Archives For Jim Tighe

“Measure twice, cut once.”  If you’re like me, this is something I never forget to do… except when I forget to do it and end up making my 4th trip back to the Home Depot dropping another $45.

What’s my point?  The EWI modeling group is the equivalent of a really, really good tape measure.

Structural Inegrity and Modeling - YouTubeSo what do our modelers do?  Of all the groups at EWI I was hopeful this would be one I could truly understand at an impressive level of detail (come on… I’m really good at Excel).  Instead, it proved to be another admirable candidate for my Technology for the Common Man series. Unlike our other technologies, there aren’t a lot (any?) of cool things to watch when a modeler is working (note how sad it is when an accountant makes this assessment).  Writing about watching modelers sitting at a computer felt like a cop-out.  Thus feeling a little guilty, I thought I’d interview our modelers to learn more. [Editors note – I was thinking of asking Mark Schimming the new VP of Operations who leads the group to help me out, but as he is merely a welding engineer, I decided to go right to the source.  And on a personal note, there are no harder working or more dedicated engineers at EWI than the folks in our modeling group and they quietly do a great job for our members.]

Yu-Ping Yang

I sat down and spoke with Yu-Ping Yang who patiently explained to me modeling at EWI. He began by saying modeling is a way to save money on a project (clearly he remembered he was talking to an accountant).  If you have a big dollar structure you’re building, it’s more cost effective to model how that part will perform before making it.

That is, “model twice, build once.”

Our modelers are also able to optimize a high volume process.  If you can get the same part performance using less expensive materials or materials that allow for more efficient manufacturing (> parts per hour) that is a huge win for our members. Now those are a few reasons to use a modeler… not The EWI modeling group. Our modelers have a tremendous breadth of expertise in welding, forming, and all types of joining, including being able to model high temperatures.  They have developed models around predicting complex distortion and tolerance outcomes; heat transfer; microstructure and hardness prediction; crash simulation; and cracking and stress.  And they have expertise in many common (amongst the modeler types) software tools like Abaqus, D-Form, LS Dyna, MSC Software, and Hyperworks.  EWI modelers are able to use our own HPC (“high performance cluster”), multiple modeling specific server platforms, numerous virtual servers, as well as having access to the Ohio SuperComputer center.  Best of all, EWI modelers are integrated within our project teams where it makes sense:  as part of the design of experiment, design of part, or outcome modeling.

A successful modeling project can take many forms.  One that narrows down process variables eliminating wasted effort and cost… One that identifies an outcome over time without having to wait… Or one that saves you from building a structure with less than ideal parameters. Any one of these reasons will save you much more than a trip to Home Depot to remedy.

Have a modeling question or challenge, please feel free to contact Yu-Ping Yang at EWI.

When I first got here to EWI, I became aware of some intimidating concepts being thrown around. Obviously there was the technological jargon, but I kept hearing this recurring push to “get published” and “present papers.”

I appreciate that writing a blog technically doesn’t qualify as “being published”, but it does come close enough for me to tweak the engineers here. I push the button to post my blog and I proudly stand up and shout “I just published on an article on the debt crisis.”

But in six years here, I’ve never¹ “presented a paper”.

Co-Published and Credit for “Presenting a Paper”

EWI – The Real Cost of Laser Welding – YouTube

Well my opportunity came when Stan Ream, our technology leader in lasers, approached me about co-authoring a presentation he was going to give at ALAW.

He started going on about what it was about and why he needed my help, but he had me at “co-authoring a paper to present.”  The concept was how much does implementing a laser process really cost on a per part basis.  That was all well and good, but he wanted to present it in a way both an engineer and accountant could understand. I had been wanting to develop a robust model to compare relative costs of all the welding processes under various operating environments so this just gave me a willing partner to work with and, more importantly, a deadline.  Plus I would be a co-author of a paper (in reality it was a powerpoint) being presented by a PhD engineer.

By all accounts, the presentation went over well (I heard 2nd hand as I wasn’t invited… really… it’s ok… I didn’t want to go), the model did a nice job articulating the cost impact of all possible variables, and the video showed that even accountants have a sense of humor.

