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Value Stream Mapping: Lean Manufacturing Principles Part 4

Aug 18, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Business, Manufacturing, Techniques  //  1 Comment
VSMSymbols

This is Part 4 of our Introduction to Lean Manufacturing Principles Series.  You can find the CNCCookbook home page for Lean Manufacturing here.
Wikipedia:
Value stream mapping is a lean-management method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer. At Toyota, it is known as “material and information flow mapping”.[1] It can be applied to nearly anyvalue chain.
Like the definition says, Value Stream Mapping is used to analyze a series of events that take a product through its manufacturing cycle.  At least that’s how Lean Manufacturing uses it, though it is important to keep in mind that there are many other uses in other areas.  Using the Value Stream Mapping methodology to improve your systems works like this:
1.  Identify what target  you want to analyze.  Perhaps it is the entire manufacturing process for a product.  Perhaps it is some Kaizen-derived target that will the the subject of a Kaizen Blitz.
2.  While on the Shop Floor, sketch out the current value stream map which shows how things are being done today.  This map needs to show all the…

Trochoidal Milling Feeds and Speeds

Aug 17, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Software, Techniques  //  4 Comments
TrochoidalMilling

I had a customer ask me how to calculate Feeds and Speeds for Trochoidal Milling with G-Wizard Calculator the other day.  G-Wizard is a perfect tool for finding these Feeds and Speeds, but first, what is Trochoidal Milling?
Trochoidal Milling is a High Speed Machining (HSM) technique that moves the tool in a shape called a “Trochoid.”  The link shows the derivation of what a Trochoid is, but here’s a typical Trochoidal Toolpath:

Using Trochoidal Milling to cut a slot…
The idea is each cut is a circular arc rather than moving down the slot in a straight line.  The advantage of Trochoidal Milling is it keeps a constant load on the cutter so you can run higher feeds and speeds.  Some Trochoidal paths create a more “D” shaped toolpath and don’t do a complete circle each time.
Now how do we use G-Wizard Calculator to figure out the Feeds and Speeds for such a path?
Actually, it’s pretty simple.  Here is one all set up:

Feeds and Speeds for a Trochoidal Milling operation to cut a slot…
First, you set up the material and tool.  We’re cutting some mild steel with a 1/2″ 4 flute carbide endmill.
Next, you…

We’re Giving Away All Our Software for Free

Aug 15, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  5 Comments

Woohooo, we love free stuff!
 
 
Hang on, that title is not exactly the whole story.  Okay, the title was a cheap trick, I admit it.  But we are giving away all of our software for free to one lucky winner.
We know you’re really excited about getting free stuff :).  For the next two weeks, we’re offering a giveaway that’s absolutely every piece of CNC software that we sell:
G-Wizard Calculator:  Lifetime Subscription
G-Wizard Editor:  Lifetime Subscription
MeshCam:  Easy to use 3D Cam Software
Gearotic:  Gear Design and G-Code by the Father of Mach3
That’s all good stuff, and if you add up the individual prices for each of those packages the total value of the prize comes to $918.
Now you could spend that much to order all those products (honestly, we don’t mind), or you could enter the contest and maybe you’ll be the one to win all that software for free (we like that too or we wouldn’t do this!).
Enough talking already! Enter and start sharing to rack up as many chances to win our giant CNC software bundle as possible – the deadline is 5pm PST on August 29:
Let’s Do This: Click…

Kaizen: Continuous Improvement through Good Change. Lean Manufacturing Part 3.

Aug 14, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Manufacturing, Techniques  //  No Comments
KaizenBoard1

This is Part 3 of our Introduction to Lean Manufacturing Principles Series.
The Japanese word “Kaizen” is translated as “Good Change”, and that is exactly what Kaizen programs in Lean Manufacturing are all about.  The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small, in the same sense as the English word “improvement”.  However, it has come to refer more to the philosophy of Continuous Improvement as it is practiced in Lean Manufacturing circles.  Wikipedia captures the essence of what Kaizen is all about relative to other Continuous Improvement initiatives very succinctly:
Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work (“muri“), and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method and how to learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes. In all, the process suggests a humanized approach to workers and to increasing productivity: “The idea is to nurture the company’s human resources as much as it is to praise and encourage participation in kaizen activities.”
Kaizen is daily, so truly continuous.  We don’t have to stop everything and…

Check Out 3DHubs: A Place To Sell Your 3D Printer’s Time and Use Other 3D Printers

Aug 12, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog, Business, CNC Projects, Cool, Manufacturing, Products  //  No Comments
3DHubs

Are you bemoaning the fact that you don’t have a 3D Printer but you’d like to have one of your designs 3D printed?  3DHubs will take your STL file, help you locate a nearby 3D Printer that’s part of their community, and pretty soon you’ll be off to visit the printer and get your part made.  That’s pretty cool.  I have been thinking about prototyping some parts on the CNCCookbook Rostock 3D Printer and then sending them off to one of the services like Shapeways to get a higher quality print.  This is another approach.  If nothing else, if you live near enough different 3D printers, it would be fascinating to be able to compare print quality from a bunch of them before you take the plunge and buy a particular printer for yourself.
If you do own a 3D Printer, does it sit idle most of the time or even much of the time?  Mine does.  I mostly fire it up on the weekends when I have time away from writing software and articles for CNCCookbook.  I tell myself it’s okay to do these kinds of projects during the week because it’s all for the greater CNCCookbook good, but…

