Friday, December 5, 2014

MultiCam Celebrates 25th Anniversary


MultiCam Inc., a leading manufacturing of CNC cutting solutions, is pleased to announce that the end of 2014 will round out its first quarter century of operation. Since opening its doors in December of 1989, MultiCam's products have become an integral part of the manufacturing industry, advancing technology and value into systems that are highly productive, easy to use and built to last.

MultiCam Inc., originally Machine Automation Technology, was founded by Ken Koelling who began building complete CNC systems customized to the needs of his customers. His main goal was to ensure that every machine was engineered to perfection, built with passion and remained reliable for the life of the machine. He instilled a value equation into the company that ensured that the products built exceeded the industrial standards of the marketplace, yet remained affordable to small businesses around the globe.

Today, MultiCam has manufactured and installed more than 10,000 machines worldwide transforming Koelling's vision into a globally recognized, industry leader. "We continue to stand behind the goals and principles set forth 25 years ago," said Kelsey Smith, Marketing Director of MultiCam Inc. "Exemplary customer satisfaction, employee fulfillment and corporate citizenship remain the cornerstones of this company. Sustained success in these areas, we believe, will continue to yield long-term benefits for our brand, employees and our partners."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The State of Plasma

In the wake of an economic downturn and recovery, plasma - like the manufacturing industry as a whole  -  needs to change and adapt. To find out what particular challenges the industry's facing as it seeks to do so, we talked to Hypertherm's president, Evan Smith.

FAB Shop: What's the state of the plasma industry right now?

Smith: Well, when I think about the plasma market, I tend to think about it as part of the steel fabrication or steel cutting industry more broadly. The wider steel fabrication capital equipment market is generally healthy, but it's mixed by global region and by industry. And now that we're past the Great Recession, and also the immediate recovery, it's kind of a more mixed economic environment for investment and fabrication equipment. The decision makers are still cautious.

We're seeing equipment usage up. There's evidence by consumable demand, but I'd say that with the actual demand for equipment itself, we still see a fair amount of postponement in the industry. Light industrial demand is up, but the investment threshold is also lower.

Out of the three technologies -  plasma, waterjet and laser -  waterjet is probably the strongest right now, but plasma is holding onto its share in the product marketplace.

FAB Shop: What challenges do you see the plasma industry needing to overcome as it moves forward?

Smith: Like with most cutting technologies, there's the skilled workforce shortage. We find a lot of end users operating sub-optimally, so there are the issues of operator training and system optimization. A lot of end users are unaware of technology upgrade opportunities, too.

I think also, for plasma in particular we see automation and material handling being an area of less development. Plasma is by far the most productive and cost-cutting technology available for most high-volume plate cutting applications. But in terms of overall automation, we see that further development needs to be made there.

FAB Shop: What would you say that development will entail?

Smith: Well, naturally, the development focuses on the cutting process itself. So, for example, it would mean making plasma cutting faster, more cost effective, higher quality, more precise and so forth. We also see a lot of development need being in the software, in the control and in the whole upstream and downstream process integration with the actual cutting.

FAB Shop: How else to you see the plasma industry needing to change and adapt over the coming years?

Smith: I think more application focus versus system focus is going to be an important requirement, as well as focusing increasingly on service levels and advisory relationships, which will help customers address the issue that I mentioned earlier, of operating sub-optimally and not being aware of the technology and the upgrade potential. I think we'll also see more flexible in-sourcing and outsourcing among customers, and more emphasis on total lean operations.

In building those customer relationships, I think we'll need to go beyond the equipment or system performance itself and increasingly look at life cycle for the customer, in order to gain an understanding of what they're trying to accomplish in their applications. This way, we'll be able to deliver those particular applications in better and better ways.

I think other fields in the steel fabrication industry are simply more connected and smarter in terms of software and automation development. They're able to address the issues of self-monitoring and self-optimization, and thus also the shortage of skilled workers.

Plasma needs to follow suit. In the near future, I would expect that plasma systems will be more connected, perhaps through the cloud, and more application optimized. Broader application capabilities will allow plasma to enter new spaces that have been previously dominated by other cutting technologies. And following the trend of digital factory, the plasma system itself will provide more information and intelligence into total factory management systems and processes.

Right now, as an example, Hypertherm controllers can monitor certain parameters of system performance and often allow remote connectivity through the Internet. This is how we facilitate the information flows to partners and to Hypertherm in order to allow value added services.

FAB Shop: To summarize, where do you see the plasma industry in five years?

Smith: Well, its a little bit like the last 20 years. Certainly, plasma technology will continue to improve. It will increase in speed and precision, have a better cut quality , be more repeatable and have a lower cost per foot or linear cut, but I think you're also going to see an expanded application space for plasma as we continue to push particular adaptations and optimizations of the technology.

I would expect to see smarter and more connected machinery, as we've discussed -  machines that are self-monitored and more able to operate without human intervention.

We're also pushing greener technology, and we think the industry and equipment will become cleaner and greener in terms of its footprint and its impact on the environment.

