Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Own Kind of Networking

Special Guest Blog by Mark Albert, Editor-in-Chief, Modern Machine Shop

Networking is an activity that is hard to define. It’s more purposeful than hobnobbing; more sincere than schmoozing. Meeting new people who can do things with you or for you to mutually benefit from, is networking at its best. Doing this kind of networking is one of the reasons why I attended “Making Manufacturing a Priority,” this year’s inaugural event for the committee that directs “Automation Alley,” a long-standing government/industry initiative, which seeks to boost manufacturing in southeastern Michigan.
Kurt Nordlund, president of Seco Tools NAFTA,
welcoming people to the event.
Hosted by Seco Tools at its North American headquarters and technical Center in Troy, Michigan, this event drew more than 100 attendees representing a variety of manufacturing companies from the region. Speakers, roundtable discussions, several tabletop exhibits and machine tools running in the showroom comprised the “program” for this late afternoon-early evening event and gave it just enough structure for lively yet focused participation. There was also plenty of time for networking, which, according to Seco, provides a commercial-free forum for manufacturers and their suppliers to meet and discuss topics important to them.

Here are a few examples of the networking contacts that I made at the “Making Manufacturing a Priority” event sponsored by Seco Tools in Troy, Michigan on January 8, 2013 for Automation Alley.

Don Graham is Seco’s manager of education and technical services. He told me about some new materials and new processes that Seco is investigating. One of these new materials promises to greatly decrease the weight of components used in the “hot section” of a jet engine. The material, however, is one of the most difficult materials to machine Seco has ever encountered, so it is a real challenge to a cutting tool developer. One of the new processes is laser-assisted machining, in which preheating the workpiece material with a laser just in front of the cutting tool presents interesting new possibilities for metal removal strategies.
Likewise, Tim Aydt and Don Halas, two Seco product managers, shared some innovations they’ve been working on. For example, Tim (a turning specialist) talked about how insert coatings developed for milling applications are proving valuable for turning inserts, enabling one insert grade to turn workpieces with a hard outer layer and a softer core underneath. Don (a threading and grooving expert) told me about changes in the exploration for natural gas that are putting cutting tools developed for aerospace into oilfield applications to cut special thread forms. It seems that strongly acidic conditions deep underground require the kind of alloys (and machining processes) normally used on aircraft components and jet engines.
Later, near the beverage bar, I met Don Jasurda, whom I met years ago when Don was with a CAD/CAM company. Don is now VP of Sales for Dimensional Control Systems, Inc., in Troy. This company provides metrology optimization services for large manufacturing companies. In addition to renewing our acquaintance, we discussed his company’s plans to make its technology available to smaller manufacturing companies and job shops. I promised to get the news out when the new products are launched because the underlying concepts put advanced metrology in a fresh perspective.
In the break room where a hot buffet was being served, I sat down with Gary and Lisa Seidl. Lisa is Seco’s marketing communications manager. Gary’s employer, Quick-Built, makes automated machinery for inserting metal components into plastic parts as they come off the injection machine. He and I chatted about how customers in the local area are carefully managing the mix of automotive and not-automotive work.
At the end of the evening, I sat down with Mike Parker and Bob Goulding, two more Seco guys. Mike is Director of Engineering, Marketing & Product Development, while Bob heads Seco’s Component Engineered Tooling group. Bob’s enthusiasm for this part of Seco’s service to manufacturers was effervescent. His group develops entire manufacturing processes (equipment selection, machining parameters, cutting tool strategies, CNC programming and so on) for customers. He was quite proud of some remarkable successes his group has created recently for leading manufacturers in the Detroit area and around the country. I was unaware that Seco provided the service. After listening to Bob, I’d like to develop some case histories about these success stories.
My notes and additional collection of business cards from this event are further evidence of effective networking (for me!). If other attendees were equally effective at networking, we can safely declare “Mission Accomplished” for Automation Alley’s 2013 inaugural event.

View Mark Albert's original blog post on 

About the Author
Mark Albert is editor-in-chief of Modern Machine Shop Magazine, a position he has held since July 2000. He was associate editor and then executive editor of the magazine in prior years. Mark has been writing about metalworking for more than 30 years. Currently, his favorite topics are lean manufacturing and global competitiveness. Mark’s editorial activities have taken him to numerous countries in Europe and Asia as well as across the United States many times. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).