How Shops Are Investing to Be More Competitive: Survey Results

Aug 11, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Manufacturing, Techniques  //  1 Comment
ShopInvestingGoals

The results are in for our Manufacturing Competitiveness Survey, and they’re fascinating to say the least.
Here’s what we found out:
Are Shops Investing or Standing Pat?
Every single shop that participated in the survey is investing during the coming year.
 
What Specific Goals Are Shops Investing in Achieving?
Here’s what Shops are trying to accomplish with their investments…
The investment goals are quite interesting.  The top three are Faster and More Reliable Delivery, Superior Quality, and investing to Open New Markets.  To me, these kinds of goals reflect businesses that are confident and looking to expand.  Also, Faster Delivery and Superior Quality seem tailor-made to address the weaknesses of offshoring.  It only makes sense that shops that are still around and still investing are well aware of what they have to do to compete with lower cost labor markets.
How Do Existing Versus New Investments Compare?

Existing versus New Investments going forward…
Comparing existing versus new investments gives us some unique insights.  First, the data are sorted in order of the popularity of existing investments.  So, CAD software is the most common investment among our audience while Additive Manufacturing is the least common.  The red bars stacked on…

5S: Organize for Productivity. Lean Manufacturing Part 2

Aug 8, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Manufacturing, Techniques  //  No Comments
SpaghettiDiagram

This is Part 2 of our Introduction to Lean Manufacturing Principles Series.
5S is all about the productivity implications of organization.  A place for everything and everything in its place really matters if done with an eye towards manufacturing productivity.
The term “5S” derives from 5 Japanese words that all start with the letter “S”, but we can also use 5 English words that mean the same thing:
Sort (Seiri)
Set in Order (Seiton)
Shine (Seiso)
Standardize (Seiketsu)
Sustain (Shitsuke)
We’ll delve more into the exact meaning of these words in the 5S methodology shortly, but for now, consider that they describe a process for organization the workplace in such a way that everything is Easy to Find, Easy to Use, and Easy to Put Away from a production perspective.  That all sounds like a good idea, right?
The decision making process used to arrive at the 5S organization for the shop involves a dialog with the staff that leads to a greater shared understanding of how they do their work, which is also a useful by-product.
Let’s start by going over each of the 5 terms or phases to see how they’re implemented.
Sort (Seiri)
Sorting is a critical…

Neat CNC Router-Made Standing Desk Requires No Fasteners

Aug 7, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, CNC Projects, CNC Router, Cool, Manufacturing, Products  //  10 Comments
CNCRouterStandingDesk

Before there was metal, there was wood, at least in my shop.  I didn’t get into CNC at that point in my life, many years ago, but I was way into custom cabinetry.  I always admired the Japanese designs that required no fasteners–everything was held together through a cunning combination of tension and pegs.  Someday I hope to get a CNC Router table going in the shop and return, at least a little bit, to doing some projects in wood.  Meanwhile, I do enjoy seeing what others are up to with their CNC Routers.  One of the things that intrigued me most about CNC was that it isn’t just a faster way to do most things, it’s a way to do things that just simply can’t be done any other way, at least not by mere mortals like me.  CNC Router joinery is one such application that I’ve written about in the past.
This article is about a neat little standing desk that requires no fasteners.  It is held together by tension, much like the Japanese designs I mention:

These neat little desks are 100% made in America of maple plywood using a process the makers call “Digital Manufacturing:”
3D…

SOLS Systems Launches Custom 3D Printed Orthotics

Aug 6, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog, Cool  //  No Comments
SOLSOrthotic

I’ve said for a long time that a great use for 3D printing is personalization.  The disadvantages of additive manufacturing versus subtractive (traditional machine tool) manufacturing are minimized when we’re talking about making a one-off.  3D printers have been known as great prototyping tools for a long time, but there are classes of product where each unit is a one-off due to personalization or customization needs.  Custom 3D Printed Orthotics are one such market.  Here is the SOLS Orthotic:

SOLS Orthotics are made from 3D Printed Nylon with an anti-microbial coating in the color of your choice…
The company offers the Orthotics with full customization for the shape of your foot as well as the colors of the materials used to make them.  They’re not hard to the touch because they use a special open cell foam in contact with your foot.
How SOLS Works
The company is establishing partnerships with Foot Doctors who want to carry their product.  Later, they plan to make it possible to order SOLS without having to visit the doctor.  This is accomplished using a 3D scanning technology called photogrammetry.  Basically, they stitch together photos taken with an iPad to create a 3D model of…

Introduction to Lean Manufacturing Principles, Part 1: What is Lean Manufacturing?

