Cold work is defined as the plastic deformation of a metal below its recrystallization temperature.

In the precision machining industry, cold working processes can include thread rolling, thread forming, swaging, crimping, staking, planishing, and metal spinning.

And the steel bars that we machine are typically cold drawn (cold worked.)

Our suppliers use cold work when cold drawing a bar from hot roll to make it more machinable.

How to recognize a cold work process: No heat is added and no chip is removed in the process of moving the metal into shape.

Cold working of steel

  • changes its mechanical properties
  • and improves its surface finish.

Tensile strength and yield strength are increased by the cold work while ductility (as measured by % elongation and % reduction in area decrease.

See our post here.

Steels with low carbon contents, low residuals, low Nitrogen levels, and made by the Basic Oxygen Process readily cold work- think 1008, 1010, etc..

Cracks can develop after cold work is performed on machined parts.
Cracks can develop after cold work is performed on machined parts.

Intentionally adding nitrogen  can make predispose a part to cracking during cold work. If a part needs to be crimped, swaged, staked or otherwise cold worked after machining, You should make certain that the steel is not renitrogenized. (Nitrogen intentionally added during the melt process).

Also, make sure that the cold work in cold drawing was standard draft rather than heavy draft. Heavy draft reduces the ductility remaining in the bar- but makes the chips easier to separate.

We posted about these issues here.

More information on Nitrogen in free machining steels.

Lena ******** sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn 3 days ago!

If you can't be honest about who you are, What can you be honest about?
If you can’t be honest about who you are, What can you be honest about?

That Lena is a beautiful looking gal. I wonder why she wants to connect with me?

When I googled  Lena *******, I discovered that the name is a composite of the names of two cursed lovers in a fan fiction series.

It turns out that Lena is a the LinkedIn “disguise” of an Indian IT company with a sales office somewhere in the Southern U.S. (I am not sharing their identity, why give them the publicity?)

And despite her great looking photo,  her use of the English language on what seems to be a company LinkedIn page (and her indecisiveness as to whether she is an “I” or  a “we”) suggest to me that this company is a fraudster.

Or that they hire based on looks rather than ability to write clearly.

Maybe they are trying too hard to adapt to business here in the U.S., and not quite getting the culture thing right.

Either way- its a Fail. 

If you have to hide behind a photo of a model instead of being proud of who you genuinely are, don’t ask to connect with me.

Do you have an image on your LinkedIn Profile? What does it say about you? If you don’t, what does that say?

What about your brand? Are you operating under a disguise online? Or are you being genuine?

Be who you are.

If you can’t be honest  about who you are, what can you be honest about?

” If the costs of attaining a bachelor’s degree continue to rise faster than the benefits of having a BA in this labor force, more middle- and lower-income families might be better served by being strategic and aiming for an associate or online degree combined with some sort of targeted vocational program.”- The Atlantic

Before you go deep into student loan debt, make certain that your degree actually gives you a marketable skill.
Before you go deep into student loan debt, make certain that your degree actually gives you a marketable skill.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics  just completed a study on unemployment among recent college grads.

The unemployment rate of recent college graduates was 12.6 percent in October 2011, little changed from a year earlier. Despite modest improvement since a recent peak in October 2009, the unemployment rate of recent college graduates remains elevated above prerecession levels. Add to that the little known fact that:

 About 1.1 million, or 85.2 percent, of the 2011 cohort of recent college graduates were participating in the labor force in October 2011. (The labor force participation rate measures the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional population that is either working or looking for work.)

That means that 14.8 % of recent college grads aren’t even included in the unemployment figures since they “are not in the labor force..”

There are jobs for people with skills in advanced manufacturing and skilled trades. Like precision machining. These jobs allow you to earn while you learn, with many employers providing both training and tuition assistance so you can pursue a career and an education.

For facts about a career in precision machining, checkout our links, here, here, and here.

And our most popular post of late  Actually Skills  Do Pay The Bills

The reporter on NPR breathlessly gushed  about how the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent.

What a great story!

They then cut to someone who attibuted the fall in the unemployment rate to ‘jobs picking up in construction.’

(Around 48,000 according to BLS)

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that a gain of 236,000 jobs in February is a significant improvement over the paltry 119,000 reported in January.

But it is nowhere  near the 363,000 needed each month to bring our official unemployment rate back down into the neighborhood of 6 percent.

What the reporters are not explaining to you is that in February,  the adult population grew buy 165,000, yet the labor force actually decreased 130,0000 as 295,000 additional adults chose not to look for work.

Over a  hundred thousand more adults fell out of the labor force in February than found jobs!


Jobs haven't even begun to recover. This is the real unemployment story.
Jobs haven’t even begun to recover. This is the real unemployment story.

What does this mean?

It means that the real unemployment rate U-6 is 14.3 %

14.3 percent is the real number for total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force. Source- Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So that 7.7 % figure the breathless news reporters are giving you is wrong.

The reporters are understating by about 50% the actual unemployment rate.

7.7 percent is 54 percent of 14.2 percent.

46% is a fairly large margin of error or “understatement.”

There is hope.

There are jobs for people with skills in advanced manufacturing.

Here is a link to a quick video where I show a list of job openings posted at Cuyahoga Community College Advanced Workforce Center.

If you can take two semesters of skills training at a local community college, you could find yourself working in advanced manufacturing by the second semester.

Labor Participation Rate Graph

Professor Peter Morici of University of Maryland contributed some sensemaking to this post.

Repost from Automotive Newswire March 5, 2013.

Fat Boy motorcycles will be exported as kits to India for local assembly and sale.
Fat Boy motorcycles will be exported as kits to India for local assembly and sale.

