After two weeks of  disgust at the ongoing spill of oil into the Gulf of Mexico by the BP Deepwater Horizon  leak,  a friend of mine on facebook sold her car.
I congratulated her for her leadership, moral courage, and willingness to do her part.
Giving up your sole automobile as a political statement is a courageous act.
In her honor, here is a partial list of a few of the other things we would have to give up if we were to try, as she did, to eliminate petroleum and petroleum products from our lives.
You see, one 42 gallon barrel of oil yields about 19.4 gallons of gasoline for our cars. Fuel for our cars is not even one half of the barrel!
Among the other 22.6 gallons are thousands of items:
Shop Goods:
Metalworking fluids including oil, various solvent s and mineral spirits, grease; synthetic rubber, detergents/ cleaners, epoxy, safety glasses, tool boxes and racks, water pipes, trash bags, electrical tape, cable ties, paint, dyes, fan belts, even the roofing materials above our heads and insulation on our wiring.
Home Health and Sanitary:
Heart valves, artificial limbs, soft contact lenses, combs, toothbrushes, toilet seats, shampoo, pharmaceuticals (including vitamin capsules, antihistamines, anesthetics, aspirin, cortisone) toothpaste, deodorant, perfumes, cosmetics, and lipstick.
Everyday Living:
Telephones, computer cases, television cabinets, speakers, cameras, refrigerators, dishwasher parts, car battery cases, golf balls and bags, purses, basketballs, football helmets, cd’s and dvd’s, ice chests, sunglasses,watch bands, sweaters, yarns, and fabrics.
Americans consume petroleum products at the rate of three-and-a-half gallons a day and more than 250 cubic feet of natural gas per day each!
Not just as fuel…
List of petroleum based products original source. (Ranken Energy lists just 144 of the over 6000 products made from petroleum.)
Photo credit for Deepwater Horizon response equipment: why quality is job one in all our shops.

“If U.S. manufacturing were a country by itself, it would be the eighth largest economy in the world.”
Guest post by Patrick McKenna, Vice President, Nevada Heat Treating, Inc. 

Heat treating what Americans make!

It happens to me fairly often. I’ll be at a party, or out to dinner with a group of people, and after someone in the group finds out I’m employed in manufacturing they will say “it’s really a shame that nothing is made in the U.S. anymore.”
It happened to me again last weekend. So I decided to look into the topic a bit more. I know we still make “things” here in the United States. I see it on a daily basis. Just how true is their comment that manufacturing has vanished in the U.S.?
I performed a little research on the topic and found the following statements in NAM’s (National Association of Manufacturers) “The Facts about Modern Manufacturing” 8th Edition (
“Between 1947 and 2008, both manufacturing GDP and overall GDP rose over sevenfold. It is generally unnoticed that the quantity of manufactured goods has continued to grow, leaving many people with the incorrect notion that little domestic value is produced in the United States anymore.”
“Manufacturing production is now at the highest point in its history and is keeping pace with that of the overall economy in terms of physical output.”
“…the quantity of manufactured goods produced in the United States has kept pace with overall economic growth since 1947, as both GDP and manufacturing have grown by about seven times.”
“Over the last ten years ending in 2008, manufacturing value added has increased 22 percent.”
Total manufacturing activity in the United States—measured in terms of physical output—continues to grow.”


The United States still has the largest manufacturing sector in the world, and its market share (around 20 percent) has held steady for 30 years.”
“One in six private sector jobs is still in or directly tied to manufacturing.”

“Fifty-seven percent of all U.S. exports are in manufactured goods.”
“If U.S. manufacturing were a country by itself, it would be the eighth largest economy in the world.”
“U.S. manufacturing share of global manufacturing value added has barely budged from its 1980 level of 22 percent.”


We lead the world in "making stuff"

 Is the U.S. manufacturing sector still facing challenges? Yes

Has China gained market share of the global manufacturing sector? Yes

Does U.S. manufacturing face increased pressure from legislation? Yes

The U.S. manufacturing industry has challenges like every other business sector, but to the people who say that manufacturing has disappeared, I would offer the following quote…
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”– Mark Twain



Is it just me or have you noticed it too?

“What I can say is the Obama administration is business-friendly. We want to help with our actions, not with our words, “ says Nicole Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services. She made this comment during a keynote address at Industry Week’s “Pathway to Manufacturing Prosperity Conference” last Thursday in Chicago.
Article reporting this here.
Thank you Dr. Jekyll.
And now  for Mr. Hyde?
“To those who have, for far too long, abused workers, put them in harm’s way, denied them fair pay, let me be clear: There is a new sheriff in town.”   Secretary  Hilda Solis’ comments following her swearing in at the Department of Labor.
Back to Dr. Jekyll: 
“We have to nurture manufacturing here. It’s something that traditionally has been a backbone for U.S. economic growth.”
 Industry Week reports: ‘ There has often been a sense of distrust between industry and the government sector which has only strained in recent years. That can only change, said Lamb-Hale, in baby steps. So what do you think?
Is the current administration business friendly?
Photo credit

But give OSHA the Booby Prize for “most ambiguous” News Release on their website announcing the rule.