I think we'll see systems -  as we've talked about - with increasingly more sophisticated software and and control technology. The plasma system itself will become more integrated for particular application, and we'll have more embedded process intelligence. And as process intelligence evolves, we'll probably see self-teaching or self-learning systems.

FAB Shop: Thank you.

For more information on MultiCam's lineup of versatile CNC  Plasma Cutting Machines visit www.multicam.com/plasmas.html

Article from FAB Shop Magazine.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Spindle, Toolholder Hygiene Checklist

Cleaning the toolholder
Article by Nicholas J. Korfias, found in Shop Metal Tech Magazine.

8 Tips to maintain toolholder-machine spindle interface accuracy

A minute chip floating in coolant swarf left to dry on a toolholder taper can become a serous interference at the machine tool spindle-toolholder interface. It can go undetected, causing slightly increased cutter runout(TIR) and diminished tool performance at low spindle speeds. At higher spindle speeds, the negative effects are magnified and can result in scrapped parts, catastrophic failure and a possible accident.
A contamination-free toolholder and machine tool spindle interface ensures toolholders properly seat at full taper contact and are pulled into the spindle taper at maximum force. With holders held and positioned accurately, a machine’s full power and tolerance capabilities can effectively and safely transfer to cutting tools, while runout and vibration are reduced for superior part surface finish quality.
The following are eight simple tips for maintaining toolholder-machine spindle interface accuracy and integrity.
1. Shops should clean and inspect toolholders and spindles after every job. Toolholders should be completely disassembled and cleaned. Today’s’ synthetic and semi-synthetic coolants can leave surfaces gummy, causing chips and other contaminants to easily adhere to them. Machine spindles should be cleaned and visually inspected before being returned to service. An oil-dissolving cleaner can be used to clean coolant residue from tollholer and spindle surfaces.
2. Spindle cleaning should be done as part of the overall machine breakdown routine that happens after every job.
3. Dust-free cloths or paper towels with light penetrating oil and manual wiping tools work best for cleaning the spindle socket surface. Most manual wiping tools feature helical cleaning blades set at angles matching those of a machine tool’s spindle. Once surfaces are cleaned, they should be sprayed with a  coat of light penetrating oil to prevent rusting.
4. Shops should use a “ForceCheck” device to check their machine spindle’s puling power on a quarterly basis. This practice should be employed as a preventative maintenance procedure, with results recorded and tracked. Any sudden drops in pulling force from one quarter to the next can indicate a potential issue with the spindle system and can provide early detection for preventing catastrophic failure.
5. If possible, a tool crib manager of designated tooling person should manage toolholder maintenance. As jobs are completed and tools are returned to the crib, cutters and holders should be completely disassembled and all components cleaned manually or in an ultrasonic system, then reassembled. Ultrasonic cleaning system quickly and efficiently clean toolholder tapers, collet cavities, holder nuts, collets and all the other smaller sub-assembly holder parts.
6. If toolholder tapers show visual signs of wear, manufacturers suggest running them through an automatic powerbrush wiping system that uses rotating tapered brushes. After doing so, holers should be cleaned in a n ultra sonic cleaning system, wiped clean and sprayed with a coating of light penetrating oil.
7. Once spindles and toolholders have been cleaned, a visual inspection should be made of the surfaces. They should be free of any defects. If serious damage is found in a spindle interface surface, a professional may be needed to re-grind the spindle taper socket. Damaged toolholder or machine spindle surfaces left dirty or unrepaired will, in turn, damage other tool and machine spindle mating surfaces.
8. Once tooling has been cleaned and properly maintained, store it to avoid any re-contamination as it moves from tool crib or tool cart to machine tools. Surface rust can occur while tools are stored, so they should always be sprayed with a coat of light penetrating oil. Shops should only load clean tool holders into machine spindles and automatic tool changing (ATC) systems. Again, dirty or damaged toolholder surfaces can easily transfer imperfections to other toolholders and onto machine spindle surfaces.

If your toolholders or spindles have reached the end of their useful life, visit out store at store.multicam.com or call us 972-929-4070 and order a replacement right away!

Friday, October 31, 2014

This Carpenter's Spirit Lives On Through His Machine


In 1968, a man by the name of Alejandro de la Cruz Saucedo started a small family wood shop in the town of Jesus Maria, Mexico. With only a handmade circular saw and the premise of "Making Furniture with Conviction", Alejandro set out to create incredible works of Rococo style furniture characterized by the superior French craftsmanship of the 18th-century.

For over 45 years now, Mueblera Provenzal has been producing outstanding results in fine furniture and has become a pioneer of the furniture industry in the Municipality of Jesus Maria.

Ever since he first witnessed the amazing abilities of CNC manufacturing, Alejandro made clear his dream of one day adding a CNC Router to his shop, now located in a 60,000 sq. ft. facility in the center of San Antonio de los Horcones in Jesus Maria.

