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Archive for the ‘Production Machining’ Category

Top 5 for 2015: We Posted Them, You Read Them

Posted on: December 29th, 2015 by The Technology House

As 2015 comes to an end, it is time for us to review what blog posts were most read in 2015.  The topics of these blogs ranged from 3D printed parts being used in a Formula One racing car to the benefits companies are seeing by doing production in the U.S.

Afraid you missed out on the more interesting posts?  No worries, below are the top 5 blogs in one place for you to riffle through.

 

5. SAE Racing Team Incorporates 3D Printing in Car Design

4. How Did Being an Early Adopter of 3D Printing Help Us?

3. What FDM Part Density is Best for You?

2. 5 Benefits of Reshoring Manufacturing

1. What’s the Difference Between Soft and Hard Tooling?

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What’s the Benefit of Metal-to-Plastic Conversion? Part II

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by The Technology House

As the old saying goes, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks”-Like converting metal parts to plastic.

We discussed in our last blog, when done properly, parts converted from metal-to-plastic benefit from:

-Cost reduction
-Improve functionality
-Design Freedom

But what industries benefit from metal-to-plastic part conversion? Three of the major industries we have helped are the automotive, aerospace, and medical industries.

The automotive and aerospace industries are converting parts to plastic in order to reduce vehicle weight, and to meet tougher federal emissions standards. The reason for the latter is that certain plastics are chemically and heat resistant.  These plastics can be utilized in the fuel and fluid handling systems.

A major reason we have seen the medical industry utilize metal-to-plastic conversion is for device ergonomics. Plastic products can be easier, such as molding a handle that is hard plastic, but the grip area is a soft rubber.  Another reason for metal-to-plastic conversion is that plastic has a lower thermal conductivity.  Therefore, plastic parts may not be cold to the touch, which allows the patient to be more comfortable when the product is in use.

We have helped a lot of customers over various industries with metal-to-plastic conversion. Contact us to consult with our team about the feasibility of converting your metal products to plastic.

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What’s the Benefit of Metal-to-Plastic Conversion? Part I

Posted on: November 5th, 2015 by The Technology House

We have encountered a lot of customers that have been more active over the past few years of converting existing metal parts to plastic parts. With the proper design, plastic parts can be just as strong as metal parts.  There are three major benefits on why this conversion is done: cut costs, improve functionality, and design freedom.

Metal and Plastic 3D Printed Parts

Cut Costs
Metal parts are primarily manufactured through CNC machining. But there are more options to produce plastic parts. Excluding CNC machining, the more common manufacturing methods for plastic parts are 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding.

A major benefit of 3D printing is that you can print parts in batches, thus allowing you to benefit from economies of scale.

Once the upfront tooling cost is amortized, cast urethane and injection molding allows you to mold parts in a matter of minutes rather than hours with CNC machining.

Finally, plastic production processes like 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding allow you to mold all the features at once.

Improve Functionality
Certain plastics can have more chemical resistance with exceptional heat resistance. This allows for plastic parts to be ideal for applications like fuel and fluid handling systems. Some plastics are also engineered to be thermally and electrically conductive. Finally plastic parts can reduce the product weight.

Design Freedom
Being able to produce parts in plastic allows you to create parts with more complexity, as well as combining different parts to be built as one.  Processes that produce plastic parts, like 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding, allow you to create parts with undercuts, threads, thin walls, and tight tolerances that may not be possible through metal manufacturing processes.

In addition, the ability to mold in features, such as ribs, will give plastic parts strength, yet allow the parts to be lighter than metal.

This is the first of two blog regarding metal-to-plastic conversion. In the blog, we will discuss which industries and applications have most benefited from metal-to-plastic conversion.

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ISM Manufacturing Index: What Does It Mean?

Posted on: May 5th, 2015 by The Technology House

Last week, the Institute for Supply Management published its monthly ISM Manufacturing Report for April. The PMI was 51.5 percent, which is unchanged from March’s figure. It has been well documented in other news articles that this figure is the lowest PMI since May 2013.

The report noted

“The April PMI® registered 51.5 percent, the same reading as in March. The New Orders Index registered 53.5 percent, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the reading of 51.8 percent in March. The Production Index registered 56 percent, 2.2 percentage points above the March reading of 53.8 percent. The Employment Index registered 48.3 percent, 1.7 percentage points below the March reading of 50 percent, reflecting contracting employment levels from March. Inventories of raw materials registered 49.5 percent, a decrease of 2 percentage points from the March reading of 51.5 percent. The Prices Index registered 40.5 percent, 1.5 percentage points above the March reading of 39 percent, indicating lower raw materials prices for the sixth consecutive month. While the March and April PMI® were equal, both registering 51.5 percent, 15 of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in April while only 10 industries reported growth in March, indicating a broader distribution of growth in April among the 18 industries.”