I’m currently working with our Arc Welding engineering manager Steve Massey to expand the utility, flexibility, and comparability of the model so that it can be used to add some further data for our members when they are evaluating different welding processes.  Aside from being a value to our members, if Steve presents the tool at an Arc Welding conference, I can now claim “multiple papers published and presented”.

If you have any thoughts on variables that need to be considered in developing such a multi-technology model, please feel free to email me at jtighe@ewi.org or post a comment below.

 

¹Editor’s note – I have presented / spoken 7 times at Miami University’s business school, but for the sake of this blog, I will pretend I didn’t already count that as presenting a paper when interacting with our engineers.

In a lot of ways EWI is not different than other companies. There are deadlines and budgets; cuts and investments to make; and a lot of the same stresses you have at your company. As CFO, I hear the same gripes I’m sure other controllers and CFO’s hear… “why can’t we do (fill in the blank)?”… “If we don’t invest in (fill in the blank), we’ll fall behind”.  The conversations are almost always respectful, but not always unemotional.

What makes EWI a great place to work is not necessarily apparent in the awards we won (2 time Best Places to Work). You have to dig a little deeper and its pretty cool what you find.

Reason 124
A pinewood derby car done by an accountant… You can hardly recognize it.

The people at EWI are incredibly bright, creative, and talented at what they do… And they care deeply about EWI’s mission: Creating the future of manufacturing through innovative technology solutions. They’re also (mostly) engineers… And they also (mostly) have a great sense of humor.

For example, our group of engineers in the design, controls, and automation group have an outstanding reputation for towing the practical joke line extremely well. Never going too far, but absolutely pushing it far enough. There was the filling of the COO’s exercise ball with water; listing a questionable item for sale on Craig’s list and putting another’s cell phone number on the advert; filling a manager’s cube with packing peanuts… I seriously could go on, but you get my point. Luckily (?) for EWI, the skills learned in this group port well into the other technology areas within EWI (i.e. designing equipment for a laser process creates some pretty great skills in an engineer). So the extremely talented DC&A alumni (they’re actually amazing at what they do) are spread throughout the building now. Accordingly, there continues to be a proliferation of practical jokes that play out by them and others.

Reason 123
Quite possibly the most arrogant license plate frame ever…

For better or worse, I have been on the receiving end of a few solid ones. Clearly I’m an easy target… I own a scooter.

About a month ago, after getting a new (to me) car, I proudly got a custom license plate and frame. Apparently a little too proudly as I unknowingly drove around with the modified custom license plate frame for 5 days. It was truly the perfect crime… who checks his/her license plate? And the frame was not over the top enough for someone to think it was a joke. So commuters around Columbus, Ohio were too busy thinking “that guy is an arrogant @#$%” to find the time to honk even once. Kudo’s to James Cruz, Engineering Manager, for capping off the joke by sending an “everyone” email indicating how to procure a high quality license plate frame.

Last week was Engineer’s Week… A five day celebration of all that is good with engineering and people who are stuck working with Engineers. The week was capped off with something familiar to EWI… A competition. Build your best pinewood derby car and we’ll race them Thursday night. Sadly my beast of an effort wasn’t able to win a heat, but I didn’t finish dead last (in every race).  And most importantly, I solidified my place as a non-engineer nicely.

It really was a great end to a great week celebrating a great group of people.

So why is EWI a great place to work and a great company for you to work with? Imaginative people who are passionate about technology, manufacturing and making our member’s successful… with a great sense of humor.  Give us a call if you’re interested in learning more about EWI or becoming a member (Leah Kohr at 614.688.5049).  If you’d like to discuss how to build a pinewood derby car in under 5 minutes please shoot me (Jim Tighe) an email.

Here’s a test to see if you’re a Common Man… If I asked you (95% of the people reading this blog) to describe what welding is, I’m guessing you would describe one of two things: Arcs and/or Sparks.

 

When I started here at EWI as CFO, I pictured either a guy flipping down his welding mask, lighting a torch, and welding on a pipeline (arc welding) or an assembly line with robots and sparks (resistance welding). If you thought of either of these two, please keep reading… If you could think of more than those two, you should stop reading this blog and enjoy this video with the few minutes I just saved you.

