Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Modern Manufacturers Need More Brains Than Brawn

One of the biggest problems today’s manufacturers face is the shortage of good machinists and skilled technicians. As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, companies find it tough to fill positions that require high skill sets.

Hordes of baby boomers in the manufacturing sector continue to retire, and they leave behind myriads of open jobs. Unfortunately, most young people show zero interest in such a career path and instead buy into the myth that a four-year college is the only way to get ahead in life.  

Although today’s manufacturing companies are a major source of high-tech innovation, wealth creation and plenty of high-paying careers, the industry still suffers from a negative image of “working the line.”  To change this mindset, Seco has created a proactive, comprehensive internship program to educate students about future manufacturing career opportunities as well as help them gain real-world experience. The company’s program targets college-level students.

In a partnership with Ferris State University (FSU) in Big Rapids, Michigan, Seco offers local area engineering students an opportunity to participate in a multi-year internship program. It invites the top three engineering applicants to participate for an initial first year internship. Then, based on their interest and performance, the students are potentially asked back for a second year. Once a student graduates from the program, Seco often presents an offer of employment at one of its several U.S. locations.

Under the guidance of seasoned mentors, Seco interns experience a combination of classroom training and real-world business experience while earning their degree at FSU. The first-year interns take part in technical training and the development of custom tooling. They will also learn to further develop their machining skills by utilizing advanced machining technologies and accompany Seco applications specialists on outside customer calls. All these facets of the program ensure students receive a comprehensive overview of all their potential areas of interest.

During their second year, interns are often sent out-of-state to shadow an experienced sales rep and make professional sales calls for on-the-job experience. Students participating in the sales portion of the internship program are paid competitive wages during the internship and receive assistance with housing placement and living expenses. Seco also provides a company car to all second-year students.

In light of its company-wide “family spirit” values, Seco ensures that students/interns are taken care of and have all the tools they need to succeed.  Because Seco takes care of everything, the students’ parents don’t worry about their son or daughter moving to a new city and having to locate and pay for housing or, in the case second-year sales program students, a car either.

Seco’s internship program has been in place for several years, and feedback has been extremely positive. The majority of students who complete the program end up working for Seco, and it has placed second year students all over the country from South Carolina to Texas and California.  Most of these students will have a job offer from Seco before they even graduate.

It’s a win-win model that benefits everyone. Students receive an education with the promise of a great career, and Seco gains skilled job candidates that know their job before they even join the payroll.

Visit Seco at FSU’s Career Fair this fall
Engineering students interested in securing an internship with Seco should plan to
Visit the Seco booth at FSU’s Career Fair to be held this October. Inquiries may also be directed to Andrew Nalian via Email at:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Add Some High Performance to Your Optimized Roughing

By Jay Ball - Product Manager, Solid Carbide End Mills

Conventional optimized roughing strategies call for shallow radial stepovers and high depths of cut with multi-flute cutting tools. Now, imagine how much more productive the strategy would be if it were possible to up those stepovers to as much as 70 percent of the cutting tool’s diameter. With today’s innovative continuously variable geometry end mills, such stepovers are possible and standard operating procedure for a new version of the strategy referred to as high-performance optimized roughing (HPOR) that also requires high-performance machine tools and toolholders as well as specialized CAM software.

Much like high-feed tools, continuously variable geometry end mills perform best when they are fully loaded in the cut as opposed to lightly loaded. Therefore, the radial stepovers of 12 percent or less of a tool’s diameter typically used in optimized roughing prove much too shallow to work well for optimized roughing with these advanced end mills – such as the Niagara Cutter Stabilizer 2.0 – that operate best with stepovers of at least 20 percent or more of the tool’s diameter.

To handle such high stepovers, these new age end mills sport robust core designs and a high heat and abrasion resistant AlTiN coating. At such aggressive stepovers, chip evacuation is key and having the right combination of core diameter and flute spacing is crucial to a tools optimal performance.

But what really makes Stabilizer 2.0 so strong is its patented continuously variable geometry that eliminates detrimental harmonics and chatter vibrations. Other conventional end mills are unable to withstand such depths of cut and metal removal rates and will most likely fail if a shop tries to use them for HPOR.

With the Stabilizer 2.0 geometry, each of the tool’s cutting edges varies from front to back and differs from the one next to it. Additionally, each of the tool’s four flutes are spaced at different degrees from one another instead of evenly at 90 degrees apart. The helix, radial relief, radial clearance and indexing are all varied. And, any given point along the cutting edge of each flute is different from another point on that same flute as well as varies from any points on the other three flutes.

In addition to the cutting tools themselves, machine tools must have heavy-duty high-torque and high-horsepower spindles such as CAT 50, HSK100A and HSK125A. HPOR can be performed on lighter duty machine tools with CAT 40 and HSK63A spindles, but caution must be used not to overload or max out the machine’s horsepower capabilities. With such strong forces in play from the machine tool spindle, toolholding must be equally rigid to minimize runout, and standard side-lock holders with set screws or heavy-duty mill chucks are the best choices. Most shrinkfit holders and collets lack the ability to hold variable geometry tools in place under such high-powered cutting conditions.

Currently, HPOR is mainly used in European markets, but shops in North America are realizing the benefits of this new strategy. In fact, several CAD/CAM software developers have already created the necessary CAM software needed for HPOR.

Because continuously variable geometry end mills, like Stabilizer 2.0, are stronger and better at eliminating harmonics than any of their predecessors, shops can adapt cutting strategies to optimize the new tools’ capabilities. These cutting tools, along with the right machine tools, toolholders and software, can significantly boost a shop’s metal removal rates.

About the Author
Jay has been with Seco for more than 10 years. As a key member of the product management team, he is responsible for Seco’s solid carbide end mill products in North America. He works closely with global R&D on new innovations to ensure they meet the necessary market requirements. He also provides technical support for high-speed hard milling and micro milling operations, including CAD file review, tooling selections and programming recom