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 29. July 2016

Company Circa 1860 Offers a Lesson in Success


For 156 years, Wilson Bohannan has manufactured brass padlocks. It has been in business continuously since 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected president. That’s quite an accomplishment. It has survived by using innovation and making continuous technological investments.

We featured this unique company several times; the latest article was on its newest investment in CNC rotary transfer equipment from Hydromat. Years earlier, I visited the company to discuss its investment in a CNC multi-spindle machine. 

The company is a legacy and a lesson for American business success. The family-owned company is currently run by Howard Smith, a 42-year veteran of the padlock wars and a member of the 6th generation to head the company. Read a column by Mr. Smith here.  

Visit “An American Success Story,” and "Making Locks Since Lincoln" to read the stories we’ve published about this iconic company. 

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 25. July 2016

Metrology Looks at Industry 4.0

With only a portable CMM arm and laptop on the shop floor, machine parts can be scanned with the data points sent upstream for instant analysis, comparison with the CAD data, the CAM program, comparable machines in the shop producing the same or similar parts and other action items in an information stream. 

In our February issue, we took a look at Industry 4.0, also called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) from the perspective of metrology. This article, contributed by Steve Young and Dean Solberg, co-owners of Exact Metrology, examines how the data that is collected on the shop floor can be used by company management on the top floor to make the right decisions for the company’s success.

Every shop makes parts, but making them correctly is the role of measurement and inspection. Yes, it’s a cost, but it is also really a benchmark of how well or poorly the manufacturing process is being implemented. Scrap costs money too, and scrap in the customer’s hands can be even more costly.

The measurement tools available to shops today are remarkable in their sophistication and ease of use. Collecting “big data” from these devices can help shops make the best decisions on how they manufacture and apply those decisions to efficiency and productivity on the shop floor.

Click here to read the full article, "Industry 4.0 Through Metrology's Eyes."

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 15. July 2016

Insight into Minimum Quantity Lubrication

Minimum quality lubrication can be used to reduce machining costs and improve tool life for many applications.

In our May issue, Senior Editor Chris Felix wrote a good article about minimum quantity lubrication, (MQL). I like it because it covers the pros and cons of this emerging approach to metalworking fluids technology.

The article is the result of an interview with Dr. Radu Pavel who is chief technology officer at TechSolve Inc. and Optis LLC. He focuses on process design and optimization as well process monitoring and control.

MQL is not a new idea, but over time it has become much more refined and much better applied. Dr. Pavel discusses these developments in depth through his interview with Chris.

It’s a worthy topic for metalworking shops in large part for the cost savings and quality issues its implementation can bring to the party. Read the entire feature titled “A Foundation for Minimum Quality Lubrication.” 

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 8. July 2016

Millennials: We Can’t Live Without Them

Nate Ruhenkamp is a millennial making a difference in manufacturing.

A couple of months ago at a PMPA local chapter meeting, I met a young man named Nate Ruhenkamp. Nate is director of sales and marketing for a metalworking operation, Ashley Ward, in Mason, Ohio. He’s a millennial, and we had a great discussion about why and how he got into this business.

Actually, he reminded me of a much younger me. His story is one that is being repeated in shops across the country, as efforts by our industry and trade associations such as PMPA, begin to bear fruit by educating people like Nate about the career opportunities in manufacturing.

I asked Nate to contribute a guest column for PM in our July issue, and I think he did a great job. In the article, he says, “Unlike many other industries that only provide jobs, manufacturing provides careers.” Pretty good insight for a youngster.

Click here to read the entire column.

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 1. July 2016

Biennial Biorhythms

IMTS 2016 is right around the corner: Sept. 12-17 in Chicago.

Every two years, the metalworking industry gathers in Chicago for North America’s biggest ta-do. I’ve attended IMTS uninterrupted since 1980. For me, it has become as much a reunion with longtime friends and colleagues as it is technology testimony.  It’s really both. My career is measured by IMTS. It is how I mark time.

With each edition, AMT - The Association for Manufacturing Technology, the show’s sponsor, comes up with new ways to capture attendees' attention and help them become better informed about the manufacturing world we inhabit. In my many years of attending this event, one thing stands out huge: manufacturing is not stagnant. It is ever-changing and evolving, which demands staying on top of technology.

I’ve been told by my many mentors that showing up is 80 percent of the work we do. I believe this is true and my recommendation to each of you is to show up at McCormick Place in September. It’s as good as we get, and the take away is well worth the trip. Click here to learn more.


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