Machines, Medicine and Technology

From the beginning, medicine has always relied on technology to improve. Back in the olden days technology and medical practices weren’t what they are today. In the 1800’s instruments were developed to help understand the human body. Some of the first technology advancements for medical purposes were the thermometer, a microscope, scalpels, and the stethoscope. All these new technologies allowed doctors to learn the difference between a healthy body and a diseased body. Professionals were also able to diagnose more medical problems in less time.

The next major advancement in medical technology happened when the x-ray machine was developed. X-rays and their benefits were discovered in 1895. X-rays helped doctors see what was happening inside the body without having to do surgery. While x-rays during this time were a revolutionary practice, they also caused a lot of damage. The effects of radiation were not well known, many patients and doctors died from overexposure. X-rays were the best way to see inside one’s body until the 1970’s. After that CT, PET, and MRI scanners were designed.

Computers were the next big technology to mix with medicine and led to large advancements. The introduction of computers into hospitals allowed patients to be monitored at all times. Patient files could be traced easier, and heavy machines like the MRI could function at a faster rate. Machines in the labs could also do more testing, allowing for a quicker and more accurate response.

In today’s medical world, machines and technology are found throughout the hospital. Doctors use laptops and tablets to record patient information. Thermometers are electronic and run off of small computers. Larger machines are used for treatments against various diseases. Machines can also be used to create devices to support the human body. The precision of machines allows for minimal error in devices which are being made to support the human body.  X-ray machines are faster than they have been before, and are also portable.

Brooks offers many different machines from many different brands for the medical industry. Brands like Nikon and Willemin-Macodel aim to please customers with their quality, productivity, and precision. From Nikon Brooks offers X-ray and CT machines.  Willemin-Macodel specializes in producing high precision machine tools. Their machines with orthopedics and the dental industry.

It would be nearly impossible for medical practices to be where they are today without the help of technology and machinery. The future is endless for medical technology.

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How 3-D Printing is Changing the World

While 3-D printers have been around for quite a few years, they have been recently appearing in the news and making a name for themselves. 3-D printers were first introduced in the late 1980’s and throughout the early 1990’s. When 3-D printers were first introduced they were extremely expensive making them not accessible to the public. Currently 3-D printers are making a comeback and their prices have dropped making them available on a more affordable market for more people to use.

A 3-D printer is also known as additive manufacturing. To create something from a 3-D printer additives are used to form many different solid 3-d items based off of digital models. Is this the new change and how manufacturing will be in the future? Many technology visionaries think that our lives will change dramatically because of 3-D printing. 3-D printing will be able to change lives in multiple different ways.

Medically 3-D printing will be a life saver, literally a life saver. 3-D printer will be able to print organs for transplants. There will no longer be a need to wait years and years on a transplant list. CNBC reported that as of now skin, kidneys and a replica of a human heart that’s beating are already being printed. It’s hoped that in the future full body limbs could be printed for replace amputations.

For the manufacturing world time and money will be saved. Items can be printed domestically. International outsourcing will hopefully be eliminated. Another benefit for the manufacturing company is that waste would be eliminated. The hope is there could be zero waste for manufactured goods.

While the idea of 3-D printing seems like an amazing idea, there are side effects with it. Think about people being able to create whatever they would like. The control of items would disappear. There are already gun issues happening in America, 3-D printers could possibly print guns, making them accessible to almost anyone. Food is also another item that has been printed recently. Is this food healthy, does it supply all the nutrients our food supply does today? While this is just the beginning of possible complications, many more can appear. Complications could also break the law when it comes to copywriting and such.  

3-D printing technology is advancing tremendously. Currently American’s are working on printed versions of cars. In other parts of the world larger items like houses are attempting to be printed. With advances being made each day the possibilities are endless.  While there are still glitches to fix in printers, there is hope that one day 3-D printers will be the source for many of the items humanity uses on a day to day basis. It will take many years for this to happen, but inventors and scientists are on the right track to make this reality instead of a possibility.

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The Manufacturing Industry: Jobs and Job Outlooks

There is a love hate relationship that everyone will deal with at least once in their life. It may be as small as a chore around the house, or it could be raising children, or even running a large company. What is it that I’m referring to? Jobs. Simple as that. They are on the back of everyone’s mind, they cause us stress, but the benefits you can receive are unmeasurable.  While some jobs are disappearing with the troubled economic times, other jobs are soaring to the top.

Careers in the manufacturing industry are coming back strong, and bringing large amounts of revenue into the economy. The United States Manufacturing sector produces the largest amount of goods and services. This meaning the United States beats out China and Japan, who usually have some of the top economies. While the industry is pumping out tons of product for the world, there is a need for many workers to help achieve this.

