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In 1993, M & M Precision Systems was awarded a three-year, partial grant from the Advanced Technology Program of the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Working with Pennsylvania State University, M&M embarked on a technology development project to advance gear measurement capabilities to levels of accuracy never before achieved.
The status on traceability of gear artifacts in the United States.
The Millenium Outlook article in the January/February 2000 issue of Gear Technology explored the prevailing attitudes of the gear industry as it stands on the brink of the new millenium through the thoughts and words of some of the industry's leaders. The article also placed the gear industry within the framework of 20th Century history. Joe Arvin, President of Arrow Gear, was interviewed for this article and requested an opportunity to elaborate on his published comments.
Sales are up and it's time to hire some additional gear manufacturing personnel. Let's see--what qualities are wee looking for in the ideal candidates?
Until recently, there was a void in the quality control of gear manufacturing in this country (Ref. 1). Gear measurements were not traceable to the international standard of length through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The U.S. military requirement for traceability was clearly specified in the military standard MIL-STD-45662A (Ref. 2). This standard has now been replaced by commercial sector standards including ISO 9001:1994 (Ref. 3), ISO/IEC Guide 25 (Ref, 4), and the U.S. equivalent of ISO/IEC Guide 25 - ANSI/NCSL Z540-2-1997 (Ref. 5). The draft replacement to ISO/IEC Guide 25 - ISO 17025 states that measurements must either be traceable to SI units or reference to a natural constant. The implications of traceability to the U.S. gear industry are significant. In order to meet the standards, gear manufacturers must either have calibrated artifacts or establish their own traceability to SI units.
The American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to write all U.S. standards on gearing. However, in response to the growing interest in a global marketplace, AGMA became involved with the International Standards Organization (ISO) several years ago, first as an observer in the late 1970s and then as a participant, starting in the early 1980s. In 1993, AGMA became Secretariat (or administrator) for Technical Committee 60 of ISO, which administers ISO gear standards development.
Many people seem to be counting this year's Gear Expo in Nashville as a resounding success. There were 180 American and international exhibitors occupying over 50,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Nashville Convention Center, with total attendance of 2,700. This figure is dramatically down from past shows but that doesn't seem to be an issue with the show organizers. According to Kurt Medert, vice president of AGMA;s Administrative Division, even though attendance was off from the 1997 show, the exhibitors were pleased with the quality of the people who did come to the show. "This was an excellent show for us," said Marty Woodhouse, vice president of sales for Star Cutter Company and chairman of AGMA's Gear Expo committee. "Our customer base was there and they came to buy. It was very active."
In a little-known incident, Soviet machinists at Mil Helicopter worked in 1988 and 1989 on a special project to be used against Americans.
Computers are everywhere. It's gotten so that it's hard to find an employee who isn't using one in the course of his or her day - whether he be CEO or salesman, engineer or machinist. Everywhere you look, you find the familiar neutral-colored boxes and bright glowing screens. And despite the gear industry's traditional reluctance to embrace new technology, more and moe of what you find on those screens are gears.
Next year will be the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' famous "discovery" of America. Poor Columbus has fallen on hard times of late, what with revisionist historians smacking their lips over his more notable failures and reminding us that American natives have a vastly different point of view on this Great American Success Story. But before we relegate the Great Navigator to the scrap heap of trashed-over heros, let's take one last look at some of the positive lessons to be learned from the Columbus experience - ones that could be instructive to our current situation in the American gear industry.
Dollhouses may be toys for children, but an old-time working miniature machine shop is the ultimate toy for a self-proclaimed hobby machinist like Greg Bierck.
Observations while traveling through Hungary last November...this is a very ancient country; people have lived and worked here along the Danube River since early times, and change is just another piece of the landscape. Still, the collapse of the old Communist economy is one of the more remarkable phenomena in a land that has seen and lived under different versions of the "new world order" since the first barbarian invasions. The difference is that this time, the people themselves are working the change, and the results are exciting in their variety and effect.
What can be done about the rising cost of labor? Mr. Robert Reich, U.S. Secretary of Labor, has already indicated the administration's intention of pushing the minimum wage from $4.25 to $4.50 per hour and indexing it for inflation. That means that every jiggle in the inflation chart will push the minimum wage higher.
Designing and manufacturing gears requires the skills of a mathematician, the knowledge of an engineer and the experience of a precision machinist. For good measure, you might even include the are of a magician, because the formulas and calculations involved in gear manufacturing are so obscure and the processes so little known that only members of an elite cadre of professionals can perform them.
News Items About NIST
1 Unist Lubricator Eliminates Need for Flood Coolant (April 16, 2010)
The Unist lubricator is a through-the-tool MQL/near dry machining system that when used with the Coolube lubricant, eliminates the need f... Read News
2 FeatureCAM Helps Renishaw Turn Designers into Machinists (February 23, 2011)
Metrology and healthcare specialist Renishaw has been able to improve greatly the productivity of its rapid prototyping department by tur... Read News
3 Governors Ask Administration for More Wind Energy Deployment (September 23, 2011)
A coalition of 24 governors from both major parties and each region of the country has asked the administration to take a series of steps... Read News