Aug 4, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Manufacturing, Techniques  //  3 Comments
LeanManufacturingWordCloud

I can already see from preliminary results of our Manufacturing Competitiveness Survey that there’s a lot of interest in Lean Manufacturing, so I thought I’d put together a multi-part series that introduces the guiding principles of Lean Manufacturing.  I am also adding a Home Page for Lean Manufacturing to our CNC Manufacturing Cookbook.
Before we can get started, we need a good definition of, “What is Lean Manufacturing?”
If you search for it, Google has choosen a definition from the EPA as the best:
Lean manufacturing is a business model and collection of tactical methods that emphasize eliminating non-value added activities (waste) while delivering quality products on time at least cost with greater efficiency.
Wikipedia offers the following:
Lean manufacturing, Lean Enterprise, or lean production, often simply, “lean“, is a production philosophy that considers the expenditure of resources in any aspect other than the direct creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. 

The emphasis on minimizing waste by getting rid of activities that don’t directly generate value for the customer is common to most definitions of Lean Manufacturing.  While it is often thought of in terms of eliminating waste, once and…

Manufacturing Competitiveness Survey

Aug 1, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Manufacturing, Techniques  //  No Comments

We put together a survey that helps evaluate what shops are investing in to improve their competitiveness and why.  If you are part of a CNC manufacturing operation, please tell us about your shop’s competitiveness plans.  We’ll share the results soon when we’ve gotten enough responses so everyone can see the trends.
Take the Survey Here.  It’s Fast and Easy!…

Are 3D Printers the Ultimate Burglar Tool?

Jul 30, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog  //  6 Comments
KeyMe

I came across a fascinating article in 3Ders.org that talks about using 3D printers to make keys.  Wired Magazine is talking about it too.
The trick is to use a photo of a key taken with your smartphone to produce a model suitable for a 3D printer.  From there, the rest is easy: a plastic key works fine in most locks to get you in as long as it is made reasonably accurately.  The required accuracy is well within the capabilities of even a relatively cheap 3D printer.  All that’s needed is good enough access to your house key (or other keys) for long enough to make a decent photo.
Heck, you don’t even need the 3D printer.  The Wired Magazine guy borrowed a neighbor’s key, snapped a photo of it within 30 seconds, returned the key, went to a drugstore “KeyMe” kiosk, and came back with a key that worked within 1 hour.
Can’t get your hands on your target’s keys long enough to photograph them?  No worries, one group ran a project they called “Sneakey” that took key photos from 200 feet away from a roof top.  The photos were good enough to let them make keys that…

Results of Our DNC Survey

Jul 30, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Manufacturing, Software, Techniques  //  2 Comments
DNCSurvey

Every CNC machine user needs a way to get g-code programs onto their machines.  Our recent DNC Survey was aimed at understanding how people are going about doing this.  Here are the results:
Use DNC:  59%
Use Memory Cards, Direct Network Connection, or Other:  41%
This is not surprising.  DNC is going to be more common at larger shops, at least shops with multiple machines.  It does give some idea of the readership’s propensity along those lines though.
What do you use DNC for?
     Downloading G-Code:  88%
     Drop Feeding G-Code:  56%
     Monitoring Machines:  6%
Assuming you use DNC, which features do you take advantage of?  Predictably, the most common is simply downloading g-code to the machines, but interestingly, some shops (22%) are not doing this.  In all likelihood they are Drip Feeding all their g-code.  Drip Feeding is the practice of feeding the part program to the machine just a few g-codes at a time on an as-needed basis.
Lastly, about 6% are using the DNC to monitor machine status.  This is a sophisticated and valuable function that enables shop to directly monitor what the machines are doing.  It helps them to monitor, understand, and optimize machine and even tool…

50 Interview Question Ideas for CNC Jobs

Jul 29, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Techniques  //  2 Comments
workboots

I have always told managers that the one decision that is the most important one they will ever make is hiring.  No other decision has the potential to cause so much pain if done poorly, or to make the manager’s job and the underlying business more successful if done well.  Yet many hiring managers go into the process without having thought about it much, treating is as a distraction that they fiddle with, and often waiting for some sort of consensus among the interviewers to make the final decision easy.  Like anything else, there’s no free lunch, but what makes the job easier and the outcome more successful is to do a little homework.  For example, think about the questions you want to ask your job candidates way ahead of time.  What are you trying to find out and how will that affect the outcome of the hiring process?  Keep a list of questions and review it every single time you use it to see how you can improve it.  Before too long, your list of interview questions will be a valuable tool that’s always ready to go the next time you need to hire.
Job Applicants, same story.  Don’t…

4 Ways Geometry Affects Machining and What to Do About It: Infographic

Jul 25, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments
Rubbing, Chip Thinning, Tool Engagement, and HSM all have geometry consequences.

Geometry has a profound effect on your cutter’s health and well-being, not to mention your surface finish and material removal rates.  Here is an Infographic that walks through 4 ways geometry can affect your machining along with what you can do about it in each case:…

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