The Tooling and Manufacturing Association: Educational Opportunities Aplenty!

TMA’s Related Theory Three-Year Apprentice Training Program is one of its most popular and is a combination of moldmaking, tool and die and CNC programming.

The Tooling & Manufacturing Association (TMA) was founded in 1925 by eight small manufacturing companies who thought they would be stronger as a united entity. Over the years its members established programs and services that would help their businesses grow and prosper, train their employees, and provide medical and retirement benefits. Today, TMA has grown into a nearly 1,000 member, not-for-profit organization of precision manufacturing and supplier companies in the greater Chicago area, thanks to these early efforts.

According to TMA Director of Education Patrick Osborne, training and education is once again a major priority at TMA after training efforts stopped for a few years during the recent recession. Companies typically join TMA, pay a fee, and then send their employees to classes. “I am excited to say the program is back up and running,” Osborne affirms. TMA member Janler Corp. (Chicago, IL)—a manufacturer of close-tolerance, multi-cavity molds—has been a member for nearly 60 years. “My father, Josef Klingler was President in 1972, so I am a second generation officer of the association,” explains Carol Ebel, Janler’s current president. “I was Chairman three years ago and currently am President of the TMA Education Foundation.”

Ebel is looking to TMA for support in training the next generation of moldmakers. “I have concerns regarding the development of our current and future workforce—in all disciplines—whether technical, administrative or marketing/sales,” she states. “It is wonderful to see this area of the association solidly evolving while embracing the current needs of the members and industry. TMA’s educational offerings are broad and we have taken advantage of them in many areas. We currently have three apprentices enrolled in the technical training and will be adding a fourth.” TMA President Brian McGuire adds, “We recognize that training is an extension of an owner’s investment in the future productivity and profitability of their company.”

Apprentice Training
The following education opportunities are available to TMA members:
 

Related Theory
TMA’s Related Theory Apprentice Training Program is one of its most popular, Osborne notes. It is a three-year program that culminates with a specialty in moldmaking, tool and die, or CNC programming. Approximately 35 students will be starting their third-year specialty training in the fall, with more than 75 starting their second year. The next round of classes starts in September and TMA is hopeful for even bigger enrollment in the first year of training.

“The first year the students will take math, blueprint reading and machine tool technology,” he elaborates. “The second year they take an entire year of machine tool technology with a greater emphasis on math and CNC. The third year students will be asked to choose whether they want to become moldmakers, tool and die makers or CNC programmers. My challenge is to prepare the curriculum and get the instructors ready to go for each of these groups.”

Third year specialty moldmaking is being offered again for the first time in many years at TMA. Students will complete 168 hours over 56 sessions and will focus on the theory of moldmaking. Content includes a study of the mold cavity and core, runners, gates, fitting details, shutoffs, methods of construction, clearances, mold base technology and materials as well as locking devices. Instruction also includes overflows, venting, side cores, mold finishes and polishing techniques. Students also learn about types of molds, materials, water lines, cooling strategies, limit switches, pressure testing, plastic resins and shrink rates.

If manufacturers wish to enroll their employees in the program, potential students need to take a WorkKeys job skills assessment exam—developed by ACT—that tests employee competence in several areas to measure the participant’s readiness for training. The exam focuses on three areas: Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information. After the students complete WorkKeys assessment, they are eligible for National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC) from ACT. Then, they are ready for Related Theory, Osborne notes.

Chris Saragaglia, a CNC five-axis machinist for mold manufacturer Chicago Mold Engineering (CME; St. Charles, IL), teaches 14 students introductory math, blueprint reading and machine tool technology two nights a week. He got involved when CME’s comptroller Brian Hisel attended a TMA event and met Patrick.

“In math, we started with simple single-digit adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing—working our way through algebra and getting almost to trigonometry,” Saragaglia says. “We will cover that next semester in advanced math. Blueprint reading covers every aspect of prints—from their history, to the alphabet of lines, to present day.” Saragaglia adds that all of his students are doing well, with none below a B average.

