loading and unloading. Also new is the five- to 12-axis model S11 universal manual tool and cutter grinder. It comes equipped with an integrated optical measuring system that allows for inspection and grinding without reclamping the tool. Phone: (203) 759-1622.

Toyoda Machinery USA has introduced an innovative system trademarked "Virtual-Tech"96 that allows its machine tool customers to communicate via both audio and high data-compression video links in real time over standard telephone lines using ISDN technology with Toyoda?s technicians around the world. Though pricing has yet to be determined, Virtual-Tech technology will be made available to industry on its own and not just to Toyoda customers. Phone: (847) 253-0340.


Smartscope Zip 250 CMM for small components from Optical Gaging.

Optical Gaging Products (OGP) has fielded two models in its new SmartScope ZIP series of non-contact CMMs. Model ZIP 200 features measurement travel of 8 by 6 by 6 inches; ZIP 250 is up to 12 by 6 by 6 inches. Features like precision auto-calibrating zoom optics, multiple illuminators, and high-resolution video cameras are packaged together on a heavyweight cast base that is rigid enough for high-speed operation. Also, for micromolders, OGP has developed its Avant Apec Series, an ultra-high-accuracy non-contact CMM. All models in the series feature .1 µm resolution non-contact scales, high accuracy fixed objectives, granite base and column, and high-resolution B&W cameras. Phone: (716) 544-0400.

Gradient Lens has introduced a line of video accessory systems to be used with long, slender optical instruments like borescopes or flexible fiberscopes for digital or video documentation of small defects or changing conditions in those hard-to-see places of a product. The systems include a tiny, specialized charge-coupled-device (CCD) camera, a video adapter, a light source, and a light guide. Prices, excluding borescopes, range from $1600 to $4900, depending on the resolution of the camera. Phone: (716) 235-2620.

Mitutoyo?s MF-U toolmaker?s microscope now incorporates a three-axis counter that allows for 3-D measuring of small, fragile parts. A standard MF-U offers 2-by-2-inch travel, an optical head that allows for camera attachment, continuously adjustable surface and transmitted illumination, and built-in linear scales. Maximum magnification is 8000X. Mitutoyo?s MDC-Lite is an operator-friendly, economical, 0-to-1-inch range digital readout-type micrometer that weighs in at only .47 lb. It?s slim and light and provides a measuring resolution of .00005 inch and accuracy of ±.0001 inch. Phone: (630) 820-9666.


Modu chucks from System 3R.

Open Mind Software Technologies Inc., a German supplier new to the States, introduced three new products:

  • Hyperwork V2.0 directly converts AutoCAD R14 designs into NC-code for 2.5-D milling, turning, and wire-EDM.

  • Hypermill V4.5, the integrated CAM solution for Autodesk Mechanical Desktop, features enhancements and improved functions for both 2.5-D and 3-D machining.

  • Hypermill V6.5, a new and improved version of its CAM software for Catia. Phone: (248) 355-3000.

Haas Automation's High-Speed Control (HSC) is a control option designed to reduce cycle times and improve accuracy in molds and in other three-, four-, or five-axis parts. It accepts standard Fanuc G-code from all major CAM systems to provide very high feedrates with little risk of distortion to the programmed path. Special software algorithms are combined with powerful 32-bit multiprocessor hardware to make high-speed machining more affordable than ever. The software smoothly blends each motion block into 2-D or 3-D paths while maintaining top velocity. Phone: (805) 278-1800.

System 3R?s Modu is a cost-effective alternative to adding another machine tool to a busy EDM department. The Modu provides the ability to remove the entire wire EDM Zeroline table without a loss of location. Zeroline pallets, equal to the size of the machine?s traditional Zeroline table, are precisely located in the wire EDM, utilizing four 3R Macro Modu chucks. The accuracy of these chucks allows for repeatable location of the Zeroline pallets within .0001 inch TIR. With this precision, one or two Zeroline pallets can function in different areas, such as setup and inspection, while the wire EDM is cutting workpieces mounted on a third. Phone: (973) 785-8200.

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