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. May 2015

Additive Manufacturing on the Shop Floor

Additive manufacturing in production at C&A Tool. ​

Founded in 1969 as a tool and die maker, C&A Tool (Churubusco, Indiana) has grown to 700,000 square feet of manufacturing space and more than 560 employees. This growth is a reflection of owner Richard Conrow’s, continued investment in technology to serve the company’s varied customer base in medical, aerospace, industrial and fuels systems markets. 

Eight years ago, Mr. Conrow invested in additive technology. He was an early adopter, but could see the technology’s potential as a manufacturing game changer.

C&A recently added two new machines from EOS to the company’s stable of additive manufacturing machines, bringing the total to eight. These are not lab machines—they are production machines capable of manufacturing parts in titanium, aluminum, stainless, cobalt, chrome and Inconel.

Additive manufacturing (AM)—also known as 3D printing, freeform fabrication and laser sintering—is an emerging technology defined by ASTM Committee F42 as the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. C&A continues to build on its experience using and refining the process to produce parts. They are way beyond potential.

According to Rich Stephenson, additive development representative, “Additive technology will enable the customer to have freedom of design, because it is design-driven manufacturing instead of manufacturing-driven design. This technology enables the development of parts to be more durable by eliminating welds used in traditional methods. The parts can be more cost-effective and can be grown to eliminate assembly operations, resulting in time savings. It’s also a greener alternative to traditional manufacturing, with little to none material waste. And this technology can also help eliminate the need for some inventory by being able to manufacture parts in small lots, even as small as one (1) in a short amount of time.”

There is much interest throughout the precision machined parts industry about AM. C&A is at the forefront of its successful application. Click here to learn more about EOS AM equipment, and click here to learn more about C&A Tool. 

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 22. May 2015

150 Years on and Still Geared for Growth


William Gleason’s company celebrates 150 years. 

Gleason Corporation marks a significant milestone in 2015--its 150th anniversary. Founded in 1865 in Rochester, New York, Gleason is a global leader in gear production technology.

Born in Ireland in 1836, founder William Gleason believed that the post-Civil War railroad expansion in the U.S. pointed to metalworking and machinery as keys to the future. Gleason started a one-room shop with a handful of employees in 1865 and by 1875 he acquired the Kidd Iron Works. 

This move, along with patents he received for several developments, allowed Gleason to focus on the business of gear machining processes. In 1874, Gleason invented the first bevel gear planer, modernizing the gear-making process and spurring a new industry– bevel gears. 

From the start, William Gleason recognized the growth opportunities represented by overseas markets. The first bevel gear cutting machine sold overseas went to Italy in 1877. His daughter, Kate, shared her father’s business vision for international markets, securing orders from England, Scotland, France and Germany during her first trip abroad in 1893.

To commemorate the sesquicentennial milestone, Gleason will host a number of events throughout the year at various global sites, highlighted by a Gala Celebration Event in June for employees, customers, suppliers and community representatives, and the Gear Solutions Forum, a major educational event for customers and other invited guests, displaying the latest in gear technology, in September. Both of these events will take place in Rochester, New York.

More information on Gleason’s 150th anniversary is available on Gleason's website

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 15. May 2015

Add This to your Additive Quest

Among the four keynote speakers at the Additive Manufacturing Conference will be Jay Rodgers whose company, Local Motors, produced the first 3D printed car.  

If ever there was an industry buzz, and I’ve seen many, it’s fair to say few have matched additive manufacturing. It’s become technology that many shops feel compelled to know more about.

This might be your chance. Beginning on October 20, an opportunity to learn more about this emerged technology is being held for 2 days at the exhibition hall in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Additive Manufacturing Conference, presented by our sister publication, Modern Machine Shop, in cooperation with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will feature four unique keynote addresses focused on the application of AM technologies for making functional components and end-use production parts.

Oak Ridge’s Dr. Lonnie Love will open the conference discussing how his team is “Breaking Barriers in Additive Manufacturing.” Attendees will also be offered a tour of the nearby Oak Ridge’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

Following Dr. Love’s opening address will be Dr. Jason Jones, an international AM award winner from Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies. His address, “Hybrid CNC Machines: A New Platform for AM,” will explore the possibilities of making, repairing and improving parts through hybrid process.

Closing out day one of the conference will be Greg Morris, GE Aviation additive lead, who will report on GE’s advancements in AM for the aviation field.

Day 2 opens with Local Motors CEO Jay Rodgers. His company has received national and international attention for producing the first 3D printed car, which was highlighted and driven at IMTS 2014.

These keynotes are being brought together to report on the state of current AM technology and its applications within the manufacturing arena. For those curious about AM, it will be time well spent. Click here for more information on the agenda and registration details. 

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 7. May 2015

Automation for 100 Years


A century in business, any business, is a major milestone. De-Sta-Co celebrates its centenary throughout 2015 with online history milestones and celebrations at various trade shows.

Founded in 1915 as the Detroit Stamping Company, De-Sta-Co, found early success providing the burgeoning automotive market with contract stamping as well as die and machining services. To simplify fixturing of auto bodies and other materials on the line, the company developed the original manual toggle clamp that remains a go-to workholding device today.

Through the years, the company has expanded its product line to reflect changes in the manufacture of automobiles, including robot end effectors and other automation tools. Today, it is a global company serving the automotive industries in all major countries.

Additional information and historic photos are available by clicking here. Congratulations to the management and employees of this venerable Detroit-based institution. 

Posted by: Chris Koepfer 1. May 2015

It's an App World, Even Ours

Machine tool apps are finding their way onto the shop floor through various devises including the machine’s CNC.  

In all walks of life these days, apps are springing up to make life easier and more productive. Machining businesses increasingly are no exception.

A new white paper published by Okuma America, titled "Machine Tool Apps: A Manufacturing Definition," explores how apps that are ubiquitous in people’s personal lives are increasingly being created to assist manufacturers by improving their business lives.

Apps for machine tools are, like most, easily accessible and can be customized to reflect the machining needs of individual companies. They can improve communication, improve quality and help optimize productivity in small, medium and large machine shops.

To this end, Okuma has established an app store that centralizes machine tool apps and related content for the metalworking industry. Click here to down load a copy of the white paper. To access the app store, click here.  

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