Posted by: Steve Kline, Jr. 16. July 2014

June 2014 MBI Shows Consistently Strong Growth


With a reading of 53.6, the June metalworking index showed that the industry continues to grow at a strong rate. The index was higher than 53.0 every month in the first six months of 2014, and the industry grew eight of the last nine months. The June index also was 17.0 percent higher than it was one year earlier. For the fourth month in a row, it grew by more than 10 percent, which was the fastest rate of growth since July 2010. Annually, the industry has grown at an accelerating rate the last four months and is growing at its fastest rate since April 2011.

Both new orders and production increased for the ninth month in a row, however these rates of increase have decelerated since March. Backlogs contracted at a very moderate rate for the third month in a row, but they are expanding at a rapid rate compared to one year earlier. The annual rate of change in backlogs continues to accelerate, which is a positive sign for future capacity utilization levels and capital spending. Employment has expanded since last October, and in June grew at its fastest rate since September 2011. Exports contracted for the third straight month, and supplier deliveries continued to lengthen at a slightly increased rate, as they have since June 2013.

Material prices have increased at a faster rate this year and are at their fastest rate of growth since March 2012. Prices received by the metalworking industry increased for the second month in a row, and while future business expectations remain near the peak levels of this expansionary cycle, they have dipped slightly since February.

Future capital spending plans reached their second highest level of 2014 and have grown month-over-month for four straight months. In June, future spending plans increased 13.1 percent compared to one year earlier. Annually, future spending plans are growing at a rate of 4.0 percent, the fastest rate of growth this year. 

Posted by: Derek Korn 15. July 2014

Shops Serving Oilfield Customers Appreciate Retrofits

CNC retrofits are ideal for large machines in good overall mechanical condition such as this G&L 350T boring mill with 5-inch spindle diameter installed at KD Machine in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

There are a number of reasons why shops serving the oilfield industry see value in upgrading existing machine tools with a new control package. If price were no concern, these shops would more than likely choose to buy new machines. However, the cyclical nature of this industry combined with the size of the equipment required to machine some oilfield components has a number of shops eyeing more affordable CNC retrofits. This story cites examples.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 14. July 2014

Hurco to Award Free Machine Tool to Winning Entrepreneur

The VMX24i CNC machining center is one of the machines the winner might choose in the entrepreneurial contest to be decided at IMTS.

Hurco’s “Chipmaker Challenge” contest will allow a manufacturing entrepreneur to win a free CNC machining center or CNC lathe (winner’s choice). The contest is currently underway, accepting applications until August 8.

The contest is modeled after the TV show Shark Tank, says Hurco North America General Manager Joe Braun. Entrepreneurs in manufacturing who have been in business five years or less can pitch their business plans, including what they expect to achieve with the free machine. The top five finalists will appear in front of a panel of judges at the Hurco booth (S-8319) at IMTS  September 9.

One of the aims of the contest is to “get publicity for the entrepreneurs in our industry who do remarkable things each and every day,” Mr. Braun says. “We decided to create an exciting, competitive, entertaining event that showcases these entrepreneurs and highlights high-tech manufacturing.”

To learn more about the Chipmaker Challenge, and to enter, go here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 11. July 2014

A Whole Book about the Collaborative Commons

I find the concept of the Collaborative Commons both compelling and a bit disquieting. My recent column offered a few comments on this development as an alternative to the market-based economy that we take for granted. Author Jeremy Rifkin has written a book that explores this concept in great depth. It’s called The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism.

Mr. Rifkin’s office sent me a copy of his book, with a personal letter that included these paragraphs. Because they summarize the book so well (and match my impressions of the snatches I’ve been able to read so far), I quote them here:

“Mr. Rifkin believes that the Collaborative Commons is a critical part of a bigger story unfolding around the world that is going to fundamentally alter our global economy in the first half of the 21st century. He argues that a new economic system—the Collaborative Comments—is entering on to the world stage. It is the first new economic paradigm to take root since the advent of capitalism in the early nineteenth century. The meteoric rise of this new economic paradigm is coming at a time when capitalism is under great scrutiny, with lower growth, rising unemployment and greater inequality.

In his book, Mr. Rifkin describes a transformative new technology revolution—the Internet of Things—that enables billions of people to not only produce and share their music, videos, news, knowledge, and other virtual goods, but now also green electricity, 3D printed products, and other physical goods at near zero marginal cost, and for nearly free, on a vast global Collaborative Commons, bypassing the conventional marketplace. A younger generation is also beginning to share cars, dwellings, clothes, and countless other items and services at low or near zero marginal cost on the burgeoning Collaborative Commons, wreaking havoc on traditional industries and in the process, changing the very way we organize economic life.”   

This book is available at

Posted by: Emily Probst 10. July 2014

July 2014 MMS Digital Issue Now Available

The digital edition of Modern Machine Shop's July 2014 issue is now available.

The digital July issue of Modern Machine Shop is now available. Feature stories emphasize hole making and Swiss-type machining topics. The cover story discusses the costs and benefits of horizontal machining.

Our Rapid Traverse section highlights a novel modular clamping system as well as shop glasses that offer video and data capabilities.

This month’s Better Production section includes case studies about using new inserts to create micro grooves while increasing tool life, a robot that eliminates WIP and improves efficiency, and how tangential milling and a slow-motion video addressed a slotting bottleneck.

The Modern Equipment Review section highlights cleaning and deburring equipment.

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