PM Blog

Powder coat, paint, chromate conversion and anodizing are common finishes applied to die cast parts to improve their performance or appearance. In some die casting applications, components must also be pressure-tight to hold pressurized fluid or gases. Companies use vacuum impregnation to meet these requirements by sealing the internal leak paths without impacting any other features of the casting. But should vacuum impregnation be done before or after finishing?

The general rule is that vacuum impregnation should be done before any surface finishes. The process will seal the porosity and eliminate any failure mode that could develop from outgassing, chemical compatibility or bleed out of pretreatments. Below are examples of failure modes that can occur if impregnation is done after the finish is applied.

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In manufacturing operations, parts washers have been an important step in the production process for many years. In order to accept surface treatment and finishing, parts require cleaning of grease and fabrication residue. In production process operations, cleanliness of parts and components is directly related to quality and reliability of the final product. However, parts washers, just like most industrial equipment, can outlive their efficient usefulness. At this point, the equipment can be designated as either “outmoded” or “legacy” in its status. This article explores the benefits of replacing legacy parts washers, new innovations in parts washer systems and how to find the best parts washer for an application.

A common misconception carried over from the days when solvents were the main option, that is, prior to the early 1990s, is that solvent-free aqueous cleaning was not up to the task. Numerous parts washer manufacturers in North America demonstrate that the technology is a now standard solution and a clear alternative to solvent-based providers. In cabinet-based aqueous parts washers, solvent-free detergents undergo high heat and pressure to deliver superior cleaning efficiency. Aqueous parts washers also developed as a result of more regulations on the use of harsh chemicals and waste disposal and alleviate concerns associated with spent solvents. Furthermore, technological innovations combined with solvent-free cleaning mean more types of parts washers have evolved to provide an effective solution for a range of industrial applications.

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Manufacturers could be wasting as much as almost $90,000 per year on each operation that requires the use of collaborative robotics due to improper, insufficient or even nonexistent integration of the robots into their processes, says Ultra Tech Automation, an HEH Group company. This estimate, which is based on typical costs for a robot and the number of hours in an industrial shift, is an example of the opportunities lost by not understanding this new industrial mode.  

Collaborative robotics have significant opportunity for efficiency, innovation and growth in manufacturing, as long as the collaborative process integration is well-designed and well-implemented. However, the surge in development of these robots has led to a flurry of companies buying them without a well-defined set of objectives or a good plan to use the cobot in their manufacturing processes.

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By: Carli Kistler-Miller 6/21/2019

A Peek Behind the Scenes at PMPA

My very first impression of Renee Merker, director of communications and events at PMPA and a 30-year veteran of the organization, was that she had an unprecedented addiction to coffee. Coffee was her main topic of conversation. As it turned out, on the day I arrived at the office, the coffee maker went the way of the dodo and couldn’t be fixed, but Renee was determined to make sure that everyone had their coffee. I wasn’t actually witnessing an addiction; I was witnessing Renee’s innate ability to make sure everyone had what they needed. It was just a glimpse into her ability and drive to provide concierge service to our members.

I arrived in January, so the entire office was “all hands on deck” for the Update Conference in February. Renee had everyone working toward the same goal: delivering value for our members. The annual Update Conference is attended by owners and managers, and the speaker lineup she had was impressive. The theme was “Sharing Knowledge” and the speaker topics included culture, rebranding and leveraging change, as well as an economic forecast. There were roundtable discussions and a “speed networking” session. Each evening ended with a reception where members were talking about what they had learned and how it applied to their shop and otherwise enjoying themselves while networking. Renee set the whole thing up in a beautiful hotel that was close to the airport. In short, she thought of everything and made sure our members received value for their time and enjoyed themselves along the way.

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Registration is now open for the Additive Manufacturing Conference + Expo (AMC 2019), scheduled for August 27-29, 2019. This year, the event is making its first trip to Austin, Texas, at the Austin Convention Center. The 2019 edition will feature more speakers, exhibitors and networking opportunities than ever before, including tours of Essentium and EOS headquarters. Attendees can register now at  

“Austin is a boomtown for additive technology,” says Dave Necessary, event director. “The area is home to major 3D equipment manufacturers and hundreds of shops using additive technology. SLS was invented at the University of Texas at Austin. Hosting AMC 2019 there is a perfect fit for demonstrating how far the technology has come and how far it can go.”

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