What Happened to Cincinnati Milacron?
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  1. #1
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    I've been reading "Treatise on Milling and Milling Machines" by Cincinnati Milling Machine Company from 1951. It is a GREAT book. One cannot but be impressed by the breadth of the companies offerings and their command of the issues surrounding milling and milling machines. Now Milacron appears to be a plastics processing expert with no metalworking machine tools.

    My question is how they collapsed into a shadow of their former self in the subsequent 50 years?

    The Milacron website history mentions milling machines in passing but they quickly switch to injection molding and cooling fluids. They mention that the "legacy machine tool business" was sold in 1998. How did it become a "legacy?"

    Cheers,
    Bob Welland

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    Bob
    At one time the "Mill" was the worlds largest Machine Tool Builder.

    Some of their products..

    Milling machines, Horizontal, verticle, tool toom and production models.
    OD Grinding machines
    Centerless Grinding Machines
    Profile milling machines, The Hydrotel etc
    Horizontal and Verticle Broaching Machines
    Transfer Lines that took in raw castings at one end and a finished auto engine came out the other.
    Grinding Wheels and Coolants
    N/C Milling ...The Cintimatic Machining Centers and many versions of it.
    N/C profiling mills big enough to park several tractor trailers on. Most of them 5 axis
    The Cimtrol Div built the Acramatic controls.
    Plastics Div made Injection molding Machines

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  4. #3
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    I am asking - what happened? The machine tool market did not go away but Cincinnati Milacron essentially did. Why? Did they fail to understand CNC, did they fall prey to low-cost overseas competition, did their quality control go down the drain, etc?

    Cheers,
    Bob Welland

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    I would also like to know the real story, but I suspect that the Jap machines had a lot to do with it.

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    My Grandfather is ME Merchant who worked for Cincinnati Milacron Until the 80's (if you know of Merchant's Law of Metal Cutting, he is the guy).

    What happened to Milacron? Thats a good question and I have wondered myself. I will see if I can get an explanation from him via email and post it.

    By the way, the former head quarters is now a strip mall, and I believe a Korean company bought the company for the name and does some stuff across the river in Kentucky.

    -Jake

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    The "Mill" was still near the top of their form, though beginning to lose it, when I was a co-op student in the late 60's and early 70's. I had a bit of contact with them working on machineability research in ME department. The company was very paternal, a bit bureaucratic, but trying to take care of employees. That was probably a good thing in attracting talented employees in the early part of the 20th century, but maybe not so effective in the 70's and 80's. Renaming the company "Milacron" was part of its attempt to project a higher tech image . . . In any case, the cost structure was high and Milacron didn't continue to enjoy a big edge in innovation or quality.

    Cincinati was once the "machine tool capital" of the world. Almost all that was either gone or bought up by the Japanese and others even before we lost consumer electronics, etc. etc.

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    Cincinnati’s problem? They focused on making the best machine tools of their time, period. That was the motivation, not a business model that puts return on investment above everything else. Disposable machine tools were a concept they (understandably) failed to grasp. Lack of diversity certainly wasn’t one of Cincinnati Milacron’s (formally Cincinnati Milling Machine Co.) problems either, and in fact may have contributed to their downfall. They produced and sold everything and any and every accessory to go on everything, perhaps not the most efficient situations. Just one opinion, I’m sure there are many more. One thing is for certain what has happened to US machine tool industry is happening to US manufacturing in general and if we don’t turn it around there goes our country. Its time we put corporate boards and elected officials on notice, their jobs are on the line.

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    who took over their cnc business ?

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    On Apr 15'05 Don posted that Cincinnati Lamb was sold by Unova to an outfit called Maxcor.

    I could not find the earlier topic that discussed the closing of the main plant and the sale to Unova.

    Just figure that there isn't any more of what we once knew as The Cincinnati Milling Machine Company.

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    They built an entire new plant in the Greenville, SC area during the 80's to produce robots. The construction time was probably longer than the operating time for the plant. I never knew whether they decided to get out of the robot business, or moved it elsewhere, or what. But, there's no doubt they dropped a ton of money there with zero return.

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    I seem to recall that the move to Robots was linked to the downfall of Milacron.

