Derek Korn

Derek Korn joined Modern Machine Shop in 2004, but has been writing about manufacturing since 1997. His mechanical engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Applied Science provides a solid foundation for understanding and explaining how innovative shops apply advanced machining technologies. As you might gather from this photo, he’s the car guy of the MMS bunch. But his ’55 Chevy isn’t as nice as the hotrod he’s standing next to. In fact, his car needs a right-front fender spear if you know anybody willing to part with one.

Posted by: Derek Korn 9. January 2014

Shop Solution for Faster Jaw Change-Overs

Winn Manufacturing in Granville, N. Y. is like every other shop in that it consistently looks for ways to speed change-overs. In fact, it has recently turned one solution into a product line. Changing vise jaws was a time-consuming task because its vises used standard bolt-on jaws. This problem led to the development of the Winn Speed Lock vise, an angle lock vise that enables users to change jaws in 30 seconds.

Posted by: Derek Korn 30. December 2013

Why Take the Top Shops Survey?

Click here to take the 2014 Top Shops benchmarking online survey. Click here if you’d like to print the survey questionnaire first.

Do you really know how well your machine shop stacks up against industry leaders? How does it compare in terms of machining strategies applied? What about set-up time? Spindle utilization? Quote-to-book ratio? Human resource practices? Take our fourth-annual Top Shops benchmarking survey, which runs now through February 19, and you’ll have a good idea.

We’ve gotten a good deal of positive feedback from those who have taken past Top Shops surveys. I encourage you to take this year’s survey, which runs through mid-February. Read this article to learn more about the 2014 survey, and check out our Top Shops Zone to see results from last year’s survey.

Posted by: Derek Korn 23. December 2013

Friction Stir Welding for SLS Rocket

During friction stir welding, friction at the shoulder of the tool (shown in green) creates heat to soften the material without melting it. Meanwhile, the profiled pin buries itself in the softened material, stirring it as it moves forward.

The SLS will be the largest U.S. rocket ever built. It will measure 384 feet in total length (200 feet taller than the entire space shuttle rocket assembly) and weigh 6.5 million pounds. The construction of an assembly of this magnitude requires entirely new ways to fabricate, assemble, and weld the main fuel tank structures. Engineers from Esab have worked with Boeing and NASA for more than a year to develop the new Vertical Assembly Center (VAC), a giant orbital welding system that is capable of supporting the huge rocket fuel tank while circumferentially welding its sections together with the friction stir process. Esab’s construction of the VAC is said to be the largest welding machine of its type in history.

The VAC is being designed, engineered, and built at the Esab’s Laxa, Sweden facility and is supported by Esab’s North American Automation Division. The vertical tower assembly is being built in the United States using U.S. steel and component materials.

Friction stir welding uses a spinning tool with a great deal of pressure and torque to mix metals together without melting them. This allows users to fuse together hi-tech alloys that are difficult or impossible to join with conventional welding techniques. Read this article to learn more.

Posted by: Derek Korn 17. December 2013

Of Schadenfreude and Firgun

The German noun describing a feeling of pleasure when others experience misfortune is “schadenfreude.” Envy, particularly derived from those we view as competitors, fuels it. Firgun, on the other hand, is the Hebrew word for being happy for another person’s success.

Learn more about what this has to do with maintaining a healthy work environment.

Posted by: Derek Korn 10. December 2013

Another School “Real Shop” Example

The NCMM offers students real-world experience in the business of operating a machine shop.
(Photo courtesy of NMCC.)

Most readers of this blog are familiar with Cardinal Manufacturing, the Wisconsin high school manufacturing program that functions as a student-run machining and fabrication business. Recently, I learned about a similar operation in Presque Isle, Maine.

Dean Duplessis is the manufacturing instructor for the Precision Metals program at Northern Maine Community College (NMCC). Like Cardinal, the NMCC program instructs would-be machinists by having them make real parts for real customers just like any job shop would. Dean says the program is non-revenue generating. Its customers pay for materials, tooling, shipping and the like. Its volumes vary from 250 to 1,000 pieces, and there’s a good deal of repeat work. All jobs have travelers, setup instructions, inspection instructions and so on, so students are fully accountable for all work.

NMCC doubles as a Haas Technical Education Center. Learn more about the program in this article found in Haas’s CNC Machining magazine.

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