Blogs for 02/2018

As product miniaturization continues, micromachining continues to make inroads into the manufacturing industry, and CTE will once again provide a special section about micromachining in our May issue. At the other end, I’ve noticed more developments in large-part machining, and, coincidentally, our April issue will include a focus on that topic.
If you’re reading this, it means that Earth wasn’t destroyed. On Feb. 9, the asteroid 2018 CB passed overhead with just 39,000 miles to spare—well within the moon’s orbit and, by outer space standards, way too close for comfort. The pocket protector-toting space nerds at NASA call the asteroid a near-Earth object, which is defined as any object that passes through our solar system at less than 1.3 astronomical units (about 120 million miles) from the sun.
Some tool builders in the expanding economy are having a hard time obtaining machine components, which is delaying production, said Logan McGhan, technical salesman at KD Capital Equipment LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz., a machinery dealer specializing in used CNC machinery, plastic molding machinery and sheet metal fabrication. He said U.S. manufacturers must meet delivery deadlines in a demanding market. “You could potentially lose a customer," McGhan said, adding he is hearing about wait times of 6 months to a year for certain machinery. This environment may make it a good time for some companies to buy or sell used CNC equipment, even if doing so is new for them.
Manufacturers are ripe targets for hackers. According to a report from IBM Security, the manufacturing industry moved into the position of second most attacked industry in 2015, behind health care.
In connection with my feature article on abrasive machining for the May issue, I spoke with Steve Kendjelic, senior applications engineer for Norton/Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Worchester, Mass., about power gear honing. The process is used for ultrafinishing generated gear teeth and is generally performed on a honing machine.
Twenty years ago, tired of the Minnesota winters, I interviewed for a job with a largish aerospace shop in Austin, Texas. The owner was looking for a general manager, and George, the recruiter who set up the interview, warned me that there might be some tough questions. He was right. I did pretty well until almost the end of the interview. “If you get the job, what’s the first thing you’ll do to increase productivity in my shop?” the owner asked. It was an unfair question. After all, I’d never seen his shop, so how would I know what needed fixing? In hindsight, I should have told him as much. But I assumed that his shop was much like most shops back then: plagued with hourslong setups, wasted motion and downtime.
A free app for the repair of industrial equipment aims to quickly connect service requesters with service providers. Up! by Up! LLC, Columbus, Ohio, is a new app designed to match manufacturers with companies that perform repair and preventive maintenance services for equipment. “We look at ourselves as the crusaders against downtime,” said CEO A. Vinod.
In connection with the upcoming 50th anniversary celebration of Hurco Cos. scheduled for March 6 at the machine tool builder’s corporate headquarters in Indianapolis, I spoke with Michael Cope, the company’s product technical specialist.