Monthly Archives: March 2021

Ep. 116 – Mental Health in the Machining Business with Jackie, owner of PXR Machining

By Noah Graff

Today’s podcast is the first episode of a new season about mental health. Our guest on the show is Jackie, owner of PXR Machining. Jackie spent the majority of her life trying to mask a significant part of herself from others and deny her own feelings about who she always knew she was. Through therapy she finally gained the courage to transition from a man to woman in her late 40s.

Scroll down to read more and listen to the podcast, or listen with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or your favorite app.

 

Main Points

Jackie talks about her CNC machining company, PXR. She started her first plastics machining company back in 1992. Over the years she has designed and machined a variety products in the plastics sector from tabletops, to signs, to gun smithing tools, one of her most steady products these days. Her shop features CNC routers and CNC mills such as the Fanuc Robodrill (pictured). (3:00) 

Jackie talks about a brutal motorcycle accident she had 15 years ago at age 35. She spent three years in a wheelchair, yet continued to run her business. Then a friend of hers was going to get married, and she decided she was not going to go to the wedding in a wheelchair. Her right leg was mostly paralyzed, so she needed an orthotic foot device in that shoe to keep her foot from flopping around. She fabricated one for herself in her shop in one day. (6:00)

Jackie talks about first realizing she was a female trapped in a male’s body at four years old. Her grandmother asked her what she wanted to be and she said she wanted to look pretty like mom. Jackie’s parents then had a serious talk with her to clarify that she was not a girl. (9:30)

Jackie said she first thought about undergoing a sex change when she was 17, while working at Radio Shack alongside a trans woman, but she was too scared to do it. Instead, she got married the next year, with the hope that if she built a family and a successful business she could bury her feelings of being a woman stuck in a man’s body. Sometimes that worked, but she says after the motorcycle accident the walls came down around her and it was very visible to her that she had “hid herself from reality.” (11:00)

Jackie, Owner of PXR Machining

But somehow Jackie then managed to bury her painful feelings once again. She had just gotten remarried a year before and was planning to have another child. She also wanted to get her shop going strong. Jackie says she wishes during those three years in a wheelchair she had gotten a therapist, but she had been turned off by the stigma of getting one and instead tried to “DIY” her mental health. She says she finds it interesting how most people will take care of their physical health when they get hurt, like getting a cast after breaking a leg, but when they get a mental injury they to try “walk it off.” (13:31)

Jackie talks about constantly trying to overcompensate for her knowledge that she was a woman on the inside. She owned a restored Dodge Charger that was a replica of the General Lee from Dukes of Hazard. She owned 10 motorcycles and the biggest pickup truck you could buy. But later on, after she came out as transgender, friends told her they had sensed her secret for a long time—she could never actually have hid what was going on inside. (15:30)

In her latter 40s Jackie hit a wall. She says she had lost all the fire in her belly that tells a person to do things. Her shop was suffering, her home life was suffering, her mental health was suffering and she knew she needed help. She joined an online forum for trans-support and the members told her to get a therapist. (16:30)

Jackie says getting a therapist was the most important pivot point for making improvements in her life—it finally got her to start the transition process. (17:30)

Jackie talks about her current relationships with family members. She works alongside her father in her shop. She does not talk to her sister often. Her 30-year-old daughter is starting her own machine shop right now, and they share a bond with that. She has a teenage daughter who lives with her mother (Jackie’s ex-wife) who understandably has had difficulty with the transition. (18:30)

Jackie says the first step in a transition process is to get a therapist. Her therapist eventually told her to go to a medical doctor to start hormone replacement. She decided in therapy she was interested in getting a lot of surgical procedures to make her look more feminine. She says everyone has different preferences of what they want to get augmented or reconstructed. Jackie has had her breasts enlarged, facial reconstruction, vocal reconstruction, and “downstairs surgery.” I asked her if it was traumatic to look at herself after her organs were swapped out. She says she was finally able to look at herself in the mirror and say, “that’s actually me.” (21:30)

Jackie says the transition took her about three years and that hers was a relatively quick process. She says some people can do it faster, but other transitions can take over 15 years. She says she continually saw her therapist during the process, which she likens to going through puberty rapidly. She says getting rid of facial hair is one of the most difficult parts of the transition process. It can take years of electrolysis. Another change she has had to get used to is having less lean muscle mass because she has less testosterone. Now she can’t lift things around her shop like she used to. (23:30)

Jackie says despite transitioning to become a woman, she still is attracted to women rather than men. (29:30)

Jackie says she feels people have core personalities that are just us, but we all also have masks. She says she pulled her mask over herself so people would see only what she wanted them to see. But now that she has let the mask go she finally gets to see who she really is, along with everyone else. (30:15)

Jackie says her advice for people who need to alter their life or deal with things that require a lot of thought is to see a therapist—they should ignore the negative stigma and stop trying to DIY their mental health.

