Lori Beckman

Lori has been working “behind the scenes” of Production Machining since 2003, writing and editing the Products, News and Case in Point sections of the magazine, editing other staff members’ articles, and more recently, writing a column for PM’s e-newsletter, Inbox Insights. She began her journalism career in the trucking industry, writing technical articles for two trade publications. She has a B.A. in Communications from the University of Dayton.

Posted by: Lori Beckman 28. September 2015

When our Eyes Deceive Us, We can Rely on Superfinishing


I’m always fascinated by what we cannot see with the human eye. As complex as they are, our eyes cannot see the smallest valleys and peaks on metal surfaces, for example. But when we know this ruggedness is present on a microscopic level after metal removal, it is important to make these surfaces as smooth as possible to make the contact area between mating parts more stable.

This process, known as superfinishing or microfinishing, is a secondary operation that follows grinding or hard turning operations as a last surface preparation operation. The process removes surface finish peaks and provides a good load-bearing surface of undisturbed base metal, hardness and structure. Superfinishing is a high precision operation for removing minute amounts of surface material on dimensionally finished parts. The process uses fine grit adhesive particles bounded in stick form for cylindrical work, and in cup or cylindrical form for spherical work.

For more information on this process, click here.

Posted by: Lori Beckman 22. September 2015

3D Printing Website Focuses on Industrial Applications Related to Functional Parts


The current buzz in the industry is 3D printing. This new technology is being explored by editors here are Gardner Business Media through a website and print publication called Additive Manufacturing. This website is devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology to make functional parts. It speaks to a manufacturing audience and explores the use of additive manufacturing to make tooling, molds and functional prototypes, along with the ultimate aim of manufacturers: end-use production parts.

The website reports on the promise of additive manufacturing in these applications as well as reporting the pitfalls. Staff members write about successes with additive manufacturing and the hard roads that led to those successes.

New content is added to this site multiple times per week to keep visitors as informed as the site's editors. 

As mentioned, Additive Manufacturing is also a print publication that was launced in 2012 by Modern Machine Shop editor Pete Zelinski. Additive Manufacturing grows up from the small supplement of MMS to a full-size quarterly magazine beginning wtih the October issue. 

Visitors to the AM website can sign up for AM magazine and/or the e-newsletter by clicking here

Enjoy browsing the site and learning a lot about industrial 3D printing. If you want to kick the tires even more, attend this year's Additive Manufacturing Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, October 20-21. Unlike other 3D printing events, AMC 2015 is focused on production manufacturing, not prototyping. 

Posted by: Lori Beckman 15. September 2015

NIMS Works to Develop Apprenticeship Programs



NIMS, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, has partnered with Focus: HOPE to develop an apprenticeship program in Michigan to fill technical jobs in manufacturing. The project was selected as a winner of the United States Department of Labor's American Apprenticeship Initiative grant program announced recently and will build on NIMS' competency-based apprenticeship model. 

NIMS will serve as an engaged partner through the following activities with the Focus: HOPE American Apprenticeship Program:

  • Identifying the skills and competencies individuals need to enter into and complete advanced manufacturing apprenticeship programs
  • Supporting the development of career pathways, apprenticeship models and tools, and integration of NIMS industry-recognized credentials
  • Aligning training programs to industry standards
  • Providing technical assistance to schools, employers and other partners

"There is a growing skills gap nationally and in Michigan for jobs in advanced manufacturing, particularly in metalworking," says James Wall, executive director, NIMS. "The Focus: HOPE American Apprenticeship Program will provide individuals with the skills and credentials aligned with open jobs, ultimately providing a pathway to career advancement."

National trends show that there is an increasing demand for individuals with machining skills. In Michigan, there is almost 125,000 jobs requiring machining skills, with demand for CNC programmers expected to climb 15 percent by 2024. The average hourly wage for machining jobs in Michigan is $20.47.

As part of its commitment to expand manufacturing apprenticeships, NIMS participated in the White House Apprenticeship Summit on September 8. Mr. Wall and a few NIMS board members joined 100 employers to share successful apprenticeship models, best practices, and how to promote apprenticeships to other employers.


Posted by: Lori Beckman 25. August 2015

A Story of Growth and Innovation during Hard Times

Stacey and Sara are owners of Bales Metal Surface Solutions.

Stacey Bales, co-owner of Bales Metal Surface Solutions in Downers Grove, Illinois, often hears complaints from other business owners about how business is slow. She thinks to herself, “Do something about it. Market yourself. Don’t give up.”

Ms. Bales and her sister, Sara Mortensen, are businesswomen who have earned the respect of the manufacturing community. After taking over their father’s business when he passed away suddenly in 2009, during the Great Recession, they have grown the company. They recently picked up a business excellence award from a Chicago newspaper because of their tremendous growth, innovation, entrepreneurship and contribution to their community.

To read the full story about the sisters’ gritty determination, periods of grief, savvy business skills and an unstoppable work ethic, visit “The Bales Girls are Making Dad Proud,” and look for this article in the September 2015 issue of PM.


Posted by: Lori Beckman 18. August 2015

See How You Stack Up


What’s Top Shops? Top Shops is the annual benchmarking survey conducted by sister publication Modern Machine Shop.

Why’s it important? The survey enables machine shops to compare their metrics and practices with the country’s top-performing shops in categories including machining technology, shopfloor practices, business strategies and human resources.

How can I find results? This Executive Summary compares responses from this year’s benchmarking group (calculated by totaling the points assigned to select survey questions) with the other shops that participated in the survey.

Where can I find more information about this survey? Visit the magazine’s Top Shops Zone for other articles and to access past survey data.

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