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10

and the stories behind their success


BEST
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SHOPS
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americanmachinist.com NOVEMBER 2009 A Penton Media Publication
AM New Product Showcase Page 32
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10
and the stories behind their success
BEST
MACHINE
SHOPS
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americanmachinist.com NOVEMBER 2009 A Penton Media Publication
AM New Product Showcase Page 32
CONTENTS
DE PART ME NT S
F E A T U R E S
ON THE COVER
33 MACHINE TOOLS
Material made for medical.
38 TOOLING & FIXTURING
High-feed milling, less boring.
43 SOFTWARE & CONTROLS
Charting new paths for greater consistency.
V I E WP OI NT S
6 COMMENTARY
8 GOVERNMENT MATTERS
10 NTMA NOTES
48 CUTTING TOOL APPLICATIONS
AMERICAN MACHINIST
(ISSN 104-7958), founded 1877,
is published monthly by Penton
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READER SERVI CE
45 AM PRODUCT EXPRESS
47 ADVERTISER INDEX
APHELION PRECISION TECHNOLOGIES
Tough materials, complex parts, tight tolerances. ............................ 12
ASHLAND TECHNOLOGIES INC.
One-stop shop with a marketing edge. ........................................ 14
KINNER MANUFACTURING
Exploiting an undervalued market. ................................................. 16
KIRSAN ENGINEERING INC.
Very good partners ......................................................................... 18
KVK PRECISION SPECIALTIES INC.
Constant focus on continuous improvement. .................................20
M&S PRECISION MACHINING INC.
Managing data to maximize understanding ...................................22
MINI MACHINE INC.
Transferring specialties to new markets. .........................................24
PRECISION AEROSPACE CORP.
Setting sights, and standards, high. ................................................26
THAYER MANUFACTURING LLC
Fostering excellent customer relationships. ....................................28
VALLEY TOOL INC.
Traditional values, todays technology ...........................................30
Hundreds of shops many great
achievements but just 10 best.
2 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
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E D I T O R I A L M I S S I O N :
American Machinist empowers self-determined
ma c h i n e s h o p o wn e r s a n d ma n a g e r s
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embrace technology, innovate and systematically
improve operations. American Machinist facilitates the
leap from survival to growth for a community of owners
and managers who operate metalworking businesses in
the context of a global manufacturing economy.
AMERICAN MACHINIST I Volume 153 I Number 11 I November 2009
Bill Gibbs
Founder/President
Jay Leno knows cars. He even has his own repair and restoration shop, called Big Dog Garage,
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mill with rotary axis, driven by GibbsCAM softwareadvancements that help his people quickly
and easily custom-fabricate parts. GibbsCAM can provide you with the same powerful capability
and wide range of support to create real-world programs for YOUR parts and YOUR machines.
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EDITOR
Robert Brooks
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The realization that we are not unique in the diculties we face.


That we do many similar things that the most successful companies

do. It increased motivation to stick to the path were on.

2008 Machine Shop Workshop Attendee

Variety of topics. Quality of presentations. Opportunity to


discuss with other attendees afterward.

