Posted by: Chris Koepfer 5. February 2016

Sandvik Coromant Acquires Process Control and Monitoring Solutions Supplier


Strengthening its offering in the digital manufacturing arena, Sandvik Coromant has acquired German (Aachen) based Promotec GmbH. Promotec is a solutions supplier for monitoring and process control for production machines.

According to Sandvik Coromant, the acquisition is a step in the company’s long-term strategy to develop solutions in the burgeoning field of digital manufacturing that includes the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. The addition of monitoring and process control dovetails with Sandvik’s existing product lines and will position the company to better participate in digital manufacturing, which is growing. 

Posted by: Steve Kline, Jr. 4. February 2016

Gardner Business Index for Precision Machining: January - 43.4


With a reading of 43.4, the Gardner Business Index showed that the precision machining industry contracted for the 10th month in a row. However, the index has improved notably the previous two months.

New orders have contracted 10 consecutive months. In January, they contracted at a noticeably slower rate for the second month in a row. Production contracted for the eighth straight month. Like new orders, the production index has improved markedly the previous two months. Generally, the new orders index has been lower than the production index for the previous 22 months. Therefore, the backlog index contracted for the 17th month in a row. While the backlog index had been contracting at an accelerating rate, the index improved significantly in January, indicating that backlogs contracted at a much slower rate this month. Employment contracted for the sixth consecutive month, but the index has improved since October. Because of the strong dollar, the export index has contracted since March 2014. Supplier deliveries lengthened for the first time since July last year. This indicates that activity in the supply chain is picking up.

The material prices index contracted for the seventh month in a row. The index has declined since June 2014, and it has been in a virtual free-fall since June last year. Prices received at machine shops decreased for the sixth time in eight months. In January, prices received decreased at their fastest rate since the survey began in December 2011. After improving the previous two months, future business expectations softened somewhat in January.

Facilities with more than 250 employees expanded at a significant rate in January after contracting three of the previous four months. Plants with 100-249 employees grew at a strong rate for the second month in a row. Mid-size facilities, those with 20-99 employees, have contracted at a fairly consistent rate since September. Companies with fewer than 20 employees continued to contract, but in January, they contracted at their slowest rate since September. 

The Southeast region was the only region to expand in January, ending its period of contraction at three months. The Southeast was the best performing region in January as well. Every other region had an index of 44.3 or lower. From slowest to fastest contraction, the regions were the North Central-East, Northeast, North Central-West, West, and South Central. 

Future capital spending plans were less than $400,000 per plant for the second month in a row. This was well below the historic average. However, compared with one year ago, future spending plans were down only 0.5 percent. This was the first time future capital spending plans contracted less than 33 percent since June 2015.  



Posted by: Chris Felix 3. February 2016

IMTS 2016 Registration is Open


Registration and Visitor Housing for this year’s leading industrial manufacturing event, IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show, is now open. Manufacturing professionals across the globe will gather at Chicago’s McCormick Place, September 12-17, 2016, seeking to explore the latest in manufacturing technologies and innovative manufacturing trends. Registration includes floor access to 1.256 million net square feet of exhibits. This includes five co-located shows, making IMTS 2016 one of the largest in show history. Visit and to begin planning your IMTS 2016 experience.

More than 2,000 companies will exhibit, and anticipated registrants will exceed 120,000 buyers and sellers of machine tools, controls, computers, software, components, systems and processes. The five co-located shows, which are organized by Hanover Fairs, USA, include the following: Industrial Automation North America; Motion, Drive & Automation North America; Surface Technology North America; ComVac North America and Industrial Supply North.

Through August 12, individual registration is $45 per person; group registration (five or more) is $30 per person. Beginning August 13, registration increases to $65 for an individual and $45 for each group member. “Discounts for groups are offered to encourage companies to send their manufacturing teams. Company groups gain a broader perspective by gathering ideas from varying viewpoints—engineers, machinists, managers, executives—to shape the future of the technology in their factory,” says Peter R. Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions & Communications at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which produces IMTS.

New for 2016, AMT members have complimentary registration through August 12. On August 13, pricing will be $35. International visitors and students have complimentary registration.

IMTS, in cooperation with Connections Housing (the only housing provider) today opened its reserved housing block to visitors. IMTS specially contracts the lowest room rates during the event, guarantees your room and offers free shuttle service to and from McCormick Place for all hotels within the IMTS Hotel Block.

“Do not wait to book your hotel room,” cautions Mr. Eelman. “Because of the size and popularity of IMTS, literally every hotel room in Chicago will be occupied. Even months before the show, you may not find a room downtown.” 

Posted by: Russ Willcutt 1. February 2016

Investing in Innovation

Brendan Slabe uses his shop’s 3D printer to produce prototypes of a piece at each stage of the machining process to enhance discussions between engineers, operators and customers.

Only a week after Slabe Machine Products (SMP) of Willoughby, Ohio, purchased its first tabletop-mounted robotic arm, Karthik Mellechervu—a young engineer with the company—had already utilized it as the centerpiece of a system designed to coat finished parts. He first determined the components he’d need for such a system, such as a gravity-fed ramp for positioning parts within the robot’s reach, and then he grew them on the company’s 3D printer. “We bought the robot just to see what we could do with it,” according to Brendan Slabe, vice president of sales and marketing. “All we had to do was put it in Karthik’s hands and he was off and running.”

Mr. Slabe discovered the value of investing in new technologies—new to the company, at least—almost two decades ago, when SMP purchased its first Swiss-type lathe about 20 years ago. “It immediately opened our eyes to the value of making a part complete on a single machine,” he recalls. “It changed the whole way we think about machining.”

He also uses the 3D printer to simplify and clarify prototyping. Rather than producing a prototype of the proposed finished part, he grows parts at each phase of the machining process to support discussions between engineers, operators and customers as to the best method for reaching the desired goal. Read this article to learn more about SMP’s approach to Swiss-type machining. 

Karthik Mellechervu and Brendan Slabe discuss the details of an automated coating system, with components made by 3D printing. 

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 29. January 2016

A Good Year for NIMS Means a Good Year for Us



NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills) posted its most successful year in 2015. The organization awarded a record number of credentials to individuals seeking to enter or advance in manufacturing jobs.

This is good news for the manufacturing community, which is desperately seeking skilled workers to fill vacant positions across the spectrum of manufacturing. Last year, NIMS issued 21,420 industry-recognized credentials, with 18,901 of them issued in the United States, a 20 percent increase over 2014.

Granted, these numbers are a drop in the bucket compared with the demand, but what is encouraging is the trend line seems to be moving upwards. “These jobs will require more advanced skills, particularly around the use of technology, so training candidates to industry standards is imperative,” says Jim Wall, executive director at NIMS. 

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