Sadly, Alejandro passed away recently and was unable to see his dream come true by his own eyes. After his death, Alejandro's wife set out to make his dream become a reality and honor his life long commitment to the company, his town and his family.

Last month, with much anticipation, Mueblera Provenzal welcomed their brand new MultiCam 3000 Router to their work shop and paid homage to the man they revered so much.

Check out these pictures from the installation ceremony!

MultiCam 3000 Router
MultiCam 3000 Router Machine

MultiCam 3000 Router Machine







Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How To Optimize the Cut Quality of Your CNC WaterJet With SigmaNEST

Feedrate edge qualities in waterjet cutting
In CNC WaterJet cutting, when we refer to the feedrate, we’re talking about how fast the waterjet moves along the material per minute. The faster the waterjet moves, the more quickly it will cut the material, but with increased taper. The slower the waterjet moves, the slower it will cut, but the edge quality with greatly improve. Optimizing cut quality with operational efficiency is a balancing act between desired cut quality, material type/thickness, and abrasive feedrate.
When a waterjet moves more slowly over a piece, more water and abrasive is able to erode the material, thus increasing the cut quality. However, the more abrasive you use, the higher your operating costs will be. Many operations will average about 0.7lbs/min of abrasive. When it comes to operating costs, the amount of abrasive used in waterjet cutting is the single largest contributor. It is therefore important to ensure that you’re only using the absolute minimum amount of abrasive that you need for your cut.
To do this, think about the type of cut you’re trying to achieve. Do you require a very smooth cut, with perfect edge quality and negligible taper? Or perhaps you require merely a separation cut, where the edge quality isn’t nearly as important. SigmaNEST has a very simple way of choosing the level of cut quality you require for your job. This is an especially handy tool when your part does not require the same level of quality on all sides.
Feedrate control for waterjetMerely click on the cut line in the dashboard and click on the quality tab. This will allow you to choose from 1 (fastest cut speed, separation cut quality) to 5 (slowest cutting speed, smoothest edge). Having greater control over the quality you choose for each edge on your part means that you’re not wasting abrasive (and operating time), when a lower quality cut could do the job just as effectively.
Proper feed rate control for waterjet cutting is just another way that SigmaNEST software helps you not only cut better, but smarter.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What Are The Key Functions of a Plasma Electrode?

With today’s long-life oxygen cutting technology, CNC plasma systems are the most productive, cost effective way to cut carbon steel from gauge to 1 1/4” thickness. But to get the highest performance, operators need to ensure the consumables in the torch are inspected and maintained to high standards. To do that, a good understanding of the features and functions of each consumable is paramount to getting the most out of your machine.

The primary function for a plasma electrode is to provide power to the plasma arc, connecting to the negative output from the power supply. The plasma electrode’s secondary function is to conduct high voltage (aka, high frequency) energy during the starting sequence, adding energy to ionize the cutting gas, thus allowing the plasma arc to start. Since the electrode is the main contact point for the plasma arc, it gets very hot. As a result, the end emitter on an oxygen electrode, made of the element hafnium, can reach temperatures exceeding 3000 degrees F. In general, most plasma cutting electrodes used at over 100 Amps of cutting current are liquid cooled, as opposed to gas cooled in smaller mechanized and hand held plasma systems.hafnium emitter in plasma electrode
So what are the plasma electrode’s critical features? First of all, the hafnium emitter is the single most important part for the electrode. Since hafnium is a poor thermal conductor, it is bonded to the copper body of the electrode using a proprietary process that ensures an excellent thermal and electrical connection. Hypertherm electrodes use a patented process that matches the diameter of the hafnium emitter to the power level it is designed for, ensuring the most efficient heat transfer. Another very important factor to ensure cut quality is repeatable dimensional stability, where the electrode fits up well to the other internal torch components. If you have the incorrect length or diameter it will dramatically affect alignment and impact the cutting quality.
hollow milled post in plasma electrodeThe second critical feature for the plasma electrode are the very accurately machined bore and step, which insure superior cooling as a result of perfect alignment of the coolant tube to the hollow milled post in the electrode bottom. As well, alignment can provide for very concentric coolant flow around the high temperature hafnium emitter.
locating shoulder on plasma electrodeAll Hypertherm electrodes have a laser etched part number and a batch code clearly marked to ensure proper part match-up. And the threads and locating shoulder are designed to ensure perfect concentricity with nozzle and swirl ring when installed in the torch.
coolant tube around plasma electrode
Finally, the key feature of both the electrode and torch design is a floating coolant tube. How does the floating coolant tube work? The tube is loosely installed in the torch and when the electrode is installed the coolant tube self aligns and positions itself to the internal features of electrode. The coolant enters at the top of the tube at relatively high pressure and is forced through a tight fit around the hollow mill of the electrode. In the end, the squeeze increases coolant velocity, effectively causing the coolant to strip away steam buildup around the hot hafnium, for very efficient heat removal.

For a one stop shop of all your consumable needs, be sure to drop by the MultiCam Store today!