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.
Modern Machine Shop recently devoted a cover story to the idea of hiring employees for personal strengths rather than manufacturing skills. The skills can be taught, but character and a good fit with the culture of the company cannot. Bob Bussey, manufacturing director of Excelsior Marking, sent me an email recently to say he had read that article and taken it to heart.
“I hired someone who knew nothing about machining,” he wrote. “He’s been employed with us over two months now and is doing very well operating a Haas Mini Mill,” one of five CNC machines in the shop. Mr. Bussey said the idea that a person with desire but lacking machining skills could begin to succeed in machining made sense to him, because he himself began to learn about manufacturing in his father’s tool and template shop when he was completely unskilled at 14 years old.
The new employee Excelsior hired and began to train is Kris Porter. Mr. Porter had previously worked in warehousing and for an insulation company. He also had worked near to skilled manufacturing with a previous employer, initially helping with preventative maintenance, then being moved into a role of tool crib superintendent.
However, given the lack of credentials or direct experience in CNC machining, Mr. Bussey had to evaluate this prospective hire according to other criteria. He says these are some of the valuable traits he saw in Mr. Porter before hiring him or just after he began to work:
He is friendly, Mr. Bussey says—not argumentative or convinced he’s right.
He wants to learn.
He is teachable. Company leaders saw this in his first week on the job, when he took interest in a Basics of Machining class they had him take through Mastercam University. Excelsior has also supplied him with a self-study mathematics book, which he has been using to develop the math skills pertinent to his job.
In the efficiency of his performance at the machine, he shows regular improvement.
He is flexible about working overtime.
He is also grateful for the opportunity. To Mr. Bussey, this means a lot. He values manufacturing and wants to share it with those who see the same value in it he does.
The biggest factor that led to Mr. Porter’s new job was Mr. Porter. But to read the article that contributed to his opportunity, go here.
Adrian Bowyer makes an excellent point in this video. One of the more sensational objections to the spread of additive manufacturing technology is the fact that it can be used to print guns. However, CNC machine tools can be used to make guns, too, and they are actually better at it. The video above is part of a series of videos from the Science Museum debunking misconceptions about 3D printing.
Certain products succeed long enough that the product brand acquires its own cachet apart from the originating company name. In certain circles, Seco’s “Duratomic” is like that. The toughness and wear-resistance of this cutting tool coating have made it successful in steel machining applications such as the one portrayed in this video. When the coating was introduced in 2007, Seco says it represented the first time a coating had been manipulated on the atomic level. And in few days, the company says, Duratomic will be introduced again.
Launching April 1, a complete overhaul to the Duratomic line will improve upon the previous successful coating with new coating technology delivering 20 percent greater life across most of the tool’s applications, including heavy, low-speed turning applications that are commonplace among oilfield manufacturers that have applied this tooling in growing numbers in recent years.
Another important feature to be introduced is “edge intelligence,” the company says. The dark color of Duratomic inserts has made edge wear difficult to see. This has been a challenge in high-volume facilities that change inserts frequently, because inserts with unused edges sometimes get discarded. The new Duratomic addresses this challenge with a multilayer system that the company says makes tool wear easy to visually gage.
Learn more by visiting the Duratomic site, which includes a countdown clock ticking the moments until the line’s relaunch.
If you are one of the many manufacturers seriously considering an investment in additive manufacturing, and if you can make it to northern Florida in a few weeks, then take a look at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group annual conference, returning to Jacksonville April 19-23. The program this year is particularly strong, or at least it seems that way to me, because many speakers in the posted schedule address topics relevant to applying additive manufacturing for industrial production.
The Additive Manufacturing Users Group, or AMUG, is a unique organization. As the name makes clear, it consists of users of additive technology. The group started decades ago as a forum for stereolithography enthusiasts, but as 3D part-making technology advanced, both the scope and the name of the group changed various times. Now, with the maturing of 3D printing for prototyping and the advance of the technology into production, a large number of manufacturing professionals can rightly describe themselves as additive manufacturing users, and this annual conference has grown into a significant additive manufacturing event.
AMUG president Mark Barfoot says one of the challenges of a program involving so many speakers is nailing down a precise schedule, but the version released this week is expected to be final. View the most recently posted agenda here. Register for the conference here.
Five-axis machining may be challenging, but it’s not rocket science. Except when it is.
The Bloodhound is a 1,000-mile-per-hour rocket-powered car being developed to break the world land speed record, possibly this year. Though it’s named for a surface-to-air missile, the Bloodhound car will maintain missile-like speed entirely on the surface.
We’ve reported before on a leading-edge part made for this car. News of one of the latest examples of an unusual part for this car come from Delcam, whose PowerMill software and Vortex machining strategy figured into the five-axis machining of a tail-fin shear plate that will support the car’s large vertical fin at full speed.
The part shown on the screen in the previous image supports the car’s large vertical fin against the drag at full speed. Find images of the completed machined part posted here.
According to this BBC report, the aluminum plate—machined by Manufax Engineering on a Correa five-axis gantry-type—is more than 2 meters long by 400 mm wide, but only 2 mm thick in some places, and precisely curved to follow the contour of the chassis. An aluminum block weighing 750 kg was milled down to less than 9 kg to make this part.
Delcam says the combination of tooling from SGS and tool paths achieving efficient engagement through Vortex allowed the part to be machined with over 40 percent less cycle time than it would have otherwise required.