Five Integrated Factors in High-Precision Machining

Manufacturers are always trying to find ways to improve their performance. Usually this is through eliminating downtime, minimizing scrap rates, ensuring consistency and producing high-performance precision parts at a reasonable price. When creating a manufacturing strategy to maximize profitability, manufacturers should consider these five factors:

  1. Machine Tools

When machining parts with high precision and accuracy, a highly important factor is the machine tool used. Manufacturers should utilize their machine tools to their full potential. Brooks Associates helps their customers to understand a machine’s full potential by offering training with machine purchases.

  1. Cutting Tools

When selecting cutting tools, manufacturers should be concerned with extending tool life. There are many advancements including tailored cutters, improved toughness, wear and thermal resistance. They should also consider the type of tool, and how it will affect the material being cut.

  1. Work Material

The material being cut is a major determiner in the selection of the machine tool, cutting tool, cutting fluid and machining parameters. This is because materials have different mechanical and thermal properties, which work better with certain tools. These should all be thought about and chosen cohesively for the best precision and quality.

  1. Cutting Fluid

Selecting the right cutting fluid for a specific job can reduce costs and improve performance at the same time. This can improve the quality of the surface finish as well. When choosing a fluid, manufacturers have the choice of using a straight-oil or a water-miscible fluid.

Straight oils are petroleum products made from crude oil. These offer the maximum amount of lubrication and the least cooling capacity. To improve performance they are often blended with additives.

When it comes to water-miscible fluids, there are three kinds that are widely used. These are soluble oil, synthetics, and semi-synthetics. Soluble oil is oil dispersed in water. It offers the greatest amount of lubrication of the three. Synthetics fully dissolve into water and are the most stable of the fluids. Semi-synthetics blend oil and synthetics for a combination of lubrication, stability, and cooling performance.

  1. Machining Parameters

The parameters of a machine, which include speed, feed depth of cut and cutter path should be taken into consideration when aiming for precision.

To continuously improve and manufacture more precise parts, manufacturers should understand how these five factors are integrated with each other. When they understand that, they can choose the best combination of tools, machines, materials and cutting fluid to increase their precision and ultimately their profitability.

Find the right precision machine tools by contacting Brooks Associates. Visit their website to see the wide variety of brands and machines they carry or ask them about scheduling a machine demo.

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The History of CNC Machines

CNC machining or Computer Numerical Control originally came from NC or just Numerical Control. NC machines didn’t necessarily use computers, they could be controlled by other factors. CNC machines control tools through a computer program.

When these machines first came on the scene, there was a large increase in productivity for machine tools because they could be run without requiring constant attention.

The first commercial NC machines, which ran from punched tape, were slow to catch on with manufacturers. To make them more popular, the US Army bought and loaned out 120 of these machines to manufacturers.

Even though the manufacturers began to familiarize themselves with these machines, there was a problem. Each manufacturer was pushing its own language for defining part programs, because a universal language didn’t exist.

During the 1960’s many developments helped to better these machines:

  • G-code language became standardized for part programs
  • CAD replaced paper drawings
  • Minicomputers became available making CNC cheaper and more powerful

The next decade brought slower economies and rising employment costs. This was a platform for CNC machines to begin replacing older technologies. Eventually, the Germans and Japanese caught on and became successful in the CNC machine industry.

Over the last few decades CNC machines have become even more advanced and easier to work with. Microprocessors have made CNC controls even cheaper. Learn more about the newest CNC machine technologies by visiting the Brooks Associates website.

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The New England Advantage

A recent report identified Connecticut and New England as having a distinct advantage over the rest of the nation as manufacturing continues to become more high-tech. This report “The Case for New England’s Manufacturing Revolution,” said the region benefits from highly skilled workers and an established network of suppliers and customers.
Designed to disprove the idea that manufacturing is a dying industry, the report also found that the median wage for advanced manufacturing jobs is between $70,000 and $80,000 per year. The industry has been showing strong numbers for a few years now.
In 2012, in the advanced manufacturing sector, Connecticut had 124,754 jobs out of the 376,517 in the entire New England region. The number of advanced manufacturing jobs in the area has to do with the high demand from the commercial aerospace sector.
There’s a backlog in orders of airplanes that will take many years to fill. Any airline that orders a Boeing 737 has a minimum wait of eight years before the aircraft can be delivered. Demand like that definitely helps keep the industry on its toes.
Many are confident that the industry will continue to provide jobs and contribute to the economy in the New England region. Brooks Associates continues to contribute to the New England advanced manufacturing industry by providing their customers with the machinery and service needed.

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Autodesk BUILD Space Sets a New Standard in Partnerships

We all know the value of networking and partnerships in business or in our everyday lives. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Adam Allard the operations manager of Autodesk’s BUILD space, the acronym for Building Innovation Learning and Design, currently under construction on Drydock Avenue in the Marine Industrial section of South Boston. I am borrowing much of my material from a well written article that appeared in the Boston Globe. It can be found by going to

Adam was kind enough to provide me with a spirited tour and detailed overview of this unique facility. Autodesk plans to open BUILD Space in the spring of 2015. The multi-floor, 70,000 square foot facility will house approximately 200 Autodesk employees. The BUILD Space will incorporate the latest Autodesk software used by architects, engineers and contractors among others. The unique and forward partnership philosophy of Autodesk will incorporate diverse fabrication technologies as part of this exciting project. The first and second floors of the building will include a 5 axis wood router, several types of robotics, 3D printers, machining & turning centers, waterjet cutting and laser cutting. The BUILD Space will be available to practitioners, designers, entrepreneurs, students and researchers giving them access to the latest fabrication technologies.

