Tag Archives: manufacturing

Why thread rolling

Thread rolling is widely accepted as the fastest and preferred method of economically producing uniform smooth, precise threads of superior physical qualities.  Thread rolling utilizes hardened steel rolls to produce external threads.  The working surfaces of the rolls have a thread form which is a mirror image of the thread to be produced.  In penetrating the surface of the blank, the rolls displace material to form the thread roots, and force the displaced material radially outward to form the thread crests.

Advantages of thread rolling:

Cold working of metal during the thread rolling process improves the thread form physical characteristics and mechanical properties.  When the material is rolled, the structure is deformed creating the thread and improving the surface hardness.  The increased surface hardness results in thread form properties that are superior to those of original material.

Roll threading also improves the finish of the threads.  Smooth flanks of rolled threads provide better surface contact with mating threads.  The burnished roots and flanks are free of chatter, tearing or cutter marks that can serve as a focal point or stress and starting point for fatigue failures.

Rolled threads maintain consistently closer tolerances and uniformity than a cut thread.  Thread rolling is unique in its ability to maintain accuracy of the original set up during long runs of high-speed production.  Tooling does not change appreciably during the life of the rolling dies; they do not wear like other types of threading tools.

Roll threading material is more eco-friendly by using less material than thread cutting.  There is less material used during thread rolling, which will reduce cost of the threaded rod and offer savings to the customer.

Reshoring: Why it Makes Sense for Everyone

Recent news stories and surveys are consistently demonstrating a positive trend in manufacturing: reshoring. Following a period of offshoring—sending business overseas where labor was cheaper—during which time American manufacturing suffered as a result, the time has finally come for the industry to make a comeback. It’s a trend that’s indeed very welcome.

keystoneSmall and large businesses alike are realizing the value. From Apple to Boeing to countless small and medium manufacturers, companies are seeing that there are solid reasons why manufacturing at home simply makes sense. These include:

1)      More competitive American wages; overseas workers’ salaries are not as cheap as they once were.

2)      Abundant and more affordable natural resources in the U.S.

3)      American innovation, technology, and quality.

In a recent article written on IEEE’s Today’s Engineer, it was said that the overwhelming support of reshoring “[makes] it clear that investing and producing at home is a priority and is the choice that most benefits shareholders, companies and country alike.”

The article points out that two separate surveys by the Economist and Boston Consulting Group show that businesses and consumers prefer at-home manufacturing; the latter survey demonstrated that Americans are even willing to pay more for Made in the USA products.

This is good news for everyone, including engineers. According to the article, “It is in the self-interest of engineers to encourage domestic manufacturing, because if their companies offshore manufacturing, engineering is likely to follow.” Reshoring keeps engineers’ jobs at home, while adding jobs throughout the manufacturing sector, strengthening the country’s competitive edge, and completely shifting the approach of all business models.

The logic behind bringing jobs and business back to the U.S. is at once simple and multi-faceted. It makes complete sense—for so many reasons. As the trend continues, we can all look forward to the return of the world’s best and most advanced manufacturing industry.

Fracking Vs. Renewable Energy

drilling rigWhile worldwide energy consumption continues to grow exponentially, the supplies of nonrenewable resources like oil and natural gas unfortunately continue to dwindle. Consequently, many people are beginning to advocate renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. One particular method of obtaