"Tech Trends" continues to bring CWB readers invaluable information on the latest developments in technology for the woodworking industry. This month, several leading equipment manufacturers weighed in on boring and drilling machines. This online version of the article features answers from all the respondents.

What are the newest technology developments in boring and drilling machines?

Adam Lopuk, National Sales Manager, Adwood Corp.: Some of the latest developments in European System and Line Boring machines are:

Machines that are better set up for quick changeovers for short runs and quicker set up time, such as pneumatic flip stops that can be preset and pneumatically engage and disengage once set at the touch of a button, allow for utilizing the machines potential with almost no down time for machine set up. We also have fence turret stops that again can be preset for predetermined fence positions so you can move the back fence to a set position, change it and come back exactly to the previous position and continue on where you left of with (virtually) no error in moving the fence back by reading just a scale.

Another development is the increase of the number of holes each line can bore. In the past we had 21 holes on our larger single line drill. To make the machine more efficient and able to cycle one time for an upper and lower cabinet side we increased the number of spindles per head to 23. On our lager double row system/line boring machines, we increased the number of spindles from 23 to 25 to increase productivity on the closet thru boring application.

Some people might come to the conclusion that stand-alone, non-CNC boring machines are becoming extinct but that is certainly not the case. We are finding more and more that customers that have CNC machines are using these in conjunction with the CNC machines to increase the productivity. The operator can run the parts that come of the router as the machine is cutting the next sheet and he has some idle time just for one example.

Cesare Magnani, Biesse – Intermac North America Product Manager, Biesse America: Previous Biesse innovations have included the first high volume, zero-setup time, affordable machining center specifically designed for just-in-time production. The latest development in drilling technology gives companies the ability to affordably do all machining operations and dowel insertion in the same machining center, which allows users to eliminate a step in the manufacturing process. Another important innovation recently introduced is the ability to automatically label components in a nested-based cell environment, virtually eliminating any possible operator error in this area.

John Park, General Manager, Delmac Machinery Group: OMAL has developed a high-speed laser measuring probe to fit on its HBD line of CNC horizontal bore, glue and dowel machines. The laser will measure the panel width to +/- 0.1mm and calculate the correct dowel spacing based on a set of logical instructions. Couple this technology with auto-start control and the machine can be completely automatic. The operator just has to load the panel and the machine will automatically start, measure, and drill and dowel the panel. The laser device was developed to measure thickness, depth or width, plus identify unique characteristics of the panel edge, which will give information to the machine on how to process the part.

Mark Allen, Creative Director, MultiCam Inc.: MultiCam has adapted automatic drill bank technology that is based on pneumatically actuated electric drills. MultiCam offers two of these boring units. One has four inline drill actuators, while the second boring unit has nine drill actuators. Each of these boring units places the drills onto 32mm centers, which is ideal for European style nested-based cabinet manufacturing. The drills are controlled via software. Any holes that are 32mm apart will trigger simultaneous actuators for best time optimization.

Ase J. Stornetta, President, Ritter Mfg Inc.: The model R76 was conceived from customer requests to produce 84-inch to 96-inch tall line drilled closet panels faster, cleaner and with accurate hole locations. The need was to be able to quickly provide blind or through bored holes with varying distances between the rows of holes. Conventional double row line drilling machines are normally provided with 23 spindles per row. This then requires multiple passes and repositioning of the panel. Often, the requirement is for more than two rows of holes with at least one row through bored.

Ritter developed a two-axis CNC line drill that can be programmed for whatever distance is required between the rows up to 24 inches from the panel face edge. Blind or through boring is easily accomplished within the same boring pass on the panel. If a panel required three rows of holes with the center row through bored, the R76 is programmed to blind bore rows one and three and through bore row two. Different configurations are easily established with the use of the touch screen.

A typical 96-inch panel can be triple line bored with the centerline through bored in 20 seconds. This dramatically speeds up the boring process and allows for a considerable degree of higher productivity. In many cases, the machine is positioned next to a CNC Router to speed up the nested-based process. Customers have witnessed an 80% reduction in production time with the machine versus conventional CNC or manual machines.

Programming is accomplished by entering into a touch screen the row positions and blind or through bore. The programs can be saved for future use. The operator does not need to know CNC programming to operate the machine.

The end result is a much higher rate of production for custom and production panels. Panel surface quality is enhanced with less handling of the panel and the through bored holes are cleaner based on the servo controlled ball screw feed. The accuracy of the hole locations is enhanced due to the fact the panel does not have to be repositioned multiple times. Machine set-up changeover is merely the touch of a button.

Rob Howell, Morbidelli CNC Product Manager, SCM Group USA Inc.: The latest technology in CNC drilling machines from SCM is the Morbidelli Powerflex 900, a feed through drilling machine with more than 660 vertical drill bits. The drills can operate individually similar to a point-to-point, which saves on set up times in comparison to traditional feed through machines. It is capable of drilling up to 28 panels per minute with a set up times of 5 seconds. It also has the ability of 6 upper and 6 lower drilling heads that rotate 0 to 90 degrees. It can also be equipped with over 40 horizontal drills.

Michelle Young, operations specialist, CNC product group, Stiles Machinery Inc.: There continues to be advances in manufacturing machines that have minimal setup. There are improved systems for vacuum pod setup with LED lights and options for automatic setup for pod and rail positioning. Machines are also produced without vacuum pods for zero setup and are able to process two parts simultaneously. Technical progress has been made in pod and power clamping systems for hold down for customers processing frames and narrow parts. Aggregates are being developed for increased automatic positioning rather than manual positioning for sawing, trimming and drilling. Premium drill blocks offer quick-change spindles for ease of inserting and removing drill bits. As well, spindles can have a mechanical locking system, which assists with constant drill depth and diameters.

Chris Dolbow, Ironwood Product Manager, Stiles Shop Solutions: Ergonomic enhancements are continually being developed in efforts to reduce set-up times and increase accuracy. Stiles Shop Solutions recently introduced a machine that incorporates intelligent technology geared toward increasing efficiency and productivity, as well as improving operator safety. The Ironwood Quick-Release pneumatic clamps are new technology designed in an effort to further prevent operator injury. These pressure-controlled clamps automatically discharge their clamping pressure when engaged on a non-flat surface, allowing operators to safely secure their work pieces.

Improved efforts towards enabling operators to control their own drill-quality will continue for these boring machines. Some drilling machines empower the operator to control not only their drill block feed speeds, but also their braking speeds, ensuring clean drilling for both blind- and through-hole applications. This results in improved, chip-free, drilling operations.

John Fawcet, Marketing Manager, Tritec Associates Inc.: A production line is only as fast as it's slowest machine. That's why so many companies using dowel construction have chosen to update their lines capacity by adding CNC dowel insertion. Machining centers and routers are not designed for fast, accurate edge boring, and of course these machines production capacities don't include gluing and dowel insertion. This causes a critical gap in production.

Tritec/Gannomat uses CNC Index Logic to solve this problem. The machine will edge bore, drill, glue and insert dowels. With the addition of a top drill it can also complete face boring for drawers, frames and RTA fitting production. The Logic's computer with production software stores programs, which are easily called up by barcode or keyboard. The operation is easily integrated with other computer controlled equipment.

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