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Posted by: Mark Albert 21. August 2015

What’s It Like to Work in a Machine Shop Underground?

Whitewashed cave walls and no windows set apart the machining areas of this underground shop in Missouri.

A machine shop housed a mile below the surface is a very unusual workplace, especially when it has to operate in a cleanroom environment. It’s the only way to make parts that are not affected by cosmic rays. The mile-deep shop is part of the Sanford Lab in Lead, South Dakota, where the Majorana Demonstrator explores the physics of material decay processes. You can read about what it’s like working in this shop here.

In another underground shop, conditions are rather normal despite being located in a cave. Yet, this has its own advantage. Brunson Instrument Co. has its production facility in cave near Kansas City, Missouri. The hillside cave location provides a vibration-free, temperature-stable space for manufacturing high-precision measurement instruments. Find this shop’s unusual story here


Posted by: Derek Korn 20. August 2015

ERP: The One Big Thing?

ERP software has enabled CNCPE to streamline scheduling and more accurately capture the true costs for jobs.

Late in 2012, I wrote this story about CNC Performance Engineering, a shop that decided to move into its main customer’s facility. While the story describes the benefits the shop and its customer have realized as a result of this close relationship, the story also describes the value that implementing an ERP system had for CNCPE.

Chris Nachtmann ran his shop for many years without ERP, but finally gave the software a go by first tracking the shop’s most commonly repeating jobs. After entering all information into the ERP software for two jobs with seemingly slim profit margins, he ultimately found that those jobs were actually his two biggest moneymakers. Conversely, a few other jobs that he believed were highly lucrative were found to be unprofitable when lot sizes were smaller than a certain amount.

In our recent Top Shops benchmarking survey, I asked shops to identify one new technology they have recently implemented and noticeably benefited from. As you’ll read here, many pointed to ERP software. 


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 19. August 2015

3D Printing for Space Station Freezer Interior

A 3D printing material known for its resistance to heat is being used in an application of continuous –80°C cold on the International Space Station. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) with Ultem 9085 material replaced conventional manufacturing with PEEK in the production of the liner for the “Polar” freezer transporting scientific samples into space.

The University of Alabama Birmingham Center for Biophysical Sciences & Engineering created the freezer. The challenge facing the team working on it was to make the freezer more space-efficient compared to previous designs. Machining flat pieces of PEEK and joining them created sharp corners that fit poorly in the rounded interior of the freezer unit. Thermoforming the liner in PEEK to match the curves necessitated the use of brackets and joining features, which also compromised space-efficiency.

When the team turned to 3D printing, mechanical engineer Daniel Sealy says the group was intially still thinking about it like conventional processes, expecting to have to grow several pieces and connect them together. However, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing was able to apply a large-platform FDM machine to build the freezer’s entire liner assembly in one piece. Freezers using the liner arrived at the International Space Station earlier this year.

Read a more detailed article from Stratasys Direct Manufacturing here.

And speaking of additive … our Additive Manufacturing brand is about to grow. Soon, we will launch a new website devoted to additive manufacturing for industrial applicatons, and we will expand the publication that began as a small supplement into a full-size magazine. All of this will happen later this year. For now, stay apprised of these and other additive developments (and also give us a little encouragement) by joining us as one of the earliest followers of Additive Manufacturing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Posted by: Russ Willcutt 18. August 2015

Education and Innovation

Experienced gear manufacturers and those thinking about getting into it will have the opportunity to learn from leading experts in the field and to review the latest machine tool technologies in October when the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) holds its Fall Technical Meeting conjointly with Gear Expo 2015. As any tradeshow veteran knows, advance planning allows you to maximize the experience and create a balanced schedule, sitting in on educational presentations and then walking the show floor to meet with top OEMs from around the world.

A look at the technical meeting’s lineup reveals 27 papers on topics including materials and heat treatment, gear manufacturing and application, lubrication, and ways to minimize noise and vibration. Presenters represent companies such as Gleason Cutting Tools, Drive Systems Technology and Lufkin PTM. In addition, ASM International will host Heat Treat 2015 alongside Gear Expo at Detroit’s Cobo Center.

Also be sure to review Gear Production, a supplement to Modern Machine Shop, to learn about the latest processes and trends in the gear manufacturing industry.


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 17. August 2015

Additive Manufacturing Conference Speaker: Bruce Colter

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Bruce Colter, business development manager at Linear Mold, will be one of the speakers at the upcoming Additive Manufacturing Conference. See him in the video we filmed about additive manufacturing at Linear. The conference—October 20-21 in Knoxville, Tennessee—focuses on industrial applications of additive manufacturing. Learn more and register to attend at additiveconference.com.

And speaking of additive … our Additive Manufacturing brand is about to grow. Soon, we will launch a new website devoted to additive manufacturing for industrial applicatons, and we will expand the publication that began as a small supplement into a full-size magazine. All of this will happen later this year. For now, stay apprised of these and other additive developments (and also give us a little encouragement) by joining us as one of the earliest followers of Additive Manufacturing on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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