PM Blog

Workholding is a challenge for many shops dealing with the high-mix, low-volume world that is metalworking. Where mass production rules, custom fixtures is justifiable because it can be amortized across the production run.

For shops that don’t have high volume work to rely on, workholding that accommodates frequent job change-over is required, and it is often a constant search to find. The article “Magnetic Workholding for Production Parts” features one working system that can be an answer to the need for accommodating parts of various geometric configurations.

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Heidenhain Corp. is supporting the University of Michigan’s Hyperloop team with a sponsorship, as well as donation of motion control feedback for its high-speed pod. The Michigan Hyperloop team is one of 20 to make it to the next stage of competition based on Elon Musk’s vision of future ground transportation.

Its goal was to race along the “Hypertube,” a mile-long partial-vacuum tube in place at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, campus where Musk’s vision is being researched and designed. In Musk’s 2013 ground transportation paper, pods of people and cargo travel between cities at transonic speeds in a network of low-pressure tubes, while self-driving electric cars transport goods from Hyperloop stations to their final destinations around the country.

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Of the many economic factors that have an impact on the automotive industry, strong employment levels and wage gains are likely two significant factors behind the auto industry’s performance in 2018. The industry has exceeded the expectations of many experts from as recently as the end of 2017. Working counter to these factors is an eroding financial picture in which banks are less willing to provide credit. Additionally, vehicle-loan default rates are closer to their peak during the great recession than their long-run levels prior to 2008. The recent net effect of these influences has been largely to offset one another, if not slightly to the benefit of the industry. In the first half of 2018, monthly light truck and SUV sales remained near the one-million unit market while car sales during the second quarter were flat, halting an otherwise downward trend.

While the exact reasons for any given firm’s future may be unique to that firm’s circumstances, the collective results of these forecasts may shed light on the general direction of the industry in the coming months and years. Reviewing Wall Street’s financial projections for 23 automotive firms with cumulative first quarter revenues of $223 billion reveals a somber outlook for the industry between the second quarter of 2018 and mid-2020. Overall earnings and revenues by the end of 2018 are projected to be modestly better than a year ago. However, the cumulative projections for 2019 indicate a flat to slight downward trend in revenues and contracting earnings. 

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Derek joined Tsugami/Rem Sales as an applications engineer in 2011 after learning how to program and set up Tsugami CNC Swiss lathes for a couple prior jobs he held. He advanced to presales test cut lab lead in 2014, and then in 2015 he was promoted to engineering manager where he led the team for more than two years. Recently promoted to Swiss product manager, Derek is tasked with researching and implementing new technologies that integrate with Tsugami machines and improve the overall customer experience. He often travels domestically and internationally, researching tooling components and ensuring that they are the best fit for Tsugami. For instance, he regularly travels to the Tsugami headquarters in Japan to conduct meetings directly with our partners to discuss future product enhancements.

According to Ashley Dombrowski, brand manager at Tsugami and Derek’s nominator, Derek is a dedicated employee that constantly strives to better not only the company, but the manufacturing industry as a whole. “Derek is always willing to lend a hand where needed and is recognized as a true leader among his peers and in the industry,” she says.

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Advancements in engineering aluminum grain structure from heat to heat leads to better, more consistent machinability for this amazing material. It’s true that aluminum is relatively easy to cut; however, for production and precision parts machining, control of surface finish, chip handling and tool life can affect successful processing.

The article “How Metallurgical Structure Affects the Machinability of Aluminum” explains some of the advancements that are being made in the design and execution of aluminum bar and blanks to meet shop machining requirements. Consistent performance from batch to batch is the key to successful aluminum processing.

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