Click here to view the report in its entirety.

ISM Manufacturing Index

So what does this figure mean? Any figure above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing section is growing. 51.5 percent shows that the sector is growing, but albeit, at a slower pace.

Although this figure can be helpful, there are some things to note with it. The ISM Manufacturing Index is just a survey among purchasing managers. This figure reflects the number of people saying that the conditions are good, compared to those purchasing managers who are saying the conditions are worse. The figure just reflects the purchasing managers’ responses, and does not include the size of the firm, or the degree on improvement/contraction.

This survey should not be used as a strong indicator to read the conditions of a business cycle, but rather, this is a simple survey that can provide anyone a broad indication of trends.

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5 Benefits of Reshoring Manufacturing

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 by The Technology House

In recent years, the “reshoring” of jobs back to the U.S. has gathered momentum.  Because of this, the current trend is overturning the loss of manufacturing and its associated jobs to countries like China, Brazil, and India.

Below are a few of the main reasons of what is driving reshoring.

1.Automated Production
Replacement of overseas workers with automated factory robots in the U.S. is becoming more cost effective than ever before. In addition, jobs in departments that are complimentary to production are being created due to these technologies.

2. Rising Shipping Costs
One of the main reasons for the surge in outsourcing overseas was due to the lower-based wage costs. But this is only beneficial if it offsets other costs like shipping and handling. The rise in shipping and handling costs has dissolved some of the low-wage costs benefits.

3. Less Labor-Intensive Production
In recent years advanced manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing, have allowed for some manufacturing to be less labor-intensive.  Parts can run for extended periods of time without anyone needed to oversee the build.  In some instances, some parts can be removed from the 3D printer and applied to its process with little to no secondary work.

4. Soaring Outsource Wages
In recent years, the wages for most factory works in previously low-cost countries has greatly increased. While this is beneficial to these workers and the class structure in these countries, the costs of the products produced also increases.  The overseas costs may be very similar to costs within the home country, thus losing some of the lower cost luster.

5.Logistic Lead Time
Large shipments of goods that take weeks to cross the oceans. The lead time for shipments can take longer due to unforeseen circumstances, such as customs or adverse weather. Product innovation can suffer due to the distance between the operations of the manufacturing process. Working with vendors close to home can allow better communication and efficiency for all stages of the manufacturing process.

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3 Ways to Reduce Your Production Piece Price

Posted on: February 17th, 2015 by The Technology House

Regardless of your product, the cost of it is more than likely always on your mind.  But have you ever determined how to reduce costs without impacting the quality of your final product and altering what your customers have come to expect and rely on?

Below are three easy ways to help you do a full cost analysis on your product.

1. Blanket Orders
Do you order parts as they are needed, or place blanket orders with multiple delivers?  Having a blanket order prevents you from holding greater than necessary inventory, avoid any administrative burden of placing multiple purchase orders, and receive lower piece prices due to economies of scale.

2. Part Design Reviews
Any non-standard or unconventional features add timing to make the part.  The increase in cycle time for any features that are not necessary may be increasing your part cost.  With every project we quote, we review your part to ensure that it is properly designed to meet your needs.  We review items such as part radii, optimal wall thickness, undercuts, and draft analysis to ensure that the part is properly designed for the intended manufacturing method.

3. Material Analysis
Products can usually be manufactured utilizing a variety of different materials, depending on your requirements, and the manufacturing techniques.  Technology is constantly improving materials, and creating new ones.  Be sure the recognize all factors involved with your product when choosing a material.  Be sure to know if it needs any certain requirements (e.x. RoHS compliant, FDA approved, medical grade, etc.).

 

We understand that reviewing costs is important and should be a continuous effort.  Through our value analysis and value engineering, we can help you find the proper production techniques that let you reduce costs without sacrificing part performance or appearance.

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CNC Machining vs DMLS. Which One is Best for You?

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by The Technology House

The recent advancements in Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) have made it easier to print parts in metal.  Parts can be printed in as little as a few days.  Regardless of these advancements, DMLS will not replace CNC Machining.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)  is a 3D printing/additive manufacturing technology that produces metal prototype and production parts.  DMLS prints metal parts by sintering various metal and alloy particles together. Whereas CNC machining is the automation on machine tools that cuts away at a piece of material to produce a part.

DMLS is an additive manufacturing process because it is “adding” material to build a part, while CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process because it is “subtracting” material in order to produce a part. But how do you know which process is best for your part?

Here are 4 quick points that will help you decide between CNC machining vs DMLS.

Surface Finish As shown on this initial picture below, the surface finish on CNC parts is typically much smoother compared to DMLS.

Finish on CNC machined part

The DMLS process involves fusing powered metal together. As a result of this fabrication process, the surface finish on DMLS tends to be porous as shown below.

