The history of lean manufacturing dates back at least to the 1700s, when Eli Whitney developed interchangeable parts in order to deliver a massive order of muskets to the American Army.
It wasn't until 1988 that John Krafcik coined the phrase "lean manufacturing" in his research as an MIT student. For most of the 20th century, lean manufacturing was tied closely to industrial innovations in the United States and Japan. While it wasn't called "lean" for many decades, American and Japanese automakers laid the groundwork for the tools of lean manufacturing that we use today.
Turning has been practiced by machinists for centuries on many different materials. Originally, turning acted on wood to create complex, cylindrical designs for use in tools, handles, furniture. Today, turning is a vital part of the metal manufacturing process, and a major technique used by precision CNC machine shops in the United States and around the globe.
Turning is the process of rotating a workpiece and bringing it into contact with a cutting tool. As the workpiece turns, the rotating motion forces the cutting tool to strip away material. The cutting tool itself can move linearly, either parallel or perpendicular to the axis of the spinning workpiece. Cuts made in turning, and the resulting shape of the workpiece, are determined by the motion and shape of the cutting tool.
Our new blog series What Precision Machine Shops Do focuses on the processes, equipment and knowledge involved in modern machining. We'll take a close look at key metal removal techniques like milling, turning, facing, boring and tapping, along with the many products and parts that work as a result of these processes.
For the most part, we'll be discussing CNC machining, or Computer Numerical Control machining. For a brief introduction to CNC, explaining how it developed and how it differs from non-CNC machining, check out our "Introduction to CNC Machining" blog post.
All metal casting processes have their own unique characteristics. When designing a new part for casting, the most appropriate process should be determined by a number of factors, including:
- Tooling costs
- Labor costs
- Design characteristics
- Desired appearance
The goal of the manufacturer and the supplier should be to find the optimal balance that produces the lowest per-part cost at a given quantity, while meeting or exceeding all quality requirements.
Here, we compare investment casting to three metal casting processes: shell mold casting, greensand casting and permanent mold casting.
In modern metal casting, steel and aluminum are two contenders for the top choice. Thousands of manufacturers around the world rely on both metals to produce strong, light and corrosion-resistant metal parts and products.
You'll find hundreds of different grades and alloys for both steel and aluminum, and each has its specific advantages and disadvantages. For this comparison, we'll focus on differences between aluminum and steel alloys in general, rather than zooming in on differences between specific alloys.
Manufacturing doesn't work without people. Equipment operators, engineers, sales teams and managerial staff are responsible for the success of every manufacturing business. Just like there's no company without people, there's no healthy business without healthy employees.
With healthcare costs constantly on the rise, employee healthcare is a major expense for businesses of all sizes. Traditionally, companies have a limited scope of choices to make when it comes to healthcare. Most choose to either subsidize health insurance for their employees, or form a self-funded insurance group.
A third option, which is increasingly gaining popularity, is to host onsite health clinics. These clinics can offer easier access to healthcare and more control over healthcare costs–but onsite clinics aren't right for every business. Here, we explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of hosting onsite clinics.
Eagle Precision Cast Parts, Inc. just released a downloadable resource, titled Investment Casting Process Guide: A Comprehensive Introduction to Investment Casting.
The goal of the 21-page ebook is to make it easy for manufacturers, and anyone else who's interested, to learn the basics of investment casting. Manufacturers looking for a better way to produce parts can find information on tolerances, design recommendations and a full case study.
Whether you're bringing a new product to market, improving on an old design or entering the world of metal manufacturing for the first time, you'll need to find the right foundry for the job. Choosing a metal casting supplier can be a daunting task, and not everyone makes the right choice the first time.
These five mistakes companies make when choosing a new metal casting supplier can lead to expensive fixes, defective products, overpriced castings, logistical headaches and customer service nightmares. Read on to find out what NOT to do when choosing a new foundry.
CNC Machining is often the last step in metal manufacturing, or sometimes the only process involved. Compared to other metalworking techniques, CNC machining is capable of meeting the tightest tolerances, and producing the most accurate, precise products over and over again.
Eagle Alloy, Inc. was founded in 1979 and quickly grew from a short-run facility to a medium-to-high-production steel foundry. Despite the company’s success, its founders were not satisfied with the status quo. Having heard of developments in lean manufacturing, they decided to implement these tools in hopes of achieving greater efficiency, stability and quality throughout the production process.
5S: The Beginning
As with many production facilities beginning to experiment with lean manufacturing, Eagle Alloy started with 5S. 5S is easy to adapt to just about any environment, and the key to lean is customization. Every lean tool must be adapted to the particular type of production, to the size of the company and to the facility's space.