Makino Die Mold Expo a Success

Industry leaders attend three-day event

Auburn Hills, Michigan—September 2007—Makino’s fifth bi-annual Die Mold Expo, held at Makino’s Die Mold Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan was a resounding success September 25 – 27, 2007. Leaders of the die/mold industry were in attendance to learn about cutting-edge technologies and techniques.

“By bringing together sought-after business speakers, Makino’s machining experts, new technology demonstrations, and some of the world’s best die/mold manufacturers, we are arming North American shops with tools to compete against overseas competition,” said Andre Ey, Makino’s Vice President of Die Mold Technologies.

“Many shops tell us that this event is the most important three days of their year,” said Mark Rentschler, Makino’s marketing manager. “It’s an invaluable opportunity for training and a way for shops to get a first-hand look at some of the most advanced technology and applications expertise.”

Day 1: Business Day (Sept 25)
On the first day of the event, Makino hosted several speakers on topics such as diversification of your manufacturing business and industry forecasts.

First to speak was Erich Merkle, Chief Economist & Director of Forecasting for IRN. Merkle took the audience step-by-step through the future of the automotive industry, including new insights and what it means to the North American die/mold shop. He used charts comparing the U.S. durable goods manufacturing, new car sales, GDP, and many other variables to illustrate where he thinks potential areas of growth are in manufacturing. Merkle’s predictions have come to be known as some of the most accurate in the industry.

Next up was Jeffrey Fox, best-selling author of nine books, including The Dollarization Discipline, which outlines how to move past a low-cost selling strategy. Fox customized his presentation for the die/mold industry, citing specific examples of shops who have found ways to sell the value of their work, not just become another lowest-cost provider. He also spoke on ways die/mold shops could market themselves and stand out from everyone else. He also spoke about ways to quantify the value of your work to potential customers, focusing on the true cost of a mold or die, not just the price.

After the break, Jeffrey Mengel, CPA from Plante & Moran, spoke on the results of Plante & Moran’s biannual North American Survey of the Plastics Industry, including the benchmarks and statistical analysis that went along with it. He shared insights on where the automotive and manufacturing industries are headed, along with several areas of manufacturing which mold shops need to beware. He also shared the results of Plante & Moran’s survey of U.S. mold shops, showing the financial characteristics of a shop that is growing. Throughout his speech, Mengel emphasized the resilience and adaptability of die/mold shops, and ways shops could improve their business by seeking business in growth areas.

Next to speak was Jud McKinley, Executive Vice President of IRN. He spoke on the topic of selling to new domestic automakers and their suppliers via his three-phase approach, designed over 20-years of selling. He used his own experience to share how North American manufacturers have successfully sold to the new domestics after losing contracts from domestic automakers, and in turn have grown their business.

After McKinley finished, Thomas Klier, Senior Economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago took the stage. Klier spoke on the changing structure of the U.S. auto industry, and how this momentous shift is affecting teir 1 suppliers in North America. He shared several geographic studies, illustrating where assembly and parts production plants have moved, and showed the difference between how domestic and foreign auto makers have spread across North America.

Next up was Rena Pomaville of Tsunagari Services. Her presentation went into detail on the techniques required to maneuver into the Japanese business system and how North American shops can win business with Japanese transplants. She went into detail on the long-term commitment required by a North American company to establish itself as a potential supplier to a Japanese firm, using examples of her own experience working for a Japanese company in the U.S. She also spoke about ways to interpret responses by Japanese companies, as well as the steps you need to take in order to prepare yourself for a Japanese company’s factory visit.

Finally, Steven Everson and Amy Forester from Plante & Moran discussed how new IRS regulations can benefit North American die/mold shops through R&D tax credits. They applied their industry expertise and experience to tell the audience ways to expand their technology and business assets, while cutting down the money owed to Uncle Sam. Steven and Amy went into detail on how to decide if an R&D Tax credit would benefit your business, what the qualifying factors are, and how to go about getting the tax credit for your business.

Day 2 & 3: Showroom and Theater Presentations (Sept 26-27)
For those in attendance, one of the most anticipated parts of the Die/Mold Expo is always what topics are covered in Makino’s Die/Mold Technology Center showroom and theater. This year was no disappointment, as Makino’s Applications Engineers and Product Managers presented on a wide variety of new technologies and machining techniques.

Showroom demonstrations included a presentation on revolutionary cutter technologies for stainless steels; the latest advancements in high-volume roughing applications utilizing high-feed mills; sinker EDM process technologies to backburn punches, speed up rib machining, machine fine holes and obtain superior surface finishes; a shop-owner showing off his job-shop running “lights-out” hardmilling via webcam; and a case study of why a shop chose to switch to a Makino wire EDM.

Theater presentations included:

The Evolution of Hardmilling: Past, Present and Future, where a Makino Applications engineer talked about how this process has changed over the years, Makino’s role in its development, and how Makino is currently machining materials at 70+ HRc.

Metrology: Does Your Part Measure Up, where Optical Gauging Products (OGP) demonstrated some of the best and most practical measuring processes for specific applications including laser, vision and probe.

HEAT and SurfaceWIZARD, where Makino’s EDM Product Manager spoke about the new technologies, when combined eliminate witness lines in stepped workpieces and dramatically increase speed and accuracy in poor flushing conditions. This demonstration also included a live demonstration in the showroom.

2+3 Machining: The Realities of 5-Axis Machining, where a Makino’s VMC Product Manager talked about the advantages and disadvantages of 5-axis in die/mold applications, including accuracy and programming concerns related to this technique.

Shrinking Lead-Times in Medical Mold Manufacturing with Micro Technology, where lead-time comparisons were presented between direct milling and EDM, showing the technological advancements and challenges during the build of a medical staple mold.

Cut to Zero, where an emSOLVE engineer shared processing techniques on how to finish a machine cavity and core to net-zero stock. He also discussed how CAM software plays a role in cutting to zero, and some of the latest software, such as FF/CAM®, contributes to net-shape machining.

Day 2 & 3: Machining Demonstrations (Sept 26-27)
Eighteen machines were under power on Makino’s showroom, demonstrating dozens of technologies and materials.

These included:

V22 vertical machining center, micromilling a medical mold with extremely small tools. In this demonstration, tool-to-tool blends and surface finish were critical. In addition, the machine was used to demonstrate hardmilling of 70 HRc materials using coated carbide tooling.

V99L vertical machining center, designed to handle large molds without sacrificing speed or accuracy. The V99L demonstrated how a large-mold machine could behave like a smaller vertical, creating polish-free surfaces yet still having the horsepower and torque to rough at high-speeds.

S56 vertical machining center, which was machining actual part-production forging components for a customer in 52 HRc H13 to a polish-free surface. These parts were said to go straight into assembly, then to the press without any benching or polishing. The new S56 was demonstrated with the optional graphite and automation packages, making the machine more flexible for a mold shop environment.

V33-5XB, 5-axis vertical machining center that demonstrated practical 2+3 machining for die/mold. This machine demonstrated how 5-axis could be applied to die/mold, without suffering from the accuracy problems typically associated with this technique. This demonstration further illustrated the theater presentation 2+3 Machining: The Realities of 5-Axis Machining.

V33 Graphite vertical machining center, which showed graphite and steel machining on one machine with automation. This setup showed how a production mind-set, with 24/7 unattended operation is being done using palletized machines in die/mold shops. It also demonstrated how you can use one machine to machine hardened steel (62 HRc was demonstrated) and machine graphite electrodes for Ram EDM applications, all in one machine using an unattended robot cell for part handling.

a61 horizontal machining center, demonstrated automated a new method of multiple-sided machining of extrusion dies, offering process advantages such as unattended machining.

MCC2516-VG horizontal machining center, designed to tackle large molds with a 2+3 machining approach. This machine was milling an inner door panel using it’s variable geometry spindle head and a 63mm 4-insert shell mill with a 380mm extension for deep pocket rough machining.

U32j wire EDM, with a System 3R workpal robot showing how die/mold shops can take advantage of automation to increase through-put and implement unattended machining, while utilizing technologies such as SurfaceWIZARD to eliminate hand-work.

Two SP43 wire EDMs were on display, one with a Pico Precision threading and guide system, demonstrated how the threading of small holes (0.010 inches), even at high pitch distances is easily achieved using a Pico Precision Guide System. It also illustrated how ultra-precision taper angle machining can be achieved through a live demonstration.

The second SP43 demonstrated a completely new part production process, utilizing a fully-integrated NC table for applications requiring automatic part indexing. The machine also demonstrated a wire EDM turning process, utilizing a high-speed, high-precision submersible spinning unit. This process is perfect for round parts that are too hard or brittle for conventional processing, or too small to withstand normal cutting forces.

SP64 wire EDM showed HEAT, a revolutionary process to speed cutting in poor flushing conditions. Various part geometries were machined, representing the poorest flushing conditions possible, without sacrificing part accuracy, straightness, or causing wire breaks.

UPJ2 wire EDM was on hand, showing the world’s only horizontal wire EDM capable of automatically threading wire sizes down to 0.00078 inches. This machine is capable of producing inside corner radii of 0.001 inches, and uses dielectric oil instead of de-ionized water, providing excellent control of the spark gap and producing surface finishes down to 0.3 microns Ry. The standard 0.05 micron scale resolution and thermal chamber design allow positioning and repeatability of 1 micron, even after extended hours of machining. With its vertically sliding “drop tank” design and automatic work changer, the machine drew crowds to see what it was capable of.

ENDC65S sinker EDM with HQSF™ burned large surface area cavities with finishes twice as fine and 40 percent faster than a conventional EDM, as demonstrated on two die cast cavities on display. This EDM permits full unmanned operation from roughing through finishing with extended tool life due to a reduction in the recast layer of the finished workpiece.

EDGE2 Fine Hole sinker EDM was on hand, showing how to machine 0.003 inch diameter holes and simple automatic handling of very small pipe electrodes. It also included an integrated wire EDM electrode dressing option, providing automatic dressing capabilities for shaped holes.

EDAC1 sinker EDM was shown, regarded as the highest precision Ram EDM in the world. An electronic indicator probe was used to measure the accuracy of the X, Y and C-axes, showing positioning repeatability of 0.000006 to 0.000010 inches. Sample parts were on display to confirm 0.0002 inch (0.005mm) inside corner radii and machined positioning accuracies of 0.000039 inches.

EDCAM Professional was demonstrated, showing how this offline programming system permits the direct input of CAD/CAM part models and develop an EDM program using the positioning data from the CAD model. Full graphic simulations of the EDM job, prior to part setup, were shown.

A number of select manufacturers were invited to exhibit at the Die Mold Expo. The list of exhibitors included:

Blum Laser and ATLM Systems, Camtek CAM software for EDM, Delcam CAD/CAM, EDM Sales & Supplies, emSOLVE CAM system solutions, Erowa Technology Inc. workholding and automation solutions, Espirit CAM software supplier, Hardmilling Solutions machining services, Hirschman NC rotary tables for EDM, Hitachi Tool cutting tools, International Mold Steel material and steel supplier, Lyndex Nikken tooling systems, Matsumoto rotary tables for EDM, Millstar cutting tools, Mastercam, MST-Tecnara toolholding, OGP/Clark Technical measuring equipment supplier, OSG Tap & Die cutting tools, Remote Machining monitoring systems, SST Tools die/mold consumable tooling supplier, System 3R workholding and automation, Technitron NC rotary tables and integration and Union Tool cutting tools.

About Makino
A world leader in advanced CNC machining centers, Makino provides a wide range of high-precision metal-cutting and EDM machinery, including horizontal machining centers, vertical machining centers, 5-axis machining centers, graphite machining centers, and wire and Ram EDMs. Our flexible automation solutions provide reduced labor costs and increased throughput in a variety of production volumes and designs. With Makino engineering services, we offer industry leading expertise for even the most challenging applications across all industries. For more information call 1.800.552.3288, or visit

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