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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A Look at EDMing

Electrical Discharge Machining is a machining method used to machine conductive materials that are difficult to machine with traditional methods. That is to say that EDMing can cut small or odd angles and intricate contours or cavities into even pre-hardened steel without the need of heat treatment to soften and then re-harden. Instead, they remove materials via a series of rapidly reoccurring electrical discharges between an electrode (the cutting piece) and the work piece in the presence of an energetic field. While the EDM cutting tool is guided along a path that is very close to the work piece, it never actually touches the piece. This is because a series of consecutive sparks produce micro-craters within the piece and remove the material along the path by melting and evaporation rather than by slicing or grinding.

In wire EDMing a thin strand of metal wire is fed through the work piece which is generally submerged in a tank of dielectric fluid or deionized water. This fluid helps to flush away cut material, while the wire uses electric currents to cut the conductive material with no need for further finishing or polishing. Wire EDMing is most commonly used when low residual stresses are desired.

Wire EDMing can be used to cut plates or create punches, tools and dies from any conductive material including metals that are too difficult to machine through use of other conventional machining methods (for example, metal alloys, graphite, carbide and diamond). The wire is held between upper and lower diamond guides that move in an X-Y axis controlled by a CNC. The upper guide can also move independently along the Z-U-V axis to allow for tapering and transitioning shapes.

In sinker EDMing, a work piece and electrode are submerged in an oil or dielectric fluid and both are connected to a power supply which generates an electrical potential between the two pieces. As the electrode approaches the work piece, it generates sparks that erode the base metal of the work piece (with several hundred-thousand sparks occurring per second).

Controlled cycles help to determine the amount of on and off time, which determines the depth of crater generated in the work piece as a result of the length of time the piece is exposed to sparks. The mechanics of this type of EDMing make it great for small or oddly shaped angles that are difficult to create by conventional machining methods.

Small hole EDMs are used to drill rows of holes into the leading and training edges of turbine blades that are used in jet engines and to create microscopic orifices for fuel system components as well as a variety of other applications. These EDMs can machine blind (or through existing holes) and bore their holes with a long brass or copper tube that rotates with a constant flow of distilled or deionized water flowing through the electrode to act as a flushing agent.

EDMs are frequently used in the aerospace, automotive and medical industries. If you would like to learn more about how your company might benefit from the use of a Sodick EDM, contact Brooks today for a demonstration or to discuss the nature of your business needs so that we can help you find the best machining equipment to aid your business on the road to success.

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The First Industrial Robot

In 1965, George Devol (an inventor and patent holder for the Unimate) and Joseph Engelberger (a physicist, engineer, entrepreneur, and “the father of robotics”) were discussing science fiction writing. They made a commitment to one another to develop a real and functional robot and thus began to conceive of a useful and functional design. In 1961, General Motors installed the first robot in history. The robot was called Unimate and was installed as a part of the assembly line to work with heated die-casting and welding. Specifically, it took die castings from machines and preformed welding on the bodies of vehicles sent through the line. It obeyed step-by-step commands that were stored on a magnetic drum, and had a 4,000 lb arm that was versatile enough to perform a wide variety of tasks.

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Super Bowl Metal Trivia

As the Super Bowl draws near (and by the way, it’s this Sunday, February 2, 2014) we thought we would have some fun with major metals in the Super Bowl. As you likely know, aluminum canned drinks play a big part in game-day celebrations, but do you know who invented the first pull tab top for canned beverages?

The first pull tab (called the zip top) was invented in 1959 in Dayton, OH by a man named Ermal Fraze (founder of the Reliable Tool and Manufacturing Co.). He received U.S. patent No. 3,349,949 for the design in 1963 and immediately sold his invention to Alcoa Inc. (founded in 1886 and currently the world’s third largest producer of aluminum) of Pittsburgh, PA.

Alcoa convinced Iron City Beer (of Pittsburgh) to test these new tabs. The idea took off despite initial complaints about sharp edges (where people had cut their fingers, lips and even noses), and the confusion about how to use them (for which they added instructions to the top of the can). In the first year, Iron City Beer saw a 233% increase in sales.

Despite the success of Iron City Beer and Schlitz (who picked up the new pull top shortly after), many companies refused to try this new invention because it added anywhere from 1-5 cents to the cost of production of a six-pack. Many companies saw it as a phase that would eventually die out. That said, by 1965, 75% of breweries throughout the nation had converted over to the zip tab.