So who knew there were dozens of other types of welding? Six years ago, not this common man.

One of these other methods where EWI has developed world leading expertise is Friction Welding. If you stop and think about the title, you can figure out the concept. Creating heat through friction (think rubbing your hands together). The heat between the two parts is what is needed to join the parts. One variant of friction welding getting a lot of media attention lately is Friction Stir Welding (learn about FSW here). I’m going to talk about two other friction welding variants here though: Inertia Friction Welding (next blog) and Linear Friction Welding.

So in practice how does this work? I’ll explain it with all the technical vigor you have come to expect.

First linear friction… Say you have a large metal part and want to attach a small metal part to it. Using linear friction welding, you (not really you, but a piece of equipment) would shake the small metal part. Then at just the right moment, you push the small part against the big part. The magic happens based upon the material types, the velocity of shaking, the area between the parts, the force of the “push”, and the time of the interaction of the materials. I’m sure there are more variables, but you get the idea (and listing any more would overly impress the technical experts at EWI I’m trying to annoy through my explaining their technology for the common man).

Linear Friction Welding… for the Common Man

What makes linear friction welding great? High bond strength, ability to join dissimilar materials, and reduced cycle times to name a few. Done correctly, you can create an incredibly strong bond because you are not melting the metal, but rather plasticizing it (full disclosure, I’m not the best guy to talk metallurgy, but I understand plasticizing is much better according to Jose Ramirez). You’ll hear people say it’s a “solid state bond”… And that’s a great thing.

So where do you find companies using this process? Linear friction welding machines have historically cost over $1M and up to $3M or more, so their applicability has generally been limited to high cost parts typically found in the aerospace market. Recently though, EWI acquired equipment from a company that has developed a unit that is considerably less expensive and has a much smaller footprint which should open up the technology (and benefits) to a much bigger commercial manufacturing population. I just saw a demonstration (I actually just watched our technician working on a project) of the equipment and it’s really pretty amazing.

Have some real questions about the applicability of linear friction welding world? Then please feel free to call or email James Cruz (jcruz@ewi.org 614.688.5255), Jerry Gould (jgould@ewi.org 614.688.5121) or Josh Chance (jchance@ewi.org 614.688.5243) and hammer away.

Next up… EWI Modeling… If you have any other questions, please email me at jtighe@ewi.org or post in the comments section below.  To read the series from the beginning, please start at “Fanfare…err… Manufacturing for the Common Man“.

So I’m not what you would call a handy person around the house and I generally pass on home projects unless forced to act.  In fact I pretty much epitomize the quote “If a man says he will fix it he will. There is no need to remind him every six months about it.”

Laser removal of a marine coating from steel substrate

Laser removal of a marine coating from steel substrate

I thought I was really stepping up a few months ago when I volunteered to paint an old desk.  And by “volunteering” I mean that my wife found someone else who would paint it for a chunk of money and I wanted to avoid that outcome. What I didn’t realize (again… I’m not that handy) was that I first needed to sand the paint off before I could “begin” the project.  Five hours later after I covered half my basement with wood and paint dust, I was ready to “start”.

Now wouldn’t it be great to be able to remove all the old paint almost instantly? For the common man, that’s the idea of EWI’s laser paint stripping technology.

Stan Ream and the EWI Laser Technology team at EWI have developed world leading expertise in the use of lasers for welding, cutting, drilling, and other applications.  Key to this is the ability to control precisely shape and motion of the laser beam. In developing this know-how, it was theorized that we could use this knowledge to scan the beam quickly and broadly to remove substances from a surface. The first prototype, developed using internal funding, was put together using many novel innovations in order to prove out the concept. In this early video, you can see just how successful it was. The paint is rapidly combusted and exhausted into the vacuum. The process is so quick that the underlying material does not get hot to the touch either… And yes… There is a Toro leaf blower wired in reverse to remove the paint fumes.