“In a region dominated for decades by two-wheeled motorized travel it looked like the sun was about to set as Indian auto manufacturers set their goals toward getting Indians into four-wheeled vehicles with a roof.  The cheap Tata Nano was supposed to put an end to all of that two-wheeled transport and several auto manufacturers followed suit with new small cars developed for the Indian market and aimed at protecting those blue suede shoes from getting muddy.

“Whoops.  Indian’s don’t wear blue suede shoes.  And indeed, they love their motorcycles.  While Tata is revamping the Nano to attempt to make it successful, Harley-Davidson is expanding dramatically in India.

“Harley-Davidson announced this week that it will assemble the “Fat Boy,” “Fat Boy Special” and “Heritage Softail Classic models in India.  The cycles will be imported as kits and assembled locally offering a savings in import taxes.

“Assembly of the models will be done at Bawal, where Harley already assembles 12 other models for the Indian market.

Each Harley Davidson motorcycle represents  added value from the precision machining industry in a number of components. Export sales of Harley Davidsons are export sales of precision machined products.

This is good news.

Fat Boy

There are immediate jobs for people with skills in manufacturing today.


You can get the skills in just a couple of semesters at your local community college.

PMPA has created a career database to help you find the skilled training program in your area.

We visited Cuyahoga Community College, where they have plenty of job openings posted from local employers as you can see in our video.

We just completed our 2013 Business Forecast Report, a compilation of markets served by our industry as measured by  percent of supplier dollars, and shipments versus forecast for the past couple of years. A  forecast consolidating all respondents’ input on a market by market basis. And a look at markets served by size of shop.

I can’t share that, but I can share the latest data on the size of the precision machining industry from the US Census 2010 Annual Survey of Manufactures.

Medical Devices was an important served by the Precision Machining Industry in 2012.
Medical Devices was an important served by the Precision Machining Industry in 2012.

NAICS 332721 Industry Statistics:

Companies (2009 data) 3,198

Employees 78,070

Dollar Value of Shipments $13,314,415,000

Average Sales Per Employee $170,545

Source:  U.S. Census 2010 Annual Survey of Manufactures  (except as noted)

About the Precision Machining Industry:

The Precision Machined Products Industry consists of a diversified manufacturing base producing highly engineered components to customer specifications using a variety of materials such as: steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and aerospace alloys. Utilizing the latest technology, including CNC turning and milling centers, rotary transfer machines, CNC and automatic screw machines, these companies produce complex parts and complete assemblies for finished goods such as: automobiles, aircraft, heavy truck, medical devices, appliances, construction equipment and much more. The industry is best described statistically under NAICS 332721.

Here is a surprising fact that I can share from our survey that will make you scratch your head too: The second largest market served by our industry was All Other

The fact is that there continue to be jobs available for people with skills who can add value in our advanced manufacturing precision machining shops. Our companies are constantly trying to solve their problem of lack of  skilled operators.

Today's high tech high precision CNC machines assure a skilled craftsman a great career!
Today’s high tech high precision CNC machines assure a skilled craftsman a great career!

Never mind the reports about high unemployment rate. Think twice before committing years of your life and many thousands in debt for a college degree that may not deliver any employment ROI.

How can YOU get a job in precision machining?

1) Master your high school math. Machine operators work with decimal fractions to 4 or more places in both English units and metric.  Algebra, geometry and rigonometry are used regularly, they are fundamental to understanding our processes. If you can do high school math you have a foundation for a career in precision machining.

2) Get an entry level credential. Community colleges across the country offer one year training programs that result in a CNC operator certificate, Quality Control Technician certificate, or the like.

3) Visit precision machining shops in your area. Look at the technology that is employed. Ask about the high tech products that they produce. Ask them to explain how they measure and check the parts.

4) Ask your friends who have recently graduated from college how their job search is going. The majority of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed in a position that does not require nor compensate them for the degree nor their time and money invested.

5) Get more information off the PMPA’s website. Our Career Tab is a great place to start. Our Training Database will help you identify training resources in your local area. Right Skills Now will help you understand the opportunity and need for machininsts. NIMS credentials are the Gold Standard for our industry.

With the certainty of employment costs increasing due to the Affordable Health Care Act, with the pressures to minimize staffing to control those costs, and the ever present need to remain competitive, companies still need to solve their “skilled operator problem.”  If you have a credential that says that you have skills, our shops will be happy to take a look at what you have to offer. The resources above will help you get that credential.

In the words of PMPA’s economics advisor, Dr. Ken Mayland, “The factory sector wants to grow.  Orders were better (57.8, up 4.5 points), production was better (57.6, up 4.0 points), and the order backlog was better (55.5, up 7.5 points).  The U.S. economy may be the best performing of the major economies of the world.”

Graph via calculated risk blog
Graph via calculated risk blog

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that its summary Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) increased 1.1 points, for a February reading of 54.2.  According to the ISM, a reading above 50 would typically be associated with an expansion of the manufacturing sector. Furthermore, based on the ISM’s estimates, if the current reading of 54.2 were sustained, it would tend to be consistent with 3.7% real GDP growth (annualized).

Our inferences:

  • Manufacturing remains a growing sector of the U.S. and world economies
  • The ISM employment index was weakest of any of the ISM indicators tracked,  at 52.6%, down 1.4% from 54.0%.
  • With Affordable Health Care Act clearly on the minds of employers, adding employees has to be the least preferred outcome until we can see costs more clearly.
  • The Prices sub-index rose 5 points to 61.5. Can price increases and inflation be all that far away?

One respondent in the Miscellaneous Manufacturing sector is quoted by ISM, “Starting to pick up after a slower than normal year-end.”

That is certainly in agreement with PMPA’s Business Trends Report for January 2013 which showed a record rise of 41% over December 2012 sales levels, which were quite low.

ISM February 2013

Calculated Risk Blog