Shop Solutions: Filtration Cleans Oil, Reclaims Carbide
It wasn't part of his balance sheet calculations when President Denny Denic madehis initial cost justifications to purchase a new centralized filtration systemfor Quality Carbide Tool (QCT; Bensenville, IL).
However, in the six months since its installation, sales of reclaimed carbide from the manufacturer's operation have returned a tidy windfall to QCT's bottom line.
"Let me start at the beginning, as the last 20 years of QCT is actually a remarkable story," says Denic, who began Quality Carbide Tool in 1986 with five people and some manual cutter/tool grinders. QCT's focus was making blueprint specials, in either carbide or HSS for a variety of industries. By 1988, QCT had purchased CNC machines and was able to expand its operation to include a line of standard tools such as drills, end mills, reamers, and burs.
Growth has steadily continued, so that in 2001 QCT became a wholly-owned subsidiary of OSG Tap & Die (Glendale Heights, IL). In 2006, QCT moved into a brand new 65,000 ft2 (6038-m2) facility. "The new facility was the result of not merely growth, but fulfilling our vision to be a world leader in cutting tools through efficient, state-of-the-art manufacturing," says Denic.
Today, it houses over 80 four, five, and six-axis machines; an automated carousel system for the inventory of finished goods; in-house coating systems for the tools; and a centralized filtration and cooling system that is expandable to meet any future growth.
Prior to moving into the new facility, QCT used a centralized, centrifuge system. "It really wasn't living up to our expectations," Denic says. "Our oil just wasn't as clean as we needed to consistently manufacture the quality of tools we knew we could produce given our other investments in machine technology."
Denic goes on to say that the system required a lot of maintenance, as well as, the dirty oil caused significant wear and tear on the machines and disposal of the sludge and debris was a problem. "At $7 a pound, we knew our 72 machines were producing a lot [of carbide] to recycle, but separating it from the debris with our existing filtration system was virtually impossible."
It was then that Denic got in touch with Transor Filter (Elk Grove Village, IL). After hearing about the many benefits that Transor's One Micron Filtration (OMF) had brought to other cutting tool manufacturers, Denic knew that this technology was what he needed in the new facility. As plans progressed for the new building, QCT, working in conjunction with Transor's Sune Backman, developed a modular, centralized system that incorporated Transor's OMF technology while enabling QCT to utilize the existing chillers from the old facility.
"The Transor [system] was just what we had hoped for," says Denic. "The benefits of the one-micron filtered oil were immediately noticeable." While the system is new and results are being tracked, Denic is quick to point out that "seconds and minutes are being chopped off existing cycle times, down-time for wheel dressing is reduced, while overall wheel life is improved." Denic also points to improvements in finished product quality as well. "We see much less stress scratches and burns, because with clean oil our wheels are free from the sludge and filth that typically results in extra finishing or re-works."
Reduced maintenance, longer wheel life, and faster cycle times are all benefits that Denic knew QCT would experience after talking to other Transor customers. One major benefit that Denic did not factor into his ROI equation for the Transor was the cleanliness of the finished tools.
"With the Transor system, there is absolutely no time spent on washing or cleaning the tools," he says. QCT tools come right off the machines, through inspection, and are put directly into inventory. "This is a huge benefit," he continues "being able to eliminate the time and labor of cleaning all our tools. When you consider we're running three shifts a day, six days a week, on over 80 machines, it adds up fast."
Previously QCT had one person each shift to clean and wash the tools. Denic also points to all the extra handling, and with carbide being very fragile, the possibilities of scrap due to chipping and damaging tools are now virtually eliminated.
"Now let's refocus on the carbide reclamation issue," emphasizes Denic. Inherent with Transor's One Micron Filtration, capability is the separation of the carbide residue from the machining process. In QCT's installation, like all Transor systems, the centralized system includes sludge boxes with disposal bag liners. The sludge boxes pull out and are easily accessible via convenient doors on the side of the unit. "So, if you start to do the math," states Denic, "eighty machines operating 24/7, and $7.00 a pound for reclaimed carbide—it really adds up. Needless to say, it has had a real impact on the ROI of our Transor purchase."
Denic says that during the IMTS 2006 show, Quality Carbide Tool celebrated its 20th anniversary by opening the new plant for visitors. Several noted how clean and quiet the facility was. In addition, the clean oil was devoid of odor typical to many coolants.
With over 10,000 products in its standard catalog, QCT also sees continuing growth with their blueprint specials. As part of the OSG group of companies, QCT is global in scope. "With globalization today, combined with the OSG exposure worldwide, QCT sells on every continent," says Denic. "One of the reasons we purchased this building and invested in technology like the Transor is that our vision is to become one of the best companies in this business Not only selling to the American market, but wherever quality tools are demanded."
Tangential Milling For Small Jobs, Too
Akebono Brake Corp. is a key resource for leading OEMs, Tier I brake suppliers, and the automotive aftermarket. Key automotive OEM customers include Audi, Daimler-Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen.
Akebono manufactures a wide range of brake friction materials and how foundation brake assemblies, including disc-brake calipers and drum brakes, employing the Akebono Production System (APS). Embraced throughout the organization, APS enables the company to consistently achieve nearly zero defects per million parts produced.
Akebono operates R&D technical centers in the US, Japan, and France, and manufactures brake friction materials and components in 30 wholly owned or affiliated facilities worldwide. This includes four production facilities in Kentucky.
When Akebono encountered a small rough-milling problem at its Elizabethtown, KY, auto brake plant, it solved it with a process normally used only for big roughing cuts: tangential milling. The result: an 18-to-1 gain in edge life and elimination of line-stopping vibration. The solution, it turns out, is transferable to scores of other small problem roughing jobs throughout this global company.
The application at Akebono represents one of the first for the new 2" (50.8-mm) S-Max Micro tangential milling cutter from Ingersoll Cutting Tools (Rockford, IL). Recently, the company also introduced a 1" (25.4-mm) tangential milling (TM) end mill. Previously, the smallest standard TM cutters available measured 4" (101.6-mm) or larger. The main original role for the tangential milling process was to improve tool life on big jobs like hogging wide-area flats on large automotive castings and steel parts.
In tangential milling, the inserts are oriented differently. They lie flat around the cutter's pitch line rather than standing up radially as in conventional cutters. This tangential orientation presents the insert's strongest cross section to the main cutting force, so that the inserts last longer. Ingersoll introduced the concept back in the 1960s, and has led its expansion ever since.
Akebono adopted the TM idea on a job that seemed to be running perfectly fine as-is. "We were getting 7100 parts per edge with a conventional four-pitch cutter, and were satisfied," says Terry Alvey, Akebono central purchasing buyer of indirect materials. During a plant visit, however ever, Ingersoll field engineer Paul Nugent spotted the opportunity to do better. He explained the tangential milling concept and suggested a trial run for the 2" SMAX Micro cutter. "Since we're in such a competitive business, we'll look at any opportunity to cut cost. So we had Paul set up a test," says Alvey.
The operation chosen for the test involved an interrupted cut to rough-mill a 30 x 20 x 4-mm deep hosemounting area on a cast-iron brake-caliper housing.
Annual volume: about 800,000 parts. It is one of a pair of twin parts that go into a finished brake assembly.
Because the roughing is done in an auxiliary machining cell for a transfer line, its cycle time is set at 35 sec. There's no opportunity to speed up such a single operation without throwing the entire line out of balance.
To make a short story long, the test took longer than expected: the tangential inserts simply didn't wear out. The first set of inserts ran for nearly four months—127,000 parts—before needing a change. That amounted to an 18- to-1 gain in edge life.
The machine's vibration alarm, which usually went off five or six times a shift and caused a two-minute stoppage each time, went silent for the entire four-month test period. "We didn't notice the silence for a couple of days," says Mark Fraze, a production group leader. "What we did notice was two or three additional parts in the bin every hour, and traced it back to the absence of vibration-alarm stoppages."
Alvey, Fraze, and Allen Bailey, tool control leader, tallied the test results and projected the savings from this 18-to-1 gain in edge life. Immediately, Alvey's team standardized on the TM cutter for this operation, and identified four other small rough milling jobs at the Elizabethtown plant that were obvious candidates for the same retooling. Unlike the test job, some of the other four can also run faster, potentially adding in some much larger cycle-time savings.
Alvey's team is also auditing all other operations in their plant for opportunities to leverage what they've learned so far about TM in smaller roughing applications.