Now why is this technology important?  Because current methods of removing coatings or contaminates may involve chemicals (environmentally unfriendly), involve putting contaminates in the air, or at the minimum a lot of time.  Imagine how long it must take to sandblast a simple water tank (between set-up, process time, and clean up) or the time to remove paint from an airplane using a similar method.  As you see in this video demonstration, EWI was able to show how effective and precise this technology can be on an aircraft part.

Stan's 2 Year Project Car

Stan’s 2 Year Project Car

The Laser Paint Stripping technology is not limited to paint either. It has been contemplated that a device similar to this can be used to remove nuclear contaminants in reactor clean-up or as an efficient method to clean a wide variety of surfaces.

My goal would be to have it remove wallpaper prior to my next home project, but that’s probably a little selfish on my part.

If you have any questions about the variety of applications or some more technical inquiries, please contact Stan Ream at 614.688.5092 or Mark Schimming at 614.688.5139 or leave a comment below.  Time may be of the essence, as Stan just completed building a Cobra replica from scratch that was just recently road certified, so speeding tickets and court dates may be occupying a bit more of his time come this spring.

For installment 3 of the manufacturing innovation for the common man series, I will highlight why you should care about friction (inertia and linear) welding.  Leave me a comment if you would like me to profile another technology (jtighe@ewi.org).

The great thing about manufacturing is the manufacturing process is never perfect.  There will  always be the possibility of doing something faster, more cost effectively, with higher quality, and on and on.  Some of our innovations at EWI have a niche field of application to solve a specific manufacturing problem.  But the great ones have seemingly unlimited areas of use that even a common man like myself can grasp.

“Common Man” diagram of AcousTech Machining

AcousTech Machining is one of those technologies.

Matt Short – Ultrasonics Technology Leader (not always this serious)

Say I’m Joe Manufacturer and I have a metal plate that takes me 5 minutes to drill.  Now wouldn’t it be great if I could:

  • Drill it faster…
  • Have my drill bit last longer…
  • Not use lubricant…
  • Instead drill a harder metal…
  • Drill at a 45 degree angle without having to prep the surface…

“Yeah… that would be great”

Building upon the combined 50 plus years of research and work of Karl Graff and Matt ShortEWI has been able to create and isolate very high powered ultrasonic vibrations in a novel and compact way in the head of the drill bit.  Isolation is critical so that ultrasonic vibrations only impact the tool side… not the holder side.  So using an AcousTech Machining module you add an up and down ultrasonic oscillation at the head of the tool in addition to the force of the drill and the turning action.  This leads to some amazing outcomes in all of the “wouldn’t it be great” bullets above.

AcousTech “Drill Bit” Versus a Sharpie

Another cool innovation is the ability to power the tool within a standard CNC machine holder (as seen in this video).  There are no exposed electrical components in the design making it pretty much just another tool to be added to the machine (i.e. not requiring a new major capital investment).  And the technology is not just small scale as seen in this photo.

If you step back and just think for 30 seconds, there are A TON of areas for something like this (and I’m just an accountant).  Seriously, think about it!!!

What?  There wasn’t enough technical content for you in this blog?  If you have any questions or are interested in learning some more about AcousTech Machining, please contact Matt Short, our ultrasonics technology leader (trust me… he’s not as upset as he looks).

Next, I’ll profile Laser Coating Removal developed by Stan Ream as seen here (laser paint removal).  Until next time, this is Jim Tighe (jtighe@ewi.org), common man, signing off.

(Click here while reading)

Bright EWI Engineers

Bright EWI Engineers

As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, I am not an engineer… But thank God I’m surrounded by engineers everyday here at EWI.  And no kidding they’re some of the brightest people you can meet… Especially in their field of expertise.

A skill I’ve developed over the last five years is an ability to listen to the technically complex things engineers explain to me, filter it, then translate it back to them in “common man speak.”  I do this primarily so I can better remember and explain it to others later using my CMS.  An unintended benefit to my “gift” is the absolute and visceral pain it causes these great men and woman when I take their most ground-breaking, patent-pending, thesis-worthy, Nobel science prize contender, million dollar saving, big-scientific-word-using parlance and say something like “it’s like making the drill vibrate really fast so you can drill a hole 4 times faster”.  Sure I’ve glossed over the incredible innovation that went into the technology or the unique capabilities EWI brought to the project, but I wouldn’t remember that in 10 minutes anyway.  Just ask an engineer to tell you which way one of my financial charts was going right after our Associate’s Meetings.

