Home / Industry / New Machining trends and technologies to improve efficiency, lower operating costs, greener solutions and higher precision for tasks. 

New Machining trends and technologies to improve efficiency, lower operating costs, greener solutions and higher precision for tasks. 

Machining is a family of processes. Machining common features are the use of cutting tools to form chips that are removed from the work-part. In manufacturing, metal parts frequently require machining. The cutting action itself is a shear deformation on the work-part. Machining can be applied to a wide variety of work materials all solid metals, plastics and plastic composites, woods and even most ceramics in spite of their high hardness and brittleness etc.


Machining can be performed by cutting tools. A machining process start with holding cutting tools on proper holder, position the cutting tools relative to the work, and provide power for the machining process at the proper speed, feed, and depth of cut. Machine Tools (Mill,Lathe, etc.) cause the motion of the work-part and the cutting tool that leads to the cutting of the work- part. Generally, each cutting tool makes a certain shape, such as flat plane, holes, cylinders etc. By controlling the cutting tools, work-part, and cutting conditions, machine tools permit parts to be made with great accuracy and repeatability to specified tolerances on the detail drawing.


Metal cutting machine tools are used for several purposes across diverse industries. They find applications in automotive, aerospace and defense, and machinery and equipment. The demand for these products has risen dramatically in recent years, owing to the increasing adoption of precision equipment. The rising popularity of additive manufacturing has made a positive impact on the growth of the market in recent years. Recent product innovations in metal cutting machine tools will bode well for the companies operating in this market. Additionally, technological advances have emerged in favor of these companies. Recent technological advancements in manufacturing of metal cutting machine tools have enabled improved operating efficacies and minimum wastages. Moreover, advent of 3D printing methods has enabled significant growth of the market in recent years.


One key trend is the change in work materials. Industries that have traditionally machined high-alloy steels are moving into stainless steels, and applications that use stainless steels are moving into nickel-based high-temperature alloys. Also, while Inconel 718 is still an important material in aerospace applications, many of those applications are moving to newer materials such as Inconel 718 Plus and proprietary high-temperature alloys, says Jan Andersson Greenleaf Corp. Advances in tool materials have helped create cutting tools and toolholders that are stronger, more wear resistant and less affected by vibration, as well as workholding with improved rigidity and security.


Advances in new workpiece materials, such as those used in aerospace and medical components, require extended life from cutting tools. The only practical way to achieve this is through better tool coatings that cope with higher abrasive wear, improved coolant flow to the cutting edges, and higher speeds. Diamond-like coatings (DLC) are better than ever, with new technology that allows them be applied to a much wider field of carbide-cobalt content tools.


In general terms, the industry will experience two key trends during the next five years—an acute need for skilled/trained labor and increased global competitiveness in terms of pricing. In turn, these trends will continue to drive the industry towards more machining automation, including such tasks as tool assembly and setup, tool life monitoring, automatic cutting parameter adjustments, in-process part inspection and real-time part-to-part corrections. With that said, there will also be further implementation of sensors and smart chip technologies that provide even more cutting and performance data and insight, thus allowing manufacturers to build valuable databases that can help optimize machining processes, says Bill Obras Rego-Fix Tool Corp.



Many new machining processes promise to introduce various benefits, including improved efficiency, lower operating costs, greener and more environmentally-friendly solutions and — of course — higher precision for tasks.

Industry 4.0, or the Internet of Things (IoT)

The growth of Industry 4.0, or the Internet of Things (IoT), is a key trend and will have a profound influence on tooling and workholding as it relates to the flow of information to machine tools and engineers/operators. Sensors are becoming smaller and easier to install in all kinds of products—not just cars and appliances. Smart tooling and workholding will provide real-time feedback about problems such as vibration back to the machine control and send alerts to an engineer that adjustments need to be made. Smart factories will require all equipment and tooling to be Industry 4.0 capable.


Various machines then can operate autonomously, only requiring human input or oversight when something goes awry. Project managers and maintenance crews alike can keep up with equipment on a more accurate timeline. That is, they can remedy problems before needing to take the equipment offline or inducing defects in the goods and materials processed. If and when a problem with output arises, the robust insights available via IoT can lead to addressing an issue faster. Ultimately, it creates a much smoother and more efficient operation.


The industry will also realize huge benefits through investment in automation as well as on the redistribution of human resources from the traditional machine operator to skilled programmers, cell designers, robotic experts and database management personnel. Such investments will help reduce part costs, improve yield rates and boost dimensional part consistency.