Here's your prize...

In its Trade News Release, May 21, 2010:  “Occupational exposures to hexavalent chromium can occur among workers handling pigments, spray paints and coatings containing chromates, operating chrome plating baths, and welding or cutting metals containing chromium, such as stainless steel.”
Cutting metals  containing chromium, such as stainless steel!
Our industry cuts stainless steel in our machines at ambient temperatures every day.  Not to worry, no hex chrome involved. Our  machine cutting processes are not “oxidative.”  They don’t make the chromium in stainless steel “hexavalent.”
Here’s what  another place on the OSHA website says about forming hexavalent chromium from stainless steel :
“Hexavalent chromium can also be formed when performing “hot work” such as welding on stainless steel or melting chromium metal. In these situations the chromium is not originally hexavalent, but the high temperatures involved in the process result in oxidation that converts the chromium to a hexavalent state.”   Link.
What the OSHA Trade Release should have said was “HOT WORK TORCH CUTTING” that can generate a metal fume.
In the mean time, even if OSHA can’t speak with precision, we just want to let you know that if you happen to do HOT WORK welding or torch cutting on stainless steels, decorative or hard chrome electroplating or any other process involving – say-  chromic acid, that June 15th, 2010 is the effective date for the direct final rule requiring employers to notify their workers of all hexavalent chromium exposures. 
Everybody else- just relax. 


Made in USA. Stainless Steel. Cooks Food.

 It’s still safe to use stainless steel to eat your food. To make your cookstove and kitchen appliances. Your pots and pans. And to machine precision parts on your cam type automatic or cnc precision machining lathe or mill.  Photo: Sur la Table
Its still okay to use this too,  just don’t take it on a plane.
Chrome-vanadium steel . Fine knife by Case. Not hexavalent.

 Case Knife
Blue- footed Booby

2010 PMPA Federal EPA Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Reporting Webinar
Join us for a Webinar on May 25You should attend if your operations have a NAICS code Associated with manufacturing (Old SIC codes 20-39) AND your company had more than 10 fulltime employees (or the equivalent of 20,000 employee hours the prior year).
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Changes that have evolved in TRI reporting need to be fully understood so that you can be best informed about your company’s reporting obligations. This webinar will cover changes in how the article exemption is treated, threshold quantities,reportable elements other than lead, and other topics will be covered. Barbara Knecht, Senior Compliance Specialist with HzW Environmental Consultants will be the main presenter for this hour long workshop on TRI as it impacts our precision machining shops.There is no charge to participate in this free webinar. All shops are invited to attend to learn about this reporting requirement. Handouts-  including a materials calculator spreadsheet- will be available to PMPA members after the webinar on the PMPA website.This presentation and Q&A should last about an hour; we are reserving an additional half hour to take questions after this presentation.If you are not responsible for regulatory compliance, please forward this to the person who handles regulatory issues for your company
Title:   2010 PMPA Federal EPA Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Reporting Webinar
Date:   Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Time:   10:00 AM – 11:30 AM EDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.






The recovery of the precision machined products industry is  obvious in our latest PMPA Business Trends Report.

16 point gap between 3 month and 12 month moving average for sales!

 We have been  calling our new level of sales “The New Normal.”  While we have lost a decade in terms of sales volume, we are at sustainable levels of sales because of the lessons and adjustments that we made over the decade. The 16+ point gap between the 3 month moving average (97.3) and 12 month moving average (81) for sales makes a case for cautious optimism.
(OK, perhaps I am understating this a bit!)
Sales Index: down just 5 points to 100  from March 2010  value of 105.
Average Length of First Shift: 42.5 hours for April, compared to 38.1 for CY 2009. only 3 % of respondents report less than 40 hours.
Sentiment for the next three months:
Sales: 88% of respondents say Same or better.
Lead Times: 93% of respondents say same or longer. Shops are getting busy.
Employment: 99% of those reporting expect employment in their shop to remain the same or increase.
Profitability: 88% expect profitability to remain the same or improve over the next three months.
You can read the full report here: PMPA APRIL DATA.

Chatter costs money when you reduce the productivity of the machine by slowing it down  to make the vibration go away.


