Making Things Come Out All Right

Finishing and inspection are just as critical in forging as heating, handling, and forming. Some technology packages may help avoid disaster.

If the redesign plans of many forging operations are fulfilled — that is, if forming processes are effectively accelerated for higher-volume production and greater product variability — the effects could be severe on the finishing end. More and more parts, more and more sizes and shapes, could mean more errors.

Finishing and inspection are just as critical in forging as heating, handling, and forming. Here are several technological developments that may save the redesign plans:

• First, there is high-volume cleaning for parts. Viking Blast & Wash Systems’ Model 1400S steel belt tumble blaster is a batch-style cleaning system specifically designed for high-speed processing of parts that can be gently tumbled. Products are blasted in the 14-cu.ft. work envelope to the required production specifications in one cycle, achieving complete and through coverage on all types and configurations of parts that can tumble.

The blast wheel is positioned to expose the breadth of the drum at the recommended load volume. The parts are presented to the unit in batch loads through the vertical pneumatic front door, either manually or by means of a hydraulic loader. The option to take parts away through a belt-style or vibratory conveyor aid in the ability to unload parts quickly and streamline the cleaning process.

• Wheelabrator re-engineered and upgraded its HTS series hanger-type blast machines to be more applicable to the requirements of less demanding, light- to medium-duty forgings, but maintaining high reliability and durability. HTS series machines offer economical blasting in a flexible overhead monorail (reversing Y-rail, closed-loop through-feed) layout. The machines integrate seamlessly into existing workflows and can cover a range of handling requirements.

HTS series machines operate with a rotating hook, running on a monorail, carrying individually hung parts: it ensures every individual workpiece is efficiently exposed to the abrasive from all sides. This conserves abrasive media and guarantees first-time pass rates of evenly treated parts.

The new design includes additional options to downsize blast wheels; select a screw conveyor rather than a screen vibratory conveyor; and introduces "deselect" functionality for features not needed for lighter tasks, thereby substantially lowering investment costs.

• For flexible finish machining of parts, Fastems LLC, an integrator of robots and related technology offers a comprehensive range of automated robotic finishing systems for grinding, polishing, deburring and brushing processes. It develops both pneumatic and electric spindles:  Pneumatic spindles have programmable compliance that enables tools to compensate for part feature variations such as may occur in high-volume parts series produced with opposing features. Pneumatic spindles are generally fitted with a single tool and are used in applications that do not require several different tools.

Electric spindles, on the other hand, are suited to applications that require a large number of tools or where tool changes are frequent. Electric spindles provide ample power, feature programmable rotational speeds and permit accurate tracing of control variables.

A large selection of tooling for either type of spindle lets users customizes processes for specific applications. Process tools include burrs, brushes, grinding stones, abrasive and flap-style wheels, as well as specially engineered tools.

Fastems provides both on-line and off-line programming options. For product families with relatively limited variations, on-line programming at the finishing cell is a quick and time-efficient solution. For parts that change frequently and have complex geometries, programming off-line employs Fastsimu, Fastems’ off-line programming software. Fastsimu combines feature-based CAD models with CAM-path based toolpath programming, facilitating creation of complex robotic programs off-line while the finishing cell operations continue uninterrupted.

Engineered accessories lets users customize robotic finishing systems to fit their own part requirements and shop conditions. Options include spindle cooling systems, tool presence sensors, application-specific process control sensors and Renishaw touch probes. Spindle and tool cabinets are offered for use with electric spindles, and spindle racks for applications employing pneumatic spindles. Environmental and ergonomic accessories such as sound-isolated or flush-proof housings and dust and fume extraction systems are also available.

Robotic finishing eliminates variations common in hand finishing operations and maximizes output of precisely finished parts.

• Finally, for reliable quality control, FARO Technologies Inc. is offering the 8-Axis FaroArm® portable coordinate measuring system that combines the portable Quantum FaroArm®, Quantum ScanArm, or Design ScanArm® inspection products with a functionally integrated, yet physically separate, eighth axis.

The eighth axis is a complete rotational axis identical to and a natural extension of all FaroArm products. It plugs directly into the FaroArm and results in an integrated, high-accuracy additional axis that requires no additional set-up time or effort. Unlike a turntable, the eighth axis is transparent to the measurement software, so no software updates or upgrades are needed. This functionality makes it possible for the part to be rotated in real time, relative to the arm, versus requiring the arm to be moved around the part. This not only means it is easier to scan and measure typically harder to reach areas, but also that measurement time and human measurement error are reduced -- because the part itself rests on a stable, consistent platform.

The 8-Axis system is recommended for various non-contact measurement and design applications, including point cloud comparison with CAD, rapid prototyping, reverse engineering, and 3D modeling of free-form surfaces.

Changes in manufacturing technology are unavoidable, but manufacturers need not let technology alter or disrupt their own objectives. There are solutions that match your plans.

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