Tag Archives: SMW Autoblok

  • Workholding: We Rank the Best Chucks from 2018

    SMW chuck collageBetween IMTS and the way our business continues to grow, it seems like this past year has just flown by. Before we wrap things up for the holidays and start looking towards 2019, we thought it might be interesting to stop for a moment and reflect on the outstanding chucks of the past 12 months. So, here’s our ranking of the top 5 models of the year.

    #1: KNCS-N/ KNCS-NB/ KNCS-2G
    At the head of the list again is our best-selling chuck series. The top quick jaw change chuck on the market – with jaws that can be changed out in less than a minute. Robust, versatile and agile, it continues to sell well across all industry segments.

    #2: BB-N / BB-N-ES
    The BB-N-ES was the first chuck specifically developed for end machining of long pipe with a full spindle bore. Perfect for oil and gas applications. It was made possible by two principles invented by SMW Autoblok, air supply via distributor ring and SMW-profile seal rings.

    #3: SP
    Smaller versions of the BB-N style chucks with OCTG being the primary market, these chucks are also handy for use in static or near static applications because of their built-in air cylinder. They are ideal for rotary tables/indexers in milling applications as well.

    #4: NT Series
    The NT chuck is a completely sealed Proofline® product, making them ideal for dry machining of castings and forgings, as well as high pressure coolant applications. Very popular in the automotive industry, especially for wheel and brake component work.

    #5: TS Series
    Our premier pull down chuck, this style fits best in production environments with high parallelism and perpendicularity call outs. Their constant grip force ensures consistent quality of workpieces. Automotive and aerospace applications are common, but they are becoming a force in the medical segment as well.

    Too Good to Ignore
    Honorable mention goes to our Steady Rest products, our new APS Zero Point Clamping System and the Cylinder series. We’ve seen increased interest in each of these product lines this past year.

    Onward to 2019
    No one can tell what the future will bring, but it’s certain that our engineers and sales teams will never stop looking for ways to better meet your workholding needs. If you have a special requirement, give us a call.

  • Brian Gabriel: A Technology Sponge and Order Facilitator

    20180504_131924Brian Gabriel didn’t plan on becoming a professional Project Manager, but right now he is glad things turned out that way. Brian received a degree in engineering from Washington State University. A love of the West Coast and the opportunity to live out there made it his top school choice. He made a lot of friends and still gets together with classmates annually. After graduation, he landed a job for an engineering test lab working with automotive products. He would take projects from front-end engineering all the way to proof of concept. After a few years, he began looking around for a new challenge and ultimately landed with us as Project Manager this past July.

    The Appeal of Project Management
    During the time with his previous employer, Brian had begun to make regular contact with customers and found that face-to-face communication had grown on him. His position here provides him with more opportunities to explore this area of business.

    He explained that his job basically involves “keeping projects moving and preventing things from falling through the cracks.” This includes being straight with the customers and getting them an answer in a timely manner, even if it’s not exactly the one they want to hear. “Be honest. Don’t dig yourself into a hole you can’t get out of,” he suggests.

    On the internal side of the situation, Brian has come to learn that his projects are not the only ones in production. Each team member in the shop has their own multiple sets of pressing deadlines that need to be met. Brian knows that a careful blend of understanding, diplomacy and persistence is needed to maintain harmony and still move products out the door. “Establishing priorities and communication are essential elements of the job,” he says.

    An Engineering Sponge
    Brian finds the workholding coming out of our operations in the US, Germany and Italy remarkable. After being immersed in the automotive industry for several years, he is enjoying the chance to see how engineering principles are applied to a whole new field. “Even though I’m not involved in the process, it adds to my database of knowledge and I’m becoming a more well-rounded engineer by soaking up as much information as I can about chucks.”

    1709A Global Family
    Brian’s previous job was at a small company, so he enjoys being part of a worldwide organization. His first trip to IMTS this September was an eye-opener, as he met SMW Autoblok employees from Germany, Italy and Japan. While the corporation is large, he finds the US headquarters to be very family friendly and has already begun to feel at home in the closely-knit community.

    Off the Job Pursuits
    A one-man film festival, Brian can be found going to the movies, watching rented movies and hanging out with his friends talking about movies.

    When not glued to the big screen, Brian loves to travel (which is made easier by having family members in the airline business). He tries to manage two trips a year, his most recent excursions to London and Columbia (where he visited family).

    His favorite place so far? Japan. He finds the people and the culture fascinating and, naturally, loves soaking up the awesome technology. He says he’d go again in a heartbeat.

  • The Future of Workholding is Closer Than You Think

    Not too long ago, the Internet connected individuals and allowed them to communicate at a pace previously thought unimaginable. Manufacturing has already begun a similar process that will connect machining operations in real time through digital solutions. Perceptive organizations are already implementing Industry 4.0 into their everyday manufacturing operations, gaining flexibility, saving time and enhancing quality for their customers.

    Connectivity = Productivity
    How does workholding fit into this equation? Imagine innovative technology that enables machining data communication and collection, not just across the shop, but around the world. Any operator who solves a machining issue could automatically update all other machines/systems corporate-wide in a secure fashion. The result would be reduced production time, increased productivity and guaranteed repeatable accuracy.

    smw_data_sheet_mm_productA Sneak Peak at Tomorrow
    You don’t have to use your imagination to envision the benefits of i4.0 workholding. We are currently investing time and money in a new generation of electronic/digital processes and products. The MM e-motion Electric Power Clamp and the F500 Electric Flange are already operational and will soon be on the market. Electro-mechanical motors (hence the name) on each jaw can control clamping force, stroke and clamping position. The grip force can be altered in process, without unclamping the part, with the wireless transmission of energy and signals via an inductive coupler.