2008 Machine Shop Workshop Attendee


Cleveland, Ohio t April 21-22, 2010
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W
e dont pick the 10 Best Shops that are
spotlighted in this issue: they select themselves.
Their standing reflects their exceptional
performances in AMs annual Benchmarks for Machine
Shops survey. Each of them sought to confirm their
standing among their peers, and by demonstrating their
accomplishments against others they set the standards.
Now we know these are North Americas outstanding
machine shops for 2009, and their accomplishments are
all the more admirable because they have been made in
the face of a fearful economic downturn.
One confounding aspect of this recession is that it
has spared no one: Everyone feels the effects of weak
demand. Everyone looks anxiously for something to
build upon. Yet, the 2009 Best Shops demonstrate that
there is always a way to improve ones performance.
They are succeeding in spite of the challenges. Some of
them rely on management strategy, as in the way they
arrange their shops or organize their workers. Others
emphasize marketing techniques, as in ways to
target customers or apply machining capabilities.
All of them recognize they must be versatile
in both skills and strategies to be available
and capable when circumstances change, or opportunities
appear. In other words, they are the Best Shops in part
because they are so creative.
Of course, machining is a creative science,
but the 2009 Best Shops remind us how much success
results from originality. From high-precision bladed
products to thrill-ride components, to medical devices and
low-lead brass plumbing fixtures, they develop products
that need to be developed, to supply markets that need to
be defined. They make changes happen, and their success
speeds the advances of others.
They reward their customers, their investors, and
their workers with that success, but its notable that they
didnt seek recognition, only confirmation. And so, we
can observe that the most notable, the most admirable
characteristic of the 10 Best Shops is their determination
to grow and prosper, even if determination is the only
resource available to them.
FROM THE E DI TOR
Versatility, creativity, determination
6 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
Robert Brooks
Editor-in-Chief
robert.brooks@penton.com
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done incrementally.
e more, test the
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and manual
go. You can do
ame set up.
ed for
veryone seems to agree that
our nations healthcare
system needs to be
When I was working at the
adopted the opposite game plan
with regard to healthcare reform.
First as a candidate, and then
as President, Barack Obama
promised that he would reform
the healthcare system without
raising the taxes of anyone who
made less than $250,000 per
year. He also promised not to
add any new debt to our nations
deficit. This promise cannot be
fulfilled, unless the President
intended for us to interpret his
words in a way that restricts their
meaning narrowly to income
tax rates alone, thereby failing
to include all the additional
revenue-raisers that would
be required to pay the cost of
covering an additional 30 million
currently uninsured people (a
price tag of approximately $1
trillion over the next decade.)
Now, the Democratic Congress
is faced with, at the very least,
living up to the letter (if not the
spirit) of the Presidents promises.
They must find new ways to raise
revenue while not technically
raising taxes. Yet, most of the
added revenue-raisers being
discussed in Congress would, in
fact, impose on many Americans
hidden tax increases in the
form of higher costs passed on
to them by health insurers and
providers.
Without getting into the details
of the House of Representatives
so-called public option versus
the Senates so-called healthcare
insurance exchange plans,
the biggest problem faced by
Congress is how to pay for a
system that attempts to cover
those 30 million additional
people while at the same time
outlawing such cost-cutting
insurance company practices
as refusing to cover people
with pre-existing conditions, or
dropping expensive patients
from coverage. However one
feels about the moral aspects of
such practices, new mandates
restricting these insurance-
company operating rules are
not likely to lower the cost of
insurance to the general public.
Meanwhile, the largest revenue-
raiser proposed by both Houses
of Congress is to eliminate waste,
fraud, and abuse from Medicare,
which the Congress estimates
would save approximately $500
billion over the ten-year planning
cycle. If this cost cutting were
possible, one wonders why such
measures have not already been
taken. More telling, however, is a
comment from someone who was
involved in a similar legislative
process during the Clinton
administration.
In a recent television
appearance, Lawrence
ODonnell, who during the
last healthcare reform effort,
in 1994, was Senate Finance
Committee Chairman Daniel
P. Moynihans Chief of Staff,
admitted that when the Finance
Committee ran out of revenue-
raising ideas, they simply asserted
without any analytical basis
that the remainder of savings
would come from eliminating
waste, fraud, and abuse
leaving the operational details
of that admonition vague. If the
the current bills elusive $500
billion in savings is not found,
either taxes or the deficit will be
increased. But, that will happen
slowly over the next decade, and
therefore without much notice.
The greatest concern for
smaller manufacturers ought
to be a House proposal to raise
revenue by increasing taxes on
individuals making $250,000 and
above. If no exception is granted
to small businesses, those taxes
also will fall on S Corporations,
partnerships, sole proprietorships,
and other pass-through entities
that file individual income
taxes. Add to that possibilty the
proposed eight-percent payroll
tax penalty for not offering
health insurance, and many
smaller companies are unlikely to
survive the new revenue structure
envisioned by Congress to fund
healthcare reform.
At this writing healthcare
reform is still a work in progress.
But, it is legislation that bears
close watching because it could
have profound effects both
on the competitiveness of U.S.
companies and the fiscal health
of our nation.
GOVERNMENT MATTERS
You can help revitalize U.S. manufacturing! Send this page to your Congressman, local and state government leaders,
or your local newspaper editor. Add your own comments on the importance of manufacturing innovation to the health of
our economy. Your comments are also welcome at pfreedenberg@AMTonline.org
B Y D R . P A U L F R E E D E N B E R G
What kind of healthcare reform are we likely to see? > >
Vice President-Government Relations, AMTThe Association For Manufacturing Technology
8 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
E
reformed, but that is where the
agreement ends.
Commerce Department for
Secretary Malcolm Baldridge, his
advice to me for managing my
department was under-promise
and over-deliver. Unfortunately,
President Obama seems to have
SHARE OUR STRENGTH
www.investinyorkshire.com/share
Were energising the nuclear industry.
Preventing dark times.
The power of alternative energy.
NTMA NOTES
B Y J A M E S R . G R O S M A N N
JAMES R. GROSMANN IS MARKETING DIRECTOR FOR THE NATIONAL TOOLING & MACHINING ASSOCIATION
d like to use this months column
to advise readers about current
happenings in Washington. If, as
citizens, we dont pay attention to
what our representatives are doing,
our country will be lost.
As of this writing the Senate
Finance Committee has voted to
pass the healthcare legislation
sponsored by Senator Baucus. This
bill will mandate that all employers
provide health-insurance benefits.
One of the bills less-reported
aspects mandates individuals to
buy health insurance, too. If you
dont wish to buy the insurance,
Uncle Sam will tax you to pay for
it, and if you dont pay the tax you
will have committed a felony. In
other words, you can go to jail if
you dont buy health insurance.
Companies that dont supply the
required level of health insurance
will be charged a surtax for each
employee. Some estimates put this
charge at up to 40% of the cost of
the health insurance.
The Baucus bill faces several
obstacles. House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi has 150 Democrats who main-
tain that the surtax wont last: They
want an income tax on individuals
making $500,000 or more.
The cost of the Baucus bill is
estimated at $829 billion. The
President states that this bill will not
add to the deficit. Can anyone tell
me when the last time a government
cost estimate was accurate? As I
recall, Social Security was supposed
to cost no more than $40 million.
The Estate Tax was supposed to be
a temporary tax.
This bill does nothing to
address the major cause of
rising healthcare costs: the legal
liabilities that manufacturers and
providers must fund add billions
to the cost of healthcare an
aspect of the present system that is
defended by trial lawyers.
The American Clean Energy
and Security Act (Cap and
Trade) passed in the House but
its supporters say the measure
wont do much to affect global
climate change. It will increase
U.S. energy costs as electricity, gas
and oil prices rise to pay for the
additional production and delivery
costs. Countries like China and
India say they will not adopt similar
regulations, but are supporting
efforts to pass them here.
If the Cap and Trade regulations
are enacted, some estimates put
the number of U.S. jobs relocating
offshore as high as 10 million jobs.
The Employee Free Choice
Act (Card Check) is said to be dead
for now, but we need to keep an eye
on it. There are rumors that labor
unions will give up on the aspect
that would eliminate secret-ballot
elections, but remain steadfast on
the rest of the bill.
Card Check would allow a
union to organize a workplace if
it can get a majority of workers to
sign cards calling for a vote. Instead
of the current 30-day campaign
period for such organizing
elections, employers would have
just nine days to educate their
employees prior to voting. Why
the rush? Cant union organizers
debate their arguments openly and
honestly? In a free society, people
have a right to all the facts before
making a decision!
A version of the bill still calls for
a mandated two-year union contract
if no agreement is reached after 120
days. This gives the union no reason
to compromise. We expect labor
backers to call for a quick vote in
order to thwart opposition.
Here is some good news: The
NTMA has been working for years
to draft a U.S. Manufacturing
Policy. Our NTMA/PMA One
Voice efforts have been working
on this issue, and recently we were
invited into discussions about a
Manufacturing Policy. Some wont
like to hear this, but one reason
China has been able to expand
so significantly is that it has a
national manufacturing policy.
If you want to sell something in
China, you must make all or part
of it in China. The U.S. is the only
industrialized nation without such
a policy. By being at the table of
these discussions, the NTMA/PMA
One Voice group hopes to have a
positive influence for the future of
all U.S. manufacturing.
Also, the estate tax is back on
the table. Congress doesnt want
to be seen as allowing a huge tax
increase to take place as the estate
tax reverts back to its 2000 level.
Our hope is that we can get the
amount of exemption raised, or
that we can get the current levels
extended for another year. Section
179, for expensing equipment, is
due to expire along with the net
operating loss legislation and the
R&D tax credit. All these bills
must be extended until we can get
them made permanent.
Our Congress is out of control.
They seem to think they have
a blank check to spend any
amount they want. Theyre
passing legislation just to say
they have a dangerous way
to make laws. Next year, we
must elect officials that will stand
up for manufacturing. If you
havent joined a national trade
group that is fighting to support
manufacturing, do it now! We
cant wait any longer!
Contact James R. Grosmann at the
National Tooling & Machining
Assn., jgrosmann@ntma.org.
cit
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Legislative advocacy update > >
10 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
I
Aphelion Precision Technologies
Ashland Technologies, Inc.
Kinner Manufacturing
Kirsan Engineering
KVK Precision Specialists, Inc.
M&S Precision Machining, Inc.
MiniMachine, Inc.
Precision Aerospace
Thayer Manufacturing
Valley Tool
Congratulations!
2009
10 Best Machine Shop
Winners
These companies were selected through American Machinists Machine Shop Benchmarks program
based on their elite operating metrics, along with site visits and interviews by the American Machinist
editorial team. They represent an ideal in manufacturing: machine shops that make strategic use of
accepted principles for improvement in order to thrive and compete in a global marketplace.
SAVE THE DATE! Learn from the 10 Best Machine Shops at the 2010 Machine Shop Workshop,
April 21-22, Cleveland, Ohio. For more details, visit www.machineshopworkshop.com
Aphel i on Pr eci si on Technol ogi es
E
veryone at Aphelion Preci-
sion Technologies loves
titanium. Thats because
the 65-employee contract
machining shop has gained
something of a reputation for taking
on the jobs that others wouldnt even
consider attempting, most of which in-
volve highly complex titanium parts.
About 80 percent of the shops work
serves the aerospace and defense mar-
kets, while 15 percent supports optics
such as laser targeting and satellite sys-
tems. The balance of work is in medical.
Besides titanium, Aphelion ma-
According to Gene Kline, vice pres-
12 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
Making 'Rooms' for Machining
SHOP THRIVES ON TOUGH MATERIALS, COMPLEX PARTS AND TIGHT TOLERANCES.
By Charles Bates I senior editor
Aphelioh Precisioh
Techhologies
Wheelihg, ll.
www.apheliohpIc.com
Number oI employees - 65
2009 sales - N/A
MarkeIs served: Aerospace,
deIehse, ahd medical
Special temperature-controlled rooms allow Aphelion Precision Technologies to achieve extremely tight part tolerances.
chines aluminum, stainless, tungsten
and nickel-based alloy parts. Most in-
volve multi-axis machining and toler-
ances held in the millionths of an inch
range. These include components for
the F-18 fighter jet, the Tomahawk
missile and Apache helicopter.
ident of operations at Aphelion, what
makes it possible to hold extremely
close tolerances in such tough mate-
rial as titanium are the shops several
temperature-controlled, totally en-
closed rooms. While the whole shop
is air conditioned, these special rooms
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 13
have sensors mounted on their walls,
and temperatures never vary more
than +/- 0.5 degrees F.
Being able to machine in temper-
ature-controlled rooms eliminates the
problem of part-size fluctuation. And
when trying to hold tolerances in the
millionths, you cant have room tem-
peratures varying by full degrees at a
time, said Kline.
Part volumes at Aphelion vary from
prototype jobs of one to five pieces
to those requiring a couple thousand
pieces. But, its not a huge production
shop, and typical production volumes
are between 100 and 500 pieces.
Every job gets assigned to a proj-
ect manager and process engineer.
The two of them determine the best
way to process the particular job
through the shop.
The manufacturing area is set up
in cells of three or four machines and
organized by process, such as milling,
EDM or turning. Parts move from one
cell to the next, with appropriate pro-
grams stored on the shops network.
Production managers make sure
parts flow smoothly around the shop,
as does the production planner who
coordinates scheduling. A manufac-
turing production manager ensures
that parts continue to move according
to a schedule, and he works closely
with the process engineers.
A parts most dominant required pro-
cess or its critical features often deter-
mine which process engineer gets the
project. Each cell has a process engineer
who then is in charge not only for set up,
but also for programming the job.
According to Kline, the shop used to
have one main programmer but found
it tough to rely so heavily on one per-
son. If the programmer was gone for a
week, for instance, jobs would bottle-
neck, or the programmer would end
up working 80 hours a week to catch
up upon his return. To eliminate this
problem, the shop trains its set up
guys to also program jobs.
The most significant advantage of
doing this is that we not only increase
output, but we are able to take on
more difficult jobs. In the past, we
would take on a couple of difficult
jobs, and from the get-go, we would
know that, from a programming
standpoint, and even a setup stand-
point, we would be overloaded to
take on other jobs, explained Kline.
