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Prosock Machine Shop Talk

June 9, 2009

Machine Shops Forgotten?

There is much debate swarming in virtual every circle concerning the bailout of big auto.  Some feel its time for business attrition and natural selection to deem the big auto dinosaur no longer suitable for life in the business evolutionary life change. There is a reason for survival of the fittest – let nature take its course. It served its purpose.  Have we not evolved passed big union bosses, endless inefficiencies of middle management and a business model lost in port and perks?  Have we not learned a lesson from Bethlehem Steel?  The company imploded from within.  The world changed, they didn’t evolve – extinction was inevitable.

On the other hand, many feel that a government bailout is necessary for the good of the country.  Not just a hand out with no strings, but a bail out, complete with a swift kick in the corporate butt for their complete irresponsibility.  Believe it or not the government can help in ways that are responsible.  As long as this administration understands they can’t mandate day to day operations or have in had in the lasted contour aesthetics of a corvette, it can work.  The government can should provide accountability and set standards that will make them squeal.  When Kennedy challenged US industry to put a man and the moon by the end or the decade, it was deemed impossible by many at the time.  Necessity was the mother of invention.  His vision became reality. The auto industry finds itself in a similar situation and to succeed it will have to create more fuel efficient cars that are affordable.  The government must hold their feet to the fire and insist on these results.  Personally, I think this could be a great moment for big auto.  We all need to be humbled from time to time.

And for the sake of us all, I hope I’m right.  Hundreds of Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplies depend on an optimistic scenario.  Our machine shop isn’t heavily vested in the automotive industry, but many are.  We are often left out of the mix.  The news will speak of the 80,000 GM workers loosing their jobs, but neglect to mention the thousands of other jobs that will be lost if there is a collapse in big auto.  Jobs like mine and yours.

The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA) have raised their voice on this issue.

“Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers need relief and a crucial element is for the government and courts to provide a ’safe passage’ mechanism for our tooling receivables through the Tier 1 suppliers during this bankruptcy,” said NTMA Chief Operating Officer Rob Akers. “Bankruptcy protection for GM must not be confined to guarantees for GM and its Tier 1 suppliers. The fate of tens of thousands of workers spread throughout the supply chain – and throughout thousands of communities across the United States – depends on fair treatment by GM, the U.S. government and bankruptcy courts.”

“Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers need relief and a crucial element is for the government and courts to provide a ’safe passage’ mechanism for our tooling receivables through the Tier 1 suppliers during this bankruptcy,” said NTMA Chief Operating Officer Rob Akers. “Bankruptcy protection for GM must not be confined to guarantees for GM and its Tier 1 suppliers. The fate of tens of thousands of workers spread throughout the supply chain – and throughout thousands of communities across the United States – depends on fair treatment by GM, the U.S. government and bankruptcy courts.”

“The federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars extending support to financial institutions, General Motors, Chrysler and large Tier 1 companies, but the benefits have yet to trickle down to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 supply chain companies,” said PMA President William Gaskin. “We are not asking for a bailout. We are only asking that the government and the courts ensure that GM and its Tier 1 suppliers pay the money that is owed to Tier 2 and 3 companies.

Machine shops and small size manufactures are vital links for the recovery plan of GM.  They cannot succeed without us.  “A recovery plan for GM is simply not viable unless the entire automotive supply chain not just the Big 3 and the Tier 1 supplier’s is taken into account.” said Gaskin.

I don’t think anyone in the precision machining industry is looking for a “hand out,” but a well planned and implemented “hand up” is not only appropriate but the right thing to do.  Don’t’ you think?

May 7, 2009

John Prosock Machine Exhibits at Design 2 Part Expo

Back on April 21st and 22nd, several of us from John Prosock Machine were exhibitors at the Valley Forge Design 2 Part expo.At this expo, we had the opportunity to get in front of numerous quality engineers, purchasing personnel and top administrators from the key OEMs in the Northeast.Overall, we felt that the show exceeded our expectations.We were able to discuss with dozens of potential customers the CNC mill and lathe capability of our precision machine shop.We came away with over 40 solid prospects that we are now seeking to turn into satisfied customers for our machine shop.