In 1975, the tabs became even better with the invention of the StaTab, which stayed connected to the can after opening and thus made for less of a choking hazard.

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Accuracy Considerations for 5-axis Machines and Machining

One of the fastest growing segments of machine tool consumption and sales is that of 5-axis machining centers.

Whether it is the attempt to “get it done in one” or just due to part complexity, more manufacturers and machine shops are considering 5 axis machines to improve their capability and competitive edge. Machine tool builders and sales organizations are very frequently confronted with the question, “Can you hold these tolerances on this part on this 5-axis machine?” At faced value, the part tolerances may be well within stated machine accuracies, if only on linear and rotary specifications. However, there are many more factors at play as the number of axes increases on a machine tool.

CCAT Advanced Manufacturing Center and Brooks Associates will be hosting an informative seminar entitled Accuracy Considerations for 5-axis Machines and Machining on Feb. 26, 2014 to help educate the prospective 5-axis end-user, to make them aware of these considerations so they may appropriately tender their expectations, and prepare accordingly for 5-axis machining. A Hurco VMX30Ui machine will be on site for demonstrations. Register now at

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The 90,000 PSI Myth

An established waterjet shop designed a part and then cut it on their new 90Kpsi 60HP intensifier pump. OMAX then cut the same part using their 4th Generation direct drive pump, the 50HP EnduroMAX®. With the same abrasive flow rate, OMAX proved to be significantly faster, more accurate, and with a better finish quality.

OMAX enduromax pump

The timer doesn’t lie. Based on real-world cutting tests, the EnduroMAX performed more efficiently:

  • 4.91 minutes 60Kpsi EnduroMAX
  • 7.41 minutes 90Kpsi Intensifier

The EnduroMAX Pump is:

  • 33% less abrasive
  • 2.3 times more accurate
  • 51% more productive after 8 hours of work

Don’t be waylaid by the myth of 90,000 psi perfection–call us today to take advantage of true quality. 

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5 Things to Look for Before You Buy a Waterjet


  1. Get sample parts cut before you buy—it’s important to watch the part being made from start to finish, so visit a manufacturer’s showroom if you can. Seeing it made in person keeps a salesperson honest and allows you to see the process. The Brooks showroom is available by appointment to show you the features of OMAX waterjets. Test cuts help you determine how fast it will take you to cut your part, the cost to produce your part on an OMAX waterjet, and the cost savings you can achieve by using a waterjet over other systems.

Consider operating costs—operating costs can vary substantially between manufacturers, so be sure to find out in detail what the costs will be to run the waterjet. The overall cost includes the cost of consumables, spare parts, initial purchase price of the machine, and labor. Brooks Associates, an OMAX distributor since 1994, is thrilled to now be able to offer our customers the convenience of online parts ordering. Authentic OMAX consumables can be ordered any time through this new feature, with many items shipping out the same day. Brooks continues to offer local service for OMAX equipment and the online parts ordering will help us to fully support our OMAX customers.

Omax Consumables



  1. Extra features—OMAX is the first and only manufacturer to guarantee free OMAX operating software upgrades to owners for life. This guarantee saves OMAX owners thousands of dollars over the life of their investment, but more importantly ensures that they will receive all benefits derived from software enhancements. Upgrades are implemented to improve accuracy, provide faster cutting speeds, enhance system monitoring, and provide additional waterjet cutting capabilities.
  2. Training packages—training packages are well worth the cost, so be sure to ask the manufacturer about the training packages the manufacturer supplies. When you purchase a waterjet from OMAX, free factory training is included with your system to help you maximize the return on your investment. OMAX has the best ratio in the industry of service technicians to machines installed. This enables them to provide the quickest response time in the industry. A standard troubleshooting and application guide is included with every machine available free to OMAX customers, which can facilitate even faster service response. The OMAX Interactive Reference Guide (OIR) comprised of over 3000 pages, covers every aspect of operating and maintaining your investment. It is unequalled for providing application solutions.
  3. Looking for legitimate bargains—while you should steer clear of ultra-cheap machines that do crude work at a high operation cost, you can often find good bargains by buying a waterjet off the floor of a trade show, or by purchasing a demonstration model. At Brooks, we occasionally offer high-quality used machines at a reduced price. The OMAX 55100 2007 floor model is currently available at a sale price.
Posted in Machine Tools, Machining Applications, Manufacturing, Maxiem Waterjets, Omax, Water Jet Cutting, Waterjet Cutting Machines | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment