Is there an American style of engineering/manufacturing? - Page 4
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    Brief story is that the company I was with back then was a pioneer in structural dynamics.
    I-DEAS is nice



    Did you notice how most of the good stuff the US used to make now lives in Germany ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    . . .

    Did you notice how most of the good stuff the US used to make now lives in Germany ?
    What's ironic is the General Electric once owned half the company -- and now it's their European rival Siemens making a go of it.

    GE was going to combine our company, plus Calma on the electrical side, and a bunch of GE automation assets to create the "Factory of the Future." The exec they sent to manage this, for about the first 20 minutes, looked and sounded the part. It soon became clear the man was pretty much an executive-looking idiot. Next few execs for the company were the story of the US. Terrific companies started by engineering and manufacturing types . . . eventually turned over to financial types and gradually destroyed and/or sold off.

    My opinion - companies eventually need a CFO and a Senior VP of Sales. But maybe not the best idea to turn either of them into a CEO (especially if they don't really care about either the product or their customers) with an offer of millions if they can game the financials for a year or two. That's kind of the story of the US decline in several industries IMO.

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    A couple of other terms the OP may find useful in researching or learning about the thread topic are "Design", and "Industrial Revolution".

    The role of the designer has been world wide for quite some time.

    Definitions for [good design] depend on their context.

    The design of one product may be 90 percent a matter of mechanical or electrical efficiency and only 10 percent a matter of appearance.

    In another arrangement, the proportions are the other way around with emphasis on form, shape, color, etc.

    What's his name? W.R. Lethaby (1837-1931) "Good design is the well-doing of what needs doing."

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post
    OK, I'll play...

    ( and this is from a European born ... )

    Old school USA is overbuilt. Sometimes minimalist but fully capable of the intent, and is made to take the beating.
    German is precise and complicated. It is also well though out for all possibilities. At the same time, it is incredibly fragile and does not take well to Bubba.
    Japanese is usually minimalist, but bulletproof. If it doesn't do it, it never will. If it can do it, it'll do it forever.
    Chinese, mehh.... If it works, it wasn't meant to or it was meant to work differently. If it doesn't work, noone really cares.
    Russian is like old school USA, except that while the engineer designed it the same or else he was sent to the gulag, the people who made and assembled the components
    couldn't care less. Stuff was often assembled loosey-goosey, or stolen straight from the factory and sold on the black market.
    Old school central European stuff is often overlooked. Some is shit, while there were/are gems that didn't just keep up with the big guys but was way ahead. Some of them are still around.

    So there ...
    hmmmmm,


    I would lump the countries into one of two main categories, innovators and replicators. The US has been in the center of the innovator pack. Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, France, Sweden, Holland, England, and a few others round them out. The soviet block economics destroyed the industrial characters of Eastern Europe, but I would categorize Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary pre-WWII industrial base as innovators. The Soviet block, for the most part, became a replicator block. Pre Soviet Russia was not really an industrial power, some fine craft existed, but the bulk of their industrial development happened post bolshevik times. WWII gave the Soviets a lot of US tech and the Soviets kept copying stuff from the west, sometimes poorly, sometimes well. If you could figure things out on a paper and pencil the Russians did very well, otherwise not so much.

    The far east is a lot more interesting.
    Japan has an incredible craft history, but the craft is not industry, Craft relies on simple mechanisms and simple designs. The early Japanese industry was a replicator, but the Japanese craft culture demands perfection, so the Japanese industry kept improving what they replicated until they reached perfection.
    Korea is very similar to Japan, with a local flavor.
    China is a different matter, and honestly, I do not quite get how Chinese design evolves. There is no underlying principle that is common to everything, other than China will do anything to make something to sell.
    India cannot shake its colonial past. India has made strides in software but still not very innovative. My work with Indian engineering firms thought me a lesson, if you ask them for an opinion, you end up with an implementation of your question.

    Yes, there is an industrial culture that defines the designs prevalent in that country or region. History and culture may have more impact on design than economics.

    dee
    ;-D

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    the old school American had it's root's for the most part from Germany and England and why not for the most part we were all the same people

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    I'm 50/50 Finnish and German heritage and I often feel like I have to restrain my inner German from continuous improvement of absolutely everything. If unchecked, I can get completely lost in the optimization of any design I work on. Thankfully, I have the Fin part that helps to simplify and complete things.

