PM Blog

Webinars: Listen to Top-Rated Precision Machining Discussions on Hot Topics

Production Machining’s sister brands host many webinars per year with industry leaders and companies alike, presenting ideas and topics that capture the essence of manufacturing: always learning and always adapting.

This year, our parent company, Gardner Business Media Inc., collected a list of the top 10 webinars of 2019. With a variety of topics that span across the focus of our sister publications, there were several that may interest PM readers in the precision machined parts industry. Click on their titles to listen to the recorded webinar on the following hot topics.

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3D Printing vs. CNC Milling for Prototyping

In the process of assessing what is needed to set up a prototyping lab, the first order of business is deciding between 3D printing and CNC milling. Both options have proven critical to modern manufacturing processes, with each one featuring a roster of benefits over traditional manufacturing methods. Ultimately, the decision depends on a few things: price range, the size of the part/prototype and the type of materials used. While these features will differ for specific industries, projects and purposes, it is important to recognize the prevailing bias toward 3D printing over CNC milling. There are some misunderstandings about the benefits of 3D printing over CNC milling, and this article will set the record straight. Although 3D printing undoubtedly has its place, it’s important to not be short-sighted when evaluating the merits of CNC mills with respect to industrial prototyping. This information will help guide decisions about what a specific business needs when setting up a prototyping lab.


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Workforce Development—Training Shows How

We have four tools that we can use to upskill our employees: teaching, training, coaching and mentoring. Which tool we choose depends on what we are trying to help them accomplish. In this article, we will cover training.
Training is the tool that answers the question “How”—How do I perform this task? The goal in training is to achieve compliant performance to a standard. In our shops, the potential hazards from high voltage, high horsepower, torque, RPMs and sharp tool and workpiece edges also require that we train our performers to avoid hazards and minimize risk of injury to themselves and others. Using the 5W 2H method, let’s examine an approach to training to upskill our shop employees.

This is not as easy or obvious as you might think. Yes, of course the new trainee is the “Who” However, it doesn’t stop there. Who should do the training? Many times we err by assigning our experts to be the trainer with less than satisfactory results. How many of us have seen a new employee give up and walk out because they couldn’t get the understanding they needed from the expert training them? The expert is so fluent and knowledgeable that in performing they often omit key steps and information that they know, but are not obvious to the trainee. Add a lack of common vocabulary and shop concepts, and the frustration can run high, leading to the “surrender” of the trainee.

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How to Reduce Steps Required in Nonferrous Surface Finishing

The cleaning and surface preparation of nonferrous, soft metals can require multiple and complex steps. Manufacturers using these alloys continue to require more efficient and less complex processes.

The finishing of parts made from various copper and aluminum alloys traditionally require many distinct and separate process steps, and both come with their own unique needs. Below we discuss the specific challenges that come with finishing copper and aluminum.

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Getting Ready for Lights-Out Manufacturing

Lights-out manufacturing is an approach to manufacturing where no human intervention is required to run a CNC machine shop for a specific duration of time. The machines run automatically with no need for operators or surveillance. The term “lights out” is used metaphorically, as it is much more involved and intricate than just switching off the lights while the machines run.

This concept has tremendous potential for capital savings by reducing labor costs. As competition among CNC machine shops grows and clients demand more precise work at minimum cost, going unmanned with lights-out machining can help manufacturers meet these challenges.

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