    Manufactured and programmed with our proprietary interfaces and patented systems, the MM e-motion can transmit data and power wirelessly from stationary units to rotating chucks. This provides an amazing degree of flexibility. Since the MM e-motion can clamp any shape workpiece, different components can be machined just by bringing in new pallets!

    The Ultimate Remote Control
    Operated remotely at one location under the direction of one operator, the chuck can be electromechanically actuated, measure, autobalance, communicate and share info with other machines worldwide. The futuristic technology used in the F500 e-motion Electric Flange and throughout the e-motion series has already been recognized, having been named an Industry 4.0 Product in Germany last year. We are the only workholding company to receive such an honor.

    Benefits of i4.0 Workholding
    These workholding devices of the future (along with others in progress) will have a variety of benefits for manufacturing. Following are a few examples:

    • Safety: Safety signals are constantly transmitted back and forth from chuck to operator along with real time status of the workholding.

    • Quality: The process is accurate and repeatable time after time. This is especially important in industries like aerospace.

    • Flexibility: Electronically actuated chucks works like the different axes of a CNC machine, working together to position or reposition a part.

    • Workforce Utilization: Putting more machines under the control of fewer operators is vital as skilled workers reach retirement age without enough coming behind them to fill voids.

    No matter how simple or complex your workholding needs, you’ll be sure to find the right product for you at SMW Autoblok, now and in the future. If you would like to discuss your particular needs, please contact us.

  • Brandon Erath: Striving for Quality in Whatever He Does

    IMG_0006Quality Control Technician Brandon Erath joined us in January of 2018 as a utility worker. He says the company took the word “utility” to whole new levels. He worked in the shop, cut parts on the saw and deburred them, delivered finished parts to vendors and worked in quality control. The varied experiences gave him a feel for how intricate our process is and how all the departments work together to ship products out the door.

    Toward the end of his utility stint, he was spending a lot of time in quality control due to an influx of orders going through, so the department was quite busy. Brandon caught on fast and was recently promoted to his current position.

    Brandon says one of the best days on the job to date was when he looked at a blueprint and it all clicked into place. “For the first time I could understand what it said and what needed to be measured,” he said. “It was like mastering a foreign language.”

    Around the Block
    Prior to joining our team, Brandon didn’t know that a career in manufacturing was in his future. Before finding a home in our QC Department, Brandon had quite a wide and varied career path.

    While in high school and college, he traveled the country playing Call of Duty as a competitive video gamer. He even has some wins under his belt. While the tour didn’t pay the big bucks back then like it does today, it allowed him to travel the U.S. and see places he might not have ever had the chance to see. His favorite venue? Anaheim, California. Why? Disney Land!

    Paging Dr. Erath
    Brandon flirted with a career in medicine with one semester of pre-med at UIC and attaining an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license. While he nailed the book-smarts of medicine, when it came to treating real people, he found he’s just a softie at heart and couldn’t detach emotionally.

    He did finally learn to perform surgery (of a sort) by wielding a knife as a professional butcher for a while. In this capacity, he met stars of wildly varied musical styles such as Kool and the Gang, Charlie Daniels and Smashmouth while prepping dishes at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin.

    Still a Game Boy
    Although he no longer competes at a professional level, Brandon is a self-proclaimed nerd and spends his free time playing video Overwatch and League of Legends with the friends he made while on tour. He even has 50-100 followers who watch him play on “Twitch,” a live streaming video platform. He’s an avid watcher as well. “Watching anyone do something they do very well is highly entertaining.”

  • SMW Autoblok Launches New Stationary Workholding Line

    aps (1)Driven by the aerospace and automotive segments, the manufacturing industry is evolving in order to machine increasingly complex components. Basic vises, lathes and simple milling machines are falling behind as multi-axis machine sales are booming. Operations from global OEMs to the job shop down the street are all asking the same question, “How can I move more complex parts through my existing cells?”

    To answer that question, we have opened a Stationary Workholding Product Division in our North American headquarters in Wheeling, Illinois. Backed by our full line of static workholding manufactured in Italy for over 20 years, we are now able to introduce our superior engineered workholding solutions to the vertical and horizontal milling market here in North America.

    The Bridge to Productivity
    The flagship of our new line of stationary workholding products is the APS Clamping System. The APS (Automatic Positioning System) is a universal connection between the machine tool, the clamping device and/or the workpiece. The APS locks into the proper position by lining up a series of pins on the workpiece with holes on the chuck. When the pins and holes are locked in, the combination is automatically positioned to the zero point.

    The APS can be used in turning, milling, measuring or grinding operations. The APS reduces set-up times up to 90%, allowing users to rapidly mix parts on the same machine. This flexibility and speed multiplies the productivity of equipment and allows for quick adjustment of the production line based on the priority of incoming orders. Everything from raw materials to aerospace gantries can be worked with less effort, more accuracy and an increased level of productivity.

    Experience, Knowledge and Dedication
    Walter Claerhout, a 25-year industry veteran, has been named Product Manager of the new division. Since joining us in 2005, Walt has proven time and again his ability to provide customers with a superior level of service.

    “This additional focus on our line of stationary workholding products will allow us to help our customers get additional value from their lathes and milling machines,” he said. “We look forward to showing our customers how they can machine all the faces of complex workpieces more efficiently with their existing equipment.”

    Please contact us to learn more about our line of static workholding solutions or would like to discuss your particular needs.

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