Jobs in the manufacturing industry come in a wide variety. Workers are needed in engineering, production, and manufacturing. The possibilities are endless. According the to the National Association of Manufacturers the manufacturing industry supports about 1 in 6 jobs, or an estimated 17.4 million jobs in just the United States alone. That’s a lot of jobs!

The manufacturing industry has done a complete change over the years. Most people still think a job in manufacturing will lead to them working long hours on cement floors, wearing hardhats, and still using paper time cards. This is in fact not true. The old school manufacturing plants everyone grew up seeing have changed drastically over the years.

Robotics and other computerized technologies are being used in more and more manufacturing plants to build products. Although technology is replacing humans in some respects, there have been more jobs created in other areas. Jobs such as machine repair, engineering, information technology, and delivery are booming because of this replacement. These changes have led to increased educational requirements to learn the ever changing technologies but the increase in deliverables has allowed the United States manufacturing sector to remain strong.

The average salary is another benefit drawing prospective employees to consider jobs in the manufacturing industry, however, the actual average salary is difficult to determine. In 2012 the U.S. Department of Commerce stated that “the average hourly wage for a manufacturing job was $29.75 an hour”. This wage is after benefits have been taken out, but it’s still a decent wage. Because there are many different jobs in the industry, advancement opportunities are abundant. However, employees will need to stay up to date and informed on the latest technologies.

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Manufacturing Fireworks: The Processes Involved

With 4th of July celebrations coming up this weekend, we thought it might be nice to celebrate fireworks manufacturers. While this is a type of manufacturing that occurs outside of the machine shops in our nation, the process can be interesting to those who like to know and understand things. Though there is some mechanization involved in making the stars (the colored part of the explosion), the majority of the process typically requires little to no machining and is, instead left to master pyro-technicians who complete the job by hand.

While the earliest fireworks were paper or bamboo tubes stuffed with charcoal and sulfur, these early fireworks did not produce an explosion (just a flicker of lights and smoke). Many changes have come about since then, with more advanced fireworks being used in the United States since the nation’s early days. Scientific advances in the 20th century, however, created increased dangers for celebrants, and both our federal and state governments began regulating fireworks as early as the 1930s.

There are multiple types of fireworks ranging from simple Oriental-style shells that produce spherical burst patterns to the more complex Italian-style shells that are responsible for the elaborate fireworks seen during a show.

Please note: this article is not meant to be a “how to” article and, as such, we have left out many of the finer details to discourage those who seek to create anything illegal. We advocate safe and legal celebrations for the 4th of July.

The whole process begins with the creation of gunpowder which is shipped to fireworks manufacturers throughout the country. Once received, it is combined with a coloring agent and an oxidizer. Coloring agents and other effects can include a wide variety of different metals, but the most common are the following:

Color/effect

Metal

Red

Strontium, lithium

Orange

Calcium

Yellow

Sodium

Green

Barium

Blue

Copper

Azure (sky-blue)

Cesium

Violet

Potassium, Rubidium

Gold

Iron, Charcoal, Lampblack

White

Titanium, Aluminum, Beryllium, Magnesium

Sparkling effects

Antimony

Smoke effects

Zinc

 

Once the coloring agent is added, the powdered mixture is sifted through spark-resistant screens, added to a tumbler, mixed with water, and formed into dough. This dough is then cut into different shapes and sizes to form pyrotechnic stars. The shape and size of the stars has a large effect on the fireworks seen in the air on the 4th of July. That said, the patterns these stars are aligned in within the shell also makes a big difference in the patterns viewed in the night sky.

The shells of most fireworks are made of cardboard and generally come in two halves (of a globe). Once made, the stars are placed into the cardboard shells along with a breaking powder and a fuse. The halves are then put together, taped, wrapped repeatedly in paper and left to dry.

After the shell has dried, an additional fuse is attached to the outside along with a lift charge (to propel the firework upward). At this point, the fireworks are labeled, packaged and shipped to different locations across the country.

Like many other processes in manufacturing, this process is delicate, and precision is a necessity.  In light of this, Brooks Associates would like to tip our hats to those involved in manufacturing our Independence Day celebration fireworks for their hard work and meticulous efforts!

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Educational Resources for Machinists and Machine Shops

With the speed at which technology develops in the machining world, the opportunity and need for continued education seems to be never ending. Because of this, we found some excellent (and free) educational resources for those of you working on the front lines in shops across the nation. If you have are looking to further your understanding, you might consider checking out some of the following resources, which cover a wide range of topics and skill levels.

In addition to the resources below, we encourage you to view or sign up to receive Brooks’ current and past machine tool newsletters, which have information about a variety of machines and machining topics. Additionally, Brooks offers training on many of the machines we sell to further your knowledge and expertise.

While this list is, by no means, exhaustive, it can serve as an excellent starting point for continued (or introductory) learning.

