Chris Koepfer

Chris Koepfer has been involved in metalworking for 30 years. His first 14 were in the machine tool group at Cincinnati Milacron where he honed his technical writing skills in turning, machining and grinding before joining Modern Machine Shop in 1992 as an associate editor. In 2001, he helped found MMS’ sister publication Production Machining, which speaks to the precision machined parts segment of the industry. Chris is graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, as are three of his four children, and an XU basketball fan—which can be as daunting as working in metalworking, he says.

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 21. November 2014

'Make the Leap' at Okuma's Technology Showcase Event


A trip to Okuma headquarters in Charlotte, depending on where you live, might be a respite come December 9-10 when the company hosts its technology showcase. It is also an excellent chance to see demonstrations of technology upgrades to make CNC machines and their operators more productive, and thus your company more profitable.

Demos include two- and four-axes lathes cutting side by side to show advantages of four-axis turning for the right applications. Also being shown are comparison applications between HMC and VMC machining centers.

The event includes a facility tour and an opportunity to interact with Okuma’s Partners in Thinc, who represent tooling, gaging, workholding and automation, as well as ways to integrate these peripherals. Click here to learn more.   

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 14. November 2014

A Visit to Robot Land

While visiting the Taiwan Machine Tool Show (TMTS), which recently took place in Taichung, I received a tour of Hiwin’s booth. Taiwan headquartered Hiwin is a premier global manufacturer of motion control and systems technology. Its U.S. headquarters is in Elgin, Illinois.

In one of the larger booths at the show, Hiwan demonstrated the breadth of its involvement in actuation, robotics and medical applications. Some of the demonstrations were quite clever, catching my attention as well as the attention of many of the other 70,000 show attendees. Here's a short slideshow that illustrates some of the activities on display in the booth.

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 7. November 2014

A New Facility from the Old

Well done, Sandvik! The $26 million redevelopment of the company’s headquarters in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, represents continued strong commitment to the U.S. market. 


Back in 1955, Sandvik was one of the original businesses to invest in the newly developed Fair Lawn, New Jersey, industrial park. Since then, thousands of customers and employees have visited the facility.

Time marches on, and the original buildings aged. They aged to a point where something needed to be done. So new buildings were reconstructed and recently completed.

Last month, PM traveled to Fair Lawn to celebrate the company’s grand opening of its new headquarters. What’s interesting is the new headquarters facility was constructed on a portion of the original building footprint.

The new headquarters is a 100,000-square-foot facility that contains a combination of modern office space, modern equipped meeting rooms and a Productivity Center. It also houses an ITAR-certified Aerospace Application Center with machining capacity for customer training, engineering and process development.

For those of us who visited the old facility, this is a shining example of remodeling on steroids. They did a fabulous job—even adding a second floor where there was none. The next 60 years for Sandvik in the U.S. will begin in very nice digs. 


Posted by: Chris Koepfer 31. October 2014

PMPA Stakes Out East and West Coasts for Mini-Technical Conferences


The Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) is presenting two technical conferences in November: one in California and one in Connecticut. These are open to all precision machined products manufacturers, although seating is limited.

The first takes place over 2 days—Thursday, Nov. 6, and Friday, Nov. 7, at Sandvik Coromant’s Productivity Center in Anaheim, California. A second conference will be held at REM Sales in Windsor, Connecticut, on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Each conference will cover a variety of topics germane to manufacturers of precision machined parts. Topics will vary between the two conferences and have been selected to reflect manufacturing concerns of the two regions.

The idea of mini-technical conferences comes out of the Association’s National Technical Conference that has been held annually for many years. The hope is to bring the success of this program to a wider audience of manufacturers looking to improve how they get the job done.

For more information on the West Coast conference, click here

For more information on the East Coast conference, click here. 


Posted by: Chris Koepfer 24. October 2014

Reshoring Optimism

By effectively consolidating its 105,000 sq. ft. shop, TCI Precision Metals created 20,000 sq.ft. of additional manufacturing capacity.


Gardena, California-based TCI Precision Metals is ready for reshoring. The company recently announced a major shopfloor reconfiguration to free up manufacturing space for the influx on new business coming back to the U.S. from overseas.TCI was founded in 1956 and is a third-generation family business. It specializes in machine-ready precision blanks from aluminum, stainless and other materials for metalworking shops. It also provides contract manufacturing services, and it is in this area of the business that the reshoring is having an impact.

According to the company, contract manufacturers and job shops must provide the extended value necessary for OEMs to realize sustained benefits of onshore manufacturing versus offshore. That’s been the driver for TCI to reconfigure its shop floor, which has freed up 20,000 square feet for value added operations, including sub and final assembly.

Evaluating work flow, reducing bottle necks and rationalizing cellular and other in-process opportunities helped the company generate the additional manufacturing floor space with its 105,000-square-foot building. By “moving the furniture around,” the investment is significantly lower than building on or building new.

It may be worth noting for other shops that there may be such opportunities within one's existing plant. Click here to learn more about TCI.


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