Category Archives: CNC

From Difficult to Differentiated: Creating Customer Solutions for Hard to Manufacture Materials

For many industries, high-intensity and high-value jobs require precision instruments that are made from high-performance materials. The medical, aerospace, defense, energy, and transportation industries are a few of the sectors that design and manufacture their parts, products, and integrated systems with materials such as titanium, magnesium, carbon steel, and others because of the unique performance properties these materials provide.

There are many challenges in using high-performance materials that add complexity and difficulty to the design and manufacture of high-performance products. For example:

  • Material Cost – High-performance materials typically have higher costs. As such, it is important that the use of these materials be optimized in all phases of the material life-cycle: design, manufacture, use, and end-of-life disposition. There are ways to reduce material waste in manufacturing by looking at a diversity of options for part design, manufacturing technique/process, and other factors. Check out HARBEC’s Sustainable Design Guide as an example of how design can impact the more efficient utilization of high-value materials.
  • Material Availability – The availability of high-performance materials can also be a challenge. Many high-performance materials are mined from specific regions of the world. The availability of materials is impacted by economic, geographic, supply, demand, regulatory, environmental, and other factors. The availability of materials also impacts its price, supply, and use.
  • Material Tracking and Regulatory Compliance – Understanding point of origin and supply chain relationships for materials has become a business necessity. Accounting (traceability) for ‘conflict minerals’ within the supply chain has, since Congress approved the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, been a requirement for U.S. based manufacturers. Check with your suppliers to see if they have a Conflict Minerals policy in place, like this example from HARBEC.
  • Manufacturing Capability – The use of high-performance materials requires high-performance manufacturing capabilities that either reside in-house or among suppliers. The handling and manufacturing of high-performance materials can require specialized equipment, certifications, technical know-how, and process sophistication. Hard to machine metals, for example, require machine operators and toolmakers that have built, through years of experience, insight and knowledge of how materials perform  under a diversity of manufacturing operations.
  • Material Handling –Some high-performance materials are also a challenge to work with because they require special handling requirements. The safe and environmentally responsible storage, handling, and disposal of materials can add cost, time, and complexity to already tight time schedules. As such, it pays to work with material handlers, suppliers, and manufacturers that are experienced in the specific material handling requirements. Often there are very specific and specialized regulatory, environmental, safety, recycling, and disposal requirements for high-performance materials.
HARBECsample_parts

HARBEC sample parts injection molded in a variety of engineering resins and metal.

Although there are challenges in working with high-performance materials, the benefits are tremendous. High-performance materials can differentiate products in their weight, design, performance, tolerance holding, utility, and sustainability. By working with material vendors and manufacturing partners that have depth of knowledge, experience, and capability, you can hedge yourself on any downside “difficulties,” and optimize your potential to “differentiate” your high-performance product.

Since 1977 HARBEC has earned a reputation and grown its business by solving tough manufacturing challenges. HARBEC’s origins stem from working with difficult to machine and mold materials. With nearly four decades of experience, HARBEC is well positioned to take on the most challenging of materials. HARBEC regularly machines magnesium, titanium, and hardened steels to very tight tolerances for a diversity of customers spanning aerospace, defense, medical, and research organizations.

HARBEC operates over 44 vertical mills, 6 horizontal lathes, and multiple EDM centers on three shifts, producing small to medium volumes of high precision parts for customers worldwide.  Our team readily works with customers to improve the manufacturability of prototypes and production parts, always striving for the best balance of function, cost and delivery. HARBEC has dedicated milling centers for difficult to machine metals such as titanium with a .01” diameter end mill.

HARBEC has earned a reputation as a custom injection molder and custom CNC machining company because it does not shy away from challenging materials, complex part geometries, tight tolerances, or demanding schedules. HARBEC works hard to support its customers by providing strategy and insight from its four decades of know-how and experience, to create custom solutions that often exceed time, cost, and performance requirements. HARBEC prides itself on being an extension of its customer’s teams, working with its own in-house engineers, tool makers, and machinists to provide exemplary levels of service and detail to every job, every customer, and every day.

Machining Precision Parts Requires Impeccable Attention to Detail

Ultimately, success in machining requires a team of highly proficient machine operators, tool makers, designers, engineers, project managers, technicians, and operations managers all working together to continuously achieve high quality products consistently. While CNC machines may do the tough work of cutting hard metals to tight tolerances, these tools are only as good as the team of dedicated professionals that drive performance and results. Attention to detail is everyone’s job.

Harbec’s roots in CNC machining run deep. Founded in 1977 as a general-purpose machine shop, Harbec initially specialized in the quick-turnaround of difficult to make parts. Today we operate over 40 vertical mills, horizontal lathes, and EDM centers on three shifts, producing small to medium volumes of high precision parts for customers worldwide. Our team readily works with customers to improve the manufacturability of prototypes and production parts, always striving for the best balance of function, cost and delivery.

Harbec’s CNC Machining Solutions are built upon four decades of experience. Three primary values of Harbec’s CNC Machining include: Accuracy/Quality, Speed, and Knowledge/Expertise. Harbec’s CNC Machining group has the knowledge and expertise to produce difficult, highly complex, and tight tolerance parts. With a strong project management discipline and proactive communications with customers, Harbec works hard to make sure customer requirements are always understood. Harbec actively uses its manufacturing knowledge for customers’ benefits.  Whether it is one part or mid-volume production parts, Harbec’s experienced team always strives for delivering the highest quality part, quickly.

A commitment to continuously improve operational excellence through innovation while providing manufacturing solutions for customers is a necessity in today’s ever changing world. Recently our CNC Machining has expanded,  particularly to serve the needs of medical device customers. Harbec is investing in facility modifications, new equipment (CNC machines), and continuous training of its employees at all job functions to ensure a high level of quality and attention to detail is carried through to the customer.

Harbec has 21 dedicated inspectors and engineers that work collaboratively within every business group, manufacturing process, and individual within the company so that customers continuously receive the level of service they have come to expect. For example, some of our medical customers require 100% inspection of their parts on all dimensions with tolerances of +/- .001. Our knowledgeable staff have written and executed Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ), and Performance Qualification (PQs) for these customers. Harbec also implements specific process inspections, tools and technologies,  through an integrated team dedicated to quality. Tools including microscopic deburring and  a vision system/CMM are used in combination as part of a robust inspection program.

In addition, Harbec continues to actively pursue certification toward the ISO 13485 Medical Device standard, a customer-facing and internal goal to demonstrate our commitment to deliver the finest parts to our valued customers.