    I like Japanese and some American designs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I'm 50/50 Finnish and German heritage and I often feel like I have to restrain my inner German from continuous improvement of absolutely everything. If unchecked, I can get completely lost in the optimization of any design I work on. Thankfully, I have the Fin part that helps to simplify and complete things.

    I like Japanese and some American designs.

    Seems like you have the perfect genes to be a productive designer. While the German in you might never want to stop optimizing, your other half insists you Finnish.

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    Great topic, I can identify with a lot of it.

    Many years ago I worked for Caterpillar in East Peoria. How the conversation started I don't recall but I was told that Cat added a lot more material in their designs than necessary because the operators in the field abused them and this is only way the stuff would hold up.

    Having come from a family of farmers, one bane is to start something in the field and have to shut down because a machine broke down. Farming was/is largely governed by the weather. When nature says its time farmers can't wait. You will find some of the greatest loyalty of a farmer to his brand of machine and supporting dealership.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    K.D. Lang ?....
    Well, if you like 'em on the skinny side, how about Goddess Heather? She was over 50 when this was taken. Not exactly American Pacemaker proportions but certainly designed for efficiency...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails goddessheather1.jpg  

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    My perception is:

    Germans (and even more so the swiss) take something they've already been making for 100 years and make it 5% better every year by adding one more moving part.

    Japanese take something they've already been making for 50 years and make it 5% better every year by removing one moving part.

    Americans take something they've been making for 0 years, make it work at all, then get bored five years later.

    Better Chinese firms take something someone else has been making for 50 years and say "did you know if you loosen up all the tolerances by 5x it still runs mostly fine?"

    Worse Chinese firms take something better Chinese firms have been making for five years and say "if it assembles and starts, ship it. If not, get the belt sander."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyghost View Post
    I am interested in how German, Japanese, Chinese, and American products seems to have a different feel and focus. I am curious what you think.
    I would say...
    Old school American is always over built.
    German seems to be precise and complicated.
    Japanese seems to be just right and well balanced.
    Chinese maybe "quantity has a quality all its own" or error towards the cheaper.

    I tend to prefer American and Japanese
    I used to hang out with a bunch of engineers of various stripes who worked for beltway contractors taking NASA shuttle work.

    I commented that US gear was sort of fancy end easy to break vs Soviet Aerospace which had a more simple robust approach.

    Not well received I can tell you.
    This was before the two space shuttle loses..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trboatworks View Post
    I used to hang out with a bunch of engineers of various stripes who worked for beltway contractors taking NASA shuttle work.

    I commented that US gear was sort of fancy end easy to break vs Soviet Aerospace which had a more simple robust approach.

    Not well received I can tell you.
    This was before the two space shuttle loses..
    I would describe Rusian design as " Idiot Proof ". Not massively sophisticated but pretty durable.

    I used to work for an MD who had a really short fuse. We'd finished a machine and it was due to leave our shop in a day or two. The MD had called the draughtsman responsible for the machine down to the shop and was berating him regarding the control panel.

    The panel had three lever switches down the middle and the draughtsman had specified three really small switches. The MD twisted them around until he broke all three. He was shouting at the draughtsman " These switches are going to be used by clumsy bastard operators using gloves and you've chosen the smallest bloody switches on the planet. Get the biggest switches you can find and fit them instead ! Make it idiot proof ! "

    That phrase stuck with me. There are some people out there who can break most things without really trying.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Well I started out at an all Manual machine shop dedicated to making light sheet metal machines. We generally produce machines of the British type of design. Practical and easy to maintain. Came across some decent made USA folders and guillotines but they still were a bit of a step behind the South African and British designs by my standards. It is as though the USA were used to sheet metal machines as something that had to be serviced by the seller. Where, as an example, Edwards would make them fool proof and solid. But both country of origin are still decent. Locally you would get either the one's that were rated to 2mm over 1250mm that you would kill yourself trying to do or our that were/are a total overkill and would last you and your kids. I suppose you would need to weigh up what you actually need it for, a short run of 10K bends and sell it off or a machine that will last you 50 years, need servicing, and then carry on going.


    When it came to eccentric presses it is a totally different ball game. Were there any big business USA built eccentric presses? Have not come across any. Obviously I have seen loads of British made (commonwealth and so on) that are efficient. I have also come across quite a few USSR and Eastern European built presses. The older the BIGGER they are built. It was something about being paid for the weight exported and not really the value. I came across 3 Russian built 50T eccentric presses that if you looked at the size of them you would think that they were well over 125T capacity. HUGE machines up to the point you actually looked at the ram and spindles and the size of the flywheels.


    Then when it comes to lathes/mills I have had the opportunity to work on quite a few decent machines. TOS lathes still have a soft spot in my heart. Well built, easy to use and strong. Recently bought a SN40,SN50,SN55 in decent nick and just looking at them brings back great memories (officially learnt how to turn on a SN40). 2 downfalls... clutches can wear prematurely if the idiot operator/turner leaves the machine a tiny bit engaged and leaves the machine running... but we never had that issue. The only reason I know about that is from service calls (we also do machine repairs and re-sale). Second downfall is the apron gearbox. If not oiled and used properly gears wear out badly. It is a PAIN to drop the box and get to it but doable by someone that knows what they are doing. The SN40 that I used had to have 2 new gears after about 25 years of decent use. Small lathes over here all the training colleges used to have Colchesters/Harrisons.l have a 1800 in the shop. Great small machines. Now all being replaced by POS chinese lathes that you could topple with a decent kick to the middle of the bed. No idea why but it could be because of trade agreements and government funding.


    Mills... Well same as the TOS I was lucky enough to "learn" on a Rambaudi. Beautiful machines!!! Someone also mentioned Huron Now a Huron is like the Rolls Royce of mid sized mills. We have had a few over the years and the "feel" of them are second to none. I have used a few Chinese knock off's of Hurons and truthfully are not bad machines at all, just don't have the same feel that I mentioned. Have used many many mills from different nations including turret style mills. When it comes to those I am biased. MITCO (From South Africa) used to make a 40 taper turret style mill that made a Bridgeport look like a desktop mill with the same type of envelope as the Bridgeport. I would rather buy a Standard turret mill, Chinese or Taiwanese origin, before I buy a Bridgeport. Bridgeports are so overrated. Russian mills are also great machines if chosen properly.

    CNC's... well I have 2 Jap machines, 1 Korean, 4 Taiwanese and the sister company has 3 older Jap lathes and 2 Taiwanese machining centres. All solid machines.

    I guess it comes to knowledge. Every country has it's disposable machine tool builders and their solid machines. It is about looking at the machine, moving it around a bit and knowing if it is a POS or if you are comfortable with riding it hard for 2 years and then scrapping it. It is all in the service vs profit.

    Having said that I would much rather have a Deckel FP2 (have had a FP1 and FP3) than a wonky bridgeport in my workspace. But then again I can load an awkward part on the Bridgeport... So I would rather buy a Mitco... And so on and so on. Personal preference and the work that you plan on doing is the main factor.

    Keep this in mind. A Taiwanese teach style lathe with a Fagor control has paid the money for 3 machining centres, a wire EDM 2 full CNC lathes and a turret mill and is still going strong 15 years later. Biggest money maker in my shop.

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    A friend who spent part of his army hitch described the guns on the various tanks. The German Tiger had its barrel nicely finished. The American had a rough cut and that was that. The outside of the barrel doesn't shoot, so the Russians left it as forged.

    The filament of a transmitting tube lengthens as it gets hot and needs something to take up the slack. A German one in my collection has an intricate system of little glass bars on hooks so they balance the force. Resembles a double tree used with horses pulling a wagon. Moreover, most tubes use sockets, with pins stuck into spring loaded contacts. The German tube has the springs in the tube base, where they will be discarded when the tube wears out.

    The American tube, a Western Electric 212D, has a couple of springs. It uses an expensive socket and simple, cheap pins on its base.

    The Russian tube has no base at all, just wires hanging out of it. They probably figured the station would be bombed before the tube wore out, anyway. I can't see the filament support, probably the filament is wound like a spring so it can flex.

    I have been told that the Russian approach is to get a design reasonably developed, then run off a large quantity without changes. This is apparently in the culture. My Bulgarian artist friend was invited to participate in a show that would be outdoors, so she needed a tent. She got one with a folding frame and a top with a skirt that extended about 8 inches down the sides to prevent water from getting inside the walls. In the first practice run, we installed the roof, then had to push the sides up under it. I suggested that in the next run we install the sides before the top. She became very upset-"This is how we practiced it, why are you making changes?" It was not worth arguing about, so we did it the hard way. Bulgaria is close to Russia, shares the same alphabet and Eastern Church. Besides, the Russian army got them out from Ottoman rule, for which they are most grateful, so there isn't the sort of anti Russian sentiment we have.

    Remember how we got to and from the space station after retiring the shuttles.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by NAST555 View Post


    When it came to eccentric presses it is a totally different ball game. Were there any big business USA built eccentric presses? Have not come across any. Obviously I have seen loads of British made (commonwealth and so on) that are efficient. I have also come across quite a few USSR and Eastern European built presses. The older the BIGGER they are built. It was something about being paid for the weight exported and not really the value. I came across 3 Russian built 50T eccentric presses that if you looked at the size of them you would think that they were well over 125T capacity. HUGE machines up to the point you actually looked at the ram and spindles and the size of the flywheels.
    Bliss
    Hill-Acme
    National (coldformer press)
    Chicago Dries Krump
    Pacific
    Cleveland press brakes & shears
    Federal punch press
    Acme forging presses

    And …."Erie Press"...

    I'm sure I forgot a few of the big names in stamping presses, the large ones for automotive work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    I would describe Rusian design as " Idiot Proof ". Not massively sophisticated but pretty durable.

    I used to work for an MD who had a really short fuse. We'd finished a machine and it was due to leave our shop in a day or two. The MD had called the draughtsman responsible for the machine down to the shop and was berating him regarding the control panel.

    The panel had three lever switches down the middle and the draughtsman had specified three really small switches. The MD twisted them around until he broke all three. He was shouting at the draughtsman " These switches are going to be used by clumsy bastard operators using gloves and you've chosen the smallest bloody switches on the planet. Get the biggest switches you can find and fit them instead ! Make it idiot proof ! "

    That phrase stuck with me. There are some people out there who can break most things without really trying.

    Regards Tyrone.
    When I was first starting out as an apprentice, I was told there is no such thing as "Idiot-proof". The best you can hope for is "Idiot-resistant".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris View Post
    When you look at the turret drive of a Tiger or Panther tank, its a work of engineering art... When you look at a T-34 its "Hell that works???? ! " but the russians could make more T-34s than the germans could Tigers and panthers.

    The same could be said for our Sherman tanks (also known to the germans as the 'tommy cooker' or the 'ronson' ), they were rather under gunned and under armored when going up against the tigers and panthers.
    But we could build 10 of them to 1 tiger... so it didnt matter if you lost 5 shermans to every tiger kill.
    If you're interested in tank design in WW2 then Hilary Doyle is worth listening to. I recall him saying that the Germans really had no option other to make tanks to such a high standard because they didn't have the raw materials available to make much higher numbers, nor the fuel to operate larger numbers so it was a case of if we can only make X number we better make them as good as possible.

    I do still think there was, and still is a tendancy of German products to be a bit overly complicated but they really excel at products that by their nature have to stay simple, hand tools being a fine example. When I look at German machine tools now *cough* DMG *cough* they don't give the impression that they'll last as long as say, a 1980s Mori turning centre, too much styling and touchscreens for my liking.

    Interestingly the only brand of turning centre the service tech I used to use told me to absolutely under no circumstance buy was a German one, Gildemeister. Apparently the most overly complex and difficult to repair of all the brands he had worked on, and he knows CHNC turrets well!

    Not quite on the note of German, but Austrian, Emco seem to have a lot of the classic German stereotypical traits, very well made, nicely designed and with extremely comprehensive documentation in the manuals with every last detail covered right down to the paint colour codes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob L View Post
    If you're interested in tank design in WW2 then Hilary Doyle is worth listening to. I recall him saying that the Germans really had no option other to make tanks to such a high standard because they didn't have the raw materials available to make much higher numbers, nor the fuel to operate larger numbers so it was a case of if we can only make X number we better make them as good as possible.

    I do still think there was, and still is a tendancy of German products to be a bit overly complicated but they really excel at products that by their nature have to stay simple, hand tools being a fine example. When I look at German machine tools now *cough* DMG *cough* they don't give the impression that they'll last as long as say, a 1980s Mori turning centre, too much styling and touchscreens for my liking.

    Interestingly the only brand of turning centre the service tech I used to use told me to absolutely under no circumstance buy was a German one, Gildemeister. Apparently the most overly complex and difficult to repair of all the brands he had worked on, and he knows CHNC turrets well!

    Not quite on the note of German, but Austrian, Emco seem to have a lot of the classic German stereotypical traits, very well made, nicely designed and with extremely comprehensive documentation in the manuals with every last detail covered right down to the paint colour codes.
    I expect you know that the G in DMG is for " Gildemeister ".

    Regards Tyrone.


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