New Software Company Could Benefit All New England Job Shops

Xometry Machining Software

Xometry, a company based out of Maryland, recently received a $15 million investment from the venture capital divisions of BMW and GE to help launch what is being described as the “Uber of Manufacturing”.  The concept is both simple and well proven as companies such as Amazon and Uber have made their fortunes off the exact same idea.  In this case Xometry, pronounced “Zometry” provides a software platform in which potential customers create a CAD file, upload it to Xometry’s website and then receive immediate price quotes for the part to be manufactured as well as delivery dates.  The company already has over 5,000 customers using its site on a regular basis to get high quality parts for fields such as aerospace, medical, automotive and industrial.

Much like Uber brings riders and drivers together, Xometry brings parts buyers together with parts suppliers to create an immediate marketplace supply and demand situation.  In this comparison the Uber customers looking for a ride are those looking to get parts produced, while the drivers are those shops looking to bid the job.  Job Shops would then receive an email that would basically say, “You’ve got a $5,000 job, see the details.  If you want the job click on this button”  It’s just that simple for fabrication and job shops to quickly see a  large variety of available jobs and select the ones that best fit their capabilities.  While some smaller job shops have had concerns that this will simply turn into a price war, that has not proven to be completely true.  In the end, customers have seen that some shops are offering a better price, others a better delivery time, others a higher quality part or a willingness to do small runs.  The buyer then chooses what best suits their needs at the time.

Xometry describes their business as one that “quickly delivers quality custom parts to businesses of all sizes”.  Xometry says that while they’ve attracted investors and customers such as GE and BMW they’ve seen the biggest beneficiaries be the mom and pop job shops. These are often multi-generational shops providing high-value parts but losing customers as they’re just not getting access to them through the more traditional sales and marketing methods. In many situations, these smaller shops haven’t gotten work outside of their immediate geographic area because customers in other parts of the country have simply never heard of them.  Just as Amazon will now deliver anything from a bike to a loaf of bread to your door in two days, these shops are starting to see the country as a much smaller place as well.  There’s no reason a shop in Connecticut can’t have parts shipped to a business in South Dakota.  As President Trump is continuing with his “buy American, sell American” mantra Xometry is working to help companies do that.  As smaller shops in New England are the backbone of manufacturing in the area finding ways to connect the highly valuable skills they offer to buyers all over the country is invaluable to the continued growth of American Manufacturing.

Industry experts are seeing this digital manufacturing as the process of the future.  It’s easy to access and available to anyone; it might just be exactly what struggling shops need to stay alive as well as what growing shops need to get their highest skills and expensive equipment utilized by buyers in every corner of the country.

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Is Hurco’s new UltiMotion Technology Right for You?

After 6 years in the making Hurco has recently released their new UltiMotion technology and the customer response has been overwhelming.  With over 200 machines worldwide already running it people are thrilled at the reduction in cycle times and the improvements in part finish.  UltiMotion is a completely new and different way to approach motion planning and is only available on Hurco systems.  By using advanced software algorithms it is able to calculate the optimal feed rate and trajectory to run the tool.  While for many years now the look-ahead feature has been available, it has not been able to able to make adjustments on the fly rather than being a more fixed software feature.  The result is a reduction in machine jerk by 50% and an increase in cornering velocity by 2.5X the conventional motion system.

Many customers have seen a reduction in cycle time by 30% or more depending on the complexity of their parts.  Those with the most complex parts see the most benefits.  These would be parts that require drilling, a lot of tapping, high-speed machining, pocketing, complex 3-axis and 5-axis contouring, or the spindle to change directions frequently are all excellent candidates for the new UltiMotion software package.  UltiMotion is idea for customers doing 5-axis machining as well with substantial improvements in time and surface finish for simultaneous 5-axis work. Customers running largely parts with simple geometry, very few corners or slow feed rates will see less of a benefit in terms of cycle time but could still see an improvement in surface finish.