The gain in edge life on the test part stems directly from three sources: the tangential insert orientation itself, plus a higher insert pitch and stronger cutter design that derive from that orientation. "Put simply, with inserts orientated tangentially, we can fit more of them onto a small cutter and leave more metal in the cutter body for greater strength," says Nugent. "The 2" [50.8-mm] S-MAX Micro has seven inserts spaced around the pitch diameter, while a conventional cutter of the same size can fit only four. And the insert pockets in a TM cutter needn't be so deep. The higher insert pitch means a smoother cut; the stronger cutter body makes for a more rigid cutting system. Together they reduce the chip load, distribute it over a stronger cross section, and eliminate vibration from a wobbly cutter body. Bottom line: much longer edge life."
Cutting forces were further reduced because of the freer-cutting positive rake-edge presentation in newer Ingersoll TM cutters. "Our original cutter has positive axial rake and neutral radial rake whereas the new cutter has a compound positive rake," adds Akebono's Bailey. "Now we are cleaving the metal off, not scraping it off as before."
The new S-MAX Micro tangential milling cutter also features double-sided inserts with four edges per insert, a submicron substrate for high impact resistance, and an advanced PVD coating for extended tool life. The insert flank also has a special clearance that increases the cross section for even greater strength.
"Paul Nugent has been a key player on our production improvement team," says Bailey. "The more our trusted vendors understand our operation, the more helpful they can be. Tooling developments are happening faster than we could ever keep up with by ourselves," Bailey concludes.
Job Shop Fends Off Overseas Competition
On the western Kansas prairie, halfway between Denver and Kansas City, a high-tech contract manufacturer machines small, close-tolerance parts and ships them to customers hundreds of miles away without worrying about offshore competition.
Natoma Corporation is in Norton, KS, population about 3000. The surrounding countryside is filled with cattle ranches and wheat fields. Gail Boller, founder and president, named his company after the still smaller Kansas community where he spent his childhood and later, in 1982, started the business. Natoma is derived from a regional Indian term meaning "newly born."
Kansas real estate prices, about one-tenth of land costs in Denver, have worked in Boller's favor as the business has grown. When he moved the company to Norton in 1984, it was a two-man shop with 3000 ft2 (278 m2). He expanded it in 1988 and again in 1995, and in 2005 he completed a 23,000 ft2 (2136 m2) addition that more than doubled the size of the facility, boosting floor space to 40,000 ft2 (3716 m2).
Natoma is thriving for a number of reasons, according to Boller. They include the quality of its work and equipment; short-run production capability for small precision parts; an experienced and stable workforce; low overhead; and on-time deliveries that promote customer loyalty.
"Our location actually works to our advantage," Boller asserts. "We've never had an employee quit to take a machining job in another town. We're the only shop in the western half of Kansas that does our type of machining. We don't have to compete for labor the way shops in the big cities do, and our employee turnover rate is very low. Of our 55 employees, 35 are machinists. All but three learned the trade right here. It's slow going, but they learned it our way." Boller has received Kansas Department of Commerce grants for employee training from a program funded by the state lottery.
Natoma specializes in the manufacture of small, close-tolerance parts for customers in the aerospace, medical, and laboratory-instrument markets. The business is ISO 9001 and AS 9100 (for aircraft) certified, and all work for medical and aircraftrelated customers is documented. Extra services include CNC turning, CAD/CAM design, deburring, and finishing and plating.
A service call is a big deal in what Boller affectionately calls "the middle of nowhere." Equipment dependability is delivered by ten Fanuc RoboDrill high-speed CNC VMCs for milling, drilling, and tapping that he purchased through the Methods Machine Tool distributor, McClain Tool & Technology (St. Louis).
"We've stayed with the RoboDrills because they're problem-free. They have strong toolchanger systems, and they're twice as fast as the machines we were using six or seven years ago. We run them every day, and their reliability has been excellent," Boller says. Natoma's first RoboDrill was purchased used from McClain Tool about 13 years ago.
"Service from McClain Tool has been great, and that's saying a lot," he continues. "If one of our machines goes down, we need someone to look at it the next day, and it's a 300-mile drive [from the nearest major airport] for one of their servicemen to come out here."
Boller loses no sleep over competition from Asia. Because Natoma's customers typically require relatively short production runs of only 100 to 300 parts, it is not practical for them to send the work overseas.