Training to program gave set-up
personnel an opportunity to advance
from a professional standpoint and in
pay scale. Each one is accountable for
his cell, and in the case of parts with
longer cycle times, floating operators
will help him out, so he can move to
another cell. The shop has about 10
floating operators who work mostly
second and third shifts.
Once we gave everybody the op-
portunity to grow and expand them-
selves, the inner politics of Im not
sharing information with the next
guy went away. We have nothing but
team players now, and that has been a
major achievement spanning the past
five to six years, said Kline. No one
is worried that if they share what they
know, someone will take their job.
In addition to training set-up guys
to program, too, Kline indicated that
implementing project managers sets
the shop apart from its competitors.
He explained that parts are quite in-
volved, extremely expensive, and dont
lend themselves well to being farmed
out. On top of that, the shop can only
use approved shops and ones that work
to Aphelions high standards.
However, the choices in the immedi-
ate area are limited. And when the shop
does farm out work, project managers
deal with those outside vendors.
With all our overall experienced
and trained employees, we have an un-
canny ability to troubleshoot potential
problem areas in a project prior to even
starting it. This allows us to minimize
errors before they happen. We also rely
heavily on our quality lab for this, said
Kline. He added that the shops highly
skilled quality lab also will work with
customers at the development stages of
a job to ensure the best outcomes.
Its operating principals and prac-
tices are paying off for Aphelion. Be-
sides being the recipient of the Small
Business Administrations Subcontrac-
tor of the Year award for Region 5
and Lockheed Martins 2009 Supplier
of the Year award, the shop continues
to grow and expects to end 2009 well
into the black. It has also invested in
new machines and new capabilities.
For example, recently it purchased
four new pieces of equipment, a
Makino 5-axis machining center and
a Makino 3-axis machine, a Hardinge
Precision lathe with live tooling, and
a Mori Seiki lathe with live tooling.
And, it added another temperature-
controlled room. In total, the shop in-
vested over $1 million.
In addition to the new machines,
Aphelion added aluminum vacuum
brazing and aluminum heat treating to
its list of capabilities. <<
Aphelion Precision Technologies
specializes in complex components
and those made from tough
materials such as titanium.
Ashl and Technol ogi es I nc.
I
n 2009 INC Magazine ranked
Ashland Technologies Inc. (www.
ash-tec.com) as the fastest-grow-
ing manufacturer in the state of
Pennsylvania and the 55th fast-
est-growing manufacturer in the U.S.
The annual ranking is based on reve-
nue growth from 2005 through 2008.
During this time period, Ash-Tec has
grown at a rate of 218.4 %.
Founded in 1996, Ash-Tec relocated
to a 46,000 sq ft facility in 2007 in
Hegins, Pa., that allowed the company
to broaden its array of services and
increase its capacity.
Bill Wydra, Jr. is president of Ash-
Tec. His background and expertise is
in marketing not machining. He has
little involvement with decisions con-
cerning machinery and operations in
the shop. The decision about what
equipment to acquire is made on the
shop floor by the manufacturing team.
Wydra defined his role to his manu-
facturing team by saying, Ill get the
business, and you do the work.
Ash-Tec operates as a business. Its
common for shops to be founded by
machinists who are excellent at their
trade but dont have the time or ap-
propriate skill sets to build a busi-
ness around their core expertise.
Most shops seem to cap out at a
size of about eight employees, or so,
because this is all they can effectively
manage," Wydra said. "We are differ-
ent because we have a management
team that operates our shop as a busi-
ness. This makes a big difference with
customers and with employees."
Many shops are excellent at making
things, but they dont have a marketing-
oriented front end to the business, said
Joe Walton, president of Walton Consul-
tants and a long-time business advisor
to Ash-Tec. In the global marketplace,
a shop must be able to find new business
and not just to live off of old or current
customers, or they will fail.
Ash-Tec employees benefit from
this business approach because man-
agement has put in place the systems
and procedures that remove every ob-
stacle that detracts from an employees
ability to do his or her job.
We are customer centric, Wydra
explained. Once we understand a cus-
tomers needs, we make our machines
fit those needs or immediately buy
new equipment that does. For exam-
14 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
"We Run It as a Business."
A SUCCESFUL BLEND OF MARKETING AND 'ONE-STOP' MANUFACTURING.
By Jim Benes I associate editor
Ashland Technologies employees and President Bill Wydra, Jr. (red shirt).
Ashlahd Techhologies hc.
Hegihs, Pa. www.ash-Iec.com
Number oI employees - 38
2009 sales - N/A
MarkeIs served: AmusemehI
ride coasIers, Iood service,
diesel ehgihe Iuel IilIer
relocaIioh sysIems,
Iirearms, diverse ihdusIrial
applicaIiohs.
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 15
ple, when we started manufacturing a
rifle comprised of 27 different parts we
would deliver a batch set of fifty parts
at a time to the customer for assembly.
This created problems because the cus-
tomer would periodically be overloaded
by the assembly operation. Now, we
manufacture the components in a one-
piece-flow manner to deliver complete
rifle kits to them on a daily basis.
This change in operations eliminated
a major problem for our customer,
increased their ability to have steady,
reliable sales and greatly increased
cash flow for both companies.
The culture within the shop results
in all employees sharing a focus on
customer service. Ash-Tec has devel-
oped a strong sense of esprit de corps
among its 38 employees through con-
stant communication and frequent
off-site social get-togethers.
Customers and employees have
bought into the Ash-Tec corporate
vision, which is to duplicate the
capabilities of the Hegins facility in 20
other locations by 2020. These addi-
tional plants will be exact replicas of
the current facility; all machines will
be the same and even tooling draw-
ers will be identical. Wydra explains,
Having the same brand of equip-
ment throughout helps us standard-
ize our training, become more flex-
ible with scheduling, and allows us
to invest in an in-house maintenance
technician who knows our equipment
inside and out. All of which have a
measurable benefit to customers and
our bottom line.
All employees were involved in the
creation of this ambitious goal. The
company is investigating opportuni-
ties to locate plants in Orlando and
the Raleigh-Durham area. These areas
are attractive because they are strate-
gic locations to serve the companys
core customer base the amusement
park/rides and food service industries.
The Hegins facility is designed to be a
one-stop provider for almost everything
its core markets need. Its equipment in-
cludes extensive machining, fabricat-
ing, assembly and finishing capabilities.
Recently the company installed a 23.5-ft
long powder-coating booth. By in-
stalling this powder-coating capability
in-house, we were able to completely
round out our services making Ash-Tec
the simple solution for a customer look-
ing for a one-stop shop for all their
needs, observed Roger Strohecker,
manufacturing manager.
Ash-Tec is the dominant manu-
facturer of trains for wooden roller
coasters. Each roller-coaster car con-
tains about 1,600 components that
have to be machined, finished, fabri-
cated, powder coated, assembled and
inspected before it can be delivered.
There is no way we could accomplish
this without our one-stop-shop capa-
bility, Wydra said.
The ability to completely manu-
facture and assemble products in the
plant has led to impressive production
time and cost savings. We can deliver
complete products and assemblies
in half the time of our competitors,
Wydra said. Also, by eliminating a
major portion of the part-handling re-
quirement when dealing with outside
suppliers, we have reduced associated
handling costs by 334 percent.
Ash-Tec has invested in equipment
that is not running all the time. This
excess-capacity strategy has al-
lowed the company to handle work-
load surges and to respond quickly to
customer opportunities. This is one of
the reasons Ash-Tec has enjoyed ex-
ceptional growth: the company dou-
bled its labor revenue from 2007 to
2008. Labor revenue the charge for
the labor content of a project without
consideration of material costs is
the yardstick by which the company
measures its profitability. This value-
added metric focuses on the efficiency
and effectiveness of its people and
manufacturing procedures.
Wydras shop, like many others, ex-
periences periodic surging and waning
of workloads and was challenged by
inserting new first-run parts into an
unpredictable schedule. Since their goal
is to continue growing, aggressively,
finding a good solution to new custom-
ers and new first-run parts was essen-
tial. To help address this, they formed
a separate development group with
dedicated equipment and staff. Now,
instead of 4- to 5-week turnaround,
this group has their new first-run part
lead time down to 4 to 5 days. When
the job repeats, a separate production
team of supervisors will engage and
determine the most efficient, cost-effec-
tive manufacturing process to reduce
set-up and cycle time.
A second function of the Design/
Engineering Group, as they call it, is
to perform Design for Manufactur-
ing reviews for customers. The group
analyzes a customers product from a
machining and fabricating standpoint
and suggests design changes to enhance
manufacturability. This results in sub-
stantial savings, helping their custom-
ers become more competitive.
A third responsibility of the Design/
Engineering team is full-service prod-
uct design for customers. For example,
while on his honeymoon in Hawaii,
Wydra noticed a long line of custom-
ers at an outdoor food stand waiting
to order Puka Dogs a Hawaiian-
style hot dog. He discussed the obvious
potential for increased business with
the owner and offered the services of
Ash-Tec to build him a production hot
dog grill, from scratch. Starting with a
napkin drawing, the new grill designed
by Ash-Tecs Mark Mensch now cooks
two perfectly grilled dogs every 15 sec-
onds. The eatery owners now want to
franchise this operation, resulting in
15 additional design projects, includ-
ing a scaled-down kiosk-sized grill.
This is an example of how Wydras
marketing skills and Ash-Tecs design
and manufacturing capabilities have
worked hand-in-hand not only to
expand their business, but that of their
customer as well.
Although the development group
required a considerable financial out-
lay for their dedicated equipment and
extensive 3D modeling software, it has
enhanced Ash-Tecs profitability, com-
petitiveness and customer service. Our
belief is that by partnering with our cus-
tomers to make them as competitive as
possible, we will also reap the rewards
down the road, Wydra said. <<
Ki nner Manuf act ur i ng
Kihher MahuIacIurihg,
OlivehursI, CaliI.
www.kihher
mahuIacIurihg.com
Number oI employees - 5
2009 sales - $300,000
2008 sales - $300,000
MarkeIs served: Power
geheraIioh, rail, haIural gas,
waIer, agriculIure
S
igns of 14-hour days, no
weekends, are strewn
everywhere. Shelves are
lined with blade parts of
every kind for fans and
compressors, for impellers of dozens
of sizes and shapes.
But, stuffed in a nook between two
shelves lie indications suggesting other-
wise. Two racing dirt bikes, still caked
with dried mud, have yet to be cleaned
from rides the previous evening.
These days, free time for even their
most passionate pursuits isnt easy
for Ray Kinner and Max Luna. The
brothers two-year-old shop, Kinner
Manufacturing, requires more hours
than there are in a day and more days
than are available in a week.
It makes for some ridiculous
hours, said Ray Kinner. But, you do
it because you love your shop and you
love what youre doing.
In the short time of its existence,
Kinner Manufacturing has established
a presence in what the brothers sensed
to be a highly undervalued market:
manufacturing bladed products for
fans, compressors, pumps and tur-
bines. The shop addresses industries
16 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
Modestly Making a Big Impression
A TWO-YEAR-OLD BUSINESS ADDRESSES A NEED IN AN UNDER-VALUED NICHE
BUILDING BLADED PARTS FOR SEVERAL CRITICAL INDUSTRIES.
By Peter Alpern I associate editor
Max Luna, Nikki Kinner, and Ray Kinner have maximized their resources and ingenuity to establish an impressive operation.
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 17
across a wide spectrum, from power
generation to agriculture to cryogen-
ics, producing blades, vanes, BLISKs,
IBRs, radial and axial impellers, dif-
fusers, rotor shafts and hubs.
It has required the ability to mo-
bilize operations quickly, adjust on
the fly, and respond to any number
of events that couldnt have been pre-
dicted. Barely a year after launching
the company and signing the papers on
new capital equipment, Kinner Manu-
facturing confronted an epic economic
recession, while still facing years of
payments for initial startup costs.
With a limited budget, Ray and Max
have been able to maximize their re-
sources and establish an impressive
operation. One of the critical stages in
manufacturing impellers is heating the
metal in an industrial oven. But, unable
to afford the $10,000 price point, Max
turned to Craigslist. There, he found a
used pizza oven the seller was offering
for $500; he paid less than half that.
For carbide boring bars, Ray found a
steal on EBay. Max snared two air con-
ditioning units from a paint contractor
he met one weekend in San Francisco.
They even bartered for the installation.
If you have the energy and the de-
sire and you have the tools and exper-
tise, you can find solutions to a lot of
problems, said Max.
Kinner Manufacturings operations
are fairly modest, consisting of two
five-axis mills, and a balancer. The
most aggressive initial investment,
said Max, was to purchase a Concepts
NREC suite (www.conceptsnrec.
com). The software, he explained, al-
lows them to produce complex blade
geometry that otherwise wouldnt be
possible on their machines.
For us, the software is the trick
because it allows us to manipulate it
and come up with amazing cutting
strategies, said Max. But in the end,
its still a matter of telling the software
what to do. You still have to have
high-quality tools and be able to know
what youre doing. Thats the only
way you can compete with China.
There have been some helpful
breaks along the way. Kinner Manu-
facturing was ready to sign a deal for
a new piece of equipment last winter
that at the last minute fell through.
Had the purchase been completed, the
companys finances might have hit the
breaking point over the last year.
Such a small operation, in such a
specialized field, puts a great deal of
emphasis on the skills and talents of
its owners. Ray, who began working
in his fathers machine shop at the age
of 11, continually tries to refine the
processes on his impellers. In a recent
case, a 16in. diameter impeller took
12 hours to machine. The challenge,
he said, was cutting the 3.5-in. impel-
lers, which are long and thin.
Using a combination of high-speed
tools, tool holders, switching carbides,
and taking various approaches with
the geometries, Ray was able to reach
a higher rate of material removal, with
better chip control. Within two months,
the process was down to two hours.
Unlike a more established shop,
Kinner Manufacturing is still in the
process of developing its customer
base. It began offering to produce fin-
ished castings, along with prototype
work, and reverse engineered parts.
There are no plans for upgrades
in new capital machinery for Kinner
Manufacturing. Instead, Max said he
would like to address the most glaring
source of geographical inefficiency in
blade manufacturing: spin pit testing.
A spin pit is a lead-enclosed facility
in which an impeller is run at 115% of
its maximum operating speed in order
to test its integrity. Only one such fa-
cility resides on the West Coast. Most
of Kinner Manufacturings products
are shipped cross-country to spin pits
in either Massachusetts or Pennsylva-
nia, at a premium cost, and delivery
delay of at least three weeks.
We see a need to establish a spin pit
facility on the west coast, said Max.
There arent many of them. I would
guess there are less than a 1,000 in the
world. The thing is theyre very expen-
sive. And, the insurance is very high to
have one. Theres a huge need and we
think we can address it. <<
