Peter Zelinski has been a writer and editor for Modern Machine Shop for more than a decade. One of the aspects of this work that he enjoys the most is visiting machining facilities to learn about the manufacturing technology, systems and strategies they have adopted, and the successes they’ve realized as a result. Pete earned his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and he first learned about machining by running and programming machine tools in a metalworking laboratory within GE Aircraft Engines. Follow Pete on Twitter at Z_Axis_MMS.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Workshops for Warriors, a nonprofit organization providing skilled manufacturing training to recently discharged veterans, including many who have been wounded. While helping veterans, the organization is simultaneously helping manufacturers with challenge of finding qualified personnel. Read my take on this organization and see a slideshow of photos taken during my visit.
Photo by Jennifer Peterson at Eleva-Strum Schools.
Teacher Craig Cegielski of Cardinal Manufacturing says a recent open house raised over $10,000 in cash for the manufacturing program he leads. Cardinal Manufacturing, which we first reported on in this article, is the western Wisconsin high school manufacturing program that functions as a student-run machining and fabrication business. Students in this program learn about manufacturing by producing real parts for real customers.
About 400 people attending the open house allowed the program to raise about $6,000 from a raffle. The rest of the money came from direct donations, including the $3,000 check pictured from the Precision Metalforming Association.
Additionally, Mate Precision Tooling donated a Bridgeport EZ Trak milling machine valued at about $19,000 and cutting tool supplier Walter donated about $3,000 in tooling. Kennametal covered the cost of food and drink at the event.
Mr. Cegielski says, “Most of the money we received will go toward the construction of new office space and a conference room. This will provide a professional space for us to meet with customers rather than in the class room. Our current office space will then be converted to an inspection lab. The new space will take us to the next level of professionalism. We are constantly trying to mimic real manufacturers.”
He says the support of both the community and industry has been vital for growing and advancing this unusual manufacturing education program. See additional photos of the open house event.
With a broad product line and the need to meet tight delivery requirements, machine tool builder Okuma faces a challenge many of its customers would recognize. Namely: the need to manufacture responsively in an environment of high product variety and low production volumes. A new manufacturing facility in Oguchi, Japan is the company’s response to this challenge.
Automation is used extensively in this plant, particularly flexible manufacturing systems. Various lines consist of multiple machining centers united by Fastems pallet loading systems. This is true even for the largest machined part numbers. A cell 120 meters long consists of a pallet system uniting four large double-column machining centers. Read more about the company’s new “DS1” facility.
Manufacturers are often closet inventors. People who work with machine tools frequently see ideas for retail products they could produce on these machines—if only there was a way to develop and test the market for that product. Now, Kickstarter potentially offers a way to begin. Kevin Saruwatari of manufacturing firm Qsine recently launched this Kickstarter page to test the interest in his idea for a retail product, a heatsink and enclosure for the Raspberry Pi computer.
Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing website for funding entrepreneurs. Inventors and artists promote their ideas on the site, and donors pledge large or small amounts (as small as $1) to support the ideas they like. If a project obtains the pledges needed to go forward, then the entrepreneur collects the money. If not, the backers aren’t charged.
Mr. Saruwatari hopes this test case with Kickstarter succeeds, because he aims to use this channel to develop other ideas for machined products. In the video on his Kickstarter page, he discusses the 9-axis mill-turn capability he would use to produce the enclosure. As you watch the video and consider supporting the project, perhaps you’ll also see possibilities for advancing a retail product idea you have in mind? It would be great to see machining businesses start to find new opportunities and new customers through this channel.
In the cover story of the latest issue of Additive Manufacturing, a researcher with Oak Ridge National Laboratory describes how additive manufacturing changes basic assumptions about the design of manufactured parts. Another article describes Ford’s use of 3D printing in sand to produce prototype casting molds. Read the digital edition. To subscribe to Additive Manufacturing, go here.