"We recently quoted a job for a company that had just returned 400 rejected parts to a contract manufacturer in Singapore and had to keep its lines going," Boller says. "The lower price wasn't worth the headaches. When it comes to low-volume runs of parts with very close tolerances, some of which can be quite complex, we don't have the problem with the Asian competition that high-volume shops have. We work with total tolerances of twotenths [0.0002"] or less on many of our parts. It takes good equipment and good people to hold those tolerances, plus good inspection systems." In fact, an ISO auditor recently told Boller his shop came out ahead of every other contract-manufacturing shop he had audited.
The largest portion of Natoma's business comes from aircraft/avionics manufacturers. Most of these customers are in Wichita or Kansas City, each of which is about 300 miles away. Many Natoma-machined parts for commercial aircraft end up in assemblies for directional gyro systems, radar units, and flat-screen integrated cockpit panel instrumentation. When a part is destined for military use, Boller and his employees sometimes have no idea how it will be employed.
Natoma has four customers in the medical field. For two of those, the shop makes core pins and other parts for the molds that form disposable syringes. The third needs replacement parts for pharmaceutical manufacturing equipment. The fourth requires parts for a cast-cutting device.
Customers in the laboratory and environmental fields count on Natoma for the parts they need to assemble liquid chromatography instruments, probes that detect soil and groundwater contamination, and other analytical devices.
About 60% of the parts Natoma makes are aluminum, about 20% are stainless steel, and the rest are copper alloys and machinable plastics.
"A typical part weighs less than an ounce, so you're talking very small parts," Boller explains. "A ½" [12.7-mm] end mill is huge for us. Most of the time we use a ¼" [6.35-mm] or smaller end mill. With two points of contact, the RoboDrill's Big Plus spindles provide much greater rigidity than most people would ever believe— sometimes I'm amazed that we can machine such tiny parts."
Natoma has three 4-axis RoboDrill E models (the newest models available); three long-bed PC2 pallet-changer RoboDrills; three older standard RoboDrills; and a RoboDrill Mate. Half of these machines run 16 hr a day, tended by five night-shift employees. The pallet-changer models are used for parts that require machining just one surface, and for the occasional longer runs of several thousand parts at a time.
On RoboDrill-milled parts, Boller typically obtains surface finishes of 32 Rockwell, which he observes is "very good for a 30-taper machine."
The RoboDrill E model offers the speed, accuracy, and rigidity needed to machine a wide range of parts. It is capable of high-speed milling comparable to larger machines, fast drilling and tapping, and high-speed deburring. It also provides rigid tapping to 8000 rpm, peck tapping for blind holes, high-speed reverse tapping (up to 20 times faster than infeed), feedrates to 2362 ipm (60 m/min), rapid traverses to 2125 ipm (54 m/min), accelerations to 1.5 G or more, and 0.9-sec tool changes (tool-to-tool). The RoboDrill E boasts positioning accuracy of 0.0002" (0.01 mm) and repeatability of ± 0.000080" (0.002 mm).
Boller financed the early expansions primarily by selling stock to his family and friends. "I wasted a lot of time talking to bankers and other potential investors," he recalls. "They said I'd never make it because my customers would all be so far away. I proved them wrong."
Such success, of course, would not have come without careful attention to customer needs and a reputation for on-time deliveries. Boller has his own plane, so he can make a quick trip to close a deal with an old customer or to court a new one.
"The distance between us and potential customers sometimes makes it tough to get in the door at first," Boller concedes. "The good news is that our location is not a factor when it comes to freight costs. Because we're only 60 miles from the geographic center of the continental US, shipping accounts for less than 1%, on average, of the customer's total cost. We ship almost all of our parts by UPS."
Lasers Cut Medical Parts Clean
As long-run production has made a steady migration overseas, metal fabricators in the US have had to adapt to demands for shorter runs, prototyping and flexible operations. One especially promising area for manufacturers continues to be in the medical and dental device industry.
Medical and dental device manufacturers want rapid turnaround capability on short-run parts production, as well as processing that eliminates secondary steps. "The medical industry is a large part of our business, and it continues to grow each and every year," explains Jason Vining, vice president, Salem Metal Fabricators Inc. (Middleton, MA). "I certainly don't see it slowing down at this point. Demand for these machines is prevalent in society today."
Salem Metal fabricates a long list of parts for medical device makers, including internal components for defibrillator machines, parts for mobile computer carts for hospitals, and covers and cooling system components for MRI machines. The 37-year-old company acquired a Mitsubishi 3015 LVP laser machine about four and a half years ago. The 3.5-kW CO2 laser has allowed the 34-employee job shop to create and deliver parts in much less time than it took with a turret punch press, Vining says.
