Most machine shops have, at some point, felt the pains from the labor shortage. In July 2019, nearly a half of million manufacturing jobs were left unfilled. Skilled manufacturing and machining jobs are becoming increasingly more challenging to fill, and the skills gap is widening. According to a recent study conducted by Deloitte & The MFG Institute by 2028, we could see 2.4M open positions in the U.S. manufacturing industry due to talent shortage.
Additive Manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, builds parts through a CAD generated 3D model by adding single layers of material and fusing the layers together. AM first emerged in 1987 and has been steadily growing ever since, with more leaps and bounds in recent years. We identify the seven AM processes and their advantages and disadvantages.
The key to having an optimal finished part starts with choosing the right material. By narrowing down the types of machining materials that are best suited for the part will lead to the selection of the most appropriate and cost-effective material. Here are a few things to consider when selecting materials.
As we launched our new blog in early 2019, we posted topics focusing on information relevant to a variety of industries. As we venture into the new decade, we will continue on this path and provide insights on topics that are important to the industries we serve. We are pleased to share the top Blog Posts from 2019.
More and more machine shops are moving to unattended or lights out machining to stay competitive. Having more production hours means higher output and additional revenue. At the Top Shops Conference, we learned that the top 25 percent of machine shops are running 14 hours a day, while the bottom 25 percent are only running 8 hours a day. On average, profit margins in machine shops running lights out were 3 percent higher than those who were not.
Most experienced machinists have seen at least one fire on the job. Cutting metals at high speeds creates plenty of opportunities for sparks to ignite flammable materials. Many fires in machine shops are preventable, either by minimizing sparks or making sure they do not ignite flammable materials. But mistakes can happen. Our analysis of 24 fires in machine shops shows that one mistake, in particular, causes almost 30% of all fires.
We are entering the era of 5-axis machining. Between increased competition, Industry 4.0, and the continual widening of the skilled labor gap, the machining industry is seeing some rapid changes around the technology used on the shop floor. The demand for 5-axis machining is higher than ever. In 2020, sales in 5-axis vertical machines are expected to increase by 18%, and 5-axis horizontal machines are expected to increase by 20%.
Eventually, even with the best coolant management plan in place, coolant will go bad and requires removal and replacement. Once the coolant reaches its useful life, it needs to be disposed of appropriately. With stricter environmental regulations, the burden is put on the machine shop to determine if the coolant and other materials are considered hazardous or nonhazardous waste. The machine shop must test the waste materials or have the necessary information about the waste to assess its status.
Many machine shops never recover after a fire while others, even those that incur significant fire damage, get up and running successfully. What sets these two types of shops apart? Recovery and disaster planning are contributing factors. Having a fire recovery plan in place is crucial to ensuring the survival of your shop. If fire strikes, damage to equipment and property are not the only losses.
Between $100M-$500M worth of machine value is lost each year due to improper machine coolant management. Coolant management mistakes can decrease the working life of a machine up to 10% per year. Having a robust coolant management plan keeps your coolant from going bad and significantly reduces lost value and downtime of machines.
Coolants are an instrumental part of machining, including grinding, milling, and turning. They help extend tool life and provide an improved surface finish of the parts being machined. Understanding the role and types of coolant help you select a coolant that is the right fit for your machine and operation. By properly maintaining the concentration levels of your coolant, you extend not only the life of the coolant but also your tools and machine.
You may be aware that 37 countries have signed on to adopt the UNECE R107 regulation. This rule is intended to make bus transport safer by reducing the risk of catastrophic bus engine fires. When a bus fire starts in an engine, the driver and passengers often don’t realize the danger until the fire has already grown very large. That’s why UNECE R107 requires installation of automatic fire suppression systems in bus engines.