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By: Christina M. Fuges 25. July 2014

Passion for How Things Work (and How They Can Be Made Better)

Celeste Boies is a 26-year-old supply chain, engineering/operations assistant at Westminster Tool for the past seven months. She has her AS in Engineering Science and previously worked as a retail pharmacy technician for seven years. Her five-year goal is to earn her bachelors degree in plastics engineering and work to revise/improve existing plastic injection molding procedures to increase efficiency and quality.

Learn more about Celeste's background and current work at Westminster here.

Now it's time to meet our last brat pack member, Benyuan (Ben) Hu. He is also 26 years old, and came to Westminster with a master of science in mechanical engineering from the University of New Haven.

Ben has been with Westminster for two years. Prior to that he was a research assistant helping Yale medical school analyze a heart stent project using CFD software. He also helped a professor in China design radiant floor heating system including heat loads calculations and water pipe pattern design.

Read more here.

By: Christina M. Fuges 24. July 2014

Brains Are Valued Resources

Alex Orphanos is a 24-year-old, full-time R&D engineer turned training coordinator at Westminster Tool. He has been with the company for a year and a half. He views the freedom and encouragement to experience different positions, as well as the opportunity to train and learn more as the greatest aspects of working at Westminster. His long-term goal is to work in the private space industry.

Alex was exposed to manufacturing through networking and then realized the value that manufacturing could bring to his engineering resume. "Working in manufacturing has helped me to become a better rounded engineer."

Alex started out at Westminster as an R&D Engineer and has recently transferred to training coordinator. He thnks this change will help him become a better engineer as it enables him to learn about the different phases of manufacturing while developing the training program.

Read more about Alex here.

 

Now let's meet Ronnie Fiero, a one-year apprentice machinist at Westminster. 

Ronnie is a technical high school graduate whose past work experience includes the Town of Thompson Board of Education.  He has his sights set on being a mechanical engineering technician at Westminster in five years. Ronnie sees his co-workers as the greatest aspect of working at Westminster. "They are always willing to help me or teach me something new."

When it comes to how he chose manufacturing, Ronnie says, "This industry appealed to me in the beginning of high school and I chose manufacturing as my trade and have continued to enjoy it ever since. With my internship at the shop, it moved me throughout different areas of work. While helping different employees I learned the essentials to molding components and what it takes to be a moldmaker."

The most important thing Ronnie has learned so far is that consistency of work and procedure is crucial. "Working a lot in assembly, I learned how being consistent provides lean manufacturing in large production projects."
 
His believes his greatest asset to Westminster Tool is his youth. It gives him an advantage because he has the ability, energy and willingness to learn more about the manufacturing industry.

 

By: Matthew Danford 23. July 2014

Easier Graphite Dust Removal

 

Graphite is messy stuff, and moldmakers commonly buy machines with options designed specifically for the abrasive material. Yet, the dust can still be hard to control—hard enough that many shops have no doubt found their own clever ways of dealing with it.

One such method came to my attention while attending a machining technology supplier's recent open house event. While taking me through the ins and outs of a product, an applications engineer noted that he's seen shops save a significant amount of time on graphite cleanup with a common household item: petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Simply spread the oily substance throughout the machine’s work envelope (or anywhere else the stuff accumulates), and the graphite dust will stick to it rather than the machine surface. Once the cycle stops, wipe clean.

It goes without saying that, as the applications engineer emphasized, this is certainly NOT a substitute for vacuum systems, air purges, protective covers and other features of machines designed specifically for graphite machining. Beyond that, this strategy seemed a bit, well, gross to me, and possibly even impractical. But then I've never tried it, either!

Have you? If so, I'd love to hear about it. Likewise, send me an email if you've come up with any other unorthodox way of dealing with graphite dust.

Of course, some shops prefer to avoid the mess of graphite entirely. Click here to learn why Chicago-area mold manufacturer B A Die Mold machines the vast majority of its electrodes from copper.

By: Christina M. Fuges 22. July 2014

Aiming High

Two more Westminster Tool employees aim to perfect what they do, relying on the team to help them do just that.

Seth Velasquez is a 23-year-old apprentice machinist at Westminster Tool. He has been there for five years, and he sees himself perfecting what he does and mentoring others to do the same in the next five years. He believes that the greatest aspect of working at Westminster is the flexibility and work environment. "There's always a sense of change and that's refreshing," he says.

Looking back, Seth shares that he started at Westminster as entry level thinking it was just another job, but with a little more potential as a career. He never really considered manufacturing as a job before; however, after working a short time he started seeing manufacturing in the long-term sense.

He says that as the company started changing, so did his role as an employee. The idea of his job being a career was becoming more real. He started shadowing the older, more experienced moldmakers, and it progressed from there.

"I think I'm a solid example of potential. I didn't have the training in high school and I didn't start working on a manufacturing skill set until I got to Westminster Tool, but now I'm on my way to a solid career as a machinist because the company recognized and utilized my potential. It just shows that with the right training, gaps can be filled in high-demand manufacturing positions," explains Seth.

Seth enjoys the responsibility and credibility he has at Westminster. He's accountable for his work and his work is important to the company. "There's still a lot I have to learn and there's still a lot of training I'll go through, but having some authority and responsibility over what I do is rewarding," says Seth.

Now meet Jeff Smith who works in information technology and support at Westminster. He aims to become head of IT, if not the CIO, in five years. Jeff is 42 years old and comes to Westminster with an array of work experience within various industries, including tool & die, cellular and landline phones, restaurants and retail. His most imporatnt asset to Westminster is his ability to keep the network alive and running.  He notes that the key is to catch issues before anyone notices.

Jeff believes that the greatest challenge the industry faces is cost and productivity.  "The challenge of finding a way to remain on the forefront is a big one, but we are meeting and exceeding that challenge with the implementation of highly talented staff and continued education."

According to Jeff, the greatest aspect of working at Westminster is the people, which is a recurring theme with Westminster's employees.  The most important thing learned he's learned is the value of working as a team. "Keep the ship sailing, full speed ahead."

 

By: Matthew Danford 21. July 2014

Time’s Running Out to Win a Free Machine

The VMX42i features X-, Y- and Z-axis travels of 42” × 24” × 24”; a 50” × 24” table; a 12,000-rpm spindle; and capacity for 24 CAT 40 tools.

Are you an entrepreneur who's been in business for five years or less? If you had the opportunity to install a free Hurco machining center or lathe completely for free, could you tell me how it might fit into your overall business plan?

If the answer to both questions is “yes,” and you’re planning to attend this year’s IMTS, don’t tell me—tell Hurco. And do it fast, because time is running out!

Modeled after the television show Shark Tank, the machine tool builder’s ChipMaker Challenge contest is currently underway, but it’s only accepting submissions until August 8. To initiate the two-step submission process, click here. You’ll have to answer a series of questions and submit an essay (in written or video form) detailing how you’d benefit from a new machine. The top five finalists will appear in front of a panel of judges at IMTS 2014. The winner will receive a choice of a VMX42i CNC mill or TM8i CNC lathe, as well as $10,000 worth of “Hurco Bucks” that can be used for training, tooling, or other options/services from the machine tool builder.


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