Is there an American style of engineering/manufacturing? - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by otrlt View Post
    . . .

    This "mindset" is deeply rooted in the concept and practice of Toolmaking. We have mastered this skill. Only a few countries have, and yet, no one has scaled up to our level.
    I'm half with you on this, Otrit. The US has a tremendous history of toolmaking. Go through the Smithsonian and its clear how much our auto, aero, even computer and communication industries owe to toolmakers.

    Bright kids starting out in industry also ended up as toolmakers and many on to become superb manufacturing engineers, plant managers, and sometimes, execs. Our best process engineers at Ford often started as tool and die makers. Of course, that was 50 years ago.

    I saw the same thing out of the UK as well. In one past life, our UK branch manager was an ex-toolmaker and terrific as a manager as well. An international manufacturing consultant friend, once California and now living in France, also a former tool and die maker. The profession attracted bright kids and gave them an opportunity to shine.

    And then there is that continually elusive definition of what separates man from other animals. We're the toolmakers. Turns out some other animals are as well, but still . . .

    That said, the Japanese have been making better stamping dies for quite a while. The Taiwanese and now the Chinese seem to make more and sometimes better plastic injection molds, and so on. Plenty have not only scaled up to our level, but surpassed it.

    We should certainly cherish the great ones we have left. And return to teaching some kids follow in their footsteps. Though could be in this digital world lots of Maker-type kids are teaching themselves some of those skills for tool and die 2.0?

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  3. #22
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    Back on topic, one of the cool things about the latest generation of CAD, analysis, and 3D printing tools is the ability to design, optimize, and build products with almost organic use of shapes and materials. We can put in voids, cells, sinews, skins, multiple materials, internal passages, and the like.

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    Thank you for your input Pete,
    Unfortunately. in recent years most toolmakers have had to make molds, mostly because of the demand for cheap and affordable plastic injected products.

    Your Statement;

    " the Japanese now make better stamping dies, Asians seem to make more and perhaps better plastic injection molds, and so on. Plenty have not only scaled up to our level, but surpassed it".


    Your statement, above is not valid.

    Have you ever purchased precision components ever?

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    Quote Originally Posted by otrlt View Post
    . . .

    Your Statement;

    " the Japanese now make better stamping dies, Asians seem to make more and perhaps better plastic injection molds, and so on. Plenty have not only scaled up to our level, but surpassed it".


    Your statement, above is not valid.

    Have you ever purchased precision components ever?
    Not valid based on what, Otrit?

    My statement about auto stamping dies was based on findings, now decades old, that Japanese car makers were putting panels together with tighter tolerance than the US and using something like 3 hits rather than several more in comparable GM, Ford, etc. stamping dies. This was as far back as the Shigeo Shingo SMED days (single minute exchange of dies) -- and I also knew the comparatively sorry state of Ford stamping facilities at that time.

    And the statement about the Taiwanese and now the Chinese making more and perhaps better plastic injection molds is based, first, on actual visits in Taiwan on their mold shops and now the faster growth rate and increasing size of the Chinese plastics and mold making industries. Delighted if you can show actual facts, rather than opinion, to show the US is still the world's best and largest maker of auto body stampings or the world's largest maker of plastic injection molds and molded parts.

    Back in my Ford days, I bought millions of $$$ worth of manufacturing machinery. As a board member with a Society of Manufacturing Engineers group, I later saw the Japanese and then the Chinese creep, bit by bit, into dominance of several manufacturing industries as we tried ot make money on money. As a new product development consultant, I worked side by side by some of our nation's best design for manufacturing types and benchmarked maybe a hundred manufacturing facilities - including the mold making facilities of Kodak and others.

    So, unless you have facts to share (welcome them, if you do) I'll suggest my statement is valid. It turns out that Americans aren't the only smart people in the world -- and other countries sometimes do an even better job of technical education. Would say that GE did, and likely still does, a superb job on turbine blades. And a couple of medical device clients like B-D, got pretty good at plastic molding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    Not valid based on what, Otrit?

    My statement about auto stamping dies was based on findings, now decades old, that Japanese car makers were putting panels together with tighter tolerance than the US and using something like 3 hits rather than several more at GM, Ford, etc. This was as far back as the SMED days (single minute exchange of dies).

    And the statement about the Taiwanese and now the Chinese making more and perhaps better plastic injection molds is based, first, on actual visits in Taiwan on their mold shops and now the faster growth rate and increasing size of the Chinese plastics and mold making industries. Delighted if you can show actual facts, rather than opinion, to show the US is still the world's best and largest maker of auto body stampings or the world's largest maker of plastic injection molds.

    Back in my Ford days, I bought millions of $$$ worth of manufacturing machinery. As a board member with a Society of Manufacturing Engineers group, I later saw the Japanese and then the Chinese creep, bit by bit, into dominance of several manufacturing industries as we tried ot make money on money. As a new product development consultant, I worked side by side by some of our nation's best design for manufacturing types and benchmarked maybe a hundred manufacturing facilities - including the mold making facilities of Kodak and others.

    So, unless you have facts to share (welcome them, if you do) I'll suggest my statement is valid. Would say that GE did, and likely still does, a superb job on turbine blades.
    You are retired,
    and are no longer relevant or of any use. Unless you get your hands dirty and get something done, I suggest..

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    Retired, for sure. But actively engaged in creating and running a couple science and tech programs for kids. Idea is that, in the future, people will be able to recognize fact from fiction, find worthwhile problems to solve, then innovate clever ways around them.

    Got my hands dirty today, making parts for a differential interference contrast microscope. Had to clean 'em though - lenses and prisms were meant to go in them and they aren't as enamored of dirt and grease.

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    Quote Originally Posted by otrlt View Post
    You are retired,
    and are no longer relevant or of any use. Unless you get your hands dirty and get something done, I suggest..
    I may as well be retired and definitely useless but recently sold three 3 meter gear grinders to a company in shandong that makes presses for the auto industry. Mercedes and Toyota and I believe GM are their customers.

    Are there any US companies still building large presses ? Do they grind their gear drives for precision control ? When we picked up those machines, we were the only buyers ....

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    There's also the impact of modeling tools on design.

    Auto industry used to start with a sketch, then clay, then fairly intense work to translate that to things like stamping dies with curves and near seamlessly matching panels. Early days of CAD (think slab-sided cars) might have had an effect on designers and designs.

    HP was a client back in the days one of their divisions had its own CAD system - a somewhat limited solid modeling system (the heir now more capable). Back then I'd tell them I could see an HP design from a distance - everything was a primitive with a rolling ball fillet. Think LaserJet etc.

    Similarly, housing used to be somewhat free-form (thing straw huts, igloos, stone buildings). Soon as we started making them of out 2x4 sticks and 4x8 sheets they became rectilinear. It was a sign of wealth to have curved coves in the plaster, maybe a turret in one corner. or a shingled eyebrow on the roof. Some of that (tools and materials dominating the design options) is still with us today (think welding and fabrication) through full 3D everything is lifting the limits.

    Frank Gehry is reputed to have used Catia surfacing from somewhat early on. I say reputed because CAD vendors have a penchant for over-emphasizing their role - witness Dyson and Unigraphics. And while I'd agree with many that the skins of Gehry's buildings often look cool, the inside of the ones I've been in seem more a jumble than great places to work.

    Somewhat irrelevent perhaps, but I still remember attending a Braun product design show in my college years. It was all about the super duper design of everything Bauhaus-inspired from Braun. All sorts of appliances etc. I recall a Braun record turntable on display with the Braun rep standing nearby. The cartridge holder on the wisp end of the tonearm was broken and dangling from the end. When I pointed it out, the Braun guy was offended. It's not broken. Our stuff couldn't be broken. It's a design feature. When pressed, he went on to speculate that the engineers had some way to lift up the cartridge from its dangling wires and play maybe Mahler to perfection. Point being, design can be a sort of religion, too.

    One long past company where I was an exec was given the job by Monarch of designing a successor to the 10EE. Our prototype made it to the IMTS, but those rightly worshiping the massive cast iron stance of a 10EE didn't much like it's equally stiff and cutting force damping look. We got the structural dynamics right, but totally missed the reassuring "look" of a 10EE.
    Hi Pete, I've still got my " Braun " pocket calculator from back in the day. A design classic. I have an old " Texas Instruments " one for shop work. The " Braun " one replaced my old home calculator which was one of the first " Texas Instruments " calculators. It was very large, typical early 1970's biege colour and it cost a fortune.

    Now everybody uses their phone for everyday calculations.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    Hi Pete, I've still got my " Braun " pocket calculator from back in the day. A design classic. I have an old " Texas Instruments " one for shop work. The " Braun " one replaced my old home calculator which was one of the first " Texas Instruments " calculators. It was very large, typical early 1970's biege colour and it cost a fortune.