Even in the midst of the economic downturn companies were out in force.For many the economic strain is forcing them to rethink their supply chains and make sure they are getting the best pricing for their outsourced machining.

The fun part for us was to meet a bunch of very interesting people in the manufacturing world.Our industry is full of the best of the best.

Design 2 Part has been organizing large scale events like these for over 30 years.Machine shops, manufacturing companies and suppliers of all kinds have found this opportunity a key to garnering new business for their companies.Over 80% of the companies that exhibit at the expo return for more shows.They have been driving business to their exhibitors business to our exhibitors because of one thing, QUALITY.

We found this to be true at every level of the conference.(Not so much for the food though)

All in all it was well worth our investment.We have received several rfq’s for machined parts already.

We hope to go back next year.If you want information and dates, click on the link below.

April 14, 2009

Prosock Machine featured in Cutting Tool Engineering Magazine

Recently, Bill Kennedy of Cutting Tool Engineering magazine interviewed our shop Foreman, Claude Kennedy, for his monthly piece called, “Part Time.”  Bill asked Claude to describe a particularly challenging CNC machined part that would be an example of our long line of success stories.  Here’s the article:

Holding Firm

John Prosock Machine, Inc. is a Quakertown, Pa., job shop that handles prototype machining as well as production and assembly jobs. Founded in 1982, the shop today has 10 mills, 13 lathes, and about 30 employees. Typical production runs range from 100 to 2,000 pieces, and the shop serves a wide range of customers; “we pretty much do anything,” said plant manager Claude Farrington, “medical work, driveline components, heavy equipment, parts for remote-control cars, you name it.” The shop machines a variety of materials including common steels and aluminums as well as plastics, titanium, and other exotic alloys.

Describing the machining of a prototype aluminum trunion housing for a powerboat steering system, Farrington said the actual machining of the complex-appearing part was not too difficult; “it was a matter of trying to figure out how to hold it.”

The roughly 11 ½”-long, 5 ½”-wide housing was intended to be mounted on a boat’s transom and house an electronic linear actuator. It is part of a system designed to provide instant steering response when activated by controls at the helm, eliminating the slow reactions of a cable system.

Prosock Machine received a DXF file from its customer and loaded it into the shop’s Mastercam CAM package to program milling operations. Lathe work was programmed at the machine.

The housing was machined from a 12″ x 6″ x 3 ½” 6061T6 aluminum block. It was clamped with the long dimension standing vertical in a Kurt vise with aluminum soft jaws on an Excel 810 VMC. One end of the finished housing would feature a single 1.850″-dia., 3.850″-long boss, but to start, two identical bosses were machined side-by-side. “We machined two so that when we flipped it over we could use them to align the part in the vise. Later we cut the one off that we didn’t need,” Farrington said.

The twin bosses were machined with a 1 ½”-dia. HSS endmill, run at 3,000 rpm and a 30 ipm feed rate, taking a 4″ length of cut. Farrington described the toolpath as “a figure 8 around the bosses,” stepping down 0.200″ on each pass.

Then the housing was flipped over in the vise and one of the bosses was located against a stop. On the other end of the finished housing would be two bosses that were not identical, being of different diameters and offset from each other by 70˚. One boss, in line with a boss machined earlier, was 2.100″ in diameter. The other boss was 1.514″-dia. Because this second set of bosses were closer together than the first pair, smaller endmills were used to machine them. The bosses were roughed with a 7/8″-dia. HSS hogmill and finished with a ¾”-dia. HSS endmill, both run at 1,200 rpm and 10 ipm with a 4″ loc. The two bosses were 1.360″ long, but one was set back (x “?) deeper in the part than the other.

Water-soluble coolant was applied throughout the machining process. Farrington described the HSS tools the shop employs as “generic,” and said all the solid-carbide tools it uses are from Mill Monster, while inserted milling and turning tools are from Kennametal.

When milling of the second set of bosses was complete, the smaller diameter one was drilled and reamed. A 1 1/16″-dia. HSS drill, run at 600 rpm and 4 ipm feed and pecking each 0.200″, drilled to a depth of 7.7″. As the tool pecked in and out of the workpiece, flood coolant from the spindle cleared the chips from the hole. A 1.103″-dia. reamer then finished the hole to a tolerance of +/- 0.0004″. At this point, the housing was removed from the mill and the extra boss created in the first operation was cut off with a band saw, leaving a short stub to be faced off later.

Next, the part was clamped horizontally in the vise and a 3″-dia. shell mill, run at 2,500 rpm and 20 ipm, face milled the housing to height of the next feature, a 3.5″-wide, 2.7″-long, 0.72″-deep pocket that would hold the actuator electronics. A ½”-dia. carbide endmill run at 3,500 rpm and 25 ipm, roughed out the pocket, leaving 0.050″ extra stock on the sides and 0.010″ on the floor. Then a ¼”-dia. carbide endmill finished the side profiles and bottom. A very small pocket in the bottom of the larger feature required the application of a 1/32″-dia. carbide endmill. Outside each corner of the pocket a hole was drilled 0.433″ deep with a 0.114″-dia.(?) drill, and tapped with an M3.5 x 0.6 tap.

The next operation involved milling the back of the housing. The part was flipped over in the vise, the 3″-dia. shell mill faced away excess material, and a ½”-dia. carbide endmill roughed and finished the details. The sharp edges of a lug created in the operation then were rounded with a radius mill.

Next, the housing was moved to a Eurotech turning center for turning, facing, and boring. With the 2.100″-dia. boss clamped in the chuck, the (now) single 1.850″-dia. boss on the other end of the part was turned down to a 1.765″ diameter for a length of 1.653″, using a DNMG 431 insert run at 700 rpm and a feed rate of 0.008 ipr. The same tool then faced off the remaining stub of the extra boss removed earlier. Farrington said the eccentric shape of the part posed no problem in the lathe; “It was a pretty good size diameter to hold on to, and we didn’t spin it at very high rpm.” A NTF2R threading insert then cut an M45 x 1.5 thread at the end of the boss.

Next, a 1-5/16″-dia. drill, employed at 400 rpm and 0.010 ipr with a 0.250″ peck cycle, drilled the boss out to a depth of 9.665″. A 1″-dia. KMT boring bar run at 500 rpm and 0.007 ipr finished the bore to a diameter of 1.37″, +/- 0.002″.

The part then was turned end for end in the lathe and chucked on the 1.850″-dia. boss, behind the thread. A 13/16″-dia. drill made a 2 ¼”-deep hole in the 2.100″-dia. boss at 500 rpm and 0.005 ipr, employing a 0.250″ peck. Then a 5/8″-dia. boring bar created a chamfer and a counterbore in the front end of the hole, and behind that cut a bearing diameter of 1.0004″, +/- 0.0004″.

For the final operation, the housing was clamped horizontally in a Haas indexer mounted on the table of the Excel VMC, again held on the 1.850″-dia. boss. A ½”-dia. carbide endmill, run at 2,000 rpm and 18 ipm, milled a series of lengthwise flats, positioned via the indexer at 10˚ intervals. Then the same endmill circular-interpolated two 0.775″-dia., 0.354″-deep counterbores in the end of the 2.100″-dia. boss. After machining, the housing received a 0.005″ – 0.010″ thick blue anodized coating.

Farrington said that total machining time for each part was roughly 1½ hours. He termed this job a typical small volume (“The customer wanted three, we made five”) prototype job, involving ongoing consultation with the customer’s engineers as the design evolved during the prototyping process.

For more information about John Prosock Machine, Inc., call (215) 804-0321 or visit

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