New Online Resources Help CNC Machine Shops Make Better Tooling Choices

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Machine shops that historically lacked unbiased expert advice on selecting the best tools for their specific applications now have access to comprehensive online resources that cover the breadth of the market with no strings attached.

In industry, small machine shops face challenges not only in the wide range of applications and materials they encounter, but also in selecting the tooling that will work best for them.

“I’ve seen many machine shops over-specify the tools they need for a new project and it costs them a lot of money,” said Lermit Diaz, Founder and CEO of SCTools, a nationwide distributor based in Michigan for machine shops. . “It can also work the other way around, where the machine shop ends up not getting the best tool for the job, costing them time and material to run it.”

Unlike an OEM, which may dedicate a machine to a single material or a single operation, small CNC machine shops survive by being able to machine a variety of materials for customers in various industries such as aerospace, medical, semiconductor, electronics, automotive and general. rooms.

“A machine shop can cut stainless steel one day, forge steel the next, and then have an order for aluminum parts,” Diaz said. “Flexibility is important, but it’s very difficult for a small shop to keep up to date with the latest information on all materials and machining styles. They don’t have the margins large OEMs have to hire a mechanical engineer or buy separate tools for each material being machined.

The need for education

The idea of ​​developing free online resources to help small and medium sized CNC machine shops grew out of questions Diaz would receive from customers.

“Whenever I visited clients, they asked a lot of questions. Maybe they didn’t know how to do a specific job or they wanted to know better how to do it. This sparked the idea of ​​providing free online machining resources for the industry. »

Diaz wanted to fill an education gap he saw when examining the traditional relationship between a store and its distributor.

“So many stores go to a distributor’s website and order several different tools, cutters or inserts and still don’t get the desired result. [machining] results. They can also run the tool on the machine incorrectly. That means they’re spending a dime a dozen because they’re buying tools they don’t need and instead of getting five to ten coins per cutter, they might just get one.

Small shops can keep up to date with the latest information on all materials and machining styles using free online resources.SCTools

Machining knowledge sharing

To help small CNC machine shops make the right decisions about their machining orders, Diaz created TechTips, a free online resource where questions can be answered before bidding on projects and buying new equipment.

The website page was created solely for educational purposes to assist small to medium sized CNC machine shops, with no obligation to purchase from the distributor hosting the content, SCTools.

For those who just want to call and get their questions answered, SCTools support staff have extensive knowledge and often hands-on machining training that includes operating equipment and programming.

The online resource is a large database of technical knowledge. Since launching the TechTips database, it has grown to over 1,500 electronic pages of resources for the machining industry with plans to expand to 2,000 pages by the end of the year. .

The database continues to expand its glossary to facilitate thematic searches. Content areas include turning, milling, drilling, tapping, metals, calculation and programming, and grinding.

To give an example of the level of detail in this resource, a section on how to machine the most common materials on the market runs to over 700 pages.

For those interested in new developments in the industry, a weekly e-newsletter called TechTalk from SCTools also provides content on a wide range of topics including machining, grinding, cutting tools, metals and coatings.

Re-examining the role of parts distributors

When creating SCTools, Diaz wanted to challenge the traditional role of a distributor.

“Traditionally, distributors will serve you if you have a part number,” Diaz said. “Instead, the focus should be on the customer’s application to identify only the tools they need.

“There are many distributors that CNC machine shops can go to if they just want to order a part and have the order fulfilled. Instead, we try to be more of a resource for smaller machine shops, a partner to go to for advice and help,” Diaz said.

Jason Huo, cold forging manager, Dyna-Mig, a division of F&P Mfg., Inc., said, “In choosing the tooling options for the development of a new model, we certainly benefited from the expert help rather than resorting to lengthy and lengthy procedures. expensive trials.

Online resources that make a wide range of technical machining knowledge available to small and medium-sized machine shops allow them to make better decisions when taking on new projects. In the process, the traditional relationship between machine shop and distributor is evolving to become more of a partnership.

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