- Machine tool
A machine tool is a powered mechanical device, typically used to fabricate metal components of machines by
machining, which is the selective removal of metal. The term "machine tool" is usually reserved for tools that used a power source other than humanmovement, but they can be powered by people if appropriately set up. Many historians of technology consider that the true machine tools were born when direct human involvement was removed from the shaping or stamping process of the different kinds of tools. The earliest lathe with direct mechanical control of the cutting toolwas a screw-cutting lathe dating to about 1483. [Moore, Page 137, figure 213] This lathe "produced screw threads out of wood and employed a true compound slide rest".
The first machine tools offered for sale (i.e. commercially available) were constructed by one Matthew Murray in England around 1800. [Moore]
Machine tools can be powered from a variety of sources. Human and
animalpower are options, as is energy captured through the use of waterwheels. However, machine tools really began to develop after the development of the steam engine, leading to the Industrial Revolution. Today, most are powered by electricity.
Machine tools can be operated manually, or under automatic control. Early machines used
flywheels to stabilize their motion and had complex systems of gears and levers to control the machine and the piece being worked on. Soon after World War II, the NC, or "numerical control", machine was developed. NC machines used a series of numbers punched on paper tapeor punch cards to control their motion. In the 1960s, computers were added to give even more flexibility to the process. Such machines became known as CNC, or "computerized numerical control", machines. NC and CNC machines could precisely repeat sequences over and over, and could produce much more complex pieces than even the most skilled tool operators.
Before long, the machines could automatically change the specific cutting and shaping tools that were being used. For example, a
drillmachine might contain a magazinewith a variety of drill bits for producing holes of various sizes. Previously, either machine operators would usually have to manually change the bit or move the work piece to another station to perform these different operations. The next logical step was to combine several different machine tools together, all under computer control. These are known as machining centers, and have dramatically changed the way parts are made.
From the simplest to the most complex, most machine tools are capable of at least partial
self-replicationsince they are machines, and produce machine parts as their primary function.
Examples of machine tools are:
* Broaching machine
* Drill press
When fabricating or shaping parts, several techniques are used to remove unwanted metal. Among these are:
* EDM (
electrical discharge machining)
* Multiple edge cutting tools
* Single edge cutting tools
Other techniques are used to "add" desired material. Devices that fabricate components by selective "addition" of material are called
Several regions of the United States became centers for machine tool development between 1800 and 1950, including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
Cincinnati, Ohio, Rockford, Illinois, Providence, Rhode Island, Springfield, Vermont, Windsor, Vermont, Hartford, Connecticut, and Bridgeport, Connecticut.
A collection of machinery showing photographs of the main types of metal working machinery is online at the [http://www.museumofmaking.org Canadian Museum of Making] .
Multimachine- an open source machine tool
James Fox (engineer)
*Citation | last = Moore | first = Wayne R. | title = Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy | publisher = Moore Special Tool Co. | year = 1970 | edition = 1st
* [http://www.nims-skills.org/downloads/downloads.htm National Institute for Metalworking Skills Standards download page]
* [http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos223.htm U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook]
* [http://www.americanprecision.org/ American Precision Museum] —A museum that preserves historically important machine tools and helps to educate on the history of machine tools
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