What’s the tool doing in the PC?
Hannover, Germany and Princeton, New Jersey – The paramount focus of EMO Hannover 2013 will be on “Intelligence in Production” that applies particularly to a German-American duo of companies who have already made a name for themselves with virtual methods and programs themed around metal-cutting. These two exhibitors ISBE and Third Wave Systems improve the efficacy of metal-cutting in a holistic approach, extending from tool development all the way through to the tool’s actual use in the production process.
“At first, we got pitying smiles”, recalls Dr.-Ing. Claus Itterheim, Managing Director of ISBE GmbH from Stuttgart, looking back to 2006, when he premiered his program for virtual tool design. The development manager of a machine tool manufacturer even said, it was “just a laughable business model” without any future whatsoever. Today, Claus Itterheim is gratified to note that skeptics at this company have also begun some comparable development work. The Swabian company is meanwhile well-known on the tool scene and among the relevant users, due to its consultancy capabilities and its programs themed around tool development. Its specialties include simulation programs, which meanwhile, says Dr. Itterheim, are at many manufacturers a constituent part of their systematized tool development work.
Simulation does not replace humans
The encouraging message from Stuttgart is this: even the most ingenious simulation does not replace a smart employee. To quote Dr. Itterheim, “In Germany’s university scene, unfortunately, only a handful of people are researching metal-cutting, plus the relevant tools and their development, compared to all other technologies around.” These few experts also include his colleague Dr.-Ing. Kay Marschalkowski, who in March of this year reported from the development front at the 2nd ISBE User Conference in Dortmund.
“By factoring in physical process variables, we are able to simulate the stress between the tool and the workpiece during the metal-cutting process. On this basis, even complex 5-axis processes can be reliably optimized. A stress collective of this kind can also be used in further FEM analyses for investigating the clamping situation of a tool or component”, is one example described by the Head of the Tool Engineering Centre. “This means I can generate a database with relative accuracy, so as to provide the designer with guidelines for dimensioning and for optimizing clamping devices or machinery structures. If you are thoroughly familiar with your metal-cutting processes, you see, you also have a good description of the important boundary conditions involved.”
Collaboration with a U. S. think tank
The Swabians owe insights of this kind to the simulation programs of their long-standing cooperation partner Third Wave Systems (TWS), Inc. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Some tool manufacturers from our customer base drew our attention to a software package called AdvantEdge from the U.S. that was said to be very well suited for high-precision FEM simulation of metal-cutting processes”, recalls Dr. Itterheim. “Following some persuasive tests with our own data, we decided in 2088 to enter into an alliance with TWS.” Meanwhile, it’s not only this software that’s being used by ISBE’s customers: the Production Module, too, has proved most efficacious, used to optimize NC programs for milling and turning with the aid of a simulation also based on FEM data. Cross-frontier alliances of this kind are seen by Nick Shannon, Sales & Application Engineer at TWS, as an essential precondition for global engineering that “synergizes the unique developments on the individual markets to form a holistic corporate capability”.
But where does simulation come up against its limits? Can everything really be precisely predicted and optimized in a virtual environment? “Metal-cutting is an extremely complex phenomenon, with many unknown boundary conditions”, explains TWS’ Development Manager Dr. Shuji Usui. “So there is a lot of development work still needed in order to research this operation further.” To which his German partner Dr. Itterheim adds: “First we have to know from the customer what his actual goal is when it comes to optimizing his metal-cutting operation. Only then can we advise him which software and which approach will give him the best results.” It’s completely wrong, he continues, simply to sell the customer a software package and then to leave him alone with it.
The first (virtual) step is the hardest
Before you start simulating, first do the studying. There are some refinements to bear in mind here. “The FEM metal-cutting simulation has to be subjected to the same systematized approach as the entire virtual tool design process”, explained Dr. Itterheim. “Pure 2D simulations, for analyzing different cutting and clearance angles or edge preparation, for instance, constitute the first foundations for bringing transparency into the metal-cutting process. Initial conclusions can thus likewise be drawn on the chip shape. For this purpose, simple 2D cross-sections of the cutting edge suffice as a geometrical basis.”
Bur why are special simulation systems needed for metal-cutting application? Can’t the development engineers also cover that with their CAD-CAM software? To quote Dr. Usui, “The designers of machine tools can admittedly analyze the structure of the entire machine very well, but they lack comprehensive knowledge of what actually happens at the tool’s cutting edge.” ISBE’s Managing Director Dr. Itterheim adds: “The designer should not run his simulations with constant characteristics, but with the dynamic parameters we have determined with the Production Module. This is essential if the simulation is to reveal what actual forces or moments are influencing his machine’s behavior during milling or turning, for example.”
The simulation experts from Stuttgart and Minneapolis will be communicating these messages at the EMO Hannover 2013 in two ways: by showcasing new software on their shared stand and by giving a joint presentation at the conference entitled “New Production Technologies for the Aerospace Sector” hosted by the Institute for Production Technology and Machine Tools (IFW) at Hanover University (EMO Hannover, September 18 to 19 2013, Convention Centre).
About EMO Hannover 2013
From September 16 to 21, 2013, international manufacturers of production technology will be spotlighting “Intelligence in Production” at the EMO Hannover 2013. The world’s premier trade fair for the metalworking industry will be showcasing the entire bandwidth of today’s most sophisticated metalworking technology, which is the heart of every industrial production process. The fair will be presenting the latest machines, plus efficient technical solutions, product-supportive services, sustainability in the production process, and much, much more. The principal focus of the EMO Hannover is on metal-cutting and forming machine tools, production systems, high-precision tools, automated material flows, computer technology, industrial electronics and accessories. The trade visitors to the EMO come from all major sectors of industry, such as machinery and plant manufacturers, the automotive industry and its component suppliers, the aerospace sector, precision mechanics and optics, shipbuilding, medical technology, tool and die manufacture, steel and lightweight construction. The EMO Hannover is the world’s most important international meeting point for production technology specialists from all over the planet. In 2011, the fair attracted more than 2,000 exhibitors, and around 140,000 trade visitors from more than 100 different countries. EMO is a registered trademark of the European Committee for Cooperation of the Machine Tool Industry CECIMO.