Think Manufacturing is dead? Think a four year degree is your key to a well paid career?
Watch this video from NBC.
These are real jobs, and well paying jobs as well.
These are not your daddy’s brawny jobs.
These are about brains and technology.

High Tech Work Available- Skills Needed

Come join us as we make things that make a difference in peoples’ lives.
In manufacturing.
Think this isn’t real? check out this story from Redlands Daily in California.

Guest post  from James Pryor, ASH,Inc.
OSHA is boldly going on a mission to add Musculo Skeletal Disorders (MSD) Column to the OSHA 300 log.

To seek out new ways to enforce

What does this mean to your company?
OSHA has been entertaining a regulatory approach to ergonomic issues since 2001 when Congress rescinded it’s original ergonomic rules (Senate Joint Resolution 6).
Currently, OSHA relies on the General Duty Clause for its enforcement,  which obliges employers to ensure their workplaces are free from recognized hazards.
It is the recognized hazards language that seems a bit broad. If these hazards are recognized, why aren’t they codified? In a form acceptable to, lets say, Congress?
In the absence of actually developing a workable MSD standard, OSHA has a new strategy of making employers specifically track these as a category, thus making them ‘recognizable’ as well as to provide data for future rulemaking and to target for current enforcement.
As shop owners, what can we do to meet our responsibilities to ourselves, our employees, and our requirements under the OSH act?
Here are some points to consider as you deal with this emerging frontier of MSD/ Ergonomic issues at your facility:
1. Listen to your employees-they are your best defense against MSD. Employees are the local expert. Get their commitment and ownership in establishing your shop as a safe shop, free from hazards and unsafe practices. OSHA may penalize employers, but safety is everybodies job. Get your local experts involved! 
2. Engineer out the problem. Our shops are masters of process engineering. If any one can find a way, it is us. We don’t need anyone to beam down to tell us how to do it safer. 


Engineer it out…

3. Most MSD type injuries in precision machine shops may be related to proper lifting. Until someone invents an economical tractor beam technology for us to use in our shops,  here are  a few tips to aid in the reduction of these  types of  injuries:        


  • Size up the load
  • Seek alternatives
  •  Inspect the object to be lifted
  • When lifting remember to Place, Turn and Kneel
  • Always lift with the legs  

 While the nuances of what needs to be posted  on the OSHA 300 log  are still being worked out, now is a great time to revisit your shops slips, falls, and lifting training.

Rate declining well ahead of the arrival of the new sheriff.

Guest post courtesy of Jim Stanley at FDR Safety
There’s great news in a recent report from OSHA – injury and illness rates, collectively known as recordables, were down sharply in 2009 compared with 2005.
As you can see from the chart above, the trend line moved on a steady downward path.
Of course that’s great news for workers and their companies. With a safer workplace, everyone wins.
But the chart does make you wonder. Nearly all that progress in injury and illness reduction was made prior to OSHA’s announcement that there was a new “sheriff” in town for workplace safety enforcement.
Under the Bush administration, there was a much stronger emphasis on voluntary cooperation between industry and OSHA. When the Obama administration took over, OSHA’s new leaders said the voluntary approach did not do enough to protect workers and reduce injuries and illnesses. But many business leaders have complained that OSHA’s enforcement push has been misguided and overdone.
As time goes on and OSHA compiles figures for 2010 and 2011, during the full bloom of the enforcement campaign, it will be interesting to see where the trend line goes and whether the sheriff got the real job done – keeping workers safe.
Nothing like a graph of some data to help us see the situation clearly. Thank you Jim.
FDR Safety Home

According to Reuters and other news sources, UAW VP Joe Ashton is claiming full employment in the auto industry by September. Sounds pretty good. I want to believe!


I want full Auto industry employment. I do. I do.

Here’s one such report:

“United Auto Workers vice president Joe Ashton, speaking before a UAW strategy conference in Detroit, said that GM is planning to rehire roughly 2000 laid-off workers and bring the company back to full employment by September.  
“Those people will all be back at work in September,” said Ashton, who is also the head of GM union members. “We will have full employment in September for the first time in a long time.”


It's not exactly like this guy says...


Uhhh, pardon the interruption but if that is so, why is the US Department of Labor giving an $8.3 million dollar grant  to the state of Tennessee for retraining laid off Saturn corporation workers?
And how many of those laid off NUMMI employees in Fremont, California are coming back to work?
How many workers were lost by suppliers in GM and Chrysler’s Bankruptcy never to work again in auto supply chain?
Photo credit.
I want to believe

Three primary criteria for selecting bar steels are  1) suitability for end use, 2) suitability for manufacturing process, 3) economical delivery of the requirements.

Shape can be an important selection factor.

Suitability for end use includes appropriate mechanical properties, physical properties and chemical compatibility. Mechanical properties can include hardness, tensile and yield strength, ductility as measured by % elongation or % reduction in area, and / or impact properties. Mechanical properties can be achieved by chemical composition, cold work, or heat treatment. Note: properties need to match the environmental conditions of the intended end use…  Physical properties that are often considered include magnetic properties for solenoid, actuator, or electronic applications. Process path of steelmaking can play an important role in determining these properties.
Suitability for manufacturing requires at least a cursory understanding of the intended process path. Will there be extensive stock removal by machining? Welding, brazing or other means of bonding? Heat treatment? Will the equipment used to machine require tight dimensional tolerances or straightness? Will the material be upset or cold worked? Will the material be cold worked (crimped, swaged, planished or staked) after machining? Bismuth additives can prevent achievement of bond strength in brazed joints unless special techniques and materials are employed. Various chemical constituents can have an effect on the cold work response of steel. These too can be determined by the melting and thermomechinical history of the steel before it arrives at your shop.
Economical delivery of requirements means choosing a materal that permits the creation of conforming parts that fully meet the requirements for end use and manufacturability at a total lowest cost. There are many ways to meet any particular set of requirements for steel in most uses. Chemistry, cold work, heat treatment, as well as design details can all be criteria used to select one material over another. Minimizing costs is clearly important, but most important is assuring that all of the “must have” properties (strength, hardness, surface finish, typically) needed in the finished product are delivered.
Costs of manufacturing can make up a large fraction of the final products cost. For some parts, the cost of manufacturing and processing can exceed the cost of the material. Choosing the lowest cost process path that will assure required properties often requires steel materials that are priced above the cheapest available. This is because free machining additives, or cold finishing processes  can reduce cost to obtain desired properties or product attributes when compared to those needed to get hot rolled product up to the desired levels of performance.
Bottom line: Buyers may want to get the cheapest price per pound of steel purchased; Savvy buyers want to buy the steel that results in the lowest cost per finished part- assuring that costs are minimized for the total cost of production of their product. Understanding the role of steel making and finishing processes can help the buyer optimize their material selection process.
Photo courtesy of PMPA Member Corey Steel.

Straight from the baker to you…

Making steel is just like this sort of ...

1) Inclusions are on the inside, not on the outside surface…
2) Inclusions are non metallic materials entrapped within a solid metal matrix.
3) Inclusions that are typically expected include Sulfides (Type A), Aluminates (Type B), Silicates (Type C) and Globular Oxides (Type D)
4) Other types of inclusions are called exogenous  inclusions as they come from materials not expected to be entrained or entrapped within the steel-  typically slag or refractory that might have broken off during steelmaking.
5) Inclusions are measured and rated in North America according to ASTM method E45
6) Bearing Quality Steels use a number of different practices in order to minimize the inclusion content (because inclusions would wear differently than the host metal, thus nucleating premature wear and failure.)
7) Steel Cleanliness, Steel Microcleanliness, and Inclusion content are all  different ways of talking about the presence of these non metallic particles within the steel itself.
Three reasons inclusions are normally expected in  plain carbon and alloy steel bar products  in our shops:
‘8) Manganese sulfides are expected to be present as they aid machining.
9) Silicates are expected to be in non- free machining steels as silicon is added as a deoxidizer to assure the soundness (freedom from gas bubbles and voids) of the steel
10) Aluminates are also expected if the steel is ordered as Aluminum Fine Grain. the Aluminum scavenges Oxygen and  nucleates the formation of fine grains of austenite.
11) The Manganese Sulfides promote free machining as they provide a place for the chip to break and help control welding of material (built up edge) on the tool edge. In leaded steels, the lead is closely associated with these manganese sulfide inclusions.
12) The Silicates and Aluminates in our common steel grades are of high hardness, abrasive, and are a primary reason for tool wear and edge chipping in ordinary steels.
13) A quick look at the certification tells us whether or not we will find these kinds of inclusions- just look at levels of Manganese, Sulfur, Silicon, and Aluminum.
For machining, in keeping with the baking theme, I like to think of Manganese Sulfide inclusions as “kinda like the raisins in raisin bread.”
Bakers dozen photo credit.

