Miles Free

As Director of Technology and Industry Research for PMPA, Miles brings 38 years of hands-on experience in areas of manufacturing, quality and steelmaking. He helps answer "HOW?","WITH WHAT?" and "REALLY?"

Posted by: Miles Free 14. October 2014

PMPA Member Attracting Talent to Manufacturing

Manufacturing Day event at Bracalente Manufacturing Group. Real People. Real jobs.

PMPA member Bracalente Manufacturing Group held its first MFG Day event recently. Students got to see first-hand what a career in precision machining could look like. The event helped to change the conversation regarding the need for skilled people in advanced manufacturing companies like Bracalente Group.

Bracalente Group’s Trumbauersville, Pennsylvania, event hosted 120 nineth graders, 20 students from the local vocational/technical school, and 90 students from the new STEM program.

The STEM program is a college preparatory class structure for kids who are interested in engineering and technology.

This video highlights the event.

PMPA member companies across the U.S. and Canada joined Bracalente in helping to change the conversation regarding options for satisfying, well paying technical careers. What are you doing to change the conversation?

Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 7. October 2014

Don’t Burn the Tool

A bit of circa 1965 “Knowledge Retention” from the archives of Lester Detterbeck Enterprises Ltd.

If a tool gets too hot to hold while grinding, you have already ruined it. You knew that, right? By the time the heat gets to your hands and is too hot to hold, you have already lost the temper on the edge being ground. If you then put it in water to cool it down, depending on the material grade, the water quench is likely to help form untempered martensite, a brittle microstructure.

The tool will lose properties and fail in very short order, often with catastrophic consequences. The point of grinding is to take small amounts of removal by abrasion, not to create lots of heat by hogging the material off.

Heat treated tools are actually very sophisticated system involving the interaction of material chemistry, microstructure, mechanical properties (including hardness) and design.

Out of control grinding practices can destroy this system with a single temperature excursion above the tool’s last tempering temperature and formation of untempered martensite by water quenching.

Thanks to John Detterbeck at Lester Detterbeck Enterprises Ltd. for sharing the above cartoon and confirming the failure mode.


This article was originally posted on blog.

Posted by: Miles Free 23. September 2014

OSHA: Requirements Change for Reporting Fatalities and Severe Injuries


Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within 8 hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA’s regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule.

The final rule was announced by OSHA on September 11. The rule also updates the list of employers partially exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements.

This new, final rule enters into effect January 1, 2015. Link here to pre-publication text of final rule. After publication, the final rule can be accessed from here or through the Federal Register website.

In a final rule posted in the Federal Register on September 11, OSHA has also updated the list of industries that, because of relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The rule will go into effect January 1, 2015, for workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction.

Regardless, all employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA’s new severe injury and illness reporting requirements.

OSHA’s web page on the revised rule. 


Originally posted on blog

Posted by: Miles Free 16. September 2014

Manufacturing in Northern Michigan Sees Strongest Growth in Years

Great news for manufacturing in Northern Michigan, according to KSP’s Kevin Schlueter.

Kevin Schlueter, president of PMPA member company Kalkaska Screw Products Inc.  (KSP), was featured on UpNorthLive, a news and information website covering Northern Michigan. Kalkaska Screw’s newsworthy subject: Manufacturing in Northern Michigan growing strongest in years.

“There’s a lot of great manufacturing that’s taking place in this area,” Kevin Schlueter, Kalkaska’s president and CEO, says. “Not just in the Kalkaska area, but in the greater Traverse City area, there’s some amazing manufacturing going on.”

We know there is some amazing manufacturing going on at KSP, where they ship more than 2.8 million high tech, high precision, often human safety critical parts (automotive brake, passenger restraint, and airbag parts, among others) each month. 

Kalkaska Screw Products has added almost 20 jobs this year and is looking to add ten more. An employee-owned (ESOP) company, currently KSP has 91 employees and is the top employer in Kalkaska County.

“To add that many jobs and to help out the community is something we’re really proud of,” Mr. Schlueter says. “We need more employees. We ship about 2.8 million parts per month, and so we need the right number of employees to get that work done.”

Yesterday, the ISM PMI report for August was released showing “the highest recorded New Orders Index since April 2004, when it registered 67.1 percent.”

Employment prospects for PMPA-member shops remain high, with 96 percent of responding companies expecting employment prospects to remain the same or increase throughout the next 3 months.

Thanks to Kalkaska Screw Products Inc. President Kevin Schlueter for helping get the word out that manufacturing is thriving and that we have great career opportunities in our shops for people “making things that make a difference.”

And thanks to UpNorthLive for the great story.


Originally posted on blog. 

Posted by: Miles Free 2. September 2014

Grinding Advice for Safety

Miles Free

Our post on "No Gloves When Working on Grinders" has prompted a number of responses. Here are some additional reasons why you should not need gloves when working on grinders and grinding machines.

Issue: There are sharp edges or burrs that will cut me if I hold the part. The grinding will be to remove the burrs.

Response: Use a file to knock down the burrs so that you can safely hold the part for grinding, or use leather finger cots to grip the part for grinding.

Issue: The part gets too hot to hold.

Response: Then you are grinding wrong. Here is a list of some of the things that can go wrong by letting the heat of grinding get out of control:

  • Remove the temper from steel. Especially on tools, loss of temper means loss of tool hardness and edge life. A drop from Rc63 to about Rc48 for a couple of tenths (0.0002-0.0005) can contribute to side wear and edge failure.
  • Crazing or checking on carbide can be caused by burning during grinding.
  • Work hardening. Overly shiny surfaces are usually the clue that work hardening has occurred.
  • Creation of untempered martensite.

Untempered martensite can be formed in high carbon and alloy steels by getting high surface temperature from grinding—red heat—then quenching in water. Untempered martensite is very brittle and reduces toughness.

Keeping the work cool continuously while grinding is an important aspect of preventing damage to work, the wheel, and injury from occurring to the worker. Hogging off material and infrequently quenching is a great way to destroy a tool by grinding.

Water needs to be plentiful to absorb the heat from grinding, and frequently used to reduce heat buildup in the work.

Take multiple small passes and cool in between in a large bath of water while grinding to minimize heat buildup.

Wearing the required PPE, making sure the grinding wheel is properly dressed, all guards are in place and properly adjusted are also key to safe grinding in our shops.

Bottom line: If the work is too hot for your fingers, it may be approaching the danger zone regarding loss of mechanical properties and function in end use.


Originally posted on blog.


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