Kinner Manufacturing recently cut the process time for a 16-in. diameter impeller from
12 hours to 2 hours.
Ki r san Engi neer i ng
B
usiness is good at Kirsan
Engineering, but it can
always make room for
more. The shop thrives on
repeat contract work from
over 20 customers. However, just six
or seven of those customers make up
90 percent of the shops business, and
Kirsan Engineering likes it that way.
Jerry Ring, general manager at Kir-
san, said that for his shop, hed rather
have a few top customers that he can
focus his service on. That way, Kirsan
builds relationships with its custom-
ers and can better service them. While
business is holding steady, Kirsan is
constantly in the process of developing
new customers; its goal is to add three
or four new ones per year.
Kirsan serves markets such as
aerospace, mining, defense, and med-
ical. Their sales have grown over 30
percent each year for the past seven
years. The shop also serves custom-
ers involved in wheel services, brake
lathe, and wheel balancing com-
ponents. Additionally, Kirsan has
customers in the power-generation
18 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
When 'Less' Turns Out to Be 'More'
PARTNERING WITH A FEW REALLY GOOD CUSTOMERS CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
By Charles Bates I senior editor
Besides its contract manufacturing operations, Kirsan Engineering is now marketing two products
it developed for in-house use, a saw loading system and self-contained power workholding unit.
Kirsah Ehgiheerihg
Kehosha, Wis.
www.kirsah.com
Number oI employees - 51
2009 sales - N/A
MarkeIs served:
Aerospace,
mihihg, deIehse, ahd
medical
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 19
industry and in the production of pos-
itive-displacement flow meters. It also
manufactures components for its par-
ent company Ocenco Inc., a producer
of self-contained breathing apparatus.
Most of Kirsans customers submit
blanket orders, followed by periodic
releases of jobs. They are not really
P.O.s, but rather more along the lines
of long-term agreements.
Customers place release orders un-
til a previously agreed upon quantity
is filled. For a few of its customers, the
shop provides consignment inventory/
inventory management, delivering
parts a few times per week or vendor
managed inventory.
Job volumes for customers range
from 100 to 250,000 parts per year,
with the average single job running
between 25 and 300 pieces. Kirsans
main processes include mostly milling
and multi-tasking turn-milling. Ring
believes there are a few key factors
that set his shop apart from the com-
petition. These include developing/
training its workforce, standardizing
on one brand of machine tools, and
proper tooling management.
In the past, Kirsan purchased ma-
chines based on tool room work, and
had a hodgepodge of different ma-
chine types and brands on its shop
floor. Now, the shop has standardized
on Mazak machines.
The benefit of staying with one
tool manufacturer allows machinists
to move from a lathe to a horizontal
with less training. They are more com-
fortable with the program codes, and
the screen layout is very similar for
the machines. The other benefit is ma-
chine maintenance. Machine problems
that might arise are more similar, and
navigating them is easier. For instance,
whether its a lathe, horizontal, or verti-
cal, the machines have similar parts,
drives and motors explained Ring.
The shops current machines, as
compared with its previous ones, help
reduce part cost, which customers
routinely demand. Newer high-effi-
ciency horizontal machining centers
and multi-tasking turning centers with
part feeders make it possible to pro-
cess parts differently than the shop
had in the past. The new machines use
automatic part loaders and are able to
finish the parts in one operation.
Efficiency levels, once below 60
percent for the shops old vertical
machines, now run over 90 percent
for its horizontal machining centers.
These machines, said Ring, can always
be running, and he indicated that the
shop is slowly moving away from us-
ing vertical machining centers. How-
ever, the shop does keep some simple
machines around because, Ring said,
The shop is not going to run simple
less-complex parts on a quarter-mil-
lion-dollar machine. That would put
a higher burden and rate on a lower-
dollar part. Simple parts call for sim-
ple machines, and if volumes are high
enough, they justify keeping some ba-
sic machines around.
Kirsan employs 51 people, and at
one point, operated 24/7, which was
tough to do on weekends. By cultivat-
ing its machinists with in-house soft-
ware training and off-site training of-
fered by machine tool suppliers, Kirsan
has greatly improved its capabilities.
Machinists are supplied with laptops
for training at home, and the shop pays
for completed training courses.
The philosophy is that the more
high-level machinists a shop has, the
less overall labor is needed. In addi-
tion, Ring said the higher-level ma-
chinists seem to be more reliable be-
cause they invest in the company
and become better team players, ver-
sus just being an employee.
Technically, Kirsan still operates 24/7,
but on weekends, employees scheduled
to work have the luxury of coming in
as needed to make sure machines are
loaded with raw material and remain
running. Thus, the shop gains an en-
tire weekend worth of production with
minimal labor cost without having a
fully manned weekend shift.
Weekends used to require a full
shifts worth of employees. Now one
person can keep many machines going
without spending the whole day at the
shop, said Ring. Of course you have
to have machines with the capabilities
to run unattended for this to work.
Kirsan organizes its machines into
cells, and each one has an assigned co-
ordinator on first shift. On second and
third shifts, one coordinator oversees all
the cells. This is because first shift is for
setting up machines, processing proto-
type parts and one-off jobs, while the off
shifts involve basically tending machines
that are already set up and running.
Kirsan has also greatly reduced its
tooling cost to about 2 percent of shop
sales by working more closely with
tooling suppliers and implementing a
full time tooling person.
Along with standardizing with one
tooling supplier, the shop established
an internal inventory system that links
to the tooling supplier. They also in-
corporated a vending-machine system
that keeps all tooling in one central-
ized place, not scattered around in in-
dividual tool boxes.
In addition to contract manufactur-
ing, Kirsan offers customers full-time
engineering services and strives to team
up and partner with customers. Its en-
gineering capabilities have also paid off
in terms of product development.
When business slowed a bit in 2009,
Kirsan marketed two products which
it designed for its own use. One is a
bar-loading system for band saws, the
other a self-contained power unit for
workholding applications.
The bar loading system eliminates
the need to move and load bar stock,
bundles of stock or tubing using a jib
or gantry crane. Instead shops can use
a forklift to load sawing material. By
using the loader, one operator easily
keeps two saws fed with stock and has
time to also balance parts and load/un-
load deburring machines at Kirsan.
Kirsans self-contained power unit
(SCPU) is a hydraulically powered fix-
turing system, but it has no external
hydraulic reservoir, pump or hoses.
Instead, a shops CNC machine tools
spindle itself activates the system using
a special tool, with no modifications
necessary to the machine. This also re-
duces labor requirements and can eas-
ily allow robotic implementation. <<
KVK Pr eci si on Speci al t i es I nc.
T
he KVK Precision Special-
ties Inc. (www.kvkpreci-
sion.com) operations in
Shenandoah, Virginia are
impressive. The company
is comprised of four facilities at the
Shenandoah campus and another shop
remote from this site for a total of
270,000 sq ft of manufacturing space.
Within these shops are over 80 preci-
sion CNC machining centers, including
EDM, a Toyoda FMS System with 48
800-mm pallets to serve four FA 800
machining centers, a complete Trumph
FMS laser and punch cell, and an auto-
mated powder-coating line.
KVK has 72 employees who work
four 10-hour shifts per week.
Revenue in 2008 was $22 million.
Although business is off somewhat
due to the current economic down-
turn, the last three years have been
the best ever for KVK.
The companys growth is the
result of President Jeff Vaughans
background, training, approach to
business and his sense of duty and
responsibility. Vaughan grew up in
the Shenandoah Valley. He was al-
ways interested in making things, so
10-year old Vaughan started hanging
out after school at the facilities of a
gentleman who ran a woodwork-
ing shop and a metalworking shop.
However, to avoid the woodworking
dust, he shifted his interest to metal-
working, which he found to be much
more to his liking. By the time he was
13, his fascination with machines led
the budding machinist from sweeping
floors to running a cut-off saw, then
to a lathe and, finally, a vertical mill.
During his high-school years,
Vaughan worked summers in the
Shenandoah shop beside three
20 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
A Man Who Loves to Make Things
WITH ENERGY, TECHNICAL SKILL, FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND A DEDICATION TO
DEVELOPING AN OUTSTANDING WORKFORCE, JEFF VAUGHAN HAS BUILT AN IMPRESSIVE
MANUFACTURING ENTERPRISE.
By Jim Benes I associate editor
KVK Precisioh SpecialIies hc.
Shehahdoah, Va.
www.kvkprecisioh.com
Number oI employees - 72
2009 sales - $13.3 millioh
(2008 sales - $22 millioh)
MarkeIs served: OII-road
mihihg ahd cohsIrucIioh,
HVAC, power geheraIioh
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 21
German toolmakers. He became fas-
cinated with the tool-making craft
and during high school prepared
himself for a career as a toolmaker.
After earning an associates degree in
mechanical engineering at night at a
local community college, Vaughan left
the Shenandoah machine shop and
joined a much larger manufacturer
that offered him an apprenticeship,
leading to a toolmakers certification.
There, he gained valuable experience
with a variety of large, sophisticated
production equipment.
By the time the impatient and ener-
getic Vaughan was 20 he had worked
at two fairly large manufacturing
plants. However, he grew disillusioned
with his slow financial progress, and
the poor work ethic that prevailed
there as a consequence of a promotion
policy based on seniority rather than
skill and ability. He decided he could
do much better operating his own
job shop. When he built a home for
his wife and new child, the first floor
would be a machine shop.
Vaughan risked everything he
owned to borrow $25,000 to pur-
chase a cut-off saw, a vertical mill and
a lathe to start his machine shop. He
knocked on doors in the Shenandoah
Valley and generated work from
several food-service operations in the
area, and the companies where he had
worked previously.
The shop prospered and soon
Vaughan became overloaded with
work. In 1977, after three years of
operating the shop himself, he part-
nered with two toolmakers he had
previously supervised to form KVK
Precision Specialties Inc. Their asso-
ciation lasted a year-and-a-half before
Vaughan bought out his partners.
He developed an ambitious five-
year business plan and moved the op-
eration to a building in Shenandoah
he had converted to a machine shop.
As KVK progressed it outgrew its fa-
cility, so Vaughan acquired the seven-
acre parcel that is the companys cur-
rent location.
After 18 months KVKs new
30,000-sq ft building was expanded
with a 3,000-sq ft steel bay. Before
long the growing company acquired a
12,000-sq ft building across the street
from the original plant, which has
been expanded three times to its pres-
ent 43,000-sq ft size.
All of this capacity was dedicated to
machining, but in 1996 Vaughan also
had a need for fabrication capabilities
to meet expanding customer needs.
Earlier this year, Vaughan acquired
a 20,000-sq ft carbide grinding shop
Objective Industries about an
hour from Shenandoah. The ex-
tremely precise work this facility does
is mostly for the medical and aero-
space industries, Vaughan said. The
workforce at this shop is highly spe-
cialized, and my role is to energize the
operation and grow the business. My
daughter, who recently joined KVK, is
being groomed to manage this shop.
Initially KVK manufactured rather
small components that did not entail
particularly tight tolerances. But as
the company grew, Vaughan focused
on small runs of larger, higher preci-
sion parts. The usual job quantity
at KVK is 25 parts. This means, of
course, that the machine tools he
needs for such work are very
expensive. We have never cut cor-
ners when it came to buying the best
machine tools, tooling and gauging
equipment, he said.
Although most of the work at the
company involves the manufacture of
components and subassemblies, KVK
produces a complete brake system for
a major manufacturer that it ships
directly to end users.
Vaughan recognizes that the core
competency of many of his large cus-
tomers is not manufacturing, but rather
product design and marketing. With
its wide range of capabilities, these
customers look to KVK to provide the
manufacturing focus that they lack.
According to Vaughan, one of
the problems in dealing with large
customers is the high turnover rate
among purchasing personnel. The re-
sult is a lack of understanding about
the skill and technology it takes to
produce precision parts. His response
is to encourage them to visit KVK,
where they can learn about preci-
sion manufacturing first-hand. Im
up-front with my customers and
prospects and tell them my target is
to realize a 15-percent profit on their
job, Vaughan said. Some think this
is too high, but those who have an
appreciation of KVKs capabilities are
comfortable with this target. Commu-
nicating my profit goal helps to iden-
tify who I should be doing business
with, and who I should forget about.
Vaughan has partnered with many
of his customers via three- to five-
year contracts that guarantee quality,
delivery and labor costs during that
period. The only variable is material
costs. This approach has been success-
ful because as KVK gains experience
with a job it becomes more efficient
and effective, cycle times are reduced
and throughput increases.
Vaughan says an important asset
is the knowledge that cutting tool
manufacturers possess and are anxious
to share with companies like KVK.
Over the years the company has been
particularly close to Mori Seiki and
its technology developments. KVK
has partnered with J&H Machine
Tools Inc., headquartered in Charlotte,
North Carolina and the Southeasts
largest machine-tool distributor, to ap-
ply Mori Seiki technology to manufac-
turing opportunities at the company.
Vaughan has three business priori-
ties: first, to ensure that his employees
are up-to-date and trained in the lat-
est manufacturing technology that is
appropriate for the shop; second, to
keep current in payments for machine
tools; and third, to pay the utilities
required for his operations.
I am dedicated to providing my
staff with better apprentice training
than I had, Vaughan said. This is
why I concentrate on training and
exposure to the latest equipment and
technologies. Vaughan started attend-
ing the International Manufacturing
Technology Show in 1976, and has
attended every IMTS since then. He
now takes 10 to 20 of his staff to each
show to expose them to the broad
range of technologies exhibited. <<
M&S Pr eci si on Machi ni ng, I nc.
E
ven if youve never been
to Greensburg, Indiana, ev-
erything there would seem
familiar. Its a Midwestern
town with plenty of solid
old commercial building, handsome
Victorian and Craftsman homes, sev-
eral churches, and a square anchored
by a 19th Century courthouse.
But, even if its familiar every town
is different. One of Greensburgs quirks
is a tree growing through the court-
house roof, as apparently it has done
for many decades. There isnt much
evidence of the global recession in
Greensburg, and the sky-high tree is a
fitting image for growth, or durability,
or vitality all of which apply also to
M&S Precision Machining, Inc.
You might also think youre familiar
with M&S Precision Machining, but a
closer look at its production processes
and its personnel also reveals why its
among AMs Best Shops for 2009.
The shop was established just 15
years ago, in a garage according to John
Semyen, whose title is Vice President for
Advanced Planning and Business De-
velopment. His role, however, is more
specific: Semyen provides the insight
and oversight that has M&S Precision
growing through the downturn.
We never stop looking for new
business, Semyen explains, and as a
consequence it is machining products
for a wide range of markets: automo-
tive, defense, plumbing fixtures, as
