At the 10th Tool Conference in Schmalkalden, the manufacturers and users of metal-cutting tools were not indifferent to the controversial issue of Industry 4.0. When you take a closer look, you can already discover some tools with the right stuff for Industry 4.0. As indeed the 200 attendees saw for themselves, both in the presentations and during a tour of the test bay and the laboratories of the GFE – Gesellschaft für Fertigungstechnik und Entwicklung Schmalkalden e.V. (Society of Production Technology and Development), who organized this symposium themed around high-precision tools.
The experts in Thuringia unveiled a mechatronic tool, for example, designed for retrograde machining of large boreholes, which uses telemetry to acquire the on-going status of the tool during the metal-cutting operation. This tool, which acquires and transmits measured data, fits in neatly with the new concept known as the “Internet of Things”, in which basically all participants communicate with each other just like on the conventional web. To quote GFE scientist Bernd Aschenbach: “The use of mechatronic tools with integrated sensor-monitored actuators can help to downsize the amount of work required for producing retrograde counterbores on large-size machining centres while retaining high levels of process dependability.”
In order to reduce the costs involved, GFE has developed a prototype featuring standard electronic modules. What are called Hall sensors monitor the end positions of the hydraulic cutting drive, which are communicated to a base station.
The BMBF’s (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) joint project called Sensomikrosys goes one step further. What’s been created here is extremely small sensors that monitor in real-time machines and tool components exposed to highly dynamic loads. These microsystems serve, for example, to measure the forces acting in tools and clamping systems. For this purpose, the GFE had at the Tool Conference in Schmalkalden showcased a test rig for dynamic load testing of tool clamping systems in machine spindles. Sensors of this kind can even be integrated into hand-held tools. Here, too, the term “Tools 4.0” is definitely apposite.
“At the EMO Hannover 2013, we shall be seeing plenty of interesting tool and technology solutions incorporating concepts of this kind with sensors and actuators”, comments GFE’s executive director Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Barthelmä.“The basic idea of integrating machine functionalities into the tool is not entirely new, of course. But for machining jobs like systems for energy technology or components for large-size machinery, we’ve meanwhile arrived at quite different dimensions. The EMO is also going to show that besides the innovative content of technical solutions, users are more than ever going to be asking about their cost-efficiency.”
Assistance systems is one of the watchwords at Komet Group GmbH from Besigheim. Its Managing Director Dr.-Ing. Christof W. Bönsch has deliberately adopted the term from the automotive industry. “Parking backwards is for many people a complex task. But there are assistance systems for it that solve the problem”, he explains. “The idea is to arrive at assistance systems in metal-cutting applications as well, designed to make life easier for us.” This is the functional thrust exhibited by the familiar systems for process monitoring, which detect tool wear and tear, for example, or improve the efficiency of the metal-cutting process with the aid of adaptive control systems.
EMO Hannover takes place September 16-21 in Hannover, Germany.