Question: What was one of the most difficult changes you had to make in your life?

 

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Supply Chain Guilt?

By Lloyd Graff

A question that has troubled me for many years is if I fit into the supply chain of destruction.

I struggled with this following the Purdue Pharma controversy over its magnificent painkiller for cancer patients and surgery survivors, OxyContin. I took this wonder drug in its time-released form after my knee replacement. It worked beautifully for controlling my hurt, although it had a side effect of constipation. I understood that it was not a drug I wanted to take for more than three days unless I was in total misery because of fear of becoming dependent. I stopped taking it after two days. 

Mail order outpatient pharmacy, North Charleston, SC

Purdue Pharma was bought by members of the Sackler family in 1952. The company had made earwax remover compounds and other home remedies. The Sackler brothers were doctors who eventually moved the company into pain alleviation medicines, which were morphine derivations and substitutes. The business grew rapidly and moved from New York City to Connecticut, finally culminating in the making of their blockbuster product, OxyContin. The Sackler descendants became one of America’s richest families–and most charitable.

They were fabulously successful in convincing doctors to prescribe it. Over time it became the drug of choice for aching backs and aching souls. People shopped for doctors who would prescribe it liberally. Eventually it reached the street peddlers. More and more people’s lives were ruined by addiction. Things only got worse after Purdue complimented OxyContin with Fentanyl, a powerful drug with dramatic pain-killing power and addictiveness.

The Sacklers just kept getting richer and richer, having an estimated net worth of $13 billion in 2013. They contributed to hospitals, and gave massively to colleges and art museums. But lots of people, often young people and veterans, got hooked, stole it, and committed suicide. Millions of lives were damaged, many ruined. Millions of people also took the drug successfully and benefited greatly.

Are the Sacklers awful people? Are they murderers because so many people abused the painkillers they manufactured? I don’t think they are. But they are a significant part of the supply chain of destruction. 

Nor do I think the people who make the firearm parts that are sold to sportsmen and hunters and law enforcement are bad folks, just because a tiny number of metal pieces they turn and mill go into weapons used for evil purposes.

I think about the pharmacists and doctors who helped fill the painkiller supply chain. Most of them were good people in the healing field. Yet a small number of the billions of pills they prescribed were used destructively. How do those druggists and MDs feel when a client or patient becomes a pusher or an addict? How often do they know when it happens? 

A 10-year-old CNC lathe I may have sold in 2018 to a job shop in Oregon might have made a part that ended up in a gangbanger’s weapon in Chicago. I’ll never know, nor will he or she. 

Life is never simple. Purity of heart is a myth. 

I can’t help but wonder if in some distant way I have contributed to America’s supply chain of gun violence. Do you?

Question: Do you feel any guilt about gun violence?

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Ep. 115 – Treasure Hunting, Swarf, and Sliders with Noah Graff

By Noah Graff

Back in February I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the MTD Podcast, an excellent podcast about machining in the UK. Hosts Joe Reynolds and Giovanni Albanese grilled me about a lot of our favorite topics featured on Swarfcast, like treasure hunting, reshoring, Trump, and Swiss CNCs, which my British counterparts often call “sliders.” 

Scroll down to read more and listen to the podcast, or listen with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or your favorite app.

