Choosing wire EDM workholders

There comes a time when some chipmaking shops add wire EDMing to their repertoire. This is often done to reduce costs, because bringing what were once subcontracted, secondary EDMing operations in-house often makes good financial and logistical sense. It can also be due to demands from medical and aerospace customers, who ask their suppliers to[…]


Leaning towards lean

  I’m not wired for lean. My garage is a disaster, I take too many steps when making coffee in the morning and I have no problem stocking up on paper towels if there’s a sale. Some of this antilean thinking may stem from my early years in a machine shop, where half-day setups and[…]


Shops have plenty of choices when gripping small parts

Wedge, cam, square and pull-down clamps, micro vises and chucks, hexagons and rounds. These are just some of the workholding options available to shops that mill small workpieces. Finding the right clamps isn’t a problem, but how they’re utilized may be. This article examines some of the options and provides tips on how to use[…]


Collaborative robots lend a helping hand

Joe’s struggling to package a truckload of parts before noon. Mary can’t keep up on the painting line. Jimmy’s in trouble with the boss because he can’t make quota. These are just a few of the challenges faced by workers on the manufacturing floor, problems that, in many cases, can be solved with collaborative robots.[…]


Lightly Touched: Choosing the best marking method for delicate workpieces

Back in my shop days, most workpieces were marked by using hardened steel stamps and a 2-lb. hammer. WHAM! That heavy-handed approach didn’t cut it when the shop began supplying thin-walled aluminum brake sleeves to Boeing. We ordered a bunch of rubber stamps and gently rolled the part number in permanent ink around the sleeve’s[…]


Ons Size Fits All

Fifteen years ago I wrote an article for CTE called “Lowering your grades.” It argued that shops could save money by reducing insert inventory. The premise was that the productivity gains realized through use of the “perfect” insert for any given material would be eaten up by the setup time needed to change that insert[…]


Workholder modeling

The goal of any machine shop should be reducing setup times close to zero—load the fixture, switch programs and push cycle start. Granted, this requires lots of organization and investment, but with quick-change fixtures and toolholders, tool management systems, and off-line presetters and simulations, huge decreases in setup time are achievable. This last part—offline simulation—is[…]

Hexagon 0.2mm_opt

Machine-integrated inspection systems can improve quality, profitability

Stopping a machine to measure a workpiece is a waste of time. Not only is a high-priced piece of CNC equipment being taken out of production, but the measurements obtained when a machinist leans into a machine with a micrometer or bore gage can’t compare in accuracy to those generated by a coordinate measuring machine[…]

Solid Concepts_DMLS va_opt

Rapid shift – 3D printing poised to turn prototyping on its head.

Engineers and product designers have more rapid prototyping choices than an aficionado at an art fair. Stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition modeling (FDM) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) are but some of the available additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, which cover a range of materials from nylon, polycarbonate, PEEK (polyether ether ketone)[…]