I have done the engineering of and created CNC programs for a wide variety of machine tools for more years than I’d like to admit. There is no substitute for experience and I have it. I have no desire to quit doing what I have loved to do for all these years. Please consider having me help engineer your jobs and create the CNC programs.
Call me when your programmer is on vacation, while you are looking for a new or additional programmer or when you don’t have the CAM software modules to complete the task at hand.
My career has been rewarding and, to me, entertaining and I’d like to share some of the highlights with you.
Pictured below are some of the projects I have done over the years. I wish I had pictures or left-over parts of all of them. That would be quite a collection.
Apollo Food Cube Mold, Circa 1965
My dad’s machine shop, Industrial Metal Products, Inc. was in Wayzata, Minnesota and one of our customers was Pillsbury Mills. We were contracted to make the mold pictured above. I made the three main components. They were a 25-cavity mold, each cube shaped cavity was .75” in each dimension, a stripper plate, this is what you see in this picture, and packing fingers mounted to the top platen of the die set, not shown. The mold was used by Pillsbury to make the food cubes for the Apollo astronauts to eat on their moon trips. Pillsbury Mills then developed the commercially successful product called “Space Food Sticks” based on their experience with the real space food. This is not a numerically controlled milling job but it is still fun to talk about.
In the pioneering days of numerical controlled machining, I had a Moog Hydra-Point 3 axis milling machine like the one pictured below. On that machine, I made a variety of commercial, aviation and military components like the ones shown in the picture.
Moog Hydra-Point 3 axis milling machine, circa 1966
I figured out how to make extremely tight tolerance holes on the Moog, in steel and magnesium. It was common to have over 500 holes in a steel plate with a location tolerance of +-.0005” non-accumulative over the 17” length while holding +-.0005” on the diameter and putting a .015” radius at the top of the holes while maintaining a 32-micro finish. I designed a “dreamer” tool to drill, bore and put the radius on the hole in a single stroke. We made a few thousand plates like those shown in the late 1960’s.
The magnesium plates on the left had +-.001” location tolerances and +-.0005” hole size tolerances. These holes were also cut in a single stroke with custom form tools I designed. The problem was that magnesium expands 14 millionths per inch per degree and the drilling created heat. I learned to cut the center hole in the pattern first and expand the pattern from the center. As the heat expanded the part the hole pattern was also expanded so when the part was finished it shrank into print as it cooled.
We designed and built custom machines to assemble Tonka toys. This machine was for the first Tiny Tonka toys. Another view of the same machine is shown below.
This Tiny Tonka assembly machine, one of two we made, was over 40’ long and had 70 identical assembly fixtures on a revolving chain. Feeder bowls would load three wheel and axle assemblies to each fixture as it moved along. Three operators would then load the chassis, cab with windshield and seat inserts, and then the dump box, cement mixer whatever the toy designers wanted. The assembly then went through the crimping station and the fixture would bend all the metal tabs that held the toy together. All of the components were made on the four Moog Hydra-Point numerically controlled mills we had in the late 1960s.
All those Tonka Toys had to have decals put on them. We designed and built custom labeling machines more durable than was currently available. This machine could put 5 labels on a toy as it came off our assembly line. All of the milled components of this machine were made on our numerically controlled mills.
We named this labeler “Accraply”. Our labelers we used for a variety of applications at that time including toys, medical vials, and food packaging.
My dad sold the business and “Accraply” to a label manufacturer in 1971.
After several owners, Accraply is still the trade name of labelers now made in Plymouth, Minnesota.
After moving to Southern California in 1972 I did the NC engineering and programming for a machine shop known as Instrument Machining Co. The wave guide housing components shown here were particularly complicated for the day and required a computer to generate the incremental code required. I learned to program with Compact II at that time. Compact II used a time shared computer at a remote location.
The part on the left required over 1000’ of NC tape just to complete this one operation.
8 years later I made the same parts again on a CNC machine. I wrote the program that time using my trusty HP calculator.
In 1976 I was recruited by The Hasbach Company to sell CNC machinery in Southern California. CNC was brand new and the Bandit control was so named because it “Stole the tape reader”. I sold over 300 Bandit controlled CNC machines in 6 years.
I also sold and taught my customers to use Mori Seiki mills and lathes, Matsuura mills, Kitamura machinery and a few other brands.
Many times, I rolled my tool box into a customer’s shop to help get a first job running on the machine I had sold. Often that included engineering the job, building the fixtures, programming and set up.
Those times were good and I always enjoyed the work.
In 1982 my former employer, Instrument Machining was running the “Bomb Lock” pictured on the left on three vertical mills using many set ups. The run time was about 3 ½ hours per part. I told him that I was selling a new Kitamura horizontal mill with a pallet changer and I thought I could reduce the machining time to 1 ½ hours. I sold him the machine, re-engineered the job, designed and built the tooling, did the programming and the part ran in 1 ½ hours each.
In 1986, I became the first reseller for Gibbs and Associates CAM software. I won the award for most dollars of software sold for 16 consecutive years. This picture was taken recently in front of my “Lifetime Achievement Award” given to me over 20 years ago.
During my years of selling GibbsCAM, I always kept up to date with CNC programming by teaching programmers and taking on special engineering and programming jobs.
20 years ago, I engineered the tooling for and programmed the “satellite strut” pictured on the left. It started as about 300 pounds of aluminum and ended up weighing less than 10 pounds. For the same company, I programmed the differential housing, transmission housing and engine bay door for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
They were all programmed with Gibbs CAM software.
More recently I programmed the clevis on the left as a single operation on a 4-axis mill. This picture was taken before the part was polished.
Programmed with GibbsCAM.
I programmed this electronics housing to run on a Multi-task lathe with two spindles and two tool groups. It is interesting to use a rotary roughing technique on a part like this. You can remove a lot of material in a hurry!
The first operation of this weapon grip was to cut the center for the magazine. The next operation I programmed on a Multitask 9 axis machine including B-axis. The outside of the part was cut in one operation while holding on a mandrel. 4 and 5 axis machining was employed on this part.
VoluMill high-efficiency tool path was employed on this part.
The part was programmed with GibbsCAM.
This weapon slide and also the rail (not pictured) were made on a 9 axis Multi-task lathe with B-axis with the part being completed in a single operation.
I engineered and programmed this part with GibbsCAM.