A growing market for colossal components

February 08, 2018 - 01:00pm
A growing market for colossal components

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. In connection with that focus, I visited Coldwater (Ohio) Machine Co. and will present a profile about the shop’s expertise in producing short runs of fairly massive components, many of which are for the special machines CMC builds. Being midwinter, there were plenty of available rooms in the hotel I stayed at on the west bank of Grand Lake and I didn’t see another guest during my stay, but, curiously, my CMC hosts informed me that purchasing a home in that area is a daunting task because the supply is quite limited and there’s virtually no unemployment.

Prior to visiting Coldwater, I had the opportunity to drop by the production facility for FlexArm Inc./FlexDrill CNC in Wapakoneta, Ohio. While there, I saw an example of FlexDrill’s GRD series gantry machining center. The 3-axis CNC machine has an X-axis up to 30' (9.1m) and a 4' (1.2m) or 6' (1.8m) Y-axis, enabling long parts to be processed in one setup. When it comes to machining large parts, getting it done in one is a huge benefit, not only to avoid the dimensional-tolerance stack-up and setup errors that can occur, but to minimize movement of cumbersome workpieces.

As a result, CMC is investing in multitask machine tools to cut down on setups and movement of parts throughout the shop, said Steve Zoda, manufacturing engineer. "This is the technology we are pursuing at Coldwater Machine."


Related Glossary Terms

  • computer numerical control ( CNC)

    computer numerical control ( CNC)

    Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.

  • machining center

    machining center

    CNC machine tool capable of drilling, reaming, tapping, milling and boring. Normally comes with an automatic toolchanger. See automatic toolchanger.

  • sawing machine ( saw)

    sawing machine ( saw)

    Machine designed to use a serrated-tooth blade to cut metal or other material. Comes in a wide variety of styles but takes one of four basic forms: hacksaw (a simple, rugged machine that uses a reciprocating motion to part metal or other material); cold or circular saw (powers a circular blade that cuts structural materials); bandsaw (runs an endless band; the two basic types are cutoff and contour band machines, which cut intricate contours and shapes); and abrasive cutoff saw (similar in appearance to the cold saw, but uses an abrasive disc that rotates at high speeds rather than a blade with serrated teeth).



Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Including his 20 years at CTE, Alan has more than 30 years of trade journalism experience.


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