More manufacturers turning to adaptive machining, says Blum-Novotest

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Blum-Novotest has seen a 25% rise in demand for the company’s ‘on-machine’ probes and laser systems since the launch of its LC50-Digilog, with the technology now in place at some of the world’s largest aerospace and automotive companies, and tens of subcontract manufacturers.

Adaptive machining is fast giving manufacturers a “golden opportunity” to secure greater control, speed and accuracy when setting tools and controlling workpieces, says David Mold, managing director of Blum Novotest in the UK. Mold believes industry has finally realised that it can no longer stand still with the way it controls the production process, especially companies that make their living from cutting metal.

“Adaptive machining has been around for some time and is basically about being able to measure and control the three main variables in the machining process, which are the cutting tools, the temperature and the workpiece itself,” says Mold. “Controlling these variables on the machine reduces the tried and tested method of setting tools off the machine, or taking the workpiece off the machine to make measurements on a CMM.”

He continues: “Utilising on-machine tool setting systems means you can quickly tell if a tool is slightly off, meaning you can reset or change the settings before a component is damaged or ruined.”

Blum-Novotest launched the LC50-Digilog last year. This next-generation technology evaluates the analogue signal rather than the digital one, taking thousands of measurements of the cutting-tool edges every second. In essence, this process is 60% quicker than conventional on-machine measuring, says the company.

Other benefits of system include Digilog calibration, as more tool data means users can accurately measure tools while eliminating coolant or dirt on the tools or in the machine, providing higher accuracy than before. In addition, spindle or tool run-out can be measured accurately and incorporated into the measured result. The system also offers premium laser optics and a high-pressure tool cleaning nozzle.

Mold concludes: “The challenge now is to continue advancing the technology. Indeed, we've already made breakthroughs in adding six applications to LC50, including ProfileControl [complex tool geometries], GrindControl [grinding wheels/tools], OrientateTool [for engraving tools] and ChamferControl [chamfer measurement].”