Submarine propellers made for the U.S. Navy start from a metal casting having a 20-ft diameter. From start to finish, production of one of these 55-ton propulsion units requires 12 months. One reason the process takes so much time is the machining, which removes nearly 14 tons from a single propeller casting. "Such a time-consuming process may soon be a thing of the past," says Tony Schmitz, a National Institute of Standards and Technology engineer. He points out that NIST tool-wear and surface-finishing experiments led to a better understanding of the parameters of high-speed machining. He also indicates that the discoveries enable an increase in material removal during machining by a factor of ten. Refinements in the tool's path reduce the roughnes of the milled propeller surface, eliminating much of the final hand finishing required for smoothing blade surfaces. For more information, go to www.nist.gov.
The new composites manufacturing innovation center is intended to be a source of grand challenges for industry, like the kind that got us to the moon under JFK. These aren't the words its new CEO Craig Blue used, but that's the idea and the vision behind the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.