MMS Blog

It is still possible to run an efficient machine shop without using comprehensive shop management software. During our travels around the country, we still encounter shops using paper job travelers and filing cabinets stuffed with job quotes, shipping documents, certifications, tool management archives, purchasing records and job schedules. The common thread for these shops, typically, is that they are small, family-owned business with stellar retention rates for employees who rarely take time off or get sick.

East Branch Engineering and Manufacturing in New Milford, Connecticut, used to fit this mold. Founded by Paul Guidotti in 1989, the shop today has 20 multi-axis machines for milling and turning, run by 16 employees, including Mr. Guidotti’s son, Chris, who joined the business in 2003 and today serves as vice president of manufacturing.

The image gallery above, based on Modern Machine Shop magazine’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features a selection of the product releases we have recently published pertaining to technologies for part measurement, tool setting and machine inspection. More product releases can be found in our Zone dedicated to measurement and inspection.

Swipe through the gallery for details about each product, and follow the caption links for more information. Products featured in this month’s spotlight come from the following companies:

Aerospace Machine Shop Opts for CAM Simulation Over Dry Runs

July 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Half a century later, the discussion of space technology and exploration goes on, with proposed new trips to the moon and Mars, ongoing research efforts at the International Space Station, and nearly continual launches of communication and defense satellites. Marton Precision Manufacturing (Fullerton, California) is a CNC machining company that uses large machine tools with advanced simulation software to efficiently and cost effectively manufacture large, space-related components. 

Despite being a part of this high-tech field, Marton Precision’s five-axis machinist, Miguel Chavez, used to dry run programs and climb up into the shop’s gantry machine tool to check for potential collisions because of inconsistencies between CAM programs and postprocessed G code. That changed when the shop acquired NCSIMUL CAM simulation software from Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence

Brackets Are One Potential Win for 3D Printing

As additive manufacturing (AM) advances along with design software, the parts we see highlighted get more and more flashy. Mold inserts with complex cooling channels following the contours of a part. Topology optimized motorcycle frames with organic lattice work. Even 3D printed guitars.

These parts are beautiful as well as functional, and help to illustrate the trajectory that AM is on. But these showy parts might not be the applications in which AM will make the greatest impact. That point of impact might instead be something more mundane: brackets. 

Superior Metal Products, profiled in this story about robotic automation, has designed this unique plug to prevent chips and coolant from shooting back through the tube and into the bar feeder while turning DOM tubing. “We struggled to find a solution that offered push-point consistency for the bar feeder and positive sealing for the various tube IDs we run,” Mr. O’Connor explains. “Tapered plugs tend to dislodge and leak, and care must be taken to ensure the plug end is perpendicular to the tube. Otherwise, push rod droop or tube orientation can cause push length variation.”

The plug features a 3D printed threaded knob, expander and nut (all are printed at the same time), as well as an appropriately sized O-ring. Once inserted into the end of a bar and tightened, it provides an effective seal and consistent push point that is perpendicular to the tube. The shop has a base plug design and simply modifies the sealing diameters depending on the tube ID and prints. It’s not a problem if a plug gets lost. 3D printing replacements is not costly.