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    This company as with others finally gave up on quality and determined that it is cheaper to produce automated machinery than it is to produce manual equipment. Giving up on quality was not so much a company decision but consumer decision, short sighted buyers thought it was better to buy a cheap mill that would last five years instead of a quality machine that would last 50.

    http://www.bmpcoe.org/bestpractices/...i/summary.html


    http://www.bmpcoe.org/bestpractices/...i/summary.html

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    I might add another thing:

    The CNC game is all about electronics and software. Look at a modern CNC machine and it is surprising how few gears and shafts and bearings there are.

    The machines got real simple, the electronics and software got real complicated.

    Cincinnati was all about Iron and Steel, Shafts and Gears.

    GE and Fanuc were and are where it's at in controls. I think that when Cinn. undertook electronics they jumped on the thing that would eventually pull them down. They, in my opinion, didn't need a costly adventure outside their core business.

    By the way, my opinion comes from living next door to IBM and watching those experts do main frame computers. Electronics was not easy for IBM and that was their core business.

    IBM took the high road, saying "We will provide the computers for you to run your NC programs but we won't get down and dirty on the factory floor with machine controllers."

    After wandering through the IMB plant, I was appalled at what I saw in the GE and other control boxes. It's a wonder that the things worked at all. It's a wonder why retreat and bankruptcy wasn't more often.

    The Japanese, especially took the low road. They made small NC-CNC machines and sold them into smaller shops.

    The Japanese machine tools were sold by used machine dealers taking on their first line of new machines. They would take time to talk with young guys whao had dreams of starting their own shops.

    The cost of the Japanese machines wasn't all that much and the dealers were interested in Making A Deal Happen!

    The big American makers had their noses in the air. I remember that once in a great while they would let me touch the hem of their garments.

    Oops!

    Wrong answer!

    It was and is the young guys who made CNC!

    I am not one bit amazed that our discussions concerning the great American names in machine tools is over here in Antique Machinery. It is the old bulls who put it here.

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    Yes,MILACRON really invested in robotics,they shut down their foundry in the eighties,sold off a lot of interests,invested in the plastics,and their CNC machines weren't that great. AS was stated, working @ the "MILL" was supposed to mean something. I went thru the main plant on a tour in the mid-70's,very impressive. BREWSKI

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  20. #15
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    Cincinnati Machine is alive and well. They are now owned by Maxcor Industrial. www.cincinnatilamb.com

    They also own Fadal, G&L, Cross-Huller, Hessip, Excello, Lamb, etc.

    Current sales over $1 billion a year.....

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    mattei, yeah yeah...but is that really Cincinati or just a new conglomegate using the name ? Probably very little of the original company left in that murky corporate makeover.

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    So Maxcor now owns everything that was owned by Thyssen-Krupp too???

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    Milacron was in the NC game fairly early, they had their own control dividion up towards Wilmington OH. I remember considering one of their controls in the middle 60's but bought the GE instead because we already had GE's. I never though the Cincinnati NC's were all that operator friendly. They were also kind of inflexible on control choices, charging 20% extra to put someone else's NC on their machine.
    My best guess is that there was a much higher profit margin on plastic injection machines than machine tools and the bean counters caused the split.
    The Gier (sp?) family owned Cincinnati Milling Machine for years, maybe they ran out of heirs.

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    If you want to learn more about the history of Cincinnati Milacron,the machines,and the people, get a copy of the 100 year anniversary book.

    Granted it won't tell you what happened in later years (1984 on) But its very interesting to look at, lots of pictures!

    Eric

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  27. #20
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    Hello olddude,

    "short sighted buyers thought it was better to buy a cheap mill that would last five years instead of a quality machine that would last 50."

    If you were starting a machine shop today, would you want to outfit it with 50 year old stuff that was still running somewhat strong (but might be needing a costly rebuild by an ever diminishing number of specialists), or something that was pretty current?

    Doesn't modern machinery often do things at some significant multiple of the speed of the machines of the 1950s? And doesn't that speed seem to ramp up a notch over a fairly short period of time? Of course, the modern industrial machine tool is likely to have some sort of computer control on it, which means comparing it to the manual machines of the 1940s and 50s is pretty much an apples/oranges situation.

    Sure, the old stuff is cool and impressive for what it is, and the right shop may find a niche that a $2000 50 year old machine fills very effectively.

    But as a general rule, which machine is likely to churn out the most product? And which machine is going to lend itself better to the short run/customized run stuff that seems so popular these days?

    It seems like there must be some way that the return on investment on these shorter-lived machines is making sense to someone, as they seem to be opening their pocketbooks and buying them. Some of them even manage to make some money with them.

    cheers,
    Michael

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