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It’s become an annual tradition for Modern Machine Shop to publish our top 10 stories at the end of the year. While 2020 was not a normal year, our editors still tracked down some excellent stories covering everything from new technology and best practices to reshoring and shops taking extraordinary measures to help in the fight against coronavirus. Our community was as resilient and creative as ever during these strange times.

Here are Modern Machine Shop’s top 10 stories of 2020 (in no particular order):

  1. Tariff on Mold Tooling Causes Boom for Indiana Mold Shop: Precise Tooling Solutions illustrates how U.S. molders are buying their tooling from U.S. mold builders, and its owner makes the case for a recent injection-mold-tooling tariff.
  2. 6 Steps to Take Before Creating a CNC Program: This CNC Tech Talk column shows how time saved by skipping preparation for programming can be easily lost when the program makes it to the machine.
  3. Sometimes the Trickiest Part of CNC Machining Is Holding the Part: Finding a way to fixture contoured marine propellors proved to be XL Machine’s biggest challenge in developing an effective automated machining cell.
  4. Nicholas Precision Works Started on Custom Drill for Ventillators Before Purchase Order Came: When Mark Delaney of Nicholas Precision Works saw an order for cutting tools to make ventilators for coronavirus patients, his workers started grinding before the customer officially hired them.
  5. CNC Machine Shop Reaps Benefits of Hiring an IT Person: A database guru combined off-the-shelf technology with an elaborate proprietary shop management software to drive efficiency throughout all areas of MetalQuest.
  6. Deciding to Specialize as an Aerospace Supplier: Indiana Precision Grinding describes how it adjusted to industry changes by moving from serving a diverse customer base to specializing for aerospace. 
  7. Use Your Machinists to Make Dies: By systemizing die making into repeatable steps, Dies Plus, a division of Otto Engineering, is using its machinists to effectively make dies.
  8. Talk About 5G Is No Idle Chatter: This Data Matters column explains the ins and outs of 5G, while describing the advantages of this networking technology – like near-real-time machining vibration compensation.
  9. How Machine Tool Dynamics Could Become a U.S. Supply Chain Strategy: A collaborative agreement being overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy involves a deceptively simple test — a test that could radically increase throughput of the United States’ existing base of CNC machine tools.
  10. Inside Oak Ridge’s 3D-Printed Machine Tool Moonshot: The widespread outsourcing of large machine castings led a collaborative team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to tackle the machine tool supply chain. The first step? 3D printing the largest cast component.

If you’re hungry for more of our top stories, travel back in time to the most-read articles from previous years:

Top 10 Modern Machine Shop Stories of 2019 

Top 10 Modern Machine Shop Stories of 2018

Top 10 Modern Machine Shop Stories of 2017

Top 10 Modern Machine Shop Stories of 2016

Top 10 Modern Machine Shop Stories of 2015

Cheers to a brighter, safer 2021!