The Culture Change of Large-Part Machining Automation
Skilled workers — the lack of whom arguably form the biggest hurdle facing U.S. manufacturing today — are as hard to recruit to a perks-galore company like Major Tool as they are almost anywhere. This shortfall is leading machining businesses to confront the problem through automation.
Major Tool’s roster of large-format CNC machine tools includes those for which the X, Y and Z travel capacities are often measured in feet, not inches. At this scale, even the company’s fastest machines require long cycle times to produce large-format parts. Human interventions that risk introducing errors need to be minimal. Since Major Tool often works with aerospace-grade materials like titanium, Hastelloy and Inconel machined from solid blocks, the concern is typically tool degradation which, when coupled with variations in the natural material hardness of a workpiece, can result in painfully expensive scrapped parts. Tool monitoring adaptive control, or TMAC, is one strategy that Major Tool is using to mitigate these risks and decrease cycle times.