When a mechanical engineer looks at their computer display when they start out to design a new portable machine tool, they have a lot of important choices to make including, what is the optimal balance of material thickness and choice of material, manufacturing method, weight, and ease of use. On top of that, what level of equipment survivability will be required to fulfill the expectations of customers who demand the most reliable and serviceable equipment possible.
Another aspect of building quality machining solutions is that when a row of machines are being assembled, we can not predetermine how or where our equipment will be put to the test. One machine may be destined to work tirelessly in the damp, frigid cold of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, while the machine next to it may be sent off for endless cuts performed in the astonishing heat and dryness of the Middle Eastern deserts.
Our equipment is expected to deliver dependable, repeatable and debris controlled cutting in the sterile environment of high-purity cleanroom piping system fabrication, while other machines are utilized on construction sites performing underground pipe casing removal in excavated dirt trenches.
When designing equipment, one of the most significant trade-offs is the strength to weight ratio and how that applies to machine durability and practical use. Anyone could make a product that would, in effect, never wear out especially if the operational wear is concentrated on replaceable bearings, for example. Optimal design is relative to the intended use of the machine, the precision needed for the typical application, and efficient weight for safe and easy equipment handling.
Different factors would dictate various design approaches so that a machining optimized for weight, might not be rigid enough for high precision. A machine designed for mounting on a wide range of sizes may be overly complicated and expensive to produce. The truth is that there must always be compromises.
To what degree those compromises are determined for the most practical outcome comes down to experience working with customers in a vastly wide range of machining scenarios and for a host of different industries.
The net advantage of producing countless tools for customer requirements over many years is that the basic designs have matured and been refined over and over again. Our knowledge base for any type of machine permits us to be in an expert position to advise, not only what machine may be best for a particular operation, but gives us a tremendous head start when we set out to design a new piece of machinery.
The decision that must go into every new tool design is the manufacturing methods and build quality that will produce the guaranteed performance and precision expected.
No where is this more apparent than with custom tool design. Many times when a customer requires custom tools produced, the operation is so specialized that neither the customer nor our engineers have ever attempted that specific machining process. No matter how unique an operation is required, experience has shown what power will be needed to cut cleanly through the material, even exotic alloys. Prior machine designs have proven how much mass and rigidity are needed to achieve the desired results.
The nature of specialized machines is that they are not used often, and sometimes are used only once. Sometimes custom built machines are intended as contingency equipment in the unlikely event of a catastrophic failure of a piping system. Despite this fact, machines must be built to the highest manufacturing possible when the client demands uncompromising results and utmost durability.
When precision machinery is acquired for high production or some other critical role, the design must ensure that it meet or exceed the anticipated loads to ensure reliable performance.
This is where the old saying, “You get what you pay for” was never more true. When one considers the costs of operating pipe lay vessels on the high seas or the millions of dollars lost for an emergency plant outage, investing in the highest quality, field proven portable machine tools is quite the bargain.