As long as your Hurco machine can run WinMax version 8 or later you can take advantage of the UltiMotion upgrade without needing any new hardware, and UltiMotion comes standard on all Hurco “I” series mills. Even customers who are already running a CAM package that offers smoothing are seeing benefits from using UltiMotion.  Because UltiMotion is controlling the machine mechanics and dynamics it’s able to provide an even smoother, tighter control system then even excellent stand-alone CAM offerings.  Also because the motion system is separate from the graphics system there will be no slowdown in graphics as a result of running UltiMotion.  UltiMotion does not change your tool paths but instead optimizes the machine motion.  It will not require any changes to your existing programs or post processor and requires no special training for your operator.  All of your existing programs should run just fine regardless of whether you’ve been working with NC or Conversational programs.

Hurco is excited to bring this incredible new technology to the industry as they continue to lead the way in innovation.  They are encouraging all customers to give UltiMotion a try with some of your existing parts.  Hurco is so confident in the new product that they’re telling customers it should never be turned off – UltiMotion is superior to Standard Motion in every way!

Check out this video to see it in action!

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10 New Reasons To Attend EASTEC

It seems like every sales person in New England right now is talking about the upcoming tradeshow, EASTEC. They’re offering free tickets, cool samples or a free lunch but what are you really getting out of taking a day away from getting work done in your shop?  Do the benefits of attending EASTEC really outweigh the costs?  Well here are a few good reasons you might want to consider attending, some of which you may not have really considered.

  1. Learn what’s new & where things are heading – many manufacturer’s use trade shows such as EASTEC to unveil their newest products. It’s a great way for them to promote new ideas as well as get immediate market feedback.  So if you want to get the first look at the newest industry technologies, this is the place for you!  Tradeshows are also a great way to get a read on the pulse of the industry.  If everyone’s talking about a certain technology that’s a pretty good indication of where the market is going.
  2. Network with other attendees – often you think only of the conversations you’ll have with people working in the booths at the show, but what about the opportunities to talk with other attendees? Be sure to bring a stack of business cards as this is a great chance to meet potential customers, prospective employees or future business partners.
  3. Check out the competition – EASTEC provides a unique opportunity to see what your local competitors are doing. What types of equipment are they investing in, what markets are they pursuing, what suppliers they are using, etc.
  4. Get inspiration – often as you walk the show floor you’ll see new ways of doing things that you haven’t thought of before. These new ideas can send you back to the office with ideas on how to streamline a process, operate more efficiently and ultimately be more profitable.  Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective to change the course of a business.
  5. Meet with exhibitors – most people think of this in terms of the attendee listening to the sales pitch of the exhibitor but there can be a whole more to it than that. This can be a great time to observe companies you’re considering doing business with and get a sense of the company culture.  It can also be a great chance to give your feedback to vendors that you’ve bought from in the past.  Most companies find that kind of customer feedback invaluable in the development of their new products and product improvements.
  6. Gain firsthand experience – there’s nothing better than getting the chance to actually put your hands on the machine you’re considering purchasing. Seeing something in operation can help you get answers to your questions as well as give you considerations you may have missed such as do we have enough ceiling height in the location we planned on putting this?  Or is the employee we planned to have run this really the right choice?  In addition, you’ll get to hear the kinds of questions other attendees are asking which could be invaluable.
  7. Compare multiple products – there’s nowhere easier to see how the competition stacks up than a tradeshow. This is really the only time you’ll find multiple vendors of the same product all under one roof.  In an afternoon, you can check out the top 5 OEM’s and do a thorough comparison.  It’s also a great chance to compare multiple product lines offered within one company.
  8. An efficient purchasing process – another advantage of being able to compare products is the ability to take weeks out of the purchasing process. It can be a major ordeal to get all of the decision makers from your company together multiple times to meet with sales people from several companies, travel to several demos, and then negotiate back and forth on pricing and final purchasing details.  EASTEC can combine all of these in to one day saving you countless man hours. At the end of the day, you want the best solution to your problem not the lengthy process it can often take to get there.
  9. Get a deal – every vendor wants to make sales at the show. Often they have equipment in the booth that they don’t want to have to ship back across the country and they’re eager to make you a great deal.  In addition, vendors are sitting on a huge expense to be at the show and sales from the show help justify the cost of being there.  They also know that you can easily walk around the corner and start talking to one of their competitors, so for attendees this can mean a great chance to find exactly what you need at a fraction of the normal cost.
  10. Find the specific solution for your needs – most vendors will bring in a variety of their best talent for tradeshows. This can include technical experts, application specialists, software engineers, and finance professionals.  All of these people can be a valuable resource that you might not otherwise have access to during the purchasing process.  Take this opportunity to pick their brains and get solutions custom tailored to your company’s needs.

