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 26. September 2014

Swiss Laser was a Hit

Tsugami’s Swiss Laser demo was popular at IMTS. 

No, I’m not talking about the Hadrian Collider. It’s the new Tsugami S206-II, which debuted to enthusiastic crowds at IMTS earlier this month.

Using the in-house development resources at Rem Sales, which is the exclusive N.A. importer of Tsugami Swiss-type lathes, its sister company, Innovative Machinery Group, designed, built and integrated a laser to augment the new Tsugami Swiss.

This is not an accessory or add-on, says Product Manager Dale White. It adds fully programmable cutting capability to the six-axis capability of the S206-II: Chalk it up to another step in multitasking machine tool technology.

By adding a laser to a Swiss machine, the company is targeting the medical device market, but it’s fully able cut intricate and precise small parts for other industries. Click here to read more information on the machine. One prediction I’ll confidently make: There will be other Swiss lasers from other builders. 

Close-up of the Swiss Laser work zone.  

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 19. September 2014

VIDEO: My 15 Minutes of Fame

Andy Warhol is credited for saying, "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes." Mine came at the recently concluded IMTS in Chicago.

Several of us editor types put down our pens and picked up a microphone. The interviews were shown on giant screens throughout McCormick Place. Basically, the hosts at IMTS wanted to get our take on what’s happening in the manufacturing segments that each of our publications cover. Mine, of course, is the precision machined parts industry.

It was fun to change the pace from print to TV, although standing there talking is not as easy as it might seem. I’m proud to say that my interview was done in one take.

Although I could argue my face is better suited to radio, I enjoyed my brief time in the spotlight. Click here and let me know what you think. 

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 9. September 2014

Micro-Drilling Demo and More at IMTS Booth S-8536

Precision micro-drilling of deep holes on display at Absolute Machine Tools' booth. 

Stop by the Absolute Machine Tools booth in the South hall (S-8536)—you’re going to like what you see. The company offers a demo of deep-hole drilling on AR/15 gun barrels using its line of Precihole machines, which are designed for micro-drilling and hole finishing for various industries, but are especially geared toward medical implants. 

Gundrilling produces straight, accurate deep holes and is preferred to produce holes with length-to-diameter rations of ten or more. It’s ideal for cannulated medical parts, intramedullary devices such as nails and screws, as well a cannulated drills. These precision parts require a high degree of accuracy for holes as small as 1 mm in diameter.

For production of Swiss-type parts, Absolute is demonstrating the Nexturn line of sliding headstock machines. It is turning and milling a gun revolver to illustrate the versatility of this 32-mm, 9-axis machine. Swiss-type machining is hot at the show, so you don’t want to miss this example.

When you stop by the booth, your hostess (she’s in the skeleton outfit) will show you around. That, too, is well worth a visit.  

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 5. September 2014

Lights-Out Machining Season

Automatic loading whether chucked or bar fed is critical to long run lights out production. 

Fall is approaching with shorter days and longer nights. Many shops look to lights-out manufacturing in hopes of maximizing effective long overnight part runs.

In January, Production Machining published a primer on what steps to take for establishing a checklist to succeed with lights-out machining. Click here to read the article. There are many advantages in addition to reduced labor costs that come with untended or lightly tended operation.

However, there are considerations that must be taken into account, some of which are not all that obvious. If you are looking to implement lights-out manufacturing in your shop, this article is a helpful place to start the exercise.

Not every job qualifies for lights-out and understanding the difference between what parts work versus those that are less likely candidates can save a lot of time and expense. 


Posted by: Chris Koepfer 29. August 2014

Mastercam is in the Cloud


CNC Software Inc., developers of Mastercam CAD/CAM software, has partnered with Machining Cloud GmbH to provide Mastercam users direct access to the cutting tool product data available on the cloud. The idea is to reduce the frustration and time associated with obtaining the tooling information needed for their programming, simulation and other shopfloor activities.

Machining Cloud's mission is to provide the manufacturing community a single source of access to complete and up-to-date product data from the leading manufacturers of cutting tools, machine tools and workholding. Through the Machining Cloud tablet and desktop apps, Mastercam users will have access to a rich set of software features, including cutting tool selector, configurator and advisor. Upon completion of the interface, the cutting tool manufacturers’ descriptive, usage and geometric information, and application knowledge will be readily available for users to directly apply to their Mastercam system.

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