 

Main Points

I explain the origin of “Pinkert” in “Graff-Pinkert,” our used machine tool company’s name. It comes from Aaron Pinkert, my grandfather Leonard Graff’s cousin and business partner. (2:10)

I explain to my hosts how I got into the machine tool business and journalism. Back in 2005, my dad, Lloyd, lured me to work at Today’s Machining World with the idea of making streaming videos to accompany the magazine’s print content. It was a good idea, but it was one or two years before Internet broadband was good enough for it to be practical. Meanwhile, I honed my writing and editing skills working on the print magazine. In 2011, when Today’s Machining World became an all online publication I joined Graff-Pinkert, becoming a machine tool dealer (AKA treasure hunter). We continued to develope todaysmachiningworld.com and created Swarfcast in 2018. (3:00)

I elaborate more on my chosen occupation title of “Treasure Hunter.” I explain that my job as a used machinery dealer consists of combing the earth for valuable assets. “Treasure hunting” seems more romantic than “buying and selling dirty, oily, old machine tools that people don’t want anymore.” Giving myself the title reframes the essence of the occupation, making it more fun and interesting. “Treasure hunting” also relates to the serendipity factor of my job. Often I go into a shop to look for one thing but find something entirely different that is more valuable than what I came for originally. (7:20)

We talk about the CNC Swiss market in the United States. I tell my hosts that if you can find a good used sliding headstock machine from the last 15 years you’ve found treasure. It’s the number one item Graff-Pinkert’s customers are asking for these days. (10:50)

Noah Graff, Host of Swarfcast

I explain that none of the experts we have interviewed on Swarfcast have given us an actual example of reshoring in the United States—only anecdotes of people quoting work and theories saying that the stars are aligned for work to come back to the US. I mention a podcast in which we interviewed Yossi Sheffi, a supply chain professor at MIT, who told me it is impossible for a lot of manufacturing work to leave China because companies there already have a vast ecosystem of intertwined suppliers and vendors. (12:00)

Joe Reynolds asks me how I think Joe Biden’s presidency will effect US manufacturing. He asks if I think he will be an advocate for manufacturing like Trump. I admit to my hosts that though I loath Trump, when he was elected, Graff-Pinkert’s business got an immediate boost. I explain that it’s pretty typical for American business owners to feel happy and confident when a Republican is elected President. I explain that Trump made manufacturers’ lives easier with his tax bill and relaxed environmental regulations. Many manufacturing company owners felt confident in his policies and energized because they felt they had a president on their side. (15:30)

We talk about why a lot of Graff-Pinkert’s customers, many in the Swiss machining business, had their best years ever in 2020. This was partly do to opportunities in the medical field relating to COVID-19. Though we also know of many thriving Swiss shops, making products unrelated to COVID-19 such as dental implants or components for eye surgery. (20:00)

We talk about social media’s significance in the manufacturing business. I tell my hosts about one of Graff-Pinkert’s clients who says they have gotten business from posting instagram blooper videos of parts they had to scrap. (24:20) 

I brag to Joe Reynolds that Today’s Machining World has been referring to its editorial content as “Swarf” since its inception in 2000, which was prior to the creation of MTD CNC’s YouTube channel “Swarf and Chips.” (30:20) 

Question: What events led to your current career?

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Are You Up For Some Basketball?

By Lloyd Graff

The Men’s NCAA basketball tournament begins this week, an extravaganza of hoopla, gambling, and basketball. 

There are 68 teams, but only a few have a real chance of winning it. The eventual winner will likely come from one of the four No. 1 seeded teams in their regions. I don’t bet on sports. Machine tools are my game, but I love basketball and I find the four highest ranked teams and their coaches especially provocative this year. 

The No. 1 seed overall in the tournament is Gonzaga. If you do not follow college basketball, you probably have never even heard of the small Jesuit college in Spokane, Washington, which is pronounced with a hard “a.” Basketball has put the Gonzaga Zags on the map, thanks to Coach Mark Few. He came to the school in 1999, and the team has made the NCAA tournament for 22 straight years. 

And never won it.

But this year many think it will be different. The team is talented and experienced, and there are no traditional powerhouses with elite first round NBA picks to challenge them. This year it is the Zags with the NBA-ready players. Sophomore center Drew Timme, senior forward Corey Kispert, and guard Jalen Suggs, who has three cousins who played in either the NFL or NBA. If he turns pro after this season, it’s quite likely he will be a top 5 NBA pick.

***

Baylor is second among the four No. 1 seeds, although many believe Illinois may be just behind Gonzaga. The Bulldogs from Waco, Texas, were never known for basketball until Scott Drew turned the program around. He inherited the worst scandal in college basketball history. In 2003, Carlton Dotson shot and killed his roommate, Patrick Dennehy. They were both forwards on the Baylor team.

