Modern Machine Shop

JUN 2018

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Page 97 of 204

Modern Machine Shop 95 NC PROLIFER ATES 2010s 2000s 1990s 1980s 1970s 1960s 1950s 1940s 1930s Mr. Vogel's words are as applicable today as when he wrote them more than half a century ago (likely on a typewriter). Granted, he could not have predicted the rise of additive manufacturing when he wrote that "There is no substitute for either the man or his simple machine where he can produce the spare part, the variation, the modification, the one of a kind, the exper- imental piece, the parts not applicable to the tape machine, the shop that stresses f lexibility and ingenuity with all types of equipment, and so on ad infinitum." Nonetheless, manual mills and lathes have not been eliminated as staples of many toolrooms, and it was not long ago that the very idea of doing so would have been laughable. As for more sophisticated computer numerical control (CNC) equipment, few shops have abandoned milling or turning in favor of additive technology, which is generally consid- ered more of a complement than a rival to traditional processes. That is the case for now, at least. An uncer- tain future provides good reason for shops of all stripes to stay abreast of additive technology developments like new material capabilities or faster processing of larger parts. However, the latest, most advanced systems are not always accessible or desirable in the near term (or ever, in some cases). In the meantime, savvy busi- ness owners cannot be distracted by curmud- geonly naysayers nor by zealous technological missionaries. Decisions must instead be informed by deep understanding of a technology's current capabilities and limita- tions as well as the hurdles faced by the earliest experimenters and adopters. In the November 1964 issue, such prac- tical thinking is evident beyond Mr. Vogel's column. The cover, touting the machining of the mechanical "brains" for the f light-control system of the XB-70A super- sonic jet prototype, makes clear that this publication is dedi- cated to the most sophisticated and modern machining applications. However, a primary message of this particular 1960s aerospace application story was that NC was not for everyone. "Perhaps the most amazing" aspect about producing the f light-system compo- nents, the article states, was that most work was done on "rather conventional shop machines and grinders, with setup techniques and accurate gaging assuring the necessary precision." Listed specifications included machining within 0.0002 inch for non-sensi- tive components and 0.0001 inch for others; f latness deviation of no more than 0.00005 inch on some parts; and axial deviation within 0.00001 inch on certain bearings. The very next page debuted the first article in a four-part series on NC, but the tone was anything but breathless. Building on another series of NC articles published three years earlier in 1961, "Let's Again Discuss Numerical Control" was presented as an "eat your vegeta- bles" kind of refresher on a burgeoning tech- nology that shops would ignore at their peril. "One of the first hurdles to the widespread acceptance of NC was a lack of comprehen- sion about the concepts on which it is based" states the guest author of the first piece, which covered the importance of the Cartesian coor- dinate system for ensuring that "dimensioning language means precisely the same thing to the programmer as it does the design engineer, the draftsman and the setup man." Ensuring everyone involved in produc- tion operates from the same data interpreted the same way? Some things, it seems, never change. And when they do, shops eager to cast their gaze to the horizon should also be sure to keep one foot on the ground. "The wise production man will coolly evaluate each situation and make his choice based on facts." —FRED VOGEL, editor Read Fred Vogel's column, and the other November 1964 pieces mentioned in this article, at . MMS THROWBACK

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