Conventional wisdom states that there are two kinds of chatter- Forced and Self Induced. Some shop guys like to think its caused by the material.
Forced chatter is a result of alternating cutting forces  that result from
1) Interrupted cuts (milling);
2) Machine vibrations such as out of balance motors,  spindles, gear or shaft irregularities, bad couplings or bearings, (Loose motor mounts and weakened or stretched) couplings;
3) Load on tool / workpiece changing as a result of acceleration or decceleration;
4) Vibrations being transmitted through the machine and foundation from other equipment.
If forced vibration is what you have, confirming the integrity of  the machine tool and its power train is a critical first step. Reducing the feed per revolution is one way to determine if it is the variation in the cutting process that is forcing the vibration. Changing the SFM or RPM’s by at least 25% is also something to try (increase or decrease!)
Self excited chatter is induced by a change in the cutting forces themselves, and is where I place the chatter that may be caused by the material.  Self excited vibrations can be distinguished from forced vibrations in the machining system  because self excited vibrations stop when the cutting does. Forced vibrations are not dependent on the cutting process, and so continue even when the tool is not in the cut. Self excited chatter can be caused by:
1) Change in forces needed to cut caused by differences in the material-  Material characteristics (such as workhardening or microstructural differences) that result in variation in chip thickness.
2)  Unstable built up edge (BUE) forming then breaking off causing variation in the cutting forces
3)  insufficient Stiffness of the workpiece,  spindle,  tool   and tool holding (think deflection and too much length).
To eliminate self excited chatter decrease the length of the tool in the cut,  shorten the tool holder, or substitute more rigid tooling and support materials (a carbide boring bar  deflects less and can make three or more times heavier a cut  than one made of steel for example) .
Still think it’s the material? Here’s my Metallurgist’s tip:  Look and see if you have  changing build up edge conditions on the tool that exhibits chatter. If  the self excited chatter is due to material such as an unstable built up edge (BUE)  forming,  try increasing the RPMs / SFM. Spindle speeds that are too slow allow workpiece material to weld to the tool edge  (pressure weld) and build up.This creates higher forces until it sloughs off.  Then forces go back to normal, and build up again until…
Higher RPMs help to keep BUE stable and  under control. And  they allow you to run faster cycle times, contributing to profits.
Bottom line: Chatter doesn’t always mean you need to slow down.
Photo credit.

Listen as you watch.
Until you get this saw, you better keep the guards in place on your equipment!
1000 G’s Deceleration!
While this is an amazing technology, it reminds us to keep our wits about us and guards in place on our equipment. Enjoy!

Guest post by James Pryor.
Indirect costs are 4 to 10 times the actual direct costs of an accident or serious OSHA violation.

Accidents don't just happen.

We all know the direct cost of a failed safety program – an accident that results in  Fines, Medical Costs, Temporary Total Disability, Permanent Partial Disability, Penalty Ratings on Workers Comp, and increased Actuarial Fees.
But what are the indirect costs?
But here are 7 indirect costs to consider the next time you think that safety training isn’t worth your time:

  1. Downtime  
  2. Accident Investigation
  3. Additional Training 
  4. Replacement Wages including benefits, pension, social security, unemployment and workers compensation premiums
  5. Production slow down
  6. Equipment damage, replacement and associated costs
  7. Miscellaneous costs such as customer perception

Indirect costs plus direct costs have been estimated to be as much as 1% of total sales.
Thats about $10,000 per $1,000,000 in Sales.
What else can you invest in today that will have such an impact on your shop’s bottom line?

When present in substantial amounts, Nickel provides a number of benefits to steel.

And its money too!

Nickel’s main contribution to steels is making them more forgiving of heat treatment variations. Think of it as the Heat Treater’s Friend.
Nickel lowers the critical temperatures, while widening the the temperature range for effective quenching and tempering. Nickel also retards the decomposiition of Austenite. Since nickel doesn’t form carbides, it doesn’t complicate the reheating for austenitizing process either.
Nickel contributes to an easier and more likely to be successful heat treatment.
Here are 5 Contributions Nickel makes to our alloy steel parts:

  1. Improved toughness (especially at low temperatures!)
  2. Simplified and more economical heat treatment (Money saved!)
  3. Increased hardenability (depth of hardness achievable)
  4. Less distortion during quenching (more good parts after Q&T!)
  5. Improved corrosion resistance (See this link–  2.1 % of GDP lost to corrosion!)

In addition to its appearance in the credits for 43XX, 46XX, and 86XX alloy steel grades, Nickel is a major component of Stainless Steels, Invar, Monel, and Inconel.
Machinist hint: When you see Nickel as a major ingredient in steel,  avoid tool dwell and light cuts. Nickel contributes to a material’s workhardening ability.
Photo credit.