EASTEC is fast approaching and with any luck the weather will be sunny and warm so think beyond the push of the sales person and make the drive over to the Big E.   There are at least 10 good reasons that it will be worth your effort.

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Closed Loop Water Filtration Pros and Cons for Waterjet Cutting


Many shop owners are concerned about the water consumption that abrasive waterjet cutting requires, and the process for properly disposing of the used water after cutting.  One of the big advantages to abrasive waterjet cutting is that it’s such a “green” technology – no dangerous gases or chemicals are used.  Abrasive comes for the ground and is generally able to go back to the ground, but what about the water supply – can it go back to the ground water?  Generally the answer is yes.  In most cutting operations spent water is considered standard grey water and can go right down the drain.  Of course if the material being cut on the waterjet is hazardous, such as lead or copper, then those chemicals could be introduced in to the water supply and thus it should not go down the drain.  However in general job shop operation or standard cutting the water is safe to go to the drain.

So why do people purchase closed loop water filtration systems? A closed loop water recycling system is an expensive investment which needs to be carefully considered and justified before being added to a waterjet purchase.  There are several situations where one might be necessary.  First if the shop is on a well rather than city water.  In many cases the well water supply is not sufficient to keep up with the demand that the waterjet puts on it.  Second if the shop uses a septic system for waste water disposal.  Again the capacity of the septic tank will likely not be able to handle the volume of water that the cutting process will generate.  Another reason would be if the materials being cut are going to be hazardous at which point a closed loop system will be a requirement.  Lastly to reduce water consumption in general.  While it may seem that adding a closed loop system would save money by reducing water consumption/disposal costs that is not typically the case.  Generally the cost for the filters that the treatment system requires are more than the cost of water, but if the goal is not to save money but simply to reduce water usage than the closed loop system will do the job.  Keep in mind that the water must be extremely clean in order to be put back through the pumping system hence the expensive filters.

Another factor to consider is how much water will be necessary to operate the waterjet. This will depend entirely on the type of pump that the abrasive waterjet is running off of.  Generally in the industry there are two common options, the hydraulic intensifier pump and the direct drive crankshaft style pump.   When considering a pump one significant difference between them is the water consumption.  The intensifier pump will require substantially more incoming water and of course generate more waste water for disposal.  While both pumps need about 1 gal/min of water for the actual cutting process, the intensifier pump will also need water to cool the hydraulic system.  This cooling water will be an additional 4-6 gal/min depending on how warm the incoming water is and how hot the pump has gotten.  An even larger water volume would be necessary for the larger horsepower hydraulic pumps.  The direct drive pump does not generate anywhere near as much heat thus it’s able to use the same 1 gal/min to first do the necessary cooling and then be used for cutting.  A larger number of shops running intensifier pumps will opt to add the water recycling system for the goal of reducing water consumption than those operating the direct drive pumps.

A water recycling system is definitely worth consideration when looking to purchase a waterjet however the high price point makes it less attractive for most customers who aren’t required to use it. Abrasive waterjet cutting is definitely an environmentally friendly operation whether a closed loop water filtration system is used or not.


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Additive Manufacturing Follows the Footsteps of EDM

When a new technology comes into the machining industry, there are always worries that it will render other technologies inferior. It happened back when Computer Numerical Control Electrical Discharge Machining or CNC EDM equipment was introduced in the 1970’s.

It was thought by many that it would mean sure death for traditional chip-making processes for part production. Instead, the wire, sinker, and hole-drilling versions of EDM discovered and settled into their own niche. This allowed conventional milling and turning to remain useful. Although it has made developmental advancements since its beginning, EDM still complements conventional machining instead of putting it on the back burner.