The investigation into the case revealed rampant drug use and cash payments by coach Dave Bliss to members of the team. Baylor basketball received penalties extending 10 years out. 

Baylor looked for a new head coach, who was as clean as Tide and who was clueless enough or brave enough to step into an impossible situation. 

It turned out to be Scott Drew, who had replaced his father at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Drew was considered as pure as a college basketball coach could be and naive enough to take a job where failure was a given. 

Baylor stunk for several years, but Scott Drew showed he could coach rejects and eventually he recruited guys with talent. For the last several years, Baylor has won 20 games a season, and this year they were undefeated much of the season, finishing with only one loss. Their guard, Jared Butler, is a first-team All-American.

***

Gene Hackman in the movie, Hoosiers

Illinois is coached by Brad Underwood, the epitome of the hard boiled, vagabond coach who has bounced from Hardin-Simmons to Daytona Community College, to Stephen F Austin, to Oklahoma State, and, finally at age 57, to head coach of the Big Ten Tournament Champion, Illinois. Underwood looks a little like Gene Hackman in Hoosiers. 

He’s seen it all and understands the game. And he really can recruit. His brute of a center, Kofi Cockburn, 7ft tall, 285 muscular pounds, is a rebounding monster. Super sub guard Andre Corbelo is from Puerto Rico via Long Island. But the top player is All American guard, Ayo Dosunmu of Chicago. 

He is a potential top 5 NBA pick and is probably the best player to come from the Windy City since Derrick Rose. Ayo is a terrific all-around guard, but what I like most about him is that he loves to take the last shot in a close game and usually makes it.

***

The fourth best team in the NCAA tournament is Michigan. Their head coach is a 19-year NBA veteran, Juwan Howard, who played on the great Fab Five Wolverines team. Howard, from Chicago originally, is in his second year of college coaching. 

Many saw him as a celebrity hire, but they underestimated the man. Howard is another basketball zealot, up at 5:30 a.m. to start his day. While playing, he took less money in one of his contracts to play for Pat Riley in Miami because he wanted to play for a coach who would push him to become the best player he could be. 

Howard inherited a mediocre team, but he recruited a 7ft tall center with excellent footwork, Hunter Dickinson, from Arlington, Virginia, and a transfer grad student from Columbia University of all places, Mike Smith. Add in Germany’s Franz Wagner and some good role players and Howard’s team can beat anybody

***

Gonzaga has the hype and three future NBA players. It’s Mark Few’s best team. Baylor and Michigan are capable of getting to the final game. Personally I think this is Illinois’ year.

Questions: Do you usually root for the favorites or the underdogs?

Which teams are you picking in your Men’s NCAA Tournament bracket?

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Should I Be Less Patient?

By Noah Graff

Being a machinery dealer takes a lot of patience. I guess patience is key for selling most things, as well as pursuing a relationship or a career. The problem we all face is that other people just have different schedules and different priorities than we do. 

I tried to sell a CNC Swiss machine to a company in Europe over the last several weeks. The company acted like they really wanted it. They called me several mornings to discuss the deal. I could taste that deal. It was a medium sized deal—but a nice deal. My contact at the company said she thought they would make the final decision to purchase the machine on Monday (last Monday). They asked a lot of questions about shipping and importing equipment because they were inexperienced buying a machine from the United States. When Monday came they asked me to give them another day or two—“then they would have a decision and likely would buy the machine.” So I waited, trying not to seem overeager. Then I got no answer.

A few days later, they sent an email, turning down the machine, saying their country’s government would finance a machine for free if they bought a new one domestically. All of my patience and attentiveness to their concerns, along with a damn good machine, wasn’t enough to close the deal.

We all think the thing that we are trying to do, which is at the top of our minds and is our top priority, is the same thing that other people should have as their top priority. A deal for a machine I’m selling that is so important to me should be just as important to my customer, if not more! Of course, it often is not. I guess I’m self-absorbed. I’m impatient, and I like to think everyone wants to treat me as they would want to be treated.

phone in handOf course, I’m also guilty of having a different personal agenda than my customers. When a customer calls me while I’m doing my morning exercise routine I usually push the reject button. It is a sacred time for me. They will just have to wait a half hour for my reply. Also, if it’s late in the evening, I will do everything in my power not to check email unless I’m specifically expecting something time sensitive.

I’ve tried to learn to be patient in business. I read negotiating books that tell you to stay calm when pursuing a deal. They say to never be overeager because it makes you seem needy. I read a great negotiating book called Start with No, by Jim Camp. Camp says the way to stay unneedy is to remember that all you really need in this world is water, air, and your loved ones. He says that everything else is just stuff you want.

My dad owns Graff-Pinkert. He writes the checks. He pays closer attention to making the monthly nut and understandably doesn’t always have the same patience as I do. Sometimes he calls customers when I think it’s a bad idea. I tell him he is calling a customer just to satisfy his own emotional needs, and I implore him to lay off.

A few years ago, he told me to call an auctioneer in Sweden at 9:00 PM (Sweden time) to discuss a hot machine for sale. I protested that it was common courtesy to not call so late, so we should call him in the morning. But I finally did what he said. What do you know, the guy was grateful I called and very interested in what I had to say.

There have been many moments when I questioned my dad’s eagerness with a customer, but then he proved me wrong and demonstrated the power of persistence. Sometimes being aggressive wakes up a deal and gets it done because the customer was distracted by other things. Perhaps the customer was vacillating over details of the deal and just needed an extra push or an extra sweetener to make a final decision. 

I had another machinery deal yesterday that got away from me. I very well could have gotten that deal if I had just followed up with a prospect a day earlier.

It is so hard to know how aggressive to be when pursuing a deal. I try to remember to pause and ask myself why I am choosing to act in a certain way. Am I making a decision based on emotion or logic? If it’s based on logic, what if my logic is wrong?

Question: When has a salesperson’s persistence made the difference in getting your business?

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Best of Swarfcast – Ep. 25 – Brett May on Keeping Screw Machines Relevant

By Noah Graff and Rex Magagnotti

We interviewed Brett May of BME Inc. Screw Machine Attachments for today’s podcast. Brett’s mission in business is to make old cam multi-spindle screw machines like National Acmes, Wickmans, and New Britains into productive money makers in today’s competitive machining environment.

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Brett May.

Brett builds unique attachments which eliminate secondary operations that many people would put on a mill-turn CNC to finish, or run on an accurate but achingly slow Swiss-type machine. When he does his magic he turns supposed clunkers into enormously valuable machine tools.

Brett sees an old Acme and visualizes value, where others see a candidate for the scrap heap. As part of the BME value proposition, he also rebuilds multi-spindle machines, particularly National Acmes.

Question: Have you given up on non-CNC equipment? Why?

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Billets and Booties

By Lloyd Graff

Amazon buys Central Steel and Wire.

That’s an odd couple.

Not really.

What Jeff Bezos wants is the 70 acres of land on the southwest side of Chicago near the old stock yards. No bundles of half inch 12L14 bars in with the bananas for the moment. 

The Central Steel and Wire Company and its real estate in Chicago was sold to Ryerson Steel in 2018. The firm was an odd duck because it had no debt. It was 56% owned by the James Lowenstine Trust, which was dedicated to using 1,200 acres of natural beauty in Northern Wisconsin as an environmental school known as Conserve School. Lowenstine, son of the founder of the company, died in 1996. He had no children. His will also left a loophole for the trust to be controlled by his Alma Mater, Culver Military Academy in Indiana. The competing interests fought over control of the trust, and therefore the future of Central Steel, for over 20 years. Today’s Machining World wrote a feature story about the conflict back in 2006. In 2018, Culver gained control of the trust, installed its slate of directors to run the Conserve School, and sold the company to Ryerson Steel for $150 million. It turned out to be a sweetheart deal for its old rival, Ryerson, also based in Chicago.

Amazon just paid $45 million for the real estate and leased it back to the company for two years. For a little more than $100 million, Ryerson became the dominant metal distributor in the Midwest.

Central Steel & Wire Company at 3000 West 51st Street in Chicago

The deal interests me for many reasons. Graff-Pinkert has been a customer of Central Steel for as long as I can remember. If a company, even for the smallest of customers like us, could exemplify caring, efficient service for decades, it was Central Steel. With Ryerson, it becomes a global “maybe,” with their interests in China and Mexico and elsewhere. 

But what is also fascinating is the shifting of real estate patterns over the past several years, with Amazon leading the way. 

Retail is withering. Find me a shopping center that is thriving. Few are even in the black. Rents of retail locations are falling. Many retail centers are being demolished or will be converted into housing, marijuana farms, or vaccination centers. 

Office space today is in disuse, but giant warehouses are proliferating near many highways, especially where there is easy access. The new real estate magnates are using cheap money to build massive windowless 35-foot high concrete wall rectangles with a lot of asphalt to enable vehicles to get in and out of fast. 

Amazon is employing hundreds of thousands of people processing boxes. That means loads of hand and wrist injuries now, but in the future robots will do most of the work. In 5 to 10 years, we will probably see driverless delivery vehicles. 

This is why Bezos continues to buy real estate, even in sick cities like Chicago. For an Amazon, the southwest side of Chicago, which used to have many small machine shops served by Central Steel that have since fled Chicago with its taxes, rampant corruption, and lousy schools, is now fertile ground for a company that needs huge numbers of $15 per hour employees to load vans with boxes of booties.

Amazon, for the moment, needs people. Central Steel has strategic ground and hundreds of motivated, well-managed employees. While Amazon says it is not interested in steel distribution, I can imagine Bezos studying the Central Steel operation and deciding Amazon can do it better. 

If it works for bananas and booties, it could work for billets.

Question: Do you think steel distribution could be improved upon?

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Ep. 114 – Live Tooling and Accessories for CNC Swiss with Jim Gosselin

By Noah Graff

Our guest on the podcast today is Jim Gosselin, owner and President of Genevieve Swiss Industries. Genevieve Swiss sells innovative accessories specifically for Swiss CNC lathes, such as live tooling and cutting tools, to combat the problems small parts manufacturers constantly deal with.

Scroll down to read more and listen to the podcast, or listen with Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts or your favorite app.

 

Main Points

Jim gives an overview of Genevieve Swiss. He says the company’s mission is to make the job of the machinists easier. If machinists have the right tools to get better efficiency and quicker setups then machining companies will be more profitable. (2:30)

Jim says he was always interested in mechanical stuff from a young age. He liked to take apart his toys as a kid to try to understand how things worked. He dropped out of high school in his Junior year and went into the military where he became a combat engineer. He summarized that job as “building things and blowing things up.” (3:00) 

After getting out of the military, Jim got a GED and took college courses at night. He worked at a machining company called Savage Arms in Westfield, Massachusetts, that made shotguns and other hunting equipment. In 1983 he became a programer and ran the new Citizen CNC machines that the company purchased. The machines had 2 turrets with 5 stations each, with cross drilling and milling capability. He says those machines were not actually sliding headstock. Rather, they were sliding guide bushing machines. The turret and the guide bushing slid together on the machines. (4:00)

In 1987 Jim became an applications engineer and salesperson at Brookdale Associates, a Citizen distributor in New England. In the late 1980s Brookdale Associates began building high pressure coolant systems for Swiss machines. He says before then, high pressure pumps were not used for Swiss turning. The company also sold a line of accessories, including tool holders for Swiss machines. In 2002, he and his colleagues traveled to Switzerland where they began a relationship with PCM, a company that sold high quality live tools. Jim thought that Brookdale would distribute PCM’s tooling, but it was a difficult year for the machining industry, so his boss didn’t want the risk of taking on a new product line. He told Jim if he wanted to start his own company he supported the idea and would be his best customer. That was the start of Genevieve Swiss. (5:45)

Jim says that when he started Genevieve Swiss he realized at the time that many Swiss operators were getting older and they were burning out because the Swiss machining process caused too many headaches. He decided his company’s mission would be to make Swiss machinists’ lives easier by supplying them with products that enable faster setups and better cycle times. (8:00)

Jim talks about developing gear-driven head live tools for Swiss machines with PCM. He says that prior to gear-driven live tools, typically live tools on CNC Swiss machines turned at 4000-5000 RPM for cross drilling or cross milling. He says this wasn’t efficient for end-mills that could be as small as a diameter of .020” or .030”. The slower turning speeds caused burrs and slower cycle times. The new gear-driven heads produced 3 times the output as the older technology. (9:25)

