This article focuses on reconfigurable machining systems. These systems have lately caught the attention of some manufacturers who need something that is more flexible than a dedicated line and produces goods faster than a shop of CNC machines. The lines are called reconfigurable because they consist of modules and, once they are programmed, can be switched quickly to turn out different, but similar pieces from a family of products. Proponents say that reconfigurable machining systems have carved out a niche between two other alternatives—dedicated transfer lines, which are optimized for producing large volumes of specific parts, and computer numerical control machine tools, which have a high degree of flexibility but are slower to finish products. Reconfigurable machining systems have been developed for the automotive industry, for instance, as car companies have increasingly outsourced their production to tier-one suppliers and demanded price reductions.

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