    Now everybody uses their phone for everyday calculations.

    Regards Tyrone.
    True, I have a Hewlett Packard emulator on my phone, but a real 35 on my desk at work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    Italians deserve a nod for beautiful designs. Milan a center for design.

    You must have had a better experience than me. Italians over-complicate things to the nth degree. We have a 6 million dollar machine made my SCAMM (yes, their real name and kind of accurate) that has at least 10000 more moving parts than it needs.

    They make ingenious stuff, it just breaks down all the time and is hell to work on. Not to mention their drawings/documentation are less than ideal.

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    ^ I can stand up a little for Berco. Decent enough stuff, reliable, not over-complicated. Works good, holds up okay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by otrlt View Post
    You are retired,
    and are no longer relevant or of any use. Unless you get your hands dirty and get something done, I suggest..
    This attitude is exactly why the skills gap is as bad as it is. There's times I wish some of the old timers were still around so I could pick their brain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyghost View Post
    I now realize that I misused the word overbuilt. It was meant as a compliment. Old American tools are still in use today because they are so rugged. It's like they said a pound of iron will do, but lets use a pound and a half just for good measure. Modern stuff seems to have removed every expendable shaving in the name of cost and material science. After the tool is fully depreciated, something or everything irreparable breaks.
    You are correct that most of that old stuff is built heavier than "needed". My point was that it's not a trait that identifies it as American, just the age/school-of-thought that designed it. German/English/Russian/etc. all built their stuff in a similar weighty fashion back then as compared to today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by otrlt View Post
    You are retired,
    and are no longer relevant or of any use. Unless you get your hands dirty and get something done, I suggest..
    What a lovely fellow you must be. I bet mum is proud of her offspring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rewt View Post
    You must have had a better experience than me. Italians over-complicate things to the nth degree . . .
    Well, I did say beautiful, not easy to maintain. Think Ferrari, Sophia Loren . . .
    Last edited by PeteM; 04-08-2020 at 03:02 PM. Reason: Stupid fingers

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    Quote Originally Posted by otrlt View Post
    You are retired,
    and are no longer relevant or of any use. Unless you get your hands dirty and get something done, I suggest..
    Not very nice. Retired people contribute all the time here and are doing so voluntarily. Pete has free speech here in America (on some days it is a terrifying realization.

    Pete can contribute a lot. He does that too. He will also get on the presidents case also. We know the truth is close to the middle and it is closer to my views than to others. The others feel the same way. We are a little grumpy more than usual do to the virus.

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    As someone who dates from that era I can state with confidence that one reason American products were overbuilt was due to most calculations being performed using slide rules. The inherent lack of precision required "rounding up" for safety. Even in the calculator age uncertainties required an extra margin and it was not until precise computer modeling came into being that products could be designed and built that were "just enough" to satisfy requirements. The increased trend towards cost savings also meant that engineers who wanted that extra margin were often over-ruled by management.

    The other reason is very much cultural. America, as a young nation not far from its frontier days was used to robust products that could take a beating and the easiest way to accomplish that was to overbuild it.

    What made the Japanese different was attention to even the tiniest detail. Not even the tiniest pin or screw was considered unimportant and someone was paying attention to it. Too many American engineers and managers glossed over the small details because they were not considered important.

    The Germans also made/make products that matched their culture and I have neither the in-depth knowledge of such culture nor the time to say more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AJ H View Post
    . . .There's times I wish some of the old timers were still around . . ..
    It took minute - and a jolt of recognition - to figure out you were talking about me . . . . .

    Only thing to add is that, even when old, there's the inclination to think we're still in our twenties.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post
    ......an operator to ride around on a chair mounted to the bar NASA training style as he watched the cutter and adjusted as needed to create a smooth sealing surface. He would get dizzy, puke, and have to take a break, rinse, repeat. Now he could run the CNC wirelessly while eating his lunch instead of launching his breakfast within 10 minutes of starting the job.
    Oh, brother!!
    That made my day!!





    sure you didn't make up that part

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trueturning View Post
    Not very nice. Retired people contribute all the time here and are doing so voluntarily. Pete has free speech here in America (on some days it is a terrifying realization.

    Pete can contribute a lot. He does that too. He will also get on the presidents case also. We know the truth is close to the middle and it is closer to my views than to others. The others feel the same way. We are a little grumpy more than usual do to the virus.
    Trueturning, you are right.

    My comment was not appropriate, and mean spirited. I apologize too all.

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