Many manufacturers cannot wait for the trade-show cycle to catch up with their own needs for technological progress. They need better performance, or more flexibility, or faster and more reliable data — now. That is the best way to explain the crowds streaming to Mazak Corp.’s North American Manufacturing headquarters in Florence, Ken., over four days this month. The DISCOVER 2019 may be a mid-term update between more celebrated manufacturing technology events, but Mazak’s program effectively concentrated the prevailing themes propelling manufacturing technology: machining precision, machine and process flexibility, automation, and digitalization.
The steadily expanding North American Manufacturing Center was the natural setting for Mazak to exhibit and demonstrate more than 30 manufacturing systems, from turning and milling machines to state-of-the-art hybrid technologies that incorporate laser-based additive manufacturing functions. In their demonstrations, many of these machines also showed how automation is available to enhance or improve manufacturing performance.
Among its numerous horizontal milling options, Mazak highlighted HCN-5000, which brings combines “performance, precision, reliability and production value” for high-volume production, and is available with numerous spindle and power options. The machine was exhibited with Mazak’s Multi-Pallet Pool (MPP) System, a compact, multiple-pallet stocker system for manufacturers that require basic automation to increase productivity and/or have limited floor space that prevents the installation of a system with a horizontal pallet stocker.
Mazak presented its complete range of vertical milling machines at DISCOVER 2019, including the VCN-570C, which offers advanced technology, performance, and value thanks to its 30-hp, 15,000-rpm standard spindle. This machine was exhibited with a RoboJob part-loading system, a simple and reliable way to cut setup time and ensure machining repeatability and accuracy.
The RoboJob also appeared in combination with Mazak’s QTU-350 HP turning machine. Built by Mazak in Kentucky, the QTU-350 HP brings together advanced technology, productivity advantages, and cost effectiveness for machine shops and manufacturers of all sizes, and it’s also offered with a high-performance (30 hp; 3,500-rpm turning) spindle option.
Manufacturers seeking five-axis machining systems were shown numerous Mazak offering, highlighted by the VC-500A/5X VMC with a trunnion-style rotary/tilt table that allows for the accurate, cost-effective processing of small complex parts via full five-axis machining. It is supplied equipped with a high-performance spindle for significant MRR in all common materials (e.g., steel, aluminum, cast iron) and spindle-speed options to address a variety of part production requirements.
In the realm of multi-tasking machines, Mazak’s INTEGREX series was represented by several advanced models, including the INTEGREX I-300ST with the new Spindle Health Monitor, and the INTEGREX i-400S with the new MAZATROL SmoothAI CNC — both underscoring the expanding role of data networking and analytics in the manufacturing-technology supply chain.
On the frontier of manufacturing technology today is hybrid manufacturing (combining additive and subtractive capabilities), which Mazak addresses with its HYBRID Multi-Tasking machines series.
For additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities, Mazak showed both versions of its VC-500A/5X AM: The first includes exceptional multi-laser metal deposition technology made for complex part interiors, cladding operations and other fine AM work.
The second, the VC-500A/5X AM HWD, incorporates the Hot Wire Deposition (HWD) system that uses arc welding technology in combination with laser heating to maximize metal deposition for high-speed AM processes.
Mazak also demonstrated the Friction Stir Welding (FSW) capabilities of its VTC-300C FSW – a closed-loop FSW process for both low-temp and high-temp frictional welds, as well as joining dissimilar materials to address lightweighting requirements in component design.
The entire DISCOVER 2019 program also stood as a presentation of Mazak’s North American manufacturing capabilities (numerous live demonstrations were given of machines designed and built at the Kentucky campus), as well as the evolving capabilities of Mazak’s digital technologies. The event marked the North American introduction for its Mixed Reality Training and the MAZATROL SmoothAI CNC, as well as enhancements to the machine connectivity and cybersecurity capabilities of the Mazak SmartBox.
As a technology for training and maintenance, Mazak’s new Mixed Reality paradigm combines the advantages of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Designed to reduce the risks in training new operators on sophisticated technology, Mixed Reality Training and new remote service modalities take virtual objects from VR and overlay them in the real world with an AR approach. This establishes “risk-free training” along with effective techniques for machine service and maintenance.
Also arriving new to North America is the new MAZATROL SmoothAI CNC. It includes graphical user interface enhancements; an optional second monitor; and operation panel enhancements that support other new SMOOTH TECHNOLOGY solutions, including SMOOTH Ai Spindle, Solid MAZATROL and Ai Thermal Shield,
SmoothAI CNC also will incorporate new products like SMOOTH CAM Ai, MAZATROL TWINS and SMOOTH Project Manager. And, the SmoothAI control includes artificial intelligence-driven machining functions, SMOOTH Robot Cell Controller and SMOOTH Robot Teaching Assist, which simplify the effort to integrate further digital technologies into part-production operations.
In addition to much else, Mazak’s North American Manufacturing headquarters is a functioning example of the effectiveness of the SmartBox technology for connecting machines and devices for monitoring and analysis – and an increasing level of cybersecurity. With several standard input ports and connection ports, SmartBox connects quickly and easily via standard off-the-shelf sensors to the system for machine-data gathering and condition monitoring. By creating a virtual local area network, the SmartBox can provide network isolation for several machine tools, along with other associated manufacturing equipment, depending on application and cybersecurity needs.
SmartBox is component of the Mazak iSMART Factory™ concept that the corporation has defined and is implementing — a full digital integration of advanced manufacturing cells and systems, for free-flow data sharing of process control and analytics. It’s at work now, for manufacturing now, and available for Mazak customers now.