Courtney Vaughn, Columbia County Spotlight
As a robotic arm rotated and twisted around a solid metal cylinder, a gear slowly came to life.
Roughly a dozen men stood and watched Wednesday, Feb. 20, as Markus Mayr operated a WFL Millturn M80 at Scappoose’s Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center R&D during a manufacturing industry training day hosted at the site.
The millturn is a state-of-the-art metal-cutting machine with lathing, milling, cutting and tapping capabilities. It carves out machine parts in a fraction of the time it normally takes. The behemoth machine is driven by computer numerical control, or CNC, and represents a key component of advanced manufacturing.
“We had the ability with the WFL machine to cut that part in a day,” Mark Briel, a product specialist with Sandvik Coromant, noted during a demo Wednesday afternoon.
Briel pointed out how communication between a computer control station in front of the machine and the millturn’s seemingly effortless, laser precision cutting mechanism yielded cogs or teeth. “It’s taking us just a matter of seconds to generate that profile,” he said.
Briel talked guests through the machine processes, highlighting the millturn’s capabilities and efficiencies. The M80 reduces the need to move a part between different machines for cutting and finishing.
To an untrained eye, WFL’s M80 looks more akin to a space-themed ride at an amusement park. A large gray capsule contains the robotic head of the equipment that can turn a 2-ton blank cylinder into the driving force in an aircraft. When the part is finished, two doors slide open and guests step inside, examining the finished work, with metal dust and remnants of carving scraps still clinging to the gear.
The Millturn M80 is easily the most substantial piece of equipment at OMIC and, on Wednesday, industry guests from the Portland metro area got a first-hand look at the machine.
“This is an opportunity for Oregon and regional companies to learn of new manufacturing techniques to gain a competitive advantage,” Di Saunders, public relations for Oregon Institute of Technology, stated in a news release prior to the two-day event. “OMIC R&D member companies have a long tradition of collaborating in advanced metal cutting applications.”
This month, OMIC welcomed its 23rd new member, Sugino Machine Limited, which is based in Japan. Companies pay a membership fee to join OMIC R&D, giving them access to advanced manufacturing techniques and research. The membership fees will help sustain the center and allow for apprenticeship programs on site.