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Speaking of Precision

Speaking of Precision is a knowledge preservation and thought leadership blog covering the precision machining industry, its materials and services. With over 36 years of hands on experience in steelmaking, manufacturing, quality, and management, Miles Free (Milo) Director of Industry Research and Technology at PMPA helps answer "How?" "With what?" and occasionally "Really?"

Workforce Training- Solving the Skills Shortage Problem

Posted April 15, 2014 9:47 AM by Milo

PMPA member North Easton Machine Company Incorporated is taking an active role in solving the skilled workforce issues it faces. Jon Holbrook announced last week that North Easton Machine will be receiving $41,500 to help train 25 employees and create job opportunities for 4 additional staff over the next two years. This project is funded by a Workforce Training Fund grant through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered by the Commonwealth Corporation.

Today's technologies require today's skills!


Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which you can finish reading here.

13 comments; last comment on 04/17/2014
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Manufacturing is Turning Grey--Aging Population of U.S. Manufacturing

Posted April 08, 2014 11:00 AM by Milo
Pathfinder Tags: career employment manufacturing

Guest post by Frances Brunelle, at Accelerated Buy Sell Blog

I was really impressed with her thinking--and the fact that she offers a solution.

Last week I attended the quarterly meeting of the NJTMA. The new president of the association, Mr. Alan Haveson, asked the audience by a show of hands, how many were in need of skilled workers. Almost every hand in the room went up. As I looked around the room, I noticed that a majority of the business owners were sporting grey, salt & pepper or white hair. Mr. Haveson went on to talk about the responsibility to transfer knowledge to the next generation before it's too late. That night I enjoyed catching up with some of my long time customers. They all talked about how hard it is to find good qualified machinists. For a few seconds I wondered how the industry got itself into this position. I answered my own question in my head because I've read enough books, authored enough articles and been entrenched in the industry long enough to know.

This didn't happen over night. It was slow and steady. It happened one student at a time, being told that manufacturing was not a worthy profession. It happened in almost every high school across the country, as guidance counselors encouraged other types of careers.

We, as a society, allowed the image of U.S. manufacturing to be tarnished.

We didn't speak up. We didn't allow our voices to be heard. We allowed our collective paradigm to shift away from the idea that making things here at home is a good and worthy profession. When did graduating college with a mountain of debt and a degree for something for which one can't find a job become the norm?

The whole situation reminds me of the story of how DeBeers altered the way many nations looked at diamond engagement rings over the course of a generation. In 1967 only about 5% of Japanese women sported a diamond engagement ring. In 1981 the figure rose to about 60%. How did DeBeers accomplish this? The same way they did in every other country, through advertising. Through relentless advertising over multiple media, the rare became the norm and a new paradigm was created for the furtherance of the company's bottom line.

Are you asking what diamonds have to do with a generation of U.S. students rejecting manufacturing as a viable career? Was this rejection the paradigm of generations past? Of course not! It was slow and steady encouragement and "advertising," by an industry that would make more money based on student's choices. Before I inspire a bunch of hate mail, I am NOT saying that traditional four-year colleges are bad. What I'm saying is that we all must keep in mind that the secondary education system is a business that seeks its own perpetuation. Colleges are a business just like DeBeers that have a vested interest in an entire population viewing what they provide as an absolute must. I think that it's smart to question the "norms" in society. Don't think so? Where are the jobs today? How many folks do you know have their adult children living with them, because they can't find employment after college? How fast would these kids find a job if they knew how to program a CNC machining center?

So how do we fix this? We didn't get here over night, and this won't be fixed overnight. But it can be a slow and steady storm. An army of people who work in manufacturing and supporting industries speaking, writing, advertising and advocating for the industry. It starts with people like Al Haveson challenging the membership of a State Manufacturing Association to do their part to pass the baton to the next generation. It starts with folks like Anthony LaMastra, former president of the same association, working hard to get a regional manufacturing training center in our state. It starts with apprenticeship programs around the country. It starts with people like Gene Haas making generous donations of machining centers to manufacturing educational programs throughout the country. It starts with other machine tool builders following Mr. Haas's lead. It starts with people like you going to your son or daughters school to talk about how cool it is to MAKE things.