well as finishing services for foundries
and forgers.
In 2001 M&S moved from its first
site to a 5,000-sq ft location, where
it continued to machine premium-
quality brass and aluminum fixtures
for Delta Faucet, a mainstay cus-
tomer. That site was expanded later
to 11,500 sq ft, but the need for more
workspace remained. In April 2007,
the shop purchased and moved into
its current facility. It has 75,000 sq ft
of manufacturing space, plus 7.5 acres
of adjacent open space that Semyen
points to for expansion.
The move was keyed by M&S Preci-
sions decision to diversify its customer
base. That began after new investors
purchased the company in 2005, with
22 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
Expanding Understanding
ONE SHOP IS GROWING ITS WAY THROUGH THE RECESSION BY MANAGING ITS DATA,
ITS CAPABILITIES, AND ITS PROGRESS THOROUGHLY AND EFFECTIVELY.
By Robert Brooks I editor
A wide portfolio of turning and machining centers fill the 75,000-sq ft machine shop, allowing
M&S Precision to supply a range of customers thanks to comprehensive data management.
M&S Precisioh
Machihihg hc.,
Greehsburg, hd.
www.ms-precisioh.com
Number oI employees - 45
2009 sales - N/A
2008 sales-N/A
MarkeIs served: AuIomoIive,
deIehse, plumbihg IiIures
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 23
John Semyen arriving in 2006.
The expansive plant appears to be a
wide open space, but it houses numer-
ous bar turning centers and a variety of
horizontal and vertical machining cen-
ters in 2-, 4-, 5-, 6-, and 8-axis configu-
rations, from a checklist of major sup-
pliers. Positing that he believes theres
no longer any such thing as a bad
CNC machine, Semyen states with
conviction that he prefers not to lock
in to a single equipment source. I buy
the equipment that suits the job.
In addition to the turning and ma-
chining functions, the processes at
M&S demand several bar feeders,
automatic cut-off saws, inline parts
washers, and even two six-axis robots
for some of the work cells.
Establishing the production cells
was a critical factor in the decision
to relocate. The cells magnify the po-
tential for productivity. I have one
operator that runs four machines, and
each machine is running a different
product, the v.p. explained. The bot-
tom line to the buyer is cost.
Call it cost or productivity, but
by either label M&S Precision is in-
creasing its performance standard and
gaining the attention of manufacturers.
One is ThyssenKrupp Bilstein, a
global manufacturer of automotive
shock absorbers, for which M&S ma-
chines seal packs. This line of business
warrants more than a work cell: the
shop has set up a separate, climate-
controlled production center with
four CNC lathes. Its a commitment
that won the business away from a
German machine shop that had been
producing the seal packs on single in-
dexing machine for several decades.
Launched at M&S last December, the
Bilstein line produced 1.2 million parts
through its first eight months. When I
was discussing it with the customer, he
told me: John, theyre producing one
(seal pack) every 12 seconds; youre run-
ning them on four machines and youre
producing one every 60 seconds.
I said: No, Were producing one
every 15 seconds, because were run-
ning four machines. They were using
a $1.5-million indexer to produce one
(seal pack) every 12 seconds; our four
machines cost $500,000.
In addition, the distinct machining
centers allow M&S to produce four
different styles of the product, and at
about one-third of the investment cost.
The successful start of the Thyssen-
Krupp Bilstein line may allow M&S
to build its presence in the automotive
market. Semyen describes how a recog-
nizable list of OEMs and Tier One au-
tomotive firms have audited the shop
in recent months, because the weak
economy has forced them to locate new
suppliers. Theyve all been knocking
on our door now because were stable,
were economically viable, and we have
the room to expand, he explained.
Nor do such audits present much
concern. M&S Precision is rich in pro-
duction and performance data, and
can document its capabilities to within
one hour in some instances.
There are three primary databases,
one for gauging capabilities, another for
tracking production, and one more for
scrap volumes. I can segregate (data)
by part number or by machine, and
identify what the issues are, and then
we have the data available by product,
as well, according to Semyen.
Further, the information allows
M&S to maintain a thorough quality-
control program. A Six Sigma black
belt, Semyen began implementing that
approach once he arrived in 2006.
We started to incorporate some of the
standard techniques, like the 5 Whys,
gathering data, and avoiding what I
like to call calibrating gut feeling.
Thats his description of the guess-
ing game that starts once a problem
emerges and no one can identify its
particular cause. Weve been gath-
ering significant amounts of data on
all our various products and all our
equipment to see how our equipment
is, identifying where the issues are
within our equipment, and in some
cases moving specific products off that
equipment to other equipment, he re-
ported. The shop relies heavily on SPC
systems to measure capabilities as well
as to interpret output data.
In the works is a plan to fit every
CNC with a computer and dual-
screen display to show the work or-
der, production report, and SPC data
in real time. The data will be drawn
directly from the CNCs gauges and
will track performance automatically.
Such a system is already in place for
the Bilstein production area.
This will have obvious benefits to
customer service, as it will allow M&S
to report progress on orders, to incorpo-
rate changes more effectively, or even to
convey cost-saving opportunities to the
customer a notion Semyen does not
dismiss. A lot of companies may im-
prove their process, and bank the ben-
efits, and while theres nothing wrong
with that we will improve the process
and bank part of the benefits, and pass
some savings on to our customer.
The benefit to M&S Precision is in
the clear understanding it gains of its
capabilities. An ongoing application
of that understanding is seen in the
shops progress at machining low-lead
brass (C2745) plumbing fixtures, in
tune to emerging safety standards in
California and Vermont (and perhaps
eventually nationwide.)
The high-end plumbing fixtures
machined from brass rod continue to
be a core line of business for M&S. As
that market shifts toward new mate-
rial standards, the shop aggressively
developed the capability to machine
the low-lead product.
Working with the new grade of brass,
they ran tests for various products, ad-
justing and adapting the tooling, differ-
ent coatings and geometries on the tool-
ing, feeds and speeds. It matters, because
C2745 is much harder than brass.
Weve spent probably 12 months do-
ing just R&D work, at our own expense,
Semyen recalled. But, he added that when
the orders began to arrive we did our
first low-lead brass part from launch to
PPAP within three weeks.
Undoubtedly there is more growth
ahead for M&S Precision. Its growth
that will be measurable not only in fa-
miliar ways, like the expansion of the
workspace or the rise in sales volumes.
Rather, its growth will be demonstrated
by the way the shop understands and
maximizes its capabilities. <<
MiniMachine, Inc.
Bend, Ore.
www.minimachine.com
Number of employees 10
2009 sales N/A
2008 sales $1.3 million
Markets served:
Medical, government,
communications, military
Mi ni Machi ne I nc.
L
ike so many frustrated dream-
ers, Mike Rosenboom would
come home at night and vent
to his girlfriend about work.
As a contract machinist,
Rosenboom savored his freedom and
flexibility, but had little say about how
operations were run. One night, his girl-
friend stunned him with a suggestion:
why not start a shop of their own?
The risk was daunting at the time.
Nancy, whom he later married, had
only $3,000 worth of savings to in-
vest. They purchased a cutter and
grinding machine that Rosenboom
later determined would be utterly use-
less for their plans.
Through skill, shrewdness and re-
silience, the fledgling shop, which the
Rosenbooms called MiniMachine,
Inc., grew incrementally each year. To-
day, it employees 10 full-time workers
and specializes in miniature precision
components for the medical field.
Nearly 60% of MiniMachines busi-
ness comes from producing cardiac
catheter intervention devices, critical
mechanisms in many heart surgeries.
But, the shop has evolved into a preci-
sion products supplier for parts with
24 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
Taking Measured Risks, One Step at a Time
AFTER ESTABLISHING A STRONG PRESENCE IN THE MEDICAL FIELD,
MICRO COMPONENTS SHOP VAULTS INTO NEW MARKETS.
By Peter Alpern I associate editor
MiniMachine, Inc.
Bend, Ore.
www.minimachine.com
Number of employees 10
2009 sales N/A
2008 sales $1.3 million
Markets served:
Medical, government,
communications, military
Mi ni Machi ne I nc.
L
ike so many frustrated dream-
ers, Mike Rosenboom would
come home at night and vent
to his girlfriend about work.
As a contract machinist,
Rosenboom savored his freedom and
flexibility, but had little say about how
operations were run. One night, his girl-
friend stunned him with a suggestion:
why not start a shop of their own?
The risk was daunting at the time.
Nancy, whom he later married, had
only $3,000 worth of savings to in-
vest. They purchased a cutter and
grinding machine that Rosenboom
later determined would be utterly use-
less for their plans.
Through skill, shrewdness and re-
silience, the fledgling shop, which the
Rosenbooms called MiniMachine,
Inc., grew incrementally each year. To-
day, it employees 10 full-time workers
and specializes in miniature precision
components for the medical field.
Nearly 60% of MiniMachines busi-
ness comes from producing cardiac
catheter intervention devices, critical
mechanisms in many heart surgeries.
But, the shop has evolved into a preci-
sion products supplier for parts with
24 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
Taking Measured Risks, One Step at a Time
AFTER ESTABLISHING A STRONG PRESENCE IN THE MEDICAL FIELD,
MICRO COMPONENTS SHOP VAULTS INTO NEW MARKETS.
By Peter Alpern I associate editor
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 25
holes anywhere from 0.005 to 0.035
in. in diameter or roughly as thick
as a human hair.
Much of the work they do has to
be viewed under a microscope. Many
of the holes are only slightly larger
than a flea. For this reason, MiniMa-
chine has made a natural transition
into providing parts for telecommu-
nications systems as well as products
for the defense industry. Over the next
year, MiniMachine expects to receive
Qualified Supplier List Manufacturer
(QSLM) certification.
Weve always had a really strong
quality system for our medical de-
vices, says Rosenboom. Most of the
things we need are already in place.
All we need to do is tweak our quality
system, so theres ultimate traceability
for each and every component.
MiniMachine has a fleet of equip-
ment specializing in high-production
machining, including nine screw ma-
chines, each fitted with robotic load-
ers that allow for 24/7 production on
long-running projects.
Rosenboom estimates that the com-
pany is still making payments on seven
of those machines and they have no
current plans for further capital equip-
ment investment. However, through-
out its history MiniMachine has been
proactive in purchasing when a cus-
tomers needs require it.
One of the more distinctive quali-
ties about MiniMachine is its system
for measuring production efficiency.
In short, there are no metrics followed.
Rather, the shop follows a series of
distinct processes and philosophies.
Last year, MiniMachine did a gap
analysis on production efficiency and
found long setup times, late arrival of
raw materials, lack of proper tooling and
disorganized workstations, all of which
combined to hinder its output efficiency.
The shop established a more struc-
tured form of order processing, more
involved production planning that
accounts for risk assessment, rigor-
ous programming and job planning,
greater structure to setup and valida-
tion among machinists, and finally
production runs which see WIP in-
spections done on the fly.
MiniMachine is a job shop, but we
do large batches, says Dan Beougher,
a quality assurance manager. That
forces us to act much like a manufac-
turing organization.
For this reason, the company set up
a radar chart to measure its produc-
tion efficiency. Shaped similar to a spi-
ders web, the chart breaks down eight
categories (work order management;
5-S; QMS structure; dock arrival date
to measure on-time delivery; safety;
Kanban efficiency; first pass yield;
and open CARS) with levels of success
ranging between zero and 10.
Though firmly committed to running
a tight business, Rosenboom savors the
opportunity to take on challenging jobs
opportunities, he says, other shops
dont want to take. As an example, he
cites a recent customer who requested
titanium bone screws that would be
used in orthopedic surgeries.
Upon examining the specs of what
customer wanted, Rosenboom noticed
it strongly resembled a standard wood
screw albeit a high-precision one
with a fancy driving head. Machining
them would require MiniMachine to
use thread whirling, a process it had
never used before. The company spent
$10,000 for a whirling head, plus an
additional $3,000 for the cutter.
The venture contained a certain
degree of financial risk, but also in
process terms. Machinists needed to
learn a sophisticated way of machin-
ing new products. But according to
Rosenboom, running a successful
shop means occasionally taking on
calculated risks and embracing them.
One of the problems that I see with
[other shops] is their intrinsic unwilling-
ness to take risks with customers, says
Rosenboom. I think the ability of ma-
chine shops to push the envelope with
technology, and come up with answers
to difficult questions, is a big force in in-
novation. If we dont take risks to make
our customers more competitive, they
get hurt and we get hurt.
Taking on new applications requires
a willingness to venture into the un-
known. In MiniMachines case, it shows
a shop even one that produces tiny
pieces can take giant steps. <<
Nearly 60 percent of MiniMachine's
business involves producing cardiac
catheter intervention components. General
Manager Mike Rosenboom and CEO Nancy
Rosenboom have overseen the shop's
transition into new industrial markets, such
as telecommunications.
Pr eci si on Aer ospace Cor p.
P
recision Aerospace Corp. is
on a vertical flight plan to
success. Through vertical
integration, the 100-per-
cent aerospace and defense
Tier Two shop continues to diversify
and expand process capabilities to
serve its customers better.
As a result of its vertical diversi-
fication, the shops capabilities run
the full manufacturing gamut, offer-
ing everything from five-axis, EDM
and Swiss style screw machining, to
stamping, metal joining, assembly,
Continually increasing its capital in-
Getting into 5-axis technology, for
26 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
Shop Goes Vertical and Soars Ahead
CONSTANTLY EXPANDING ITS CAPABILITIES MEETS CHANGING CUSTOMER DEMANDS.
By Charles Bates I senior editor
A typical cell at Precision Aerospace includes different types of machines and both high-end and standard machine models.
Precisioh Aerospace Corp.
Grahd Papids, Mich.
www.precisioh-aerospace.
com
Number oI employees - 135
2009 sales - $21 millioh
MarkeIs served:
Aerospace ahd deIehse
testing, and kitting. And for many of
these capabilities, the shop is accredited
by the National Aerospace and Defense
Accreditation Program (NADCAP).
vestment in cutting-edge technology
is a significant aspect of the Precision
Aerospace strategy. New equipment
purchases are based on in-coming work
loads, but also on how the technology
can streamline production operations.
example, has allowed us to reduce part
cycle times, increase throughput, and
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 27
boost quality for both new and exist-
ing jobs, said Bill Hoyer, president of
Precision Aerospace. Conversely, we
incorporated processes such as laser
part marking, non-destructive testing,
pressure testing and electromechanical
assembly not for any specific job, but
to simply broaden our capabilities and
expand what we can offer customers.
The shops job contracts are long-
term, usually up to 60 months, and
often of the blue sky type. As long
as the customer is satisfied, the skies
are blue, and the shop keeps getting
the job renewed.
Job releases occur at about 30 pieces
per month, some as much as 2,000
per month or as few as two or three
per month. Most parts are made from
aluminum, stainless and exotic metals
such as titanium, Inconel, and Waspal-
loy. And, since most jobs involve fami-
lies of parts, Precision Aerospace relies
