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Start with the Specs

Techspex is the machine tool search engine. It uses specs-based search to help find the right machine tools for your shop.

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Specifications do not say everything about a machine tool. They do not say enough to indicate which machine type is the most efficient choice for a given part. They also say nothing about the company that will sell the machine tool and stand behind it. In short, specs alone cannot tell you which machine to buy.

But specifications say a great deal. They say so much, in fact, that having this information conveniently available can save considerable time in a machine-tool purchasing decision by helping to focus the decision-maker’s attention onto the most qualified options.

That has been the experience of Jim Farral. The staff engineer with the Lord Corporation sought to replace various simple machine tools at the company with multitasking machines capable of consolidating several setups into one cycle. Using Techspex—the online research tool that compares machine-tool specifications—Mr. Farral was able to search for the multitasking machines offering the travels, tool capacity and other characteristics needed for the parts his plant produces. Techspex could not tell him which machine was optimal for his needs, but it told him which machines to consider. That narrowing of the field (while at the same time expanding the field to include some suppliers Mr. Farral otherwise might have missed) improved the quality of his search and saved valuable time.

The Industry’s Assistant

Techspex’s body of data on machine-tool specifications remains comprehensive and current. New specifications get into the machine-tool database by scouring Modern Machine Shop machine tool builders’ product announcements and machine tool brochures in search of any machine tool models that aren’t yet in the system.

The Techspex website includes:

• The ability to download model data sheets in PDF form to help with sharing search results and referring to them later.

• A “save search” feature that dynamically creates a URL for reproducing any set of search criteria and list of matching models—again for the sake of saving search results and sharing them with others.

• Links from each machine-model data page to distributors representing product lines by region.

• Links to content from Modern Machine Shop and YouTube relevant to individual machines.

• A monthly e-newsletter that includes tips on using the site and deep-dive coverage of individual machine models.

Search on Numbers

Many Techspex users get to the site via Google. Nevertheless, a word-based search engine is a limited tool for finding a particular machine—particularly when the details of interest include size, speed, travels or the like. While this point about search engines might seem obvious, people are accustomed to beginning all of their online searches with a general engine, and this is a hard habit to break. The aim of Techspex is to create the most logical starting point for machine-tool-related searches. Don’t try to find a machine tool using words as search terms. Instead, search on numbers that literally delineate the machine you need.

A common way visitors use Techspex is to perform a quick, free search on a set of machine tool parameters as a way of checking whether their own list of vendors for a given machine type is missing any companies that ought to be included. Searches such as this are easy to perform and can be done anonymously, but stopping there achieves only a fraction of what the site can do. Power users of the site continue their research via machine model pages that combine detailed specifications with photos, descriptions and links to the builder’s other machines, its distributors, and content related to that machine from MMS and other Gardner magazines. Getting to these deeper pages is also free, but requires registration.

Searching on Techspex forces the engineer to systematically think about the machine function, features and details that truly mattered for the applications. The exercise narrows attention to the machines most likely to fit the needs. Without the Techspex search to frame the thinking, this systematic preparation would be an easy step to skip, making the pursuit of a new machine less focused and more time-consuming in the end.