So many MILLIONS of great minds within the manufacturing community will retire in the next 10-20 years. What can you do to give back after you retire? Will you be a volunteer, a mentor or a writer? How will you help champion the industry once you retire? What would result if this conversation happens at EVERY state manufacturing association? What if it happens at a national level?

What happens if we go "DeBeers" on an entire generation of young people to champion US manufacturing?

We wouldn't just save our industry; we'd save our economy and perhaps our nation. I will do my part….will you?

Original post here

Accelerated Buy Sell Home Page


Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which you can finish reading here.

6 comments; last comment on 04/09/2014
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Safety First--Do As I Say Department

Posted April 04, 2014 11:30 AM by Milo
Pathfinder Tags: manufacturing safety warning

I really get annoyed when people tell me to do as they say, rather than as they do.

How about demonstrating leadership behaviors that show us that you are serious?

How many violations can you find in this gem?

It is incumbent on all of us to commit to a safer workplace. That means leadership by example. If you wear your PPE out in the shop, your employees will get the message that wearing PPE is important for them too.

As for the safety culture at wherever this photo was taken, well, lets just say that "I'm glad my son or daughter do not work there."

Please do not try to stage photos like this for fun. but if you have a favorite "Don't do as I do" Safety Photo, I'd love to share it with our readers.


Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which you can finish reading here.

6 comments; last comment on 04/07/2014
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Central Bursts, Chevroning in Cold Drawn and Extruded Steels

Posted March 28, 2014 12:00 PM by Milo
Pathfinder Tags: Extrusion manufacturing steel

In cold worked steels, failures can be broadly categorized in two categories. The first, are those nucleated by localized defects- such as seams, pipe, and exogenous inclusions. The second, are those which result from exceeding the strength of the material itself.

The compressive stresses of cold working results in failures by shear along planes 45 degrees to the applied stress. These are known as shear failures. The presence of shear failures in an otherwise metallurgically normal material indicates excessive mechanical deformation. While often the result of tooling issues, conditions which lower material ductility including chemistry, macrostructure, nonmetallics, microstructure, aging, and hydrogen embrittlement have also been implicated in investigations of premature shear failure.

Typical shear failures in cold forming.

This post will focus on the central Bursts in the product of cold drawn steel, especially from the point of view of a shop making parts on automated equipment.

Ignoring the steel factors that may play a role in triggering the central bursts or chevrons, the role of tooling is usually considered to be the root cause, as replacement of dies typically eliminates the central bursting.

A bar which exhibited central bursting was saw cut lengthwise to show the internal ruptures.

Presence of a wear ring in the cold drawing die results in forces greater than steel's strength causing bursting in the core.

In very rare cases, while machining parts from a bar which exhibits internal bursts or chevrons, the part will separate from the bar in process because of the prior existing rupture. The photo below shows such a part, note the fracture surface on the sides of the stepped down diameter on the part end shown in the photo below.

Note prior existing rough fracture surface on stepped down diameter. This is remnant of prior existing central burst in the bar.

The following two photos show how the internal bursts could have been manifested in the original bar as well as the parts.

This figure shows how the prior existing ruptures could have existed in the bar as they are seen on the parts off the automatic screw machine.

It is difficult to see the defect on the threaded end of the nearly completed part, but this photo does attempt to show that.

On this part the central burst or chevron was encountered at the threaded end of the part.

In a later post we will discuss more factors relating to central bursting or chevron failures of cold drawn or cold extruded steel.


Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which you can finish reading here.