heavily on single-piece flow manufac-
turing through machining cells that
support entire part families.
Several different types of machines,
both high-end and standard models,
make up a cell at Precision Aerospace.
Some parts may require a five-machine
cell, while others only a two-machine
cell. And because most of the jobs are
long-running, cells dont change much.
To support its cells, the shop has
strategically located what it refers to
as standalone service centers. These
centers perform operations that are
not conducive to a cellular environ-
ment, such as lapping, deburring,
EDM and welding.
Hoyer said that it takes an array
of different machines to handle the
shops different jobs and materials. Its
shop floor houses vertical machines
from Haas, horizontals from Kita-
mura, 5-axis machines from DMG,
and turning machines from Hardinge,
just to name a few.
Our philosophy is that we need a
cadre of high-end machines to satisfy the
high-end work we do. But conversely,
we want to run our less complex parts
on less complex machines, he said.
Most parts at Precision Aerospace
fall into the 12-in.-cube range, but
some may measure up into the 32-in.-
cube range. The shop machines its parts
from castings or raw billets, though it
much prefers to work from billets.
I am huge proponent of convinc-
ing customers to go the billet route if
possible, said Hoyer. Billets elimi-
nate me having to deal with a castings
supplier, latent defects not found until
after a part has been machined, and
with a bunch of inventory. Billets help
reduce part prices, and I pass the sav-
ings on to customers, especially in the
case of aluminum billets. And, if a part
feature needs to change, a whole new
casting doesnt have to be produced.
The shop runs parts one of two
ways, through cellular manufacturing
or through what it refers to as the or-
phanage, which are cells for orphan
jobs. Those are products/parts that
dont run on a regular basis.
For increased capacity, Precision
Aerospace often machines jobs using
more than one cell. The parts may not
really match up with the cell, but the
shop will, for instance, load the cell
and run the roughing operations for
all the parts overnight and unattended.
Then, in the morning, the finishing
work will be completed.
Certain jobs are dedicated to certain
cells, but in between these jobs, the shop
runs part operations that wouldnt ordi-
narily be assigned to that particular cell.
After the lights-out operations are com-
pleted, the part returns to its dedicated
cell for the rest of its processing.
In any given month, as many as 1,800
different jobs can move through Preci-
sion Aerospace. To schedule and manage
part flow, the shop relies on a JobBoss
ERP system. Internal metrics such as
defect levels (PPMs), part quality, safety
efficiencies and indirect charge time
are tracked also. Department leaders
oversee scheduling of multiple cells
and are there to solve any problems
that may arise.
Quality control is mandatory at
Precision Aerospace: the shop has
nine CMMs and conducts a lot of in-
process inspection. Machinists check
parts during manufacturing accord-
ing to a sampling plan, and some or-
ders are 100-percent inspected. The
shop also has a Level 3 non-destruc-
tive tester on staff.
To keep up with the latest manufac-
turing and machining techniques, the
shop sends machinists and engineers
out for training, usually at an equip-
ment suppliers facility. According to
Hoyer, in the past three business quar-
ters, the shop has conducted 47 train-
ing events, some entailing leadership
skills and cross training.
Machinists at Precision Aerospace
set up and run the shops machining
cells. There are three levels of machin-
ists based on skills. The highest level,
level three, involves more set-up skills
than levels one and two.
Level two machinists can do some
set-up, while those in level one basi-
cally run production and work on first
shift because there is more support
for them. Level three machinists, on
the other hand, can be used on the
weekends because they are more self-
sufficient. Fortunately, level one and
level two machinists can improve their
skills through training and advance to
level three standing. <<
Orphan jobs, those that dont run on a regular basis, are machined in orphan cells
at Precision Aerospace.
Thayer MahuIacIurihg
Parker, Colo.
www.IhayermIg.com
Number oI employees - 9
2009 sales - N/A
MarkeIs served:
aerospace, miliIary, medical
Thayer Manuf act ur i ng
E
ach and every month, sev-
eral thousand business
cards flow out of Thayer
Manuf act ur i ng. They
arent printed on fine stock
paper with special fonts. Instead, they
are precision metal pieces that might
go into a medical device or aircraft
seat. Each piece, said Kelley Pate, gen-
eral manager at Thayer, is a reflection
of his shops skill and quality.
Pate picks up a finished piece, ad-
mires it, and said, I tell our guys, If
you had the last $100 in your pocket,
would you spend it on this part?
Taking a sense of personal pride
in every job has come to define Pates
philosophy for Thayer Manufacturing,
ever since 1988 when Pate and his wife,
Melissa, launched the company in their
garage, with a manual mill and lathe.
Today, Thayer Manufacturing resides
in a 6,000-sq.-ft. facility that houses 10
machines and nine employees. The shop
produces an average of 2,500 parts cov-
ering 60 part numbers each month for
various Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers that
touch into the aerospace, military and
medical markets, with light work in au-
tomotive. That diversity isnt by acci-
28 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
Shop Bears Signature on Every Piece
FOSTERING A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH CUSTOMERS BRINGS NEW BUSINESS,
EVEN IN A DOWN ECONOMY.
By Peter Alpern I associate editor
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 29
dent. Pate has made it a point to have
a hand in multiple markets, with no
single customer accounting for greater
than 45 percent of his capacity.
Though Thayer Manufacturing
thrives on repeat work, its been highly
successful at luring new business, even
during an unusually tough economy.
Pate credits their emphasis on value-
added services for this achievement.
As an example, he cites engineer-
ing work done for a recent customer.
Thayer Manufacturing had been
producing the head and body for a
medical device called a laryngoscope,
which is a lighted tube doctors use to
see the interior of a patients larynx.
A customer explained that one of the
most common problems doctors run
into with laryngoscopes is accidentally
loosening the head while maneuvering
the device into a patients throat.
Thayer Manufacturing offered to en-
gineer for the customer, free of charge,
a thread that turned to the left in
the opposite direction which would
make it less likely to loosen during a
procedure. More importantly, Pates
shop refined its manufacturing process
to reduce a seven-step operation down
to one, with a live tooling lathe.
Non-cost engineering helps us to
build a better relationship with the
customer because they know they can
trust us, and that were looking out
for their well being, said Pate. Even
if the customer is on the other side of
the country, I think its important to
take a trip out there and sit down with
him, talk, and let him know that were
there for them. It provides something
that phone calls and email cannot.
Opportunity doesnt always pres-
ent itself in obvious ways, said Pate.
One of Thayer Manufacturings best
accounts emerged as a result of a com-
plete stranger dropping by the shop on
a whim and asking if Pate could weld a
new sprocket and shaft. Impressed by
the work, the man introduced himself
and mentioned he worked for a main-
tenance company for a medical outfit.
He returned several weeks later with
more work. Fast-forward eight years,
and Thayer Manufacturing has nur-
tured that account into a $550,000-
per-year customer.
Were getting a lot of people that
walk in because, say, they have a busted
part on their tractor, said Pate. Eco-
nomic times are hard, so there comes
a point in time where its cheaper to
have a machine shop make the part,
rather than buy a new machine. So
weve been doing a lot of reverse engi-
neering and remanufacturing.
Recently, Thayer Manufacturing
had to remanufacture a pump shaft
for an antiquated Dominos Pizza tray
washer that dated back to the 1960s.
With no blueprints available, Pate said
they had to study the components and
reverse engineer a new set of parts.
Now, Dominos now wants Thayer
Manufacturing to engineer a new se-
ries of tray washers.
This is walk-in stuff, said Pate.
He was a guy who looked us up in
the phone book and, believe it or not,
was referred to us by another shop
that doesnt accept walk-ins. You
never know where your next bite of
foods going to come from.
These are sobering times, with talk
of a jobless recovery and a U.S. econ-
omy still recovering from last years
shock. At one point Thayer Manufac-
turing had to reduce some employees
to part-time service and bring them in
only when there was work to be done.
The shop even cut back to four-day
weeks earlier this year. Many shops,
Pate said, are desperate for work of
any kind, but he warns of the danger
of losing money on any job.
A shop cant cut its own throat just
to get a job, said Pate. The philosophy
of, Well, at least Ive got my machines
running, doesnt work if youre in a
negative cash flow. You have to be thin
on the profits when the times are tough
and never lose money on a job. You have
to take care of your business. <<
Above: The threads of an aerospace
shoulder screw are measured.
Left: Kelley and Melissa Pate have run Thayer
Manufacturing since 1988, producing on
average 2,500 parts per month.
Val l ey Tool I nc.
Valley Tool hc.
WaIer Valley, MS.
www.valleyIoolihc.com
Number oI employees - 50+
2009 sales - N/A
MarkeIs served:
Aerospace, medical, oil
ahd gas, Iirearms, auIomo-
Iive, heaIihg ahd coolihg, ahd
heavy equipmehI
C
ayce Washi ngton ada-
mantly believes he is living
the American dream. He
comes from a modest back-
ground: After working in
a local grocery store for several years,
Washington took a job in a machine
shop at age 21 and loved the work.
At age 24, he advanced into the shop
foreman position, and one year later,
in 1997, through owner financing, pur-
chased the company where he worked.
Now the shop is known as Valley
Tool Inc., with Washington serving as
president and a working owner. To his
surprise, the new shop began turning
a profit as soon as its first three months
of operation, and has been doing so ever
since growing from a six-man opera-
tion to its current fifty-plus employees.
Valley Tool manufactures custom
tooling (repair and part replacement),
custom fixturing (both for gauging and
workholding) and custom gauges for
general manufacturing, dies and form
tools. Its major markets include aero-
space, medical, oil and gas, firearms, au-
tomotive, commercial heating and cool-
ing and heavy equipment. Work/jobs,
percentage wise, are distributed evenly
among these various markets, and being
that diversified has helped sustain the
shop through tough economic times.
According to Washington, the shops
philosophy is to use everything, both
equipment and employees, to its max-
imum potential and to take care of
what takes care of you. With that said,
30 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
An American Dream Shop
HIGHLY SKILLED EMPLOYEES AND AN OVERALL "GO-GETTER" ATTITUDE
LEAD TO SUCCESS.
By Charles Bates I senior editor
Valley Tool makes sure its manufacturing areas provide all necessary job supplies for lean efficient operations.
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 31
the first thing he did was re-organize
the shop so that employees werent
constantly searching for the supplies
and tooling they need for their work.
What we tried to do was give ev-
eryone the tools they needed, basically
by establishing a toolcrib and tool cab-
inets strategically located near work
areas. At the time, we called what we
did structural organization and didnt
realize we were actually incorporating
lean, explained Washington.
To get the full potential out of its
equipment, Valley Tool relies on a
rigorous maintenance schedule, and
it tries not to beat up its machine
tools. For example, a machines man-
ufacturers suggested maximum cut
depth may be 0.250 in., but the shop
will stay below that amount.
Washington said that doing so may
add a little production time to each part,
but it saves the machine in the long run.
He acknowledged that pushing a ma-
chine may make money, but inevitably
the extra revenue has to be invested into
replacing worn out equipment.
How the shop stays competitive
while still preserving its equipment in-
tegrity is by investing in new technol-
ogy. Most of its production equipment
is less than five years old, and Wash-
ington strongly believes in re-investing
in the company. He added that newer
technology provides reliability and
more-consistent repeatability.
Job volumes are relatively small at
Valley Tool, where a 200-piece order
is considered large. Average job sizes
are between two and five parts, but in
most cases, these parts are extremely
high-precision products.
When jobs come in, the customer
is usually in an emergency situation
and needs the part right away. Because
of this, job setups must be fast and ef-
ficient, and quite often Valley Tool will
make extra parts for inventory when it
knows an order will eventually repeat.
Further minimizing set-up time and
adding to efficiency, 90 percent of Val-
ley Tools machinists have extensive
manual machine experience, so they
are quite familiar with machine set-
up. They also do their own program-
ming and run the jobs.
In a production environment, one
guy doing nothing but programming
may be the way to go. But in our envi-
ronment, where quality is mandatory,
we would run that one guy crazy,
commented Washington. Plus, the
way we operate eliminates any finger
pointing between a main programmer
and the machine set-up person.
Getting machinists to this level takes
a lot of in-house training and sending
people to school, according to Wash-
ington. And, he added that it requires
highly intelligent people to start with.
The shop hires all types of workers,
but usually they can determine within
a short time which ones will or will not
be able to handle the assignments.
We need machinists who can go
from one type of machine to the next
and understand the programming
parameters of each machine. So we
also do a great deal of cross-training,
Washington said.
Jobs flow through Valley Tool
smoothly thanks to a shop foreman.
This person oversees jobs, directs
workflow, makes sure jobs stay on
schedule, and answers any questions
concerning a particular job. He also
determines which of the shops lead
men are assigned which jobs. For ex-
ample, if 90 percent of a parts features
involve turning, the shop foreman is-
sues the job to a lead man who is more
oriented toward turning work.
The shop foreman also prepares
quotes for new orders, and acts as an
in-house liaison between the customer
and the shop. He will then consult
with production point men located
throughout the shop to determine
job schedules. Basically, the shop has
a point man for each of its types of
manufacturing/machining operations.
However, both point men and the
shop foreman are active on the shop
floor with production activities.
In-process quality control is a must
at Valley Tool. Each machinist at each
process area/department is responsi-
ble for ensuring that the operation he
performed on a part is correct accord-
ing to the part print. Then, he must
sign off to that fact before the part can
move on to the next operation.
When a part is completed, a qual-
ity manager audits and documents all
critical dimensions and how they were
measured. As a result of its quality-
control process, Valley Tools scrap
rate is less than 1 percent, and the tar-
get is zero percent.
According to Washington, what
sets Valley Tool apart from its compe-
tition, in addition to its highly skilled
and motivated employees, is the shops
rural location, which translates to
very little turnover in personnel. He
pointed out that having perhaps four
or five shops within a 20-mile radius is
quite unlike a shop in a metropolitan
area where machinists can quit and
start again at a nearby shop.
Its good to be in the country,
said Washington. Our rural setting
and work atmosphere contribute to
a continuity between a core group
of people. We treat them right, pay a
fair wage, and respond to their needs.
They, in turn, are expected to be here
every day, on time, and to do their
jobs. But, most importantly, we do put
families first, and our employees dont
take advantage of that. <<
A highly skilled and motivated workforce sets Valley Tool apart from its competition.
32 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com

P R O D U C T S H O W C A S E
Industrial-Duty AC Motors,
208-230/460 V, 1-5 HP
The OME Series of general purpose
AC motors are industrial-duty, three-
phase, 208-230/460 volt motors
available in 1 to 5 horsepower and
speeds of 3600, 1800, and 900 RPM.
These totally enclosed fan-cooled
(TEFC) T-frame motors have cast
iron frames with a ribbed design for
maximum cooling and feature class F
insulation. They are inverter-duty ca-
pable with a 5:1 speed turndown for
variable torque applications and a 2:1
speed turndown for constant torque
use. All motors are manufactured in
high-quality ISO9001-certified facili-
ties using premium-grade quality ma-
terials and manufacturing processes.
Every motor is electrically tested in
subassembly production and again af-
ter final assembly. The product is CE
compliant, comes with an ironclad
2-year warranty, and is ideal for ma-
chine tooling industries.
Prices start at $117
One-Stop Connection
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marketplace for the manufacturing
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part or thousands of build-to-order
components, MFG.com is a one-stop
sourcing solution for manufacturers
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abled buyers and engineers to source
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the world bringing their products to
market more quickly, easily and inex-
pensively at higher quality levels.
Modeling + CAM for Faster
Automated Toolpaths
Mastercam

for SolidWorks

com-
bines the worlds leading modeling
software with the worlds most wide-
ly-used CAM software. Now you can
program parts directly in SolidWorks,
using toolpaths and machining strat-
egies preferred the most by shops
around the world.
Mastercam for SolidWorks includes a
suite of the most sought-after cutting
strategies, including High Speed Ma-
chining (HSM) toolpaths. In addition,
Mastercam for SolidWorks delivers a
powerful set of automated toolpaths
that get parts off the machine faster,
with little or no handwork.
E D I T E D BY C H A R L E S B AT E S I S E N I O R E D I T O R
M A C H I N E T O O L S
H
ealthcare
dominates the
market for silicone
materials from Shin-Etsu
Silicones of America Inc.
(www.shinetsusilicones.
com)), a U.S. subsidiary
of Shin-Etsu Chemical
Co. Ltd. in Japan. The
materials innate physical
properties make it ideal for
modern medical product
applications, and Eric
Bishop, North American
marketing manager,
expounded on those
properties at a Liquid
Silicone Injection Molding
Symposium.
When asked why
silicone, Bishop answered
that the material displays
broad thermal stability
from 65 degrees F. to 500
degrees F. with additives.
He also mentioned that
it is electrically and
thermally nonconductive,
A Perfect Medical Material
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 33
The healthcare industry has proven to be a shot in the arm for
silicone injection-molded parts.




Adjustable Multiple
Spindle Heads
Standard & Special Purpose
*Flexible*Durable*Cost Effective
Suhner Industrial Products, Rome, GA 30161
Phone: (706) 235-8046, Fax: (706) 235-8045
Info.usa@suhner.com
www.suhner.com
M A C H I N E T O O L S
34 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
naturally elastomeric, and offers a
wide range of hardnesses.
Because silicone is chemically
inert, it doesnt react with blood
or pharmaceuticals and can be
safely cleaned in a dishwasher, said
Bishop. He added that the material
is naturally translucent but can be
colored for quick identification for
medical operating room applications.
Shin-Etsus key silicone grades
for healthcare include KE1950,
KEG2000, KE2090/2095 Select-
Hesive, KEG2003 and KE2004 Series.
The KE2004 Series combines low-
end durometer (5-20: Shore-A) with
enhanced physical properties and
processing control. Its low-hardness/
high tear strength combination
allows manufacturers to achieve a
soft feel without sacrificing strength,
generating excessive flash, or tearing
during demolding. In addition, the
company offers an anti-microbial
Liquid Injection Molding System
(LIMS) product.
Transitioning to the integrated
processes of silicone manufacturing
for medical components, Bishop
pointed out that the LIMS process is
a closed-loop, automated system that
minimizes the risk of contamination.
He further noted that using his
companys Select-Hesive LIMS, multi-
component parts could be molded in
a single 2-shot injection process that
improves consistency and increases
productivity. Also, when proper
planning, tooling, and machinery are
combined, flash-free molded parts are
possible for eliminating the need for
post operations. <<
T
he Barnes Bore
Honing & Finishing
Systems (www.
barneshoning.com)
HH line of horizontal
spindle bore-honing
machines sport
rigid structural box
beam base designs,
combined with easy
access open-face
configurations, that
make the machines
ideal for very long
and/or very heavy
components, such
as those found in
oil-patch and military
applications.
The machines
spindle structure
and power, and
its clamping and
tool design aspects
are all engineered
to work well with
both conventional
and superabrasive
tooling. Honing tool
expansion can be
activated with either
hydraulic or servo-
motor drives. All
aspects of the tooling
expansion are totally
programmable.
Updated features
include an Allen
Bradley PLC control
interfaced with an
operator-friendly color
touch screen panel. <<
Oil-patch Bore Honing
The Drilling Doctor
Problem:
Tooling inventories are getting
out of control.
Diagnosis
End-users are losing time and
money through purchases of
multiple tooling designs.
Solution:
The Allied
REVOLUTION DRILL
.
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.
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.
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.
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Contact an Allied metal cutting
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Allied Machine & Engineering Corp.
120 Deed Dr.
Dover, Ohio 44622
(330) 343-4283
www.alliedmachine.com
M A C H I N E T O O L S
36 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
H
igh-Brilliance Laser technology is
quickly becoming common and
desirable as it essentially simplifies the
generation and management of the
laser beam. Specifically, when used
for sheet metal, plate or pipe cutting,
the power requirements of the system
are substantially less, while attainable
cutting parameters are comparable to
a traditional CO2 laser generator.
Two Italian companies Campana
Livio S.r.l. and Finsomac S.r.l
produce the High-Brilliance Laser
technology. Cy Laser LLC (www.
cy-laser.com) sells and services Cy
Laser High Brilliance Laser systems
in North America.
Cy Laser High-Brilliance Laser
systems cut 20-mm mild steel, 10-mm
stainless steel, 10-mm aluminum,
and can be employed to cut brass
and copper. In addition, the higher-
quality laser beam produced can be
carried through a fiber optic cable
to eliminate the need for complex
and costly mirror sets. Consequently,
High-Brilliance laser systems are
virtually maintenance free.
The systems laser cutting head is
extremely simple, consisting of one
focalizing lens, and there is no need
to maintain and swap cutting heads
when changing set up.
Since High-Brilliance laser systems
use fiber optic laser sources, the
systems present many advantages
over traditional laser sources. For
example, there can be high power
generated within a reduced overall
perimeter/layout of equipment, high
system yield, less power needed for
cooling, no moving components and
no laser gas.
High-Brilliance Laser systems incorporate
fiber optic laser sources.
Brilliant Laser
Technology
E D I T E D BY J I M B E N E S I A S S O C I AT E E D I T O R
T O O L I N G & F I X T U R I N G
C U T T I N G P R O D U C T S
38 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
A
ce Precision Industries of
Akron, Ohio, produces several
variations of small components
for mining equipment, such as cowl
arms and traction reducer cases. The
company recently invested in a single-
spindle Niigata HD80 horizontal
machining center that enables them to
run larger parts with high feed/speed
capabilities. Initially, Ace transferred the
conventional tooling and methodology
it had been using to the new equipment.
The process worked, but was not opti-
mizing the capabilities of the Niigata.
Distributor George Whalley Co. of
Cleveland has been a one-stop resource
for Aces tooling needs. Larry Wragg,
the George Whalley representative,
together with Tom Batchelor, Seco
Tools Inc. (www.secotools.com)
application expert, suggested that Ace
try using a Seco Power Turbo, a heavy-
duty square shoulder mill designed to
provide maximum metal-removal
with free-cutting inserts.
The cowl arms are made of
A514 steel that is flame-cut to
shape, but the hardening caused by
this process has always made these
components tough on tooling, Tom
Stugymer, manufacturing manager
at Ace, said. We were eager to make
improvements.
The part is 62-in. long by 34-in.
wide by 4.5-in. thick. Seven steps are
required to produce the component.
Seco initially concentrated on the first
step roughing a bore area that is
4.5-in. deep with an inside diameter
HIGH-FEED MILLING CUTS BORING TIME AND COST
www.ati-ia.com/qc/
919.772.0115
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|i| auaert couocit] ir luc|ir aec|orisa
ROBOTIC END EFFECTORS
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 39
range of 25 in. to 36 in. Ace had been
using a 32-insert endmill to hog out
the metal, which was taking over an
hour on average, but they knew this
method worked.
Given the speed capability of
the Niigata, and considering the
space constraints of the enclosed
machine, Batchelor was confident
they could improve the process
with a helical interpolation method
using Secos high feed milling cutter.
In addition to being enclosed, the
Niigata machines have internal
tool changers, making it nearly
impossible to get a big boring head
inside the machine. Even though
conventional wisdom says we
should be boring a hole, we cant
get a boring bar inside the machine
due to the tool changer, explained
Stugymer. Thus, our need to
develop a more efficient method.
High-feed milling (HFM) quickly
removes a lot of material. With HFM,
the cutting forces are directed axially
back into the spindle. This method
provides outstanding performance
Cowl arm production begins with machining
a bore 4.5-in. deep and from 25-in. to 36-in.
inside diameter.

