Modern Machine Shop

SEP 2018

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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Stories of Success Modern Machine Shop 83 "We researched this type of machine for a few years, but nobody ever came to us prom- ising work if we bought it," Mr. Kablak says. "Fortunately, our company is positioned to accommodate these sorts of risks, given that we have a solid base of more straightforward work. This enables us to reach a bit without putting the business in a bad situation." Another example is Baker Industries' invest- ment in 3D-printing/additive manufacturing equipment, which the company started to add just before Mr. Kablak was brought onboard. In fact, it was at that point that he took the lead in identifying how the shop might best take advan- tage of this technology. Baker Industries currently has seven such machines, including five Stratasys fused deposition modeling (FDM) machines for printing plastics and two EOS direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) models. Where the company is realizing real value in additive technology is with hybrid tooling. That is, tooling in which some components are machined and others are 3D printed. In some cases, this enables the tooling to incorporate complex shapes or internal geometries that would be difficult or impossible to create via traditional methods. In others, it can reduce overall tooling weight. "Part of the challenge when adopting new technology is training our team," Mr. Kablak says. "However, it can be more challenging educating our customers to the point where they appre- ciate the value that advanced, perhaps atypical manufacturing processes can provide compared to traditional methods. Ultimately, our invest- ment in new technologies serves as a sales and marketing tool, too, demonstrating the commit- ment we have to most effectively serving our customers over the long haul." SHOPFLOOR PRACTICES: Establishing Production Schedule Certainty There are numerous initiatives recently made by Boulder, Colorado's Hirsh Precision Products ( hppi.com ) that make the 39-year-old contract shop, started by Steve Hirsh, deserving of being named this year's shopf loor practices winner. For example, the shop, with machining capabilities that include three-, four- and five-axis milling, four-axis turning, multi-spindle turning and Swiss-type turning, earned its ISO 9001:2015 certification last year. "We've always focused on quality and felt like this certification was within reach for many years," company COO Peter Doyle says. "However, we finally reached a point in which we felt that a bigger portion of our growing customer base was requiring their suppliers to be ISO-certified. Rather than continuing to pursue exemption processes to become their vendor, we put a plan in place to earn the certification." In 2016, Hirsh Precision Products also purchased an Okuma MU 4000V five-axis machine with a Fastems flexible manufacturing system (FMS). It has since added a second identical machine to this system. Mr. Doyle says given the shop's high-mix/low-volume production envi- ronment, reducing setup times while maximizing spindle uptime is critical. "The 36-pallet FMS was an obvious choice for us to increase unattended production time, but it has also helped us to Hirsh Precision Products' 36-pallet flexible manufacturing system (FMS) has enabled it to maximize the spindle uptime for the two five-axis machines that the system serves. The shop plans to soon add a third machine to this FMS.

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