You would think that cutting metal is simple. Machining is often nothing more than removing material quickly, efficiently and accurately so it would seem that once you understand the process there's little to learn. I am relieved to report that this is not the case. Challenging problems hold my interest and my new cnc turn/mill center is a serious challenge. It is so much more complex than my last lathe with four more axes (the plural of axis), full c-axis contouring and 11 live tools.
My head gets lost in another world imagining the process of cutting a part from start to finish. Yet thinking through the entire process is necessary when machining even the simplest part. Forget one step and the potential to break a tool cutter, the part or even the machine increases immensely. Either my brain is too small to do this quickly or the process requires a lot of intense focus. I literally have to close my eyes in a silent room with no distractions to visualize so many moving parts and tools cutting all six sides and the inside of one single part.
With time and practice, I'm sure this will get easier, but now I'm starting to wonder how many people I pass on the street may have honed this ability? There have to be a lot of people who have done this before me and possess the knowledge and skills necessary to cut a part on a complicated machine right the first time. Who are these people and where are they hiding? I'm guessing in plain sight!
I have worked very hard for more than a full week preparing the shop for the new cnc lathe. Building new workbenches, buffing and grinding areas with dust collection, a new soldering hood with filtration, etc. to prepare the shop for more efficient and organized production without adding people. My current estimate is that I can build more than 500 custom trumpets a year with good organization and cnc machinery (robots) at my service. This ensures that parts will be more accurate than if they were made by people and I can personally handle quality control on every horn. The clean up process will improve as well since my higher end horns will soon incorporate modular leadpipes and eventually modular bells. Cleaning and finishing smaller modular parts is faster and easier than an entire large complex assembly. This will also open up many new options such as mixing materials throughout the horn. You could potentially mix copper, brass, nickel, delrin, aluminum, steel, titanium, stabilized wood, acrylic, iron, bronze, carbon fiber, kevlar and more within one trumpet. For instance, I have plans for a stainless steel or aluminum trumpet mixed with black carbon fiber. The variations will be endless and reconfigurable on the modular horns.
Here I am rambling about too many ideas once again. I'll be headed to Milwaukee soon for a week of intense training on the latest Delcam software for both my VMC and Lathe. This software is the best of the best so I expect to impress some of you with amazing trumpet designs next year. Does anyone out there use Delcam software? If so, please drop me a line with your thoughts.
Okay, time to finish replacing the vacuum pump and running new brake lines on a friend's Volvo. Then on to the next Summit...maybe I'm working on your horn next?