A few weeks after the Autodesk visit, our company (Brooks Associates Inc.) met with one of our builder partners to discuss improving our mutual visibility in the New England swiss machining market. One of the proposed events discussed was a series of seminars to allow our customers and prospects the opportunity to see the latest product offerings of this particular machine tool builder. I thought back to the visit with Adam Allard, and realized we need to do a much better job of collaborating with our supplier partners to be a better resource of information to our customers so they may be able to take full advantage of the machine tools they invest in. This included a CAM software package designed for multi-axis turning and milling machines. The other is a major cutting tool manufacturer. These two supplier partners would allow us the opportunity to demonstrate the maximum performance of the machine’s cutting capability. The benefits to the customer are quicker programming, reduced set up time, and improved part throughput and part quality. I realize this is not a new concept and many builders and distributors of machine tools are currently taking advantage of partnerships to develop relationships with new prospects and improve existing customer’s processes.

The bottom line for our company is that we can always be looking for ways to do a better job of partnering with our builders and suppliers. I would appreciate any thoughts or comments as to how your shop incorporates this concept into your business.

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New Discoveries in Machining

There is a constant flow of advancements in the world of machining. One such advancement was found recently by researchers at Purdue University that could increase efficiency in machining.
After discovering a type of metal deformation, called sinuous flow, they found a solution to suppress it. Sinuous flow results in very fine folds. Purdue researchers compared it to the patterns created during the flow of highly viscous fluids such as honey and natural rock formations.
This deformation was discovered using high speed microphotography and analysis to study cutting ductile metals. Researchers found that instead of shearing uniformly, as was assumed, the metal deforms into folds.
The solution: by painting the metal with standard marking ink or layout dye, the required cutting force during machining can be reduced by 50 percent while improving the surface quality. Using 50 percent less force creates less heat and vibration, which helps to reduce wear and tear of the metal and the machine.
Researchers only applied the ink to the free surface of the metal, not where it made contact with the tool. Other coatings such as nail polish, resins and commercial lubricants were also tested but none were as successful as the ink.
With the knowledge learned from this study, it can be concluded that there is a possibility for coatings with improved adhesion to be successful in suppressing sinuous flow when machining. It would also reduce required cutting force and energy consumption.

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Nikon Metrology Machine

Metrology is the science of breaking down measurements. Of the activities related to this science, the coordinate-measuring machine (CMM) like the Nikon Metrology Machine is specific to the activity of traceability and sensors.

Using three axes, each one has a scale system that indicates where it is located near the object and then displays these readings in a mathematical form. Arranged orthogonal to each other, the points of the axes can be analyzed by regression algorithms to determine the construction features. The sensors allow exact product dimensions to be measured and later reproduced.

The information provided by a CMM is what machining centers use to calculate the exact dimensions of a product. Without this product specific data, machines would not build with such precision. It is the physical geometrical characteristics of an object recorded by a CMM that allows the standard of replicability of products and one reason machining centers thrive.

Methodology behind traceability is based on the idea that instruments can be redeveloped based on a calculation or set of data regardless of size. Like ratios of ingredients to prepare a given amount of one recipe, the data from CMM should be able to be skewed to replicate the part at any given size. Some examples of this apply especially to the exterior of products. Select parts of aircrafts, ships, and other large machines are often produced in multiple sizes.   When several sizes and identical models exist, precise production of identical sized parts and the ratio between parts directly impacts the function and success of the completed product.

An example of the above can be applied to the select sizes the Nikon Metrology Machine is available in. Each machine can only measure pieces that can fit with its size. Where the Nikon Metrology C3 can measure small parts, and light materials, the larger Nikon Metrology C3 V GP can work on materials such as marine and locomotive equipment.

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Waterjet Cutting


Waterjet cutting is a process capable of cutting nearly anything using highly pressurized water. Using the high-pressure waterjets, or a combination of water and an abrasive substance – this water can cut through food, glass, metal, and much more.  A waterjet using abrasive substances is sometimes also known as an abrasive jet. Examples include the OMAX Abrasive Waterjet Systems.  A waterjet without the use of abrasives is used to cut softer materials and is typically called pure waterjet, or water-cutting only.

Amongst the variety of precision machine tools, waterjet cutting is known as the preferred method for fabrication of many machine parts. From 5-axis water cutting machines, to the more basic operating style, materials such as metal and glass are often cut with waterjets because of their precision and efficiency doing so. However, not everything can be cut with a waterjet. Diamonds and tempered glass are two known materials that cannot be cut with a waterjet. Diamonds are too hard, and tempered glass will shatter.

Beside the waterjet’s ability to cut most material, the machine can be programmed using the CAD system to draw out the part. The machine then adjusts the stream, pressure, and movement based on the information it receives and begins cutting.

Request an OMAX machine demo or contact Brooks Machinery to learn more about various machine lines.

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