Laser-beam machining

Laser beam machining (LBM) is one of the most widely used thermal energy based non-contact type advance machining process which can be applied for almost whole range of materials. Laser beam is focussed for melting and vaporizing the unwanted material from the parent material. Laser beam machining is becoming more widely adopted in manufacturing, particularly for carbon fiber materials and more durable composites.  Among various type of lasers used for machining in industries, CO2 and Nd:YAG lasers are most established.


It is suitable for geometrically complex profile cutting and making miniature holes in sheetmetal. The properties of machined materials or magnetic materials does not get affected by laser beam machining. LBM is capable to cut through air, gas, vacuum and even through liquid. Mechanical force is not exerted on the workpiece results in smooth machining of fragile workpiece. Laser beam is capable to travel longer distances without diffraction and can be focused at longer distances where weld, drill and cut is not easily possible. Tool’s absence offers no tool wear problems. In addition micro holes with large depth to diameter ratio can be drilled by using LBM.


Engineers also can deploy the process for welding, cladding, etching, surface treatment, drilling and cutting. It’s frequently used to cut glass without melting or altering the surrounding edges and surface.

Laser welding: it is useful for joining sheet metal or stock pieces of about 2.5 mm thick or less. Many metals and alloys can be welded by laser like low carbon steel, stainless steel, titanium and its alloys, silicon bronze, etc. another advantage of laser welding is no need of grinding after welding.
Laser cutting: a laser beam can be used in cutting metals, plastics, ceramics, textiles, cloth and even glass. It can also use for cutting complex shapes with sharp concern and slots. It is useful for cutting of steel, titanium, nickel, certain refractory materials and plastics but cutting of aluminium and copper has been especially problematic.
Laser engraving: laser beam can be utilized for making or engraving so as to produce controlled surface pattern on a workpiece.
Laser drilling: it has ability to make small and very small holes of shallow depth. Most of the laser beam machining are useful for drilling of small holes in fuel filters, carburettor nozzles, hypodermic needles, jet engine blades cooling holes, etc. in air craft turbine industry, laser
drilling used for making holes for air bleeds etc.


Some of the disadvantages of LBM are  high capital and operating cost, low material removing rate, requirement of  Skilled operator for channeling and operating the process is very low. It cannot cut the reflective and highly conductive material like aluminium, copper and its alloys and  the output energy of the laser is difficult to control precisely.


Advanced CNC to hybrid to Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing

The first development will be smarter and faster CNC machine tools with more advances in sensing and feedback technology that can optimize and adjust cutting parameters in real time. The second is continued advances in additive manufacturing that extend beyond rapid prototyping.


AM and 3DP have exploded in the industrial world. The first printers were designed to work with plastics and ABS-type materials only, but the technologies have come a long way since then. Today, they can create products and components from a variety of raw materials, including concrete, wood, steel, and an increasing range of metals, alloys, ceramics, and metal-matrix composite materials. Finally, there will be more 3D printing of metal products for lower volume applications and those benefiting from unique part geometries and designs possible only via 3D printing. The cost of these systems should decrease as their speed and accuracy increase, making them well suited for high-volume applications.


Furthermore, additive manufacturing changes the target or source location where production takes place. Materials and components can be printed right at a job site using a portable (yet just as capable) printer. The same is being done for consumer-grade products, so manufacturers can create goods closer to the customer than ever before. Further, it allows manufacturers to introduce a degree of personalization that is unprecedented.


The most exciting trend related to this technology is hybrid machining that combine additive and subtractive processes. These machines will reduce tooling and material handling costs while increasing productivity.   It incorporates both traditional CNC machining and 3D printing solutions to improve product development. Manufacturers have much more control over the goods they create and can make changes on the fly, which means greater flexibility all around. The entire process is faster, more efficient and incredibly accurate when compared to traditional machining methods. New powder compositions will accelerate the acceptance of this hybrid technology.


Automated finishing systems

After metals and woods are cut, resized or modified, it may be necessary to finish their outer layer or surface to achieve a glossy, more polished look. While some advancements have been made in this space, the processes are still relatively the same as they’ve always been. Even many new methods still employ a consistent, highly repeatable process. That’s where automation shines, due in part to today’s technologies. Robotic-powered finishing systems can alter this entire process, revolutionizing the quality and output of the overall industry. Robotic abrasive blasting systems, for instance, offer unmatched improvements in output quality, efficiency, versatility and overall safety. These solutions signal where the industry is headed, toward a much more efficient and automated environment.


Unorthodox machining methods

Laser-beam machining is not the only novelty in processing that’s cropped up lately. Other methods  include:
• Electrochemical Machining (ECM)
• Ultrasonic Machining or Rotatory Ultrasonic Machining (RUM)
• Roller Burnishing
• Waterjet Machining or Waterjet Cutting (WJM)

Each is implemented differently and offers specific, impactful benefits to the conventional machining process. Waterjet cutting, for example, is more of a subtractive process designed to trim away or reduce large materials and parts. On the other hand, electrochemical machining and roller burnishing also are subtractive but deal with much smaller scale materials and adjustments.