Now, additive technology is going through the same process as EDM. Some people worry additive machining technology could collapse subtractive machining. Still being a fairly new technology, it has many kinks to work out before it can find its niche like EDM did.

That being said, additive will have an impact on part production and how designers think and create. In the end, it will likely settle into a niche and complement subtractive machining. Some shops have already brought in additive manufacturing, and are making it work right alongside their conventional machining.

Additive manufacturing can do things traditional machining can’t, or would require additional steps to complete. Conversely, some parts might need a more conventional process, or to be finished after being made by an additive machine.

With many shops already figuring out how to create a synergy between additive and conventional, there’s little chance that the design freedom and capabilities of additive manufacturing will lead to the demise of subtractive machining.

For all of your conventional turning and milling, EDM, waterjet machine needs and more, contact Brooks Associates. They can help find the perfect machining center for every need.

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Boston Metro Area Continuing to Lose Manufacturing Jobs

Boston has always been a hub of manufacturing activity but in recent years while many other areas in the country have begun to see growth Boston has been on the decline.  A recent report of the country’s 107 largest metropolitan areas found that between 2011-2016 they saw a 4% increase in manufacturing jobs.  This works out to roughly 280,000 new jobs created.  These same 107 regions had previously been on the decline with a loss of about 1 million positions between 2006-2016.  However during this recent 5 year run of job increase Boston has not experienced the same growth in fact the Boston area experienced another 2% decline in manufacturing jobs during this window.  This means that of the 107 metro areas studied 80% are doing better with manufacturing job growth than Boston, 189,100 area jobs were lost last year alone.  While Boston did just barely remain on the list of top 10 metro areas in terms of total number of manufacturing jobs that will not be the case soon if this trend isn’t reversed.  Many local companies CEOs traveled to Washington recently to meet with President Trump to discuss trade and job creation for the Boston area but it remains to be seen what, if any, changes will result from these discussions.

Curious about where all of the growth is happening?  In terms of percentage of job growth Louisville, Kentucky topped the list with hiring increasing by 27.2% over 5 years.  They are followed by the greater Nashville, Tennessee area with a 27% increase and the Daytona Beach area of Florida with a 25.3% increase.  With regards to the actual number of jobs created Detroit, Michigan saw the largest increase with 37,500 new manufacturing jobs added in the 2011-2016 window.  They were followed by another Michigan city, Grand Rapids, which added 21,000 new jobs.  Third on the list is Nashville, TN with 18,300 new manufacturing jobs created.

Bostonians will watch anxiously to see if the trend can be reversed as many major corporations attempt to work with both local and national politicians on a plan forward.

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Hurco, Submarines, and the U.S. Navy


Recently several Hurco employees were invited to a local function to meet the command staff of a newly commissioned Virginia Class Nuclear Submarine, for the U.S. Navy, the USS INDIANA…and, as it was written on the picture below, by the skipper of the Indiana, Commander Jesse Zimbauer, this submarine is “Hurco made”.

The reason CDR Zimbauer says that this next-generation attack submarine is “Hurco made”, is because Virginia class submarines are built under an arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat, and Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, VA. Both of these companies are Hurco customers, and have many Hurco machines in their shop.

With a length of 377 feet, a beam width of 34 feet, and weighing in at 7,800 tons, the USS INDIANA will be capable of steaming at more than 25 knots while submerged, and is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling for the next 32 years. The skipper stated that the USS INDIANA will be the most advanced warship in the world, and with the average age of the 135 man crew only 22-25 years old, the last couple of crews who will man this submarine “haven’t even been born yet”…something difficult to wrap your mind around!

Commander Zimbauer told us that the USS INDIANA will provide the US Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s underwater supremacy at sea. She will also provide the capability to attack shore based targets with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles, and conduct covert long-term surveillance of any land areas, littoral waters, or other sea-based naval forces.

If you would like to learn more about the USS INDIANA, you can visit this link:

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