Editors' Blogs

In connection with my article about flexible manufacturing systems for the February issue, I visited Camcraft Inc., which has a Makino Machining Complex (MMC2) automated pallet-handling system. Four Makino 4-axis a51nx horizontal machining centers are integrated into the system.
Remember that before there was high-tech there was low-tech. And there still is low-tech! For example, boring and cutting a keyway in a tapered bushing is one of the most often performed tasks a maintenance machinist will perform.
I recently read an article discussing how the Environmental Protection Agency will now allow asbestos-containing products to be manufactured and sold in the United States on “a case-by-case” basis, apparently reversing parts of the organization’s 1963 Clean Air Act and the 1989 Asbestos Ban and Phase-Out Rule. While that’s good news for the mesothelioma attorneys you see every night on TV, it’s bad news for American workers, a number of whom will soon be tasked with mining and processing the dangerous material once known as “the magic mineral” for its heat, electrical and chemical resistance.
Continuous learning, continuous improvement, continuous generation of ideas—they’re all important things. I would like to think they’re especially important to manufacturers but am struggling to come up with a specific reason. Every business, from floral arrangers to drywallers, must continually adapt and evolve or face eventual corporate death. Perhaps the reason continuous learning and improvement are so relevant to manufacturing, which in this context means machining, is that our industry is one of the fastest changing in terms of technology.
Depending on whom you ask, you’ll receive wildly different unravelings of the acronym DFAM. To music aficionados, DFAM might mean “drummer from another mother,” clever branding from Moog Music Inc. to describe its newest line of percussion synthesizers. I wish I’d thought of that phrase. DFAM could mean the Darlington Farmers Auction Mart but probably only to those who live near there in England and are interested in buying a cow, goat or sheep. At The Walt Disney Co., DFAM refers to the extended family of employees who share the stress of working at the Magic Kingdom—as in, “I’m going to chill this weekend with my DFAM before the big Labor Day rush.” Then there’s the DFAM that manufacturers care about—or rather the additive manufacturers. That’s because DFAM is short for “design for additive manufacturing,” an acronym every bit as relevant to machinists as it is to people in 3D printing.
After being at AB Sandvik Coromant, Sandviken, Sweden, for 17 years, Nadine Crauwels was appointed global president of the cutting tool manufacturer in May 2017. She has had roles in sales, product management, product introduction, custom tools and strategic relations.
At the facility where I spent the bulk of my machining career, we had two components to the operation: the surface refinery where I worked and the underground portion where the ore was mined before being sent up to the refinery. The mine was 1,570 feet deep, so it wasn’t just a simple jaunt when folks were in a bind. In addition, there were restrictions on who entered the mine, and the hazard training required for both the underground (MSHA) portion and the methane presence in the mine atmosphere. This mine generated about 2½ million cubic feet of methane on a daily basis.
CTE Managing Editor Greg Bartlett spoke with Rachel Ciullo, owner and president of toolmaker Composite Cutter Technology Inc., Volo, Illinois, about her business and life. The company manufactures PCD cutting tools, PCD wear parts and precision-machined parts for customers in automotive, aerospace, electronics, optical and other industries.
It started with the email from “Sarah.” “Dear Friend. We are precision CNC machining manufacturer from China. Please try us, so that you will cost-down 40 percent at least!” I hate junk mail. Next to robocallers and those dirtbags who leave ominous voicemails threatening legal action by the IRS, spammers are the worst. The intrusiveness of it, the endless inbox management, never mind the laughable English skills. It’s irritating.
While attending The Assembly Show, it seems that I saw robots and other automation equipment everywhere I turned. The trade show and conference took place Oct. 23-25 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.
There are no collaborative robots, only robots with collaborative applications. That’s according to Simon Whitton, regional division manager of North America for KUKA Robotics Corp., Shelby Township, Michigan.
The International Manufacturing Technology Show was great. It was fun to actually meet some of the people I’ve worked with over the past couple of years, plus there were the new machine tools, Industry 4.0 and industrial-internet-of-things technology, software systems, cutting tools, robots, metrology equipment and 3D printers. My dogs were killing me every night, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. And Chicago—what a cool town. As the saying goes, I wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s a nice place to visit.
In preparation for this year’s celebration of Manufacturing Day on Oct. 5, I read the book "Finding America’s Greatest Champion: Building Prosperity Through Manufacturing, Mentoring and the Awesome Responsibility of Parenting" by Terry M. Iverson, president of machine tool distributor and rebuilder Iverson & Co., Des Plaines, Illinois. The word “champion” in the title connects with the organization Iverson started called CHAMPION Now! CHAMPION is an acronym for Change How American (or Advanced) Manufacturing’s Perceived In Our Nation.
For its new “Manufacturing Perception Report,” Thomas surveyed more than 1,000 participants from across the U.S. to examine their awareness and views about the manufacturing industry. When respondents were asked about which industries automation will have the biggest impact on, the New York-headquartered information, data and analysis provider reported that manufacturing took the lead at 34 percent, followed by transportation (15 percent), retail (11 percent) and fast food (10 percent).
If debris or contaminants are not removed from parts, then measured values and physical dimensions can be affected, causing parts to behave unreliably and unpredictably, according to Cincinnati-based Cleaning Technologies Group LLC. “A new generation of industrial manufacturing is characterized by highly accurate machining and finishing processes, as well as precision manufacturing methods,” the company writes in a new e-book available online. “Manufacturing tolerances and acceptable limits in part variation are tighter than ever.”
Sept. 25 marked 39 years to the day since I first stood in front of a Hardinge hand screw, scratching my head over the knobs and handles and wondering what I’d gotten myself into. To say that machine tools have improved since then is like saying this year’s computers are only slightly more powerful than those of a decade ago or that salted caramel ice cream is marginally more flavorful than vanilla. Today’s machine tools rock.
While looking through back issues of Carbide Engineering from the late 1950s, I came across an article about HSS cutting tools that reminded me of an article we published in this year’s August issue of Cutting Tool Engineering. (Editor’s note: Carbide Engineering combined with Cutting Tool Engineering starting with the January 1961 issue and dropped Carbide Engineering starting in April of that year. The publication began in 1948 as a small pamphlet called Carbide Tips, but I’m not aware of any existing copies of any issues.)
Despite my sore feet and the cold, overpriced sandwiches, I love the International Manufacturing Technology Show. The whine of the spindles, the smell of the coolant, the machine gun sound of the chips hitting the glass—these might not be the memories the exhibitors want me to carry home, but they stick with me the longest.
I’m not a morning person. If it were up to me, all alarm clocks on Earth would be rounded up and smashed with a giant hammer, their electronic corpses left to rot in a landfill far, far away from my home in Tucson, Arizona. I’m not sure what people on other planets do about the whole alarm clock situation, but I assume they are more advanced than humans and therefore late sleepers like me. Unless my dad’s predictions about the looming extraterrestrial invasion are accurate, however, we’ll never know.
To gain more knowledge about Industry 4.0 developments, I participated in the Taiwan Smart Machinery Media Tour Aug. 20-24. The Taiwan External Trade Development Council hosted the event. The council reports that Taiwan has the highest density of precision machinery cluster in the world, exports almost 80 percent of its products and is the fifth largest export country for machine tools.