1 comments; last comment on 03/29/2014
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Precision Plus Hosts Second Student Manufacturing Panel

Posted March 25, 2014 12:30 PM by Milo
Pathfinder Tags: career employment manufacturing

On Wednesday, February 26, approximately 200 students from five different schools settled into their seats at the Elkhorn Area High School auditorium to listen to four experts and one of their own peers address the career opportunities in the manufacturing industry.

Brian White, President of Waukesha Engine; Hanan Fishman, President of PartMaker, Inc, (a software development company); Mary Isbister, President of GenMet, Mequon (metal fabricator); Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus; and senior, Brad Pearson, (manufacturing apprentice) shared their insights on opportunities the world of manufacturing offers.

According to all four speakers, there is a huge deficit in the number of young people applying for jobs in manufacturing.

Currently, the industry is looking for people skilled in

  • Design Engineering,
  • Manufacturing Engineering,
  • Machinists,
  • Welders,
  • CNC Programmers,
  • Fabricators,
  • Machine Maintenance.

White mentioned that top machinists can earn up to $80,000 per year and that every manufacturing job generates four other jobs in other sectors such as health, IT, finance, etc.

Both White and Reader stressed to students to make certain that they are

  • Preparing for a career, not just for college;
  • To make sure that their advanced education can help them secure a job,
  • And to prepare themselves for life-long learning.

They cited the fact that 70% of manufacturing jobs will require education beyond the high school diploma. Fishman backed up this fact by stating that what goes on in manufacturing today has a lot more to do with what goes on above the neck than below. Isbister reminded students that when hiring she looks for highly driven and ambitious job candidates; those who are committed to their jobs. She, along with the Reader, White, and Fishman stressed the importance of soft skills-reliability, communication skills, collaboration, self-motivation, positive attitude, and a willingness to learn.

Senior apprentice, Brad Pearson, spoke of his experience at Precision Plus and his appreciation for the opportunities he has been given by his mentor to learn all aspects of precision-turned component manufacturing

Our PMPA member shops, like Precision Plus, are leading the charge to change the conversation about careers in manufacturing. What about you?


Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which you can finish reading here.


Need For Qualified Workers: A Shop Owner’s View

Posted March 21, 2014 11:59 AM by Milo
Pathfinder Tags: employment machine shop

Guest post by Jon Holbrook, PMPA member company North Easton Machine Company

The industry today is a buzz with the need for qualified workers. Low cost energy here in the United States combined with our ability to manufacture some of the highest quality products in the world are creating a bit of a "perfect storm".

This perfect storm of economic conditions is leading to a second industrial revolution in this country.

We are seeing a resurgence of many of the industries that only a few years ago were leaving the US in droves.

This is not my father's (or his father's ) Industrial Revolution!

  • My father sharpened his own tools by hand on a bench grinder by eye.
  • He made fine adjustments on production equipment with a wrench and the tap of a ballpeen hammer.
  • He used "Speedi Dri" to soak up the oil that no matter how hard he tried could not seem to be contained to the machine.

Today we have a high tech industrial revolution!

Digital and optical technologies are routine, as is the use of trig and geometry every day.

Today's machinist uses disposable insert tooling, punches offsets into a computer and programs equipment using CAD models and 3D simulation programs.

All this in an environment that is closer to a climate controlled laboratory than the shops of the last century.

@ Key questions:

  1. How do we train the worker of tomorrow to be successful in manufacturing in the 21st century?
  2. Equally important, how do we re-train today's workers to meet the needs of manufacturing in America today?

While I am unable to offer a perfect solution to these issues, our company, North Easton Machine, is doing our part to hire the long term unemployed and re-train them for a rewarding career in the field of manufacturing. Our company was just awarded a "Hiring Incentive Training Grant." We have confidence in the future of North American Manufacturing, just as my father did years ago. We are working diligently to make it happen.

What can you do to help meet the challenges that we as North American Manufacturers face today?


Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Milo for sharing this blog entry, which you can finish reading here.

8 comments; last comment on 03/24/2014
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