MMS Blog

Cleaning specifications can be more stringent for hydraulic and pneumatic components, automotive transmission components, pump and valve housings, nozzles and so on. Burrs, swarf or debris left behind after machining or grinding parts like these can lead to product failure during use, which is why secondary finishing processes are often necessary prior to assembly. 

Traditionally, multiple pieces of equipment —sometimes from multiple suppliers — have been required to perform all the necessary finishing work. However, as I saw at the EMO trade show in Hannover last September, the EcoCvelox from Ecoclean combines high-pressure waterjet deburring (in five axes) with low-pressure parts cleaning and drying in one compact unit. This eliminates the need to use various equipment suppliers, and a modular design enables future expansion as needed.

Additive Manufacturing Standards

The subtle variations of each of the seven additive manufacturing (AM) process, the hundreds of systems available in the market, and the rapidly improving technologies make it challenging to stay on top of AM technology and even more challenging for standards to keep pace. In fact, America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, in coordination with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) identified 93 gaps in which there are no published standards or specifications for AM to respond to a particular industry need. One such example is how to characterize the spreadability of powder feedstocks used in powder-bed fusion processes. 

For those struggling to make heads or tails of all the AM processes I’ve been highlighting in recent columns, I’ll detail some helpful resources below. 

At the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) fall conference last October, discussions relative to Generation Z gave me some hope that the years-long manufacturing skills gap might soon narrow as this generation starts entering the workforce. However, it won’t happen without shops like yours making an enticing effort.

During the NTMA event, select results from the 2019 Manufacturing Index survey conducted by lean execution software provider Leading2Lean were cited. This annual survey was developed to gage the perception of manufacturing in the United States. Results showed that one third of those in Generation Z (aged 18 to 22) have had a counselor, teacher or mentor suggest that they consider a manufacturing career (compared to 18% of surveyed Millennials). In addition, 54% of those in Generation Z understand that the country faces a skilled labor shortage. But while 56% of them say they would consider a career in a tech industry, only 27% say they’d consider a career in manufacturing.

For me, it’s nice that Mazak’s North America Manufacturing headquarters is just south of Cincinnati in Florence, Kentucky. It’s a short drive. Last month, 2,000 others, many of whom hail from cities farther way, joined me in attending the company’s Discover 2019 event, which took place in part to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary.

The five-day event spread over the first two weeks of November and featured more than 30 live machine tool demonstrations. Equipment included the company’s lines of VMCs, HMCs, five-axis machines, turning centers and turn-mills, and hybrid machines that combine machining capability with processes such as additive manufacturing and friction stir welding.

The Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking data indicated an accelerating contraction in November as the Index moved lower to 47.0. 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 magnitude of change in business activity. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying index components observed that the Index, which is calculated as an average of its components, was supported by supplier deliveries, production, new orders, exports and employment. Only an accelerating contraction in backlogs pulled the Index lower.

All components registered contractionary readings in November — an occurrence last experienced in the third quarter of 2015. At that time, the Metalworking Index was in the midst of a 21-month contractionary period that did not end until January 2017, marking the beginning of the most recent (and longest) manufacturing expansion since Gardner first began collecting data in late 2011.