In our last special issue on high speed machining two years ago we took a somewhat theoretical point of view. That was due in equal parts to design and concession. For one thing, we believed that the underlying principles of high speed machining were largely under-appreciated at that time. For another, there were precious few real users out there willing to speak publicly of their experience with the process.
It's very different this time around. In this special issue of Modern Machine Shop, we focus almost entirely on the real-world application of HSM technology. To that end, our editors spent a great deal of time on the road this Spring speaking with experienced practitioners of high speed machining in die and mold shops, large aerospace plants, and production facilities. Their stories illustrate, not what is theoretically possible with HSM, but how shops are putting it to work.
Frankly, when we embarked on this journey, we hoped to find shops that are realizing the process potential we wrote about two years ago. What we found, however, was that the application of HSM is not quite so clean. All the users we talked to have struggled with this process, and all are learning more day by day. It's much like the early days of numerical control. There are great rewards to be reaped, but not without a lot of hard work, the patience to work through problems that frequently defy conventional solutions, and the courage to bet on technology for which there is no definitive handbook.
Truth is, shops that are making a success of high speed machining today are figuring out much of it on their own, and that's not going to change anytime soon. What we hope this issue will deliver is a keener insight into what that process of discovery is like and a degree of confidence that the learning curve is indeed surmountable. As for the technical underpinnings of high speed machining, we have a very special electronic supplement—available in a CD-ROM format or on the Web in the High Speed Machining Zone of MMS Online. Our full coverage of HSM over the last several years is also included in the HSM Zone. Take a look. You'll find that, combined, these media provide the most comprehensive information resource on high speed machining that you'll find anywhere.