MMS Blog

June 2017 Product Spotlight: EDM

The products listed below, compiled in our June 2017 issue’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, include EDMs, wire, and a special EDM coating technology.

Find more product information, news and articles about EDM equipment and shop applications in MMS Online’s EDM Zone.

Amid reassurances from our hosts that Virginia’s weather isn’t usually overcast, rainy and chilly in the middle of May, I and three other media guests traveled town to town for three days visiting, all in all, 10 manufacturers, industry education institutes and R&D campuses. Our ebullient hosts from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) drove our party across the leafy (and yes, wet) hills and valleys of central and southern Virginia to meet manufacturers which, despite their various industries and end markets, nevertheless shared some common concerns: finding and training skilled labor, and pursuing lean principles in the face of challenges both rooted in the past and looming on the horizon.

It’s an undisputed fact that Virginia is home to a lot of manufacturing, with a labor force numbering some 242,000, spanning transportation equipment, fabricated metal products, machinery, wood products and more. The commonwealth continues to stand out in its training and personnel pipelines networking universities, community colleges, and businesses, just as it did in 2012 when Modern Machine Shop’s Emily Probst traveled there. The Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining, a collaboration between Danville Community College and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, is on track to graduate upwards of 270 skilled machinists and metrology technicians annually between the Haas Center’s advanced training lab and high school courses. The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), another stop on our trip, highlights the research and development emphasis of the state’s manufacturing activity. CCAM, a nonprofit collaborative R&D “pool” with buy-in from OEMs, universities and agencies such as NASA, was described by Dr. Jaime Camelio, chief technology officer, as a place where researchers and technicians can effectively “play with” the latest machine tools, software, metrology equipment and additive manufacturing technologies to perform tests for OEMs but also “to learn about the process per se,” whether that be testing the possibilities of laser ablating, experimenting with metal coatings, automating the centering of metal castings for fixturing, or—as Dr. Camelio says the lab hopes to begin doing in 2018—playing around with mobile cobots.

When It Comes to Cybersecurity, Be Scared, but Be Prepared

Machine spindles can go bad. Cutting tools can suffer catastrophic breakage. A chip conveyor can jam. System failures such as these are ordinary and expected risks that every machine shop faces. Steps to minimize these failures are worthwhile, because they can cause downtime that might hurt profits and potentially harm customer relations.

Now we face the risk of system failures due to hackers. Manufacturers are increasingly susceptible to becoming targets of cyber attacks. Although I don’t doubt this fact, it is a broad generalization that makes me as uncomfortable as saying “Every home in America could be damaged by a tornado.” (Certainly true, but not every home faces the same level of risk. Consider a mobile home in Kansas compared to a stone farmhouse in Vermont.)

Manufacturing News of Note: June 2017

Nadine Crauwels has been appointed as the new President of Sandvik Coromant (Sandviken, Sweden) and will be responsible for continuing to develop the company as a supplier of tools, tooling solutions and know-how to the manufacturing industry. She will report to Klas Forsström, President of Sandvik Machining Solutions, and be a member of the Sandvik Machining Solutions Management Team.

Here is more news to note:

I recently got to be part of a great experience with Edge Factor, the film production company focused on engaging and informing young people about careers in manufacturing. Earlier this year, the Edge Factor team partnered with Randolph Community College of Asheboro, North Carolina, to organize, oversee and film a contest called “Reality Redesigned.” High school and junior high students throughout the surrounding area submitted designs addressing various defined engineering problems, and three winning teams from this round of submissions came to the college’s Gene Haas Computer-Integrated Machining Institute to compete against one another in an on-site competition. In the final round, each team had 84 hours to work with the staff and resources of the college to design and produce a new sign for NASCAR driver Kurt Busch’s facility in nearby Mooresville, North Carolina.

I traveled to Asheboro to be one of the judges at the end of this 84-hour contest, as did Meghan West, president of CNC Software (developers of Mastercam) and Montez King, executive director of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). None of us knew quite what to expect ... and one of the real joys of the experience proved to be seeing audience members from the three teams’ schools and community turn out to root for the competitors in the live-presentation portion of the program. Here was an auditorium full of fans cheering for achievements in manufacturing.

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