Modern Machine Shop

SEP 2018

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THE Z AXIS MMS SEPTEMBER 2018 20 mmsonline.com pzelinski@mmsonline.com Peter Zelinski EDITOR-IN-CHIEF @Z_Axis_MMS The Name Makes Even More Sense Today With the rapid advance of additive manufacturing's place at IMTS, the biennial event expands well beyond machine tools. Is it fitting to characterize a machine for additive manufacturing (AM) as a machine tool? Arguably not, and the organizers of IMTS decades ago seemed to anticipate that a technology such as this might one day be part of the show. Back in 1990, the bienniel manufacturing event changed its name, choosing a new name that its initials could take in stride. What had been the International Machine Tool Show became the International Manufacturing Tech- nology Show. Even so, IMTS has remained largely a machine tool show, with its biggest halls devoted to show- casing these machines. Most of the products exhibited—tooling, workholding, manufacturing software, measurement devices—are just one step removed from a machine tool. But this year, will we see a significant shift from the show's historical norm? The answer depends on the answer to the question I started with. That is, whether a machine for additive manufacturing is a machine tool. IMTS continues its advance as a major event for AM. The leading event in North America for manufac- turing deci- sion-makers is the right venue for companies supplying addi- tive offerings. Accordingly, triple the number of companies are exhibiting in the show's Additive Manufacturing Pavilion this year compared to the last show—and that's just the AM Pavil- ion. The number of machine tool builders and software companies showing additive-related solutions in the rest of the show has expanded as well. So is this technology just an incremen- tal extension? Is additive a new and different machine tool variety? The questions have importance beyond mere classification. The answers shape what we can see in this technology. My answer is "sometimes yes," in that a hybrid machine tool offering additive capability clearly is still a machine tool. Beyond that, my answer is "mostly no." An additive manufacturing machine generating a complete and complex part through AM is not a machine tool, because it does not do what a machine tool does. It does not fill the same niche. It changes the niche instead. An AM machine can make a part that other- wise might have been machined. In that case, it takes the place of machine tool. But it can also consolidate connected parts into one piece. In that case, it takes the place of assembly. It can consolidate operations such as casting, machining and assembly into one step, taking the place of a supply chain and the shipping that links that chain. It can simplify the supply of aftermarket components, taking the place of a warehouse full of parts. It can open the way to entirely new pos- sibilities in design, replacing design for manufac- turability with design for functionality. In short, additive touches so much of the process that it is less a manufacturing operation and more a manufacturing redefinition. It is less of a resource for the manufacturing department and more of a reshaping of the manufacturing enterprise. There is more than this to say about additive. My observation here relates to IMTS. Manufac- turing is changing, and AM is a significant part of the change. In pursuing and making a home for what is new in manufacturing, including additive, we see IMTS continuing to come into its own. We see the show living up to its name. LEARN ADDITIVE The Additive Conference returns for its third time at IMTS. Regis- ter at additiveconference.com .

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