MMS Blog

When looking at any type of dimensional measurement request, it is very rare that all the information is available with said request. Even if it’s a simple outer diameter check, one needs to know not only the tolerance, but also where it is, who’s making the check, how many parts are being measured and so on, because all these pieces of information help point to the best measurement solution. The same applies to finding the best solution for a surface finish requirement.

Let’s look at a very specific surface finish request: the measurement of a surface finish call-out of 1.6 microns on a 2.3 mm by 45-degree chamfer — typical of a sealing function between two parts. The dimension is well called out on the print; we know the surface finish, specific diameter that the chamfer is on, and where the dimension is located within the bore. However, there are specific pieces of information that are not on the print.

DeltaWing Manufacturing knows composites. Most of the company’s 30 employees are dedicated to some critical step in manufacturing composite components, from making the molds to curing (hardening) the parts in a massive autoclave (a pressurized oven). However, composites expertise isn’t DeltaWing’s only asset. Kevin Bialas, vice president of manufacturing, says CNC machining has always been considered a core competency.
Without this and other value-added services, the company’s recent growth would not have been possible, he says. Likewise, future growth requires futher investments in machining. The most recent is a milling machine that occupies a space nearly as large as the one dedicated to the autoclave. By bringing critical pattern-making operations in house and eliminating tedious hand-trimming work, DeltaWing’s advance into large-capacity, five-axis machining has been and will continue to be essential for expanding beyond the company’s auto-racing roots.

Race cars still greet visitors to DeltaWing’s 40,000-square-foot facility outside Atlanta, and the company is still involved in that business. However, a look beyond the lobby reveals a deeper focus on structures and assemblies for planes, drones, and increasingly, commercial vehicles. Most are made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) or glass fiber reinforced plastic (fiberglass). A good portion could not be photographed. CNC machining contributed to the growth that made this shift possible in three ways:

I’ve been dealing with a lot of change lately, personally as well as professionally. Individually, none of these changes is anywhere close to drastic, extreme or for the worse. They are things that pretty much everyone must deal with at some point. But the cumulative effect is wearing on me. Constant change seems to be my new normal, at least for the moment.

That said, I’m a proponent of continuous improvement (i.e. change) in our industry, and I have visited and written about a number of machine shops in which change has become second nature. It’s what they do to grow their businesses and become more efficient.

The Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking registered 48.3, marking a modest improvement after July’s reading – the lowest in more than two years. Index readings above 50 indicate expanding activity while values below 50 indicate contracting activity. The further away a reading is from 50, the greater the change. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying index components observed that the Index –calculated as an average of its components – was supported by supplier deliveries, production and new orders. In contrast, contracting employment, exports and backlog activity suppressed the Index from moving higher.


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