Laser cutting produces cleaner edges for these parts, which have to be free of the sharp edges and burrs that punching leaves behind. A full-service job shop, Salem also uses the LVP for larger-radius parts that cannot be done on the company's turrets without spending a lot of money on tooling.
Using the laser really reduces setup charges and tooling costs. Vining explains that while actual production time is longer on the laser than on his turret punch press, the edge quality of parts coming off the LVP more than makes up for the difference when secondary operations are considered.
"The deburring and cleanup after a part has been punched are a lot more labor- and time-intensive," Vining says. "Parts can pretty much come off the laser and go right to the press brake."
Mitsubishi's Diamond Path technology, which uses a U-shaped optical path to maintain a fixed beam length regardless of the cutting head's position on the table, reportedly creates cleaner, more consistent cuts throughout the cutting cycle.
In addition, the LVP's integrated beam optimizer and adaptive optics allow users that cut a variety of material types and thicknesses to get the best speed and cut quality automatically by changing the beam size to fit the application.
Salem has found that flexibility valuable. The company routinely cuts parts from aluminum, 304 and 316 stainless, mild steel, and even Hastelloy in varying thicknesses. Doing them on the LVP—as opposed to stamping them, milling them, or cutting them on the 1.8-kW laser it purchased in 1994—gives the company a wider capacity and faster production.
"We're not only cutting thicker materials, but we're cutting thinner ones three to four times faster with no decrease in quality," Vining says. "Maybe the old laser cut 1/8" [3.17-mm] aluminum at 40 ipm [1 m/min]; now we can go 160 ipm [4 m/min] on the Mitsubishi, and the quality is not compromised."
"In general, depending on the quantity we're doing and the thickness, the laser has a lot of advantages," Vining says. "If you put any waterjet against my CO2, my pile of parts is going to be a lot higher at the end of the day. If you're only cutting three pieces, it doesn't much matter. But if it's 500 pieces, there's no comparison."
Lasers offer production flexibility. Operators can dump prototype part files into the LVP's software and let the machine do the work. Prototyping can be done on the spot and design changes are readily made. In addition, lasers are so fast that within minutes, you get yourself production parts that used to take, in stamping or machining time, hours or days.
"It helps out if we're prototyping something and the customer only wants 10 pieces," Salem's Vining says. "We get a lot of prototyping work. It might take an hour to set up a turret with all the tools. Now we can have a prototype in a short amount of time."
"It [the LVP] is a very diverse machine in changing over from one application and material type and thickness to another," Hahn says. "It has been a very stable machine in production atmospheres."
The LVP can cut mild steel up to 1" (25.4-mm) thick, stainless up to ½" (12.7 mm) and aluminum up to 3/8" (9.52 mm).
For a family-owned shop such as Salem, that kind of diversity in a lower-priced machine can be attractive. "We're a job shop serving all industries," Vining says. "We try to make decisions in the best interest of the company—we generally won't choose one machine over another on just cost alone. We do all our research and figure out what would be the best machine for the company.
"One of the big factors was the cost of the machine relative to what you're getting in the machine," he says. Ever since we bought the Mitsubishi, we've been running it 50 to 60 hours a week. The laser is very busy."
When Beat Maurer and Raphael Obrecht started their grinding operation, they were well aware of the pitfalls of starting a small business. They had seen their share of small shops in the Dayton, OH, area close their doors—especially in the tool, die, and mold business.
Fast Start for New Startup
Messrs Maurer and Obrecht had worked together on Studer grinders for a number of years, just doing it for someone else—for United Grinding (Miamisburg, OH), the North American distributor for Studer AG. In January 2006, they started their own business, Complete Grinding Solutions (CGS), in a 1500 ft2 (139 m2) facility with a single Studer S40 universal grinder.
Unlike others who have gone out on their own and sever past relationships, CGS has maintained a tightly woven connection to Studer. "Anybody out there can buy a Studer and start grinding parts," Maurer says, "but the combination of the backgrounds we have and the grinding knowledge, plus knowing the machine inside out, these together with our partnership with Studer AG are the keys for our success."
Their success is based on the variety of high-end services they offer. Maurer explains there are five areas CGS focuses on: training, consulting, process development, prototyping, and small- to-large production work. He notes, however, that prototyping is a big market, and they focus very heavily on it.
"On the one hand," Maurer says, "there are job shops that run small to large-volume production. On the other hand, there are full engineering companies or OEMs, and neither of them focuses on prototyping. So, it's a niche—that and process development."
Obrecht says that very often a customer comes to them with a part he needs to have ground but doesn't know the best way to do it. So, they suggest the best alternatives to making the part, which often can result in production work for them, something they are open to.
"This can start with developing the process on our floor or theirs," Maurer says. "Then the next step would be grinding trials, tests, runoffs, and analysis of the tests. We establish grinding wheels, dressing tools, workholding, cycle times, cost-per-piece evaluations, and statistical runs. We define the best methods and parameters to make the part, whether we run the job, the customer runs it himself, or even if he has someone else run the job."
CGS focuses on high-end work, such as high-accuracy parts, or parts that are very difficult and complex parts due to size, tolerances, or surface finishes. Typical applications include grinding nonround holes inside of cylinders, OD grinding of lobes on camshafts, and the various diameters and profiles of camshafts.
Maurer says he had been with Studer for 25 years (both he and Obrecht were born in Switzerland). He began with Studer in Switzerland as an apprentice, and went on to acquire an engineering degree while still working for Studer. Then he was transferred to Studer Inc. in Connecticut, and worked there for about three years until the company was bought by the Schleifring Group, whereafter he was transferred to Miamisburg, working for United Grinding for 13 years. Obrecht has worked at the same company on Studer products for 4 ½ years.
The machine CGS has is a fully loaded Studer S40 universal grinder which, Maurer notes, is capable of doing prototype work or production work with equal facility. "It's very precise and accurate," he says. "We can do form grinding, which means we can do cam and crank grinding, any type of out-of-round grinding, as well as thread grinding, cylindrical, ID/OD grinding—the whole spectrum of cylindrical grinding. The machine combines operations very easily. We can do a form on a cam, thread on the other side, OD/IDs—all in one shot. We don't know anybody out there that can do anything like that: multiple features, multiple operations in a single setup, and a reduction in changeover time, and accuracies in millions of an inch.
"Also, the S40 is equipped with a rotary disk dresser with touch dressing, which provides the possibility to effectively dress superabrasive wheels like diamond and CBN. High frequency OD and ID spindles allow for very good process stability and control. Setup time can be reduced up to 90% by using the Studer Quickset software, keeping track of wheel, part and dressing locations."
Obrecht also points out that the S40 will pretty much grind anything: ceramics, carbide, silicon carbide, exotic materials, glass, and rubber. "We're basically capable of grinding any material out there that is grindable. If we can get it on the machine, we can grind it," he says.
One of the beauties of running a Studer S40, Maurer says, is its great flexibility. "Today," he says, "we might be running a shaft, next week an aerospace component. In the same week we'll do a spindle for a machine tool builder in Taiwan, and the following week we will start grinding toolholders. Speaking of toolholders, we are also capable of grinding Capto adapters due to our machine's high accuracy C axis."
Something substantial has happened since 9/11, says Maurer. "I believe that one thing is that the big companies have shifted everything down to the smaller companies, the tier ones and tier twos. And that means these tier suppliers have done the same things to their suppliers, the smaller job shops. And all these companies at all levels have let people go, from engineers to process-development people. So the larger companies are relying more and more on the OEMs to provide the support they used to have internally. A customer may come to Miamisburg and say, we want to buy a Studer from you, but we need to have you do the prototyping and process development and so forth. This is where we can step in and do some of the work for them, and we do this parallel to their machine sale."
Maurer says that occasionally a customer may have a grinder that is temporarily down, and while that's being worked on, CGS can then run production for that customer. In other cases, a machine may come in that's bound for China. "We will do development work here and then follow the machine to where ever it will go, where we'll do development work and prove out the process, and provide consulting and training there," Maurer says. "Basically we can run with the ball from A to Z."
Maurer notes that they do grinding training using their own Studer on their floor, or at the customer site. "We do quite a bit of field training," he says. "But one of the sad things is that grinding isn't taught at any college or vocational schools. And when it is taught, the methods and machines are predictably out of date. We're trying to change that by hooking up with schools and offering grinding seminars. It's very important to spread the grinding word, to try to get young people interested in this technology. The sky's the limit. Grinding can be, and is, a very rewarding career."
This article was first published in the July 2007 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.