Janler’s apprentices have found the courses worthwhile. First-year apprentice Frank Palminteri is taking math and blueprint reading. “Overall, it’s been a good experience,” Palminteri notes. “Learning math formulas and terms for blueprint reading has helped me understand how to do my job efficiently and correctly.”

Second-year apprentice Mariusz Piotrowski said he learned new CNC codes and found the blueprint reading class he took in his first year particularly helpful to understand the prints on the shop floor. Fellow second-year Garrett Honaker adds that the CNC class gave him a broad look as to what he could expect in the workplace—especially when it came to identifying basic machines that can be found in the shop.

Osborne is also looking to extend TMA’s reach with the start-up of some satellite training facilities at Smith & Richardson Inc. (Geneva, IL), providers of both precision machined parts and metal casting chaplets, and CME. “This will lend itself to getting our program’s numbers back up,” Osborne asserts.
Online Program

For “more motivated” students, Osborne notes that TMA has Roadmaps for the “Top 6” TMA Careers that combine online and instructor-led training. “The program starts with the New Hire/Basic Skills Training Roadmap,” he explains. “These courses assess the new employee’s skills, determine trainability and introduce basic manufacturing concepts and competencies.” Safety Practices and Regulations, Mathematics 1, Inspection Techniques 1 (measurement) and Blueprint Reading are among the course offerings.

There is also a Roadmap for CNC Operator Training, CNC Programmer Training, Die Maker Training, and Moldmaker Training, Osborne adds.

New Training Initiative
CNC Hands-on Training
TMA has also recently launched its first-ever, hands-on CNC training program at IMS Buhrke-Olson (Arlington Heights, IL)—a manufacturer of precision metal stampings and mechanical assemblies. “CNC is a huge part of the industry now and we want to invest in that training,” Osborne notes. “We are addressing the needs of the moldmaking and tool and die candidates as well as the machinist candidates. TMA purchased a Haas ST-10 lathe and Haas generously entrusted aVF-2YT five- axis VMC for five-axis training. McGuire adds that the “new course continues TMA’s long tradition of providing programs and services that allow our member companies and their employees to thrive.” (Editor’s Note: TMA is now an official Haas Technical Education Center [HTEC].)

The program will eventually have three courses. The first course, a 16-week week introduction to programming, set-up and operation, is well underway. The next 16-week course, still under construction, will involve more programming and hands-on machining, Osborne notes. “We will visualize a project for the class to work on where the students would each machine different milling and turning components of the project and assemble for a final project at the end,” he states.

A third level course is also on the horizon—which will involve five-axis training—which Osborne adds TMA membership is very excited about. “What is really nice about the program is the level of support that TMA has received from its member companies,” he comments. “Space has been donated by IMS Buhrke-Olson, Haas entrusted a new five-axis mill, Sandvik Coromant donated a start-up tooling package, DoAll Company donated a new saw, Versatility Tool Works donated a new tool chest storage system, Rieke Office Interiors donated new classroom table sand Alro Steel is our official materials supplier, with new steel and aluminum being delivered at the start of every new class. There have also been numerous monetary and miscellaneous material donations—far too many to mention—from many TMA members, that were essential to the successful launch of this program.”

Osborne adds that there is a huge demand within membership for qualified CNC machinists and that this new hands-on program will fill a large void. To that end, he notes that this is one of the reasons that TMA purchased equipment and machinery and created a new training curriculum—aligning it with NIMS standards to benefit TMA members.

TMA is also interested in training veterans. “I am working with the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs to try and offer newly developed CNC training programs,” Osborne comments. “My hope is that within 16 weeks we could steer graduates into our member companies for employment opportunities.”

Facing the Future
Janler’s Ebel believes that the TMA community is thriving. “In addition to the formal training offering, there is a tremendous sharing going on among the members,” she affirms. “The generations are mixing and the vibes are great! It is so exciting to see this type of activity at TMA. There’s nothing stodgy about it. TMA’s management team has really brought new life to the organization and our membership continues to bring great value to us.”

For More Information
Tooling and Manufacturing Association / (847) 993-2146
posborne@tmanet.com / tmanet.com

 

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