MMS Blog

Traditionally, fixation plates—the implants used to support damaged bone as it heals—are manufactured to standard sizes, most commonly from Ti-6Al-4V. The surgeon chooses the plates closest to the patient's anatomy, and then bends them to fit in the operating room.

While effective, this method has several drawbacks. Working with standard sizes means that implants may not achieve a perfect fit with the patient, and the bending step adds time to reconstructive surgery. In addition, the Ti-6Al-4V material most frequently used is much stiffer than cortical bone, which can cause abnormal stress distribution and ultimately cause implants to fail.

The following case study provided by Blum-Novotest describes how Karlheinz Lehmann GmbH in Oberwolfach, Germany, is able to maintain 2-micron parallelism of slots on a compressed-air coupling component for Parker Hannifin GmbH:

Lehmann employs 17 people and has 20 CNC lathes and milling machines. It focuses on the manufacture of precision, rotationally symmetrical parts. The complex quick-coupling for compressed-air input was a challenging project, especially given the parallelism required for the part’s four slots. “The key components are hardened and coating free cutting steel, threads, bores and four lightly tapered slots,” says Timo Lehmann, CEO of Karlheinz Lehmann GmbH. “The slots were the crucial point of the whole design.” In fact, the quick coupling simply wouldn’t function if the parallelism tolerance for the slots was exceeded. When assembled, the lightly tapered slots contain balls, which must not protrude too far, yet must also never be allowed to fall through the slot. Through this design, the Parker quick-couplers prevent the otherwise common snapping noise when detaching and also allow single-hand operation.

Matt Guse, owner of MRS Machining, was the only leader from among the four “Top Shops” honorees not able to make it to the recent Top Shops Conference to accept an award on behalf of his shop. And the reason he couldn’t make it relates to why his shop was honored. While the conference was taking place, Mr. Guse had football games to officiate.

MRS Machining is a job shop in Augusta, Wisconsin. MMS’s Top Shops benchmarking program honored the shop this year for the efforts it has made in human resources. Augusta is a rural community in which Mr. Guse is challenged to find prospective employees with skills or aptitude for manufacturing and the right personal strengths who might consider a career in CNC machining. He rises to that challenge by being proactive and creative about finding promising talent. He is a supporter of Cardinal Manufacturing and has even helped to advance manufacturing by serving on the school board. More recently, he has seen success with these two quieter measures that he passes along:

Schunk USA has started construction of an expansion at its U.S. headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina, which will more than double the size of existing facilities. The U.S. headquarters is already the company’s largest facility outside of Germany. This expansion will provide space for a new tech center and training facility, additional manufacturing capabilities and increased office space.

The company will be investing $30 million in infrastructure, equipment and personnel by 2022. More than 80 new jobs will be created over the course of the next four years. The additional personnel will enable Schunk to provide even greater customer care and continue to meet the demands of a rapidly growing and continually evolving manufacturing industry.

Shops and plants should be concerned about wastewater treatment, says Tim Hanna, vice president of business development for PRAB, a designer and manufacturer of wastewater recycling systems as well as engineered conveyors and equipment for processing turnings, chips and metalworking fluids. Companies also should be aware of current options for wastewater-treatment equipment because upgrading a system may be the best way to turn genuine concern into effective solutions.

Wastewater treatment has become an increasingly critical part of plant operations over the last decade, Mr. Hanna says. Shops and plants must remain compliant with tightening wastewater treatment, handling and disposal regulations, as well as the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. State and local municipalities have several additional standards that companies must adhere to as well.

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