MMS Blog

In the last two reviews of the aerospace industry in 2018, Gardner Intelligence covered the macroeconomic picture of the aerospace market by reviewing the growth of the passenger and freight markets. This was done by examining the level of air services consumed in recent years and months. As a result, our coverage of the market primarily addressed the demand for aviation services, but the picture of any market is incomplete without also examining the supply side factors.

The Gardner Business Index (GBI) data is one of many sources that peers into the dynamics of the supply side of the aerospace market. From this data, we find several insights that may be hard to find elsewhere:

Instead of being concerned that CNC multitasking machines might be too cumbersome to set up and too difficult to program, MTH Tool Co. President Tim Tremain recognized their value in his shop’s pump-manufacturing operations. In 1998, the company installed its first multitasking machine tool with a gantry robot, and Mr. Tremain hasn’t looked back as the Plano, Illinois, shop has all but eliminated work in process (WIP), reduced the need for in-process workhandling and significantly increased its output without additional equipment or machining personnel, all while slashing job setup time, improving part tolerances and ensuring process consistency.

Mr. Tremain’s father started the company in 1965 in a garage. Today, MTH specializes in regenerative turbine-style pumps, primarily for feeding hot-water boiler systems, and has come a long way from that garage. “We’re not a job shop. Last year, we generated about 140,000 machined pump parts,” he says. “About seven years prior to that, our production was only 70,000, and that increased output correlates directly with our switch to multitasking technology.”

The humble bearing may just be one of the least-sung of unsung heroes. But bearings are important not only for manufacturers whose advanced equipment relies on them for smooth and reliable motion, but for too many machines (and their users) to number. 

Bearings are also paramount to The Timken Co., headquartered in North Canton, Ohio. The company is a global leader in friction-management technologies and offers one of the most complete lines of anti-friction bearings in the industry. This longstanding success has led to a gaging challenge: The company manufactures a lot of different bearing series, amounting to thousands of different component geometries, each of which must be measured to extremely tight tolerances.

When Jon Baklund reflects on micromachining, his words demonstrate something almost like awe: “It’s like normal physics go out the window, and you’re dealing with something in the range of kind of a ‘pre-quantum’ world. Your cutters will break if you touch them, but then you can machine metal with them. So it’s a strange thing, this dynamic between speed and materials.”

That tinge of wonder colors my discussion with Mr. Baklund about his journey into dedicated micromachining after decades spent on the shop floor working with all kinds of equipment over the years, from learning how to machine on knee mills with his father, to progressive die making and R&D strategies. Representing something of a new chapter for him, Mr. Baklund considers the micro scale to be about twice the width of a human hair, or 0.015 inch and smaller, “because that’s really where everything changes.” 

By: George Schuetz 23. September 2018

Micrometers – Shifting into High Gear

The basic micrometer is one of the most popular and versatile precision-handheld measuring tools on the shop floor. It provides direct size information quickly, delivers high resolution and adapts easily to many different measurement applications. The micrometer in its most basic form, having both a flat reference and a measuring anvil, has continued to improve since it was first conceived 150 years ago. The wide array of options for micrometers truly make it a universal length-measuring hand tool.

Numerous variations of alternate contact point configurations have been developed over the years to satisfy an endless number of measurement applications.

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