Industry Scuttlebutt

The machine tool builders and distributors are hurting, but there is some business out there. In September the U.S. Army Rock Island, Ill. Arsenal made a major buy. They bought 15 Haas machines, two sophisticated super-high precision Hardinge lathes, six citizen Swiss CNC lathes and about a dozen assorted machining centers made by Mazak.

The preference for American-built machinery strikes me as quite rational. For CNC Swiss there is no American alternative. The Mazak buy can be justified by the Japanese firm’s manufacturing presence in Florence, Kentucky.

Military spending for equipment and ammunition is a significant boost for the well-pounded machining world. Add to that the Obama paranoia in shooting and hunting circles and we have the interesting ammo-medical nexus propping up the precision machining world.

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A commentary on the recent auction of longtime fixture in the screw machine world—Marshall Manufacturing of Florida and Tennessee.

Marshall’s Biggest client, Sun Hydraulics, told the owners of the company that they wanted the company to run their work on the latest and best Swiss CNC lathes.

Marshall had been hurting in recent years and the owners were beaten up. They felt they were running the components competitively as they were and chose not to invest over a million bucks in Citizens or Stars.

Sun was true to their word and moved the work to a shop in Chicago that was willing to make the investment to acquire the work. Marshall chose to auction off their machinery after the Sun work went away.

Question: Should the U.S. government give strong preference to buying American made machinery? Do you consider Mazak an American firm?

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U.S. Army Rock Island Arsenal

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