On The Horizon

On The Horizon

Several machine tool execs share thoughts on trends for new technologies.

For years, cutting higher volumes of metal at faster speeds was the primary point of emphasis for machine tools. But not anymore. Advances in machine tool technology have emphasized automation and precision, while allowing users to make smarter and safer decisions.

With the machine tool industry gathering for EMO 2009 in Milan this month, several machine tool executives took time to share with IndustryWeek innovations they see guiding the market into the future.

Don Lane, President, Makino USA

What's happening in the car industry is happening in the machine tool industry. You see a car now with crash avoidance. Well, you're seeing the same thing in machine tools with vibration sensing. You'll see things like active damping systems, where you get into a cut and the machine will start to vibrate and automatically adjust. It will make the process safer and more efficient.

Gregg Hyatt, vice president of engineering and chief technical officer, Mori Seiki

The biggest challenge for asset utilization in many industries is how short the tool life is. It requires frequent operator intervention to replace the tools. It's a necessary evil that comes with working with difficult alloys. But you're seeing more development of automated inspection devices that can be run in the machine, which can measure the workpiece or determine if the tool needs to be replaced and do it automatically.

Scott Walker, president, Mitsui Seiki USA

The cost of materials is going to be the driving force of machine tool development technology in the future. They're getting so incredibly unique, and they're able to do things chemically with materials now, so machine tool technologies will have to keep pace. So, motion control and the digital manipulation of driving tool path, complementary to cutting tool geometries, are going to become the next developmental wave. And those developmental technologies are going to require a huge amount of horsepower in the control.

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