Adapting to change

A SolidWorks adaptation of a design originally rendered in wood.

Illustration: MCR Machine Houston, Inc.


Program in place

The project was programmed on MCR Machine\'s Mitsubishi BA24 large-capacity, wire EDM. The machine offers X, Y, Z travel dimensions of 23.6x15.7x16.7 in., with a four-sided work table and all stainless steel work tank and fluid system.

Photo: MCR Machine Houston, Inc.


Grave consideration

Engraving the aluminum workpiece on the a Toyoda FV1680 machining center. The vertical machine has axis strokes of 63x31.5x31.5 in. (X,Y,Z). The table size is 68.9x31.5 in., and 1,000 mm is available between table and spindle nose, which provides space for a 4-axis rotary table. MCR Machine has two Toyoda FV1680 machines in place.

Photo: MCR Machine Houston, Inc.


EDM, again

Now engraved, the workpiece is returned to the EDM for the cutting sequences.

Photo: MCR Machine Houston, Inc.


Pieces of a puzzle

The EDM begins to produce the 11 individual parts of the finished assembly.

Photo: MCR Machine Houston, Inc.


All together now

A view of the fish, fully assembled.

Photo: MCR Machine Houston, Inc.


Go to pieces

The finished parts - and the finished project.

Photo: MCR Machine Houston, Inc.

One shop has a line on new business, and its skills seem sure to hook new customersIt’s one thing to emphasize capital investments and technology updates, but every machine shop needs to make its capabilities and skills known to customers in a way that is immediately effective, honest, thorough, and memorable. MCR Machine Houston Inc. unlocked that puzzle.

The Houston machine shop, established in 2006, promises customers (and potential customers) an “old school dedication to craftsmanship combined with state-of-the-art equipment,” delivering precision machined parts on-time, produced with the latest CNC technology.

That’s a lot of detail – but the whole message is made clear in a novel way by a puzzle: eleven precision-machined pieces of Aluminum 6061 (held together by a single screw) that when assembled form a fish.

“We wanted to show the kind of complex parts our shop is capable of producing,” MCR Machine founder Michael Rodd explained. He noted that the original design was adapted from a woodworking project published in a hobby magazine more than 20 years ago.

Those designs were translated into CAD drawings using SolidWorks. The new plans became the basis for programming diagrams from a 1.25×1.25×6.125-in. piece of stock to produce each piece of the puzzle.

The shop has available a stable of vertical CNC machines, wire EDM cutting machines, and computerized and manual CMM systems. The fish puzzle is the physical evidence of all those resources, and the skill to program and operate them.

Rodd explained that the finished prototype (CAD work, programming, finishing the 11 pieces) was a 32-hour project.

Three complete sets have been finished, and four more blanks are ready to machine he explained. The fish puzzle won’t become a regular line of business for MCR Machine Houston – but it will be a memorable token that may hook potential customers.