This graph is pretty clear.

Recovery in Precision Manufacturing.

PMPA’s Index of Sales of Precision Machined Products in February 2011 was 110, staying even with the adjusted value for January 2011. (January had been reported at 111.) February’s index of 110 remains at its highest level in the thirty-two months since June 2008. Additional data in the February report indicated the industry is recovering nicely, and outlook is positive. The February 2011 sales level was equal to the February 2008 level prior to the Economic Recession.
This strong showing of industry sales is a clear signal that we need to adjust from our recessionary mode “hunker down” management style to a recovery mode “aggressively manage risk” methodology if we are to take full advantage of the markets today.
More than ever before, the keys to our company’s success are in our hands, not market externalitites.
PMPA members can read the full report at this link.
Accredited Press please contact PMPA for a copy of the report.

While we were glued to our TV’s and monitors Monday looking at the  destruction from the earthquake and tsunami that washed over Northeastern Japan, another  economic tsunami went mostly unnoticed in the global press.
“China has become the world’s top manufacturing country by output, ending the US’s 110 year run as the largest goods producer,” wrote Peter Marsh in Monday’s Financial Times.

China makes more manufactured goods than the US, but takes nine times as many workers to do so.

The change was noted in a study from IHS Global Insight, which estimated that lst year, China accounted for 19.8 % of world manufacturing output, just ahead of the US, which was reported as 19.4% in the page 4 story in the Financial Times.
The value of these outputs was $1.995 trillion for China, $1.952 for the US.
So whats the good news in this report for the US?
The US has a huge productivity advantage in that it produced only slightly less than China’s manufacturing output in 2010 but with 11.5 million workers compared to 100 million employed in the same sector in China.” – Mark Killion, IHS Global Insight World Industry Services.
Also, we need to remember that much of that Chinese manufacturing output was produced by  Chinese subsidiaries of US companies, and based on US derived  technologies. Some consolation that is…
And a  frustrating final footnote, part of the boost can also be attributed to the 3% appreciation of the Chinese Yuan to the US Dollar between 2009 and 2010. Be careful what you wish for…

1) Martensite is the hardest and most brittle microstructure obtainable in a given steel.
2) Martensite hardness of the steel is a function of the carbon content in that steel.
3) Martensite results from cooling from austenitic temperatures rapidly by pulling the heat out using a liquid quenchant before pearlite can form.
4) As quenched Martensitic structures are too brittle for economic use-they must be tempered.
5) Reheating as quenched Martensite to a temperature just below the AC1 results in the best combinations of strength and toughness.

This is what you get when you cool faster than the critical cooling (pearlite transition) rate- Martensite

Hardness of martensite is a function of carbon content

Softening of martensite in 0.35%C, 0.8% C, and 1.2% C carbon steels by tempering at the indicated temperature for 1 hour.

Because Martensite transformation is almost instantaneous, the Martensite has the identical composition of the parent phase, unlike ferrite and pearlite which result  from a slower chemical diffusion process, so each have different chemical compositions than the parent austenite.
Formation of Martensite involves a transformation from a body-centered cubic structure to  body-centered tetragonal structure. The large increase in volume that results  creates a highly stressed structure. This is why Martensite has a higher hardness than Austenite for the exact same chemistry…
Photo  and Graphs Credit: Cold Finished Steel Bar Handbook