I know I’ve hit a home run if after I deliver them my seventeen word CMS summary the engineer pauses, sighs, their face grimaces, and they say something like “well… I guess that’s a real simple way to look at it”.  Walk off!!!

So in this spirit, I am beginning a blog series profiling our technology in a way I understand it.  I will talk to the lead engineer, take some pictures, and maybe some video.  I may have to throw in some PhD worthy words (if required), otherwise I will try to make it understandable to the common man.  First up… AcousTech Machining.

Does speaking with 200 or so Miami business students a semester benefit EWI? Just ask Bryce Harper…

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I’m not sure if “politicing” is used appropriately as a verb (kind of like “efforting”), but it seems accurate for what is happening these days around the deficit.  On the positive side, the media is continuing to publicize the deficit as the major issue for the candidates to address.  But in this case, “address” is not what’s happening… “politicing” is.

The New York Times wrote that the deficit for this fiscal year will be over $1 trillion for the 4th year in a row.  Not surprising, but definitely very disturbing.  Our country is fiscally in a very bad place with no clear choice on who or how to best address it.

Robert D. Reischauer, a former head of the Congressional Budget Office (the authors of this outstanding non-partisan report), stated “The proposals by Romney are politically unachievable, and the president’s proposals, while achievable, are too modest.”  This seems to be the general consensus of many independent analysts.

Over the next 10 years, the CBO estimates the debt would grow from 73% of GDP to 77% under Obama’s plan while the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, estimated it would grow to 86% under Romney’s plan (just 10 years ago, the debt as a percent of GDP was 33%).  According to the New York Times article, most analysts believe the debt should not exceed 60-70% of GDP.  Another way to put that in perspective, today we’re only one color away from Italy and Greece on this handy deficit to GDP interactive map (who knew such things existed).

So thinking about the two candidate’s rhetoric on the deficit issue (while maintaining my “politically agnostic” stance), I’ll repurpose an environmental quote by David Suzuki, and say “we’re in a giant car heading toward a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.”

David Suzuki Quote

Allow me to digress for a moment…  Why do I (and in turn EWI) care about all this so much?  Steve Blank wrote a great article in October, 2012 Inc. magazine (a really great read and stupid-cheap if you subscribe) about government spending and the economy.  Steve’s 3 points are spending on entrepreneurship programs spurs innovation; funding incubators and accelerators drives commercializing that innovation; and providing tax incentives to angel investors helps further promote that innovation.  Simply stated, innovating and putting America’s innovation into practice.  THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT EWI DOES EVERYDAY FOR OUR MEMBERS!  Our engineers are innovative, yet grounded in the goal of transitioning technology into production; our Associates are thought leaders, yet practical enough to complete projects within scope and on budget; our technicians are creative in their approach, yet passionate about the details.

I’m not proclaiming EWI can single-handedly steer the car back on course, but I am stating that investment in transitioning innovation into practice in order to create a stronger manufacturing base and robust energy infrastructure should have a significant place in the discussion of deficit reduction.

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the U.S. is like the family that has racked up $232,000 of credit card debt while bringing home a $50,000 a year paycheck.  Rather than changing our ways, we’re deciding what new car to buy, putting the down payment on that 3rd vacation home, and heading to Macy’s to refresh our wardrobe… all the time talking (i.e. politicing) about clipping coupons.

Next thing you know we’ll be arguing who’s sitting shotgun.

What do you think?  Is the status quo ok or are we heading toward a fiscal brick wall?  Post a comment or send me an email at jtighe@ewi.org or give me call at 614.688.5064.

Thanks EWI, et.al.

Jim Tighe —  September 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking about what an honor it was to be nominated and selected as a finalist for the CFO of the year. Knowing I’m not what you would call the best public speaker, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to thank some of the people and organizations that have been significant and positive influences on me.

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