Over the years you have heard us declare a "faster turn around time" with each new machine tool purchase. We previously reported on the acquisition of the amazing water jet, the 3D printers, a 28-ton injection molding machine, a thermal press, faster computers, Solidworks™ software, our Fadal CNC machining center and the CNC lathe. Is it possible that every major addition to our toolbox offers that great promise, or are we kidding ourselves?
We've had a Hurco vertical machining center for a few years now. It replaced an older, less accurate (we're talking .0001"), NC workhorse we have had for years (The SuperMax is now in the model shop). In many ways the CNC mill is similar to our current 4-axis machine, the Fadal. The Hurco has a large part-size envelope, the same point-to-point accuracy as the Fadal, and it is programmable through our computer network.
One advantage for us and our customers is the machining center's "conversational" input. We have a tool that is easy to run, but still accepts G-code MasterCAM™ programming when required. Another benefit is availability: often, the Fadal is tied-up for days in advance. With the manual/production mill hybrid we routinely fabricate fairly complicated shapes without having to wait for a time slot.
We return a major portion of our earnings back into the business. If purchasing an additional machine or new tool is cost effective and will speed development time, we'll probably add it to our tool resources.
There's other ways to do rapid prototyping than machining. We have a fully-developed silicone molding and urethane casting model shop, managed by Mike Ammerman, an experienced individual with over 30 years in the business. Click here to read about Mike's talents and accomplishments.