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Schmitz, Team awarded R&D 100 for Tap Testing Method

In manufacturing, every machine has a region of stable cutting parameters that operate at the highest quality and productivity. Trying to find this region of stability has traditionally been done by trial and error, which can be difficult and expensive.

That’s where new technology involving researchers at the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and MSC Industrial Supply Company and Manufacturing Laboratories comes into play.

MSC MillMax was developed to take the guesswork out of finding this region, replacing the traditional trial and error approach with a scientifically proven method known as “Tap Testing,” to deliver proven results in minutes instead of hours.

Being chosen for an R&D 100 award acknowledges that tap testing is a scientific advancement that will help American manufacturers improve the utilization of their machine tools by moving away from the traditional, time consuming approach to machining, and accessing the full capabilities of the machine.

photo of Scmitz at MDF“This award recognizes the widespread deployment of tap testing, which has been demonstrated to dramatically increase milling productivity at multiple manufacturing sites,” said UT Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering Professor Tony Schmitz, who holds a joint faculty position with ORNL. “The deployment of this technology through the MSC network was made possible by collaboration between MSC, ORNL, and UT and demonstrates the industry value that is generated by the ORNL-UT relationship and the focus on advanced manufacturing.”

Schmitz explained that, in a tap test, an instrumented hammer is used to excite a milling tool mounted in a CNC milling machine while an accelerometer is used to measure the corresponding vibration response. Together, those two signals enable the tool-holder-spindle-machine dynamics to be described and, consequently, the best milling conditions to be identified.

The R&D 100 awards are considered to be the Oscars or Golden Globes for science and technology, where it is “an honor just to be nominated.” Nominees come from 17 different countries or regions around the world, with a round of finalists selected about a month before winners are revealed.