Finnish company claims metalcutting technology breakthrough that eliminates need for metalworking fluids ready for broader application

Finnish Company has developed EcoCooling, a dry, clean and environmentally friendly method to lubricate metal workpieces with ionized and cooled air, avoiding the need for metalworking fluids, it is claimed.  The elimination of metalworking fluid costs, easier swarf recycling, smaller machine tools, reduced maintenance, higher productivity and the avoidance of toxic waste plus fumes and vapours are all claimed benefits.


Says Leo Hatjasalo, co-founder and CEO of Finnish company EcoCooling: “Workshops have wanted to get rid of fluids and many have tried to find a solution to the problem, but with poor results. Now we have the answer to this demand, since EcoCooling can be used even with the hardest known metals, like chrome, titanium and tungsten carbides. “EcoCooling is based on the fact that ionized air penetrates the cutting zone and forms a dry lubricant that decreases cutting friction and generated heat, at the same time speeding up the oxide layer formation. The process is patented on all continents, and at the moment we are validating it to include all types of machine tools.”


While reduced metalworking fluid costs are an obvious benefit, there is also the promise of improved productivity through higher cutting speeds, reduced cutting tool wear and reduced maintenance costs, the Finnish company says. And since metal chips are not contaminated by any fluids, they can be recycled without the need for cleaning, while toxic fluid waste and fumes are eliminated, in addition to minimising CO2 emissions, since no oil is used, the company further adds. Furthermore, since the EcoCooling unit is compact, smaller and cheaper metalworking machines are also another outcome. Confirms Hatjasalo: “The unit does not need any service and it has proved to prolong the lifetime of the cutting tools significantly. The system can also be easily retrofitted to older machine tools.”



Market Growth

The global Metal Cutting Machine Tools Market size is projected to reach USD 109.39 billion by the year 2026. The market will benefit from the increasing demand for prefabricated metal. According to a report published by Fortune Business Insights, the market was worth USD 74.31 billion in 2018. Driven by applications across diverse industries, the market will exhibit a CAGR of 4.8% during the forecast period, 2019-2026.


The growth of the market is majorly driven by the increasing demand from several end-user industries such as automotive, aerospace and others, across the world. Oxy-fuel cutting technology is widely used due to high speed, relatively low cost, and precision cuts. Owing to the growing demand, advanced cutting technologies are evolving, and companies are investing more in the research and development (R&D) activities to gain a competitive advantage in terms of manufacturing efficiency, product pricing, and product capabilities. Furthermore, the market is also driven by the growing demand for the fabricated metal products, development of heavy industrial equipment, advancement in the manufacturing processes, and adoption of the latest technologies. Additionally, the demand for automated equipment is also increasing due to the shortage of skilled personnel in some of the regions studied. Major companies in several developed countries have started using robotics (industrial cutting robots) for their manufacturing processes to reduce dependency on manpower.


China is the global leader in the machine tool market. Worldwide, the machine tool cutting sector represented a major share in terms of production volume when compared to forming technology. Nowadays, Laser cutting is commonly used to cut ceramics. Ceramics play an important role in many industries owing to its thermal conductivity and electrical insulation. This kind of properties has made the ceramics to use for different applications.


In automotive industry, manufacturers are adopting several cutting technologies to get high quality edges and cuts. The scope for cutting equipment in this industry is growing as the global automotive industry is witnessing a positive trend. Cutting equipment has a significant share in the automotive industry and are used for several operations to fabricate automotive car parts, frames, etc. Laser cutting is used at various stages of automotive manufacturing. The ever changing landscape of the automotive industry is putting pressure on equipment manufacturers to meet the requirements and creating special cutting tools.


Despite some headwinds, automotive industry is look bright globally. U.S. light vehicle sales peaked in 2016 with 17.46 million and 2018 marked the fourth straight year with over 17 million unit sales. According to industry sources, global light vehicle production units have been remarkable and it is only continue to grow. APAC is expected to register the highest growth rates in terms of production volumes followed by North America. This scenario is expected to create demand for the cutting equipment and other related machines associated with manufacturing process.


List of the leading companies that are operating in the Metal Cutting Machine Tools Market are:Yamazaki Mazak Corporation, Doosan Machine Tools Co., Ltd., Trumpf Amada Machine Tools Co., Ltd, JTEKT Corporation, Okuma Corporation, Hyundai WIA, FANUC America Corporation, Komatsu Ltd., Makino






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