Friday, January 4, 2013

Diamond-Tip Technology Advances Holemaking in Composites

By Scott Turner, Drilling Manager

New CX1 and CX2 Solid PCD-Tipped Drills
Next month, we’ll put a new spin on drilling through composite materials with the launch of our new CX1 and CX2 solid PCD-tipped drills. While traditional PCD and diamond-coated drill designs can sometimes fall short in composite drilling applications, these two new solutions prevent delamination and uncut fibers like never before.  

With bodies made of solid carbide, the CX1 and CX2 drills feature a solid PCD dome and solid PCD cap, respectively, as opposed to the more common PCD vein or dual brazed tip designs. Furthermore, our new PCD technology made it possible for us to develop the industry’s first PCD three-flute geometry (CX1) for composite drilling. 

The CX1 and CX2 PCD drills offer the sharpest and strongest cutting edges currently available, providing you with the best possible hole quality and a significant reduction in machining time. This performance is possible because these new drills use solid PCD tips that are much sharper than PCD-coated drills where the coatings wrap around a drill’s cutting edges and actually create a dulling effect.

CX1 Geometry
CX1 Geometry Features and Benefits

• Third flute provides high levels of stability in the hole as well as decreases vibrations and improves roundness.

• Dome-shaped tip applies a double-angle geometry that reduces uncut fibers and delamination in composite-only applications. The tip also makes it possible to recondition the drill point.

• Solid PCD tip lowers process temperatures to enhance product stability and allow for higher cutting speeds.

• Available in a variety of dimensions for holes that range in size from 0.125” to 0.375”. Chamfers can also further increase application flexibility.

CX2 Geometry
CX2 Geometry Features and Benefits

• Flat geometry drill point ideal for machining stacked composite materials with layers of aluminum, titanium or stainless steel.

• PCD cap supports 180-degree drill point angle that provides efficient chip breaking and evacuation qualities. This reduces the chance of metal chips damaging the hole when transitioning between layers of metal and composites.

• Solid PCD tip lowers process temperatures to enhance product stability and allow for higher cutting speeds.

• Available in a variety of dimensions for holes that range in size from 0.125” to 0.375”. Chamfers can also further increase application flexibility.

Solid PCD-Tipped Drills Versus PCD-Coated Drills

While solid PCD-tipped drills are more expensive than PCD-coated drills at the front end, the overall return on investment for solid-tip designs is substantial if you are drilling a large number of holes and essentially spreading out the cost of each hole. In fact, the PCD drills with the CX1 and CX2 geometries have the ability to effectively drill two to three times more holes than a PCD-coated drill.

Investing in solid PCD-tipped drills also makes sense when hole quality is of the utmost importance. However, if you have an application that is not part of a continuous running process and hole quality is not as critical, PCD-coated drills would prove more cost effective.

It is also important to keep in mind that rigid setups are necessary when machining composite materials. After all, composite materials are typically thin and, therefore, require more support. Without the right setup, you run the risk of frequent drill breakage and hole quality compromise. Therefore, in less rigid setups, a PCD-coated drill would make the most economical sense.     

In composite drilling applications, the use of portable drills is common. As such, both solid PCD-tipped drills and PCD-coated drills can prove effective; however, there needs to be enough RPM range to optimize the application. Therefore, in situations where there is not enough RPM, a solid PCD-tipped drill would be the better choice. After all, PCD-tipped drills work best in optimally run applications where more productivity and improved hole quality is a must. 

We consider the CX1 and CX2 to currently be the most advanced solutions for drilling today’s challenging composite materials. And given that every composite-based operation varies, we now have the technology to make special PCD geometries if so required. And as composite materials continue to evolve, we will constantly work to advance our drill designs to provide the best possible hole quality, productivity and profitability.

About the Author
As drilling manager, Scott is responsible for the product development, applications support and marketing of advanced hole-making solutions. In his spare time, he enjoys participating in outdoor activities such as jet skiing, snow skiing and golfing. Contact Scott at