Machinist career overview:

Career Overview offers an overview of machining careers as well as information about job prospects, training and qualifications, employment opportunities and historical earnings. This is a great place to start if you (or someone you know) are interested in the possibility of beginning a career in machining.

Machining Software, Programing, and Techniques:

The CNC Cookbook offers tutorials and interactive activities for those seeking to learn more about a wide variety of CNC topics from coding to feeds and machining techniques. It even includes a section on DIY CNC for those who are considering building their own machines to use at home.

Academia.edu includes numerous documents on a wide variety of machining topics. All you have to do is look up a topic of interest, view the documents tab, and then read any topic that interests you, making it easy to keep up on the latest in the machining world.

MachiningInfo.com includes charts, videos, formulas and even a quick reference guide for common G-codes and M-codes.

MachinistVideos.com provides videos on topics including CNC, welding, metal fabrication, and a host of other things.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University offers training modules, handouts, and even projects for those wishing to learn.

The Virtual Machine Shop offers Modules and information on a machining topics, including CNC/CAM, cutting, lathes, engineering, milling, grinding, EMDing, and measurements.

Modern Machine Shop offers videos on various topics in the world of machining. In addition to their videos, they offer webinars, a blog, and a magazine that cover additional topics. For an added bonus, check out the “Zones” tab, where you can view the site one topic at a time.

Hurco offers online video courses that are mostly related to their machines and software. Some, however, are more general and applicable across the board.

MIT Tech TV features a series of videos called Machine Shop. These videos cover a wide range of topics and practices in machining.

Mold Making Technology offers videos, a magazine, webinars and a “zones” area where you can get more information about specific processes in mold making and machining. This is an excellent resource for those interested in learning more about the mold making process.

Safety

The US Department of Labor offers safety information about various topics including machine safeguarding, PPE, metalworking fluids, and hands and power tools, as well as other safety concerns around the shop.

For information on eye safety, check out the CDC Eye Safety Checklist

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Mother’s Day Inspiration for Machinists

We know Mother’s Day can be difficult. You want to show your wife or mother that you truly appreciate her but you also want to do it with some personal flair. You are a machinist. If possible, you may be hoping to make her something using your craft. We searched the internet and have come up with some ideas to help you out!

These are homemade candle holders. You may try something similar (using mixed materials) or perhaps just one material. Either way, it can be a beautiful addition to your wife or mother’s home decor. As an added bonus, if you are doing this for your wife, place candles in the holders and make her a beautiful candlelit dinner.

 

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If the mother/wife that you are planning a gift for is more practical, consider making her a beautiful new paper towel holder. You can add other elements to make it more decorative, or you can make it more plain like the one pictured above.

 

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The above necklace has custom machined beads. Get creative here. You can design and machine a bead in whatever fashion you’d like. Additionally, you can buy different types of necklace chains (from the casual cord above to gold chains) at a local craft store. As an added bonus, try to find her children’s birthstones to hang on the necklace as well.

 

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Consider making her a rose (or a dozen roses) out of whatever material you have around or want to use. You may even consider making her favorite flower instead. 

Some other idea include: earrings, a decorative bowl or vase, a jewelry box, a wall plaque with a beautiful quote engraved into it, or pots for a new plant (if she is a gardener). In reality, the possibilities are nearly endless. Let you imagination run wild!

 

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The Largest Machine in the World

The largest machine in the world measures 27 km (17 miles) in length and it’s likely that you have heard of it through one of many various news venues because the controversy around this machine is huge. The speculation is that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may have the ability to destroy the world.

Outside of being the world’s largest machine, it is also the highest-energy particle accelerator in the world (intended to collide opposing particle beams) and was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) over a span of ten years between 1998 and 2008.

The purpose of the machine is to allow physicists to test predictions of various theories relating to particle physics and high energy physics. Essentially, they wanted to use the machine to prove (or disprove) the theory of the Higgs particle as well as other particles predicted by super symmetric theories.

The machine went live in September of 2008 but within the first 9 days of operation faulty connections caused an explosive rupture of liquid helium which resulted in the machine being shut down for repairs until November 20, 2009 when they restarted it. In 2013, it began its true mission by proving the existence of the Higgs particle, but many experiments are still in the works as physicists seek to address many of the unsolved questions of physics and advance our understanding of physical laws.

The LHC contains seven detectors for different types of research and was built by a collaborative effort of over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 different countries and hundreds of universities and laboratories. In spite of all of this effort, the machine is already being upgraded to further the abilities of this machine.

Regardless of its size, those who drive by the LHC will never see the full construction because it lies in a tunnel that is as deep as 175 meters (574 ft) beneath Earth’s surface by the Franco-Swiss border in Geneva Switzerland. Despite that, the LHC remains one of the largest and most complex facilities ever built.

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