Jim talks about the products Genevieve Swiss sells. The company sells accessories specifically for Swiss machines such as live tools and cutting tools. It sells arbors for slitting as well as coolant that is specifically designed for high pressure delivery. He talks about a thread whirling head for a Citizen L20 that is designed to have coolant flow right through the head and then delivered to the cutters. (see video above) (10:30)

Jim says that chip control problems are one of the most significant hurdles for Swiss operators. He says often in medical work that uses difficult metals like 465 stainless, chips can come off the machine like ribbons. Genevieve Swiss is working with its insert tooling supplier UTILIS to sell laser ground chip breakers. (see demonstration video below) (12:40)

Jim talks about insert tooling developed by UTILIS in which coolant flows through the tool and is focused on the tool tip. (17:00)

Jim says most of the Genevieve Swiss’ innovations come from listening to customers on the shop floor. He says the company talks to customers and distributors to find out what machining problems operators are complaining about. (20:00)

Jim compares the construction of older Swiss CNC machines to those of today. He says that Swiss machines used to have heavier castings to achieve rigidity. While today’s Swiss machines are built with lighter castings, Jim says they are designed more intelligently based on factors such as stress analysis, which enables them to stay ridged. (21:30)

Jim says the incorporation of lasers is one of the most interesting recent innovations on Swiss machines. Lasers can do cutting, milling, cross drilling, and knurling. They also enable welding two parts together while still on the machine. He says though 3D printing is slow right now, it could be a disruptor in small parts manufacturing one day. He brings up a scenario of a Swiss machine that also incorporates 3D printing. (22:30)

Learn more about Genevieve Swiss at Genswiss.com.

Question: What are the biggest challenges you run into running CNC Swiss machines?

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An Imperfect Union

By Lloyd Graff

Are schools that much different than factories? 

At this moment in America, virtually every factory is open and many are producing full out. Production is rising nicely. Confidence levels are high. The parking lots are full. Some steel may be a short delay and truckers seem flummoxed, but on the whole, business is jumping and the stock market is bouncing up and down off record highs.

Yet in many places, kids are still on Zoom if they own computers, and teachers unions and administrators are growling at each other. Parents are reaching their boiling point as they see their kids’ mental health sink dangerously and their finances fall apart because they can’t work when their children are at home. The quality of Zoom teaching and children’s ability to absorb content fluctuates wildly.

It’s a blown year of school that’s still continuing for many. 

In Chicago, teachers are retiring with $100,000 per year pensions. Yet they have kept their students at home or on the streets because they claim their classrooms are unsafe for them to teach in if students are present. Meanwhile, many students are leaving public school enrollment for Catholic schools, which have been open most of the pandemic.

My five-year-old grandson has gone to private nursery school throughout the entire pandemic. They have had a few cases, but never enough to close more than a couple of days. This has enabled my son to do his job as a psychotherapist in a hospital, helping COVID-19 survivors with emotional problems.

Parents and kids protest closed schools

We know now that kids, especially younger ones, do very well managing the illness. Still, the teachers union in Chicago and in other big cities are using kids as hostages in the power struggle with government authorities they are looking to humiliate. In Chicago, it is a battle between Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a former teacher, and her arch foe, Toni Preckwinkle, head of the County, who was crushed by Lightfoot in the last mayoral election. Lightfoot wants kids to go to school. Preckwinkle wants the teachers union clout.

We are now seeing parents demonstrating against unions and the politicians who are in their pocket all over the country. Even my old high school, the prestigious University of Chicago Lab School, which now charges tuition of $37,000 a year for kids whose parents do not work for the U of C, is dealing with parents making a very big stink about the unionized teachers destroying the kids’ school year.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom, who has managed to mismanage everything from power outages to his unmasked birthday party at a ritzy San Francisco restaurant, will soon be facing a recall election mainly because he has kept the schools closed. COVID-19 has accelerated many aspects of American life: working from home, Amazon deliveries of your morning coffee, the demise of the local barber, and now, perhaps, the ability of entrenched unions to be seen as the champions of education. 

In Chicago, the head of the teachers union idolizes the regime of Castro’s Cuba and goes to Venezuela to refine his communist tropes. Windy City students sit out the year and teachers can’t seem to find a mask that fits. 

The union has lost the PR battle in Chicago. This may be one of the best things that the pandemic has accelerated.

Question: Should kids go back to the classroom while the pandemic continues?

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