Porous DMLS finish

Part Geometry & Design Innovation
Due to the parameters of CNC machining, all features on exotic or complex geometry parts may not be machined.  Features like cavities or undercuts may not be able to be machined in traditional CNC machining.  Since the DMLS process sinters powered metal together layer by layer, a lot of complex features can now be produced.

Set-up and Fixture Cost
Some CNC parts may require additional charges for setups and fixtures.  DMLS does not require any additional setup or fixture charges.  DMLS machines run completely unattended, regardless of how complicated the part is.

Prototype vs Production Parts
For one-off prototypes, or very small volumes, DMLS parts can be more economical than CNC machining.  DMLS can be a good bridge between initial prototyping and large volume production. CNC machining better utilizes economies of scale once in higher production.

Segment of a hip replacement fabricated through DMLS

This image is part of a hip replacement-fabricated through DMLS.  This component connects the hip bone and the femur.  These are produced as individual parts, and can be custom-made to the patient.  Because of this, DMLS is the more applicable process. One process is not superior to the other, but rather both have their benefits pending on the objectives of the part.  Both processes can complement each other in order to move the part efficiently through the product development cycle. Request a Quote for your DMLS project

What Modern Manufacturing Really Looks Like

Posted on: October 8th, 2014 by The Technology House

On Friday October 3rd, we attended the [M]Power Manufacturing Assembly presented by Magnet (The Manufacturing Advocacy  & Growth Network) and Crain’s Cleveland Business. This event celebrated National Manufacturing Day and emphasized the vital role of manufacturing in Northeast Ohio.

The event was well attended, and the topics discussed ranged from digital marketing to shop floor sustainability. Attendees were even able to try Lincoln Electric’s virtual welding machine.  Some people who tried the virtual welding may have found a second career calling…

Keynote speakers included Christopher Mapes, President and CEO of Lincoln Electric, and Joe Quinn, senior director of issue management and strategic outreach of Wal-Mat.

Christopher spoke about how he initially wanted to be a lawyer after college.  He became involved in a program at General Motors that made him passionate about manufacturing. He highlighted that today’s manufacturing world is different than previous generations.  Today’s manufacturing world requires highly skilled labor in an environment that is clean, very efficient, and technologically advanced.

Joe highlighted that Wal-Mart is making great strides to re-shore products to be made and/or assembled in the United States. Wal-Mart is taking action to support manufacturing in the U.S., and job growth.

This was [M]Power’s inaugural event, and based off the motivation and commitment to progressing manufacturing in this area, it won’t be its last.

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How Direct Metal Laser Sintering Can Help Solve Your Problems

Posted on: September 5th, 2014 by The Technology House

When parts need to be fabricated from metal, then Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is the best 3D printing/direct digital manufacturing practice. Most 3D printing/direct digital manufacturing processes produce parts in either plastic or rubber, but DMLS is a manufacturing process that can build metal parts in materials ranging from aluminum, cobalt chrome, steel, nickel alloy, and titanium.

DMLS can be a good alternative to traditional CNC machining, but how do you know when is the correct time to use it?

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) example

Fixture and Tooling Cost
Traditional machining processes may require fixtures or tooling.  DMLS does not require any fixture or tooling, which will help reduce your total project cost.

Order Quantity
DMLS is ideal for short run/low-volume parts.  This is because parts can be built together on the same build.

Part Detail
Parts with unique surfaces or features can be easier to produce in DMLS rather than traditional machining or casting.  This is because material is sintered layer by layer.

Lead Time
Lead times for machined parts can range from 2-4 weeks for prototype parts, to 8-10 weeks for production parts.  DMLS can deliver parts as quickly as 1-2 weeks.

Industries
The DMLS process is used heavily in the following industries:
-Aerospace
-Automotive
-Defense
-Medical and Dental Instruments

Golf ball created using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS)

On your next project that requires durable, accurate metal parts with fine detail, then consider DMLS.  Visit our material page to see what material will work best for your project.

The RAPID 2014 Expo is Fast Approaching!

Posted on: May 22nd, 2014 by The Technology House

The RAPID 2014 Expo is fast approaching!

RAPID is the longest running additive manufacturing forum of nearly 25 years. There will be a lot of interesting and thought provoking keynote speakers at this year’s event. A lot of the discussions and presentations will focus on 3D printing and additive manufacturing, for it has the potential to greatly change the future of manufacturing. We highly suggest that you attend any of these presentations.

Click here to learn more about this exhibit.

This year, our booth (1025) will showcase a lot of parts and products that are fabricated through 3D printing. You will be able to learn from us about the latest trends and developments in 3D printing and additive manufacturing.

Be sure to stop by and say hello!

Click here to learn about what innovative technologies and applications we use to help customers every day.

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