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Equipment and Tooling

Meet Your New Apprentice

Jimmy was a crusty old machinist and part-time farmer from Belle Plaine, Minn. He knew more about cutting metal than anyone I’ve ever met. He was also my friend. I was 17 years old and starting a new job as a handscrew operator in nearby Chaska when Jimmy took me under his wing, showed me the ropes and corrected my many mistakes. I was fortunate to have a mentor. Many of my generation did not. And in the years since then, many more young people were told that the trades are dirty and the best way to succeed in life is with a college education. As a result, tuition rates… Read More »Meet Your New Apprentice

Learning by Doing with Wire EDM

Gabe Lipscomb didn’t plan a career in education. He once told his high school geometry teacher that the class was stupid and that he would never use any of what he learned there. “Then I went and became a machinist, where I needed those math skills each and every day,” he said, laughing. “Now I tell my students to be careful what they say to people; it might just come back to bite you.” Lipscomb joined the manufacturing industry a few years after graduation and worked there for several decades, producing parts and tooling for some of Kentucky’s many aerospace and automotive businesses and their Tier suppliers, including Toyota, Ford,… Read More »Learning by Doing with Wire EDM

Electric Vehicles: Machining in a World Made of (High-Strength) Steels

First, the facts: Electric vehicles require only a fraction of the roughly 1,400 machined components used in internal combustion vehicles. And the 200 components that are needed are smaller, lighter and must therefore withstand higher levels of torque. Together, those developments have led to a gradual shift from traditional mild steels and cast irons to stronger alloy steels like 4340 and 8620, as well as increased use of advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) for chassis and body components. Such metals are a bit tougher, slightly more abrasive, and where machining is concerned, produce longer, stringier chips than their traditional automotive alternatives. Industry specialists at Sandvik Coromant “expect this shift to include a continued increase in… Read More »Electric Vehicles: Machining in a World Made of (High-Strength) Steels

Turning Away From (Some) Tooling Conventions

The Dewey Decimal system allows librarians to find and categorize books quickly. The SWIFT and IBAN codes enable bankers to safely conduct electronic transactions with financial institutions in other countries. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is what makes the internet navigable for all. Standards are designed to help the world work more efficiently. This has long been true for manufacturing. Beginning with Henry Maudslay’s invention of the screw-cutting lathe and the resulting standardization of screw threads, industry has strived for interchangeability, predictability, consistent quality, and reduced waste, all of which are made possible through widely accepted, well-documented standards. So it is with indexable cutting tools. Whether it’s ANSI B212.4-2002 in the… Read More »Turning Away From (Some) Tooling Conventions

Riding the Wave

New York manufacturing team develops a low-cost emergency ventilator in three weeks In times of need, manufacturing is driven by a philosophy John Lennon said best, “There are no problems, only solutions.” Today, manufacturers have pivoted to produce the critical supplies and equipment necessary to battle COVID-19 at a rate never seen before. SME’s Humans of Manufacturing Heroes Edition tells the stories of the teams, companies and partnerships adapting to produce the tools needed to fight this global pandemic. Going behind the scenes to share how these once-in-a-lifetime transformations are happening and the people making it all possible. Driving into work one Tuesday morning in late March, Charles Boyce grew… Read More »Riding the Wave

Grinding Strategies Go from Good to Great

Maybe your company specializes in aerospace or medical components, and you need to produce complex geometries in metals too tough to cut via conventional machining methods. Or maybe you work in or own a tool and cutter shop, and are looking for faster, more cost-effective ways to produce drills, end mills, and form tools. Whatever the reason, and whatever the requirement, you’re in luck. As with most metalworking technologies, grinding—more properly called abrasive machining—has improved greatly in recent years. How so? For starters, grinding wheel manufacturers have developed new bonds and superabrasivesthat clearly deserve the title “super,” capable of removing more material in less time than ever before. And grinding… Read More »Grinding Strategies Go from Good to Great

Titanium: Son of the Earth

As strong as steel but half the weight, titanium is a favorite among aircraft builders. Part 1 of a 3-part series on the history of titanium, its many uses, and how to machine this important metal. Part 2, to run in Aerospace Manufacturing and Design’s April-May issue, will discuss best practices in titanium machining.  What would the world do without titanium? Strong yet light, titanium resists corrosion by seawater, making it a logical choice for marine applications and desalination plants. It’s biocompatible, so it can be used in the human body, especially for load-bearing implants such as hip and knee joints. Titanium makes bicycles faster and athletes safer, and helps rockets reach… Read More »Titanium: Son of the Earth

Titanium machining tips

Understanding how cutting tools, feeds and speeds, and tool paths can tame the difficult-to-cut metal. Part 2 of a 3-part series on the history of titanium. Part 1, in the March 2016 issue of AM&D, covered the history of the metal. Part 3, scheduled for the June issue,will discuss machine tools, cutting fluids, fixtures,and toolholders.  Anyone who’s stood in front of a lathe or machining center for any length of time knows titanium is a real bear to cut. It has several properties that make it an excellent choice for aerospace and medical components, but these same attributes may cause rapid wear for tools and nervous breakdowns for machine operators.… Read More »Titanium machining tips

Son of the Earth

The last of a 3-part series on the history of titanium, its many uses, and how to machine this important metal Earlier in this series, we explored the history and uses of titanium, as well as some ways to achieve satisfactory tool life while machining it. Yet even the best cutting tools and toolpaths will fail without a robust way to hold those tools, grip the workpiece securely, and support toolpaths with a solid and accurate machine tool. Being successful with titanium requires all this and more; for example, predictable process control is as important as what equipment and tooling is used.  In this final installment, we’ll put together the… Read More »Son of the Earth

Tilting Tools

Turn mill operators are faced with a bewildering number of tooling choices Tooling up a CNC lathe was once a straightforward exercise. Mount and touch off an 80° diamond for roughing, along with whatever profile of finishing tool you fancy. A groover and threader might be needed, and since most turned parts have holes, a drilling station is called for, along with a boring bar or two to finish the hole. And if the machine has a barfeed, you’d best grab a cutoff tool. Allowing for differences in hole size, groove widths and so on, this basic tool assortment once covered the majority of all turning jobs. Lathe life was… Read More »Tilting Tools