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C U T T I N G P R O D U C T S
40 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
T O O L I N G & F I X T U R I N G
when machining with large overhangs.
Ace was using a helical endmill
with 32 inserts, Batchelor said. We
applied a 4-in. diameter, high-feed
mill using 218.19 inserts in Secos
Duratomic grade MP2500.
With this switch, the boring time
was reduced by over 50 percent, to
only 28 minutes. Plus, this cutter only
requires seven inserts, versus thirty-
two. Stugymer added. So, we cut
the machining time in half with one-
quarter the number of inserts.
Another aspect Seco thought it could
improve operations involved the boring
of two corners for stress-relief where the
rod connects to the round cowl head.
Ace had been machining a 1.1875-in.
radius using a boring bar, because a
correct-sized diameter cutter did not
exist for this operation. To tackle this
T O O L I N G & W O R K H O L D I N G
S
chunk Inc. (www.schunk.com)
has extended its toolholder
product range with the introduction
of the new Sino-R that is well
suited for heavy-duty metal cutting
and rough milling. The universal
toolholder is based on the
expansion technology system with
a solid body as a pressure medium
and is quickly clamped using a
simple actuation key. This saves
the user set-up time and reduces
unproductive machine down-times.
The interaction of high radial
rigidity and good dampening
characteristics is a special
highlight that reduces machining
noises and increases the smooth
running of the tool. This results
in high service life of the tool and
surface quality of the workpiece.
Toolholder
For Heavy Cutting
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 41
task, Seco made a 2.375-in. diameter
Power Turbo mill with five teeth using
the M14 geometry in grade F40M.
This new Power Turbo mill reduced
machining time from 50 minutes
to 5 minutes. Again, a plunging
methodology was employed by taking
0.100-in. steps in many passes with
no more than 0.05-in. depth-of-cut
per pass to produce a 1.1875-in.
corner radius. Spindle speed remained
constant at 804 rpm, but the feedrate
increased from 0.015 ipr to 0.283 ipr.
Ace is now able to manufacture
about one cowl arm per day. With the
switch to Power Turbo, the company
saves about $28,000 per year just in
machining cost on the component.
This does not account for the reduced
number of inserts now needed to
complete the first boring operation. <<
This eliminates unwanted chatter
marks that frequently appear with
conventional toolholder systems
and expensive reworking.
Sino-R holds tools securely,
thanks to maximum torque
transmission of 850 Nm, at a
clamping diameter of 32 mm.
Also, with the use of intermediate
sleeves the toolholder can be used
flexibly, and almost all common
shank diameters can be clamped.
The toolholders are precision-
balanced to protect both the
machine spindle and the lip
of the tool.<<
A
line of bits that will not fall
out when inserted into a six-
point socket has been introduced
by Bondhus Corp. (www.bondhus.
com). ProHold Socket bits are half
the cost of traditional socket bits
because users can utilize them with
their own six-point sockets, and
Protanium steel makes each bit up to
20% stronger than competing tools,
said the company. Two non-magnetic
buttons on the sides of each bit locks
it securely into the socket.
All ProHold Socket bits carry the
Bondhus lifetime warranty and feature
the ProGuard finish, which offers five
times more corrosion protection when
compared with competitor finishes.
A full range of inch, metric and star
tools are available.
Bits turn standard
socket into bit holder
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6/09 ()
E DI T E D BY R OB E R T B R OOK S I E D I T O R
S O F T WA R E & C O N T R O L S
M
astercam X4, a
new release from
CNC Software
(www.mastercam.com),
introduces a cutting motion
called Dynamic Machin-
ing that the developer said
adapts toolpaths to create
more consistent processing,
constantly.
This new motion is said
to work equally well with
closed and open parts,
creating efficient entry
methods and customizable
entry speeds and feeds.
CNC Software
emphasized that the new
technique allows shops
to use the entire tool flute
length, increasing machine
flexibility and saving
production time and cost.
Also, Dynamic Machining is
designed to take a full depth
cut, so the need for multiple
depth cuts may be eliminated
in many instances.
Another aspect of this de-
velopment is flexibility in tool
retraction, to keep the tool
down in smaller components
and to allow rapid retraction
on larger parts.
There also is a micro
lift option that allows
slight retraction off the
bottom when moving to
the next cut, decreasing the
level of heat in the part and
aiding chip evacuation.
Recently, CNC Software
also introduced a new
part-modeling and EDM
programming software,
Mastercam X4 Wire.
For modeling parts, each
geometric piece is live so
programmers can modify
them quickly to achieve a
desired shape.
For programming, X4
Wire has streamlined
features for 2- and 4-axis
machining, including
2-axis contouring (with or
without taper angle), no-
core cutting, and straight
and tapered cutting (with
or without land) from
either direction.
More new program
features include contouring
for multiple parts using a
single window selection;
automatic wirepath corner
filleting; and an ability to
create lead-ins and lead-
outs with optional lead
trimming. Programmers can
create tabs automatically
with user-definable stop
types. There is also an
optional No Drop Out tab.
CNC Software says
Mastercam X4 Wire
creates new efficiencies that
will reduce programmer
interaction and increase
machining flexibility. <<
Charting New Paths for More Consistency
Introducing Dynamic Machining; plus, part modeling and EDM programming functions get streamlined
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 43
According to CNC Software, its new cutting motion works equally
well with closed and open parts, creating efficient entry methods
and customizable entry speeds and feeds.
>> on 46
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americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 45
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CNC POWER CHUCKS
S O F T W A R E & C O N T R O L S
46 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I NOVEMBER 2009 I americanmachinist.com
C
NC Metal Fabrication Inc., in
Toronto, builds electronic instrument
cabinets. It acquired its first JETCAM
Expert CAD/CAM software (www.jetcam.
com) license with a Finn-Power press
in 1992, but also acquired other CAM
systems with other machines that, over
time, needed consolidating.
Chandrakant Patel, Engineering
Manager explained; Weve replaced the
first Finn-Power twice since 1992, and
with each new Finn-Power machine weve
90% scrap reduction, with high-performance nesting
used JETCAM without problems. We
had an old CAM system that was driving
another punching machine, but this had
no automatic tooling capability and was
difficult to use.
Another system also proved too
difficult to learn and did not have the
same level of functionality as JETCAM
for parts that require both laser and
punching operations, and thus needed
programming on two separate systems.
By this time CNC Metal had used
JETCAM Expert with high-performance
rectangular nesting to drive three Finn-
Power punch presses and a Danobat
punch press. After replacing the Mitsubishi
with a newer model they standardized on
JETCAM, and purchased postprocessors
for their two licenses to drive the new laser.
Comparing JETCAM to the two other
systems, Patel cited several examples of
savings resulting from efficiencies the
software has delivered. The biggest
saving has been in programming time.
The old system had no auto-tooling, so
tooling up punched parts is 50-70%
faster now, with programming reduced
overall by around 30%. Although most
of our runs are short, our sheet utilization
has improved by up to 20%, which has
reduced our scrap levels by up to 90%.
He said JETCAMs ablity to store
tooling data on the part, not the nest,
means the shop can store both punch and
laser information, and then generate a
nest for any of the machines immediately.
Patel said newer features have further
reduced programming time and improved
the quality and speed of getting to a
finished part.
>> from 43
This Toronto shop manufactures cabinets for
electronic instruments. It uses a single CAM
system to drive different brands and types of
machines, and no longer reuses its CNC pro-
grams: the programs are nested just in time.
Valercar lor So||dwor|

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CAC. Cul your parl d|recl|y W|l||r So||dwor| u|r |opleled 2C ard 3C
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AD I NDEX
ADVERTISER PAGE
2L Inc. .....................................................................................................33
Allied Machine & Engrg Corp ..........................................................34, 35
American Machinist ........................................................................... 6, 11
ATI Industrial Automation .....................................................................38
Delcam International, Ltd. .....................................................................40
Faro Technologies ...................................................................................37
Gibbs and Associates ..............................................................................3
Gradient Lens Corp. . .............................................................................39
Haas Automation, Inc. .............................................................................5
Iscar Metals, Inc. .................................................................................. BC
Mastercam, CNC Software, Inc. ............................................................46
Mfg.com .................................................................................................44
Monster Tool ...........................................................................................43
Mori Seiki America .............................................................................. IFC
Omega Engineering Inc. .........................................................................1
Rockford Ettco Procunier .......................................................................48
Sandvik Coromant Co. . ...................................................................... IBC
Scientific Cutting Tools, Inc. ...................................................................41
Sentry Insurance ....................................................................................42
Southwestern Industries Inc. ..................................................................7
Suhner Industrial Products Corp. .........................................................33
Taiwan External Trade Development Council ......................................36
Yorkshire Forward ....................................................................................9
This index is a service to readers. Every effort is made
to maintain accuracy, but AMERICAN MACHINIST cannot
assume responsibility for errors or omissions.
AM PRODUCT EXPRESS ADVERTISING
Page 45
Send all AM PRODUCT EXPRESS advertisements to:
CLASSIFIED DEPT., Penton Media, Inc., 1300 E. 9th Street, Cleveland, OH
44114-1503.
americanmachinist.com I NOVEMBER 2009 I AMERICAN MACHINIST I 47
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16.
Date
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6,574
E
ven with advanced equipment
and techniques, the basic
mechanics of forming a chip
remain the same. As the cutting tool
engages the workpiece, the material
directly ahead of the tool is sheared
and deformed under tremendous
pressure. The deformed material then
seeks to relieve its stressed condition by
fracturing and flowing into the space
above the tool in the form of a chip.
The deformation of a work material
means that enough force has been
exerted by the tool to permanently
reshape or fracture the work material.
If a material is reshaped, it is said
to have exceeded its plastic limit. A
chip is a combination of reshaping
and fracturing. The deformed chip is
separated from the parent material by
fracture. The cutting action and chip
formation can be more easily analyzed
if the edge of the tool is perpendicular to
the relative motion of the material.
When a solid bar is turned, there are
three forces acting on the cutting tool:
tangential, longitudinal, and radial.
Regardless of the tool being used or
the metal being cut, chip forming occurs
by plastic deformation, which can be
visualized as shearing. That is when a
metal is subjected to a load exceeding
its elastic limit. The crystals of the metal
elongate through slipping or shearing,
which takes place within the crystals and
between adjacent crystals.
Most practical cutting operations,
such as turning and milling, involve
two or more cutting edges inclined at
various angles to the direction of the
cut. However, the basic mechanism of
cutting can be explained by analyzing
cutting done with a single cutting edge.
Chip formation is simplest when a
continuous chip is formed in orthogonal
cutting. In oblique cutting, a single,
straight cutting edge is inclined in the
direction of tool travel. This causes
changes in the direction of chip flow up
the face of the tool. When the cutting
edge is inclined, the chip flows across the
tool face with a sideways movement that
produces a helical form of chip.
Metalcutting chips are classified
into three basic types: discontinuous
chips, continuous chips, and
continuous chips with a built-up edge.
Tool life is one of the most
important economic considerations
in metalcutting. The different wear
mechanisms, as well as the different
phenomena contributing to cutting tool
attrition, depend on the multitude of
cutting conditions and especially on the
cutting speeds and fluids.
BY G E O R G E S C H N E I D E R J R . I C M f g E , C M f g T, L S M E
C U T T I N G T O O L A P P L I C AT I O N S
Chapter 2: Metal Removal Methods
A turning toolholder insert generating a
chip. (Photo by courtesy of Kennametal Inc.)
Each month American Machinist presents
an abstract of George Schneiders essential
handbook to machine tool materials,
principles, and designs. For a complete
summary of each chapter, visit
www.americanmachinist.com
Milling Down Production Costs
with Double Sided
Positive Inserts
90
Shou|der errrrr err
PROFITABILITY
Bui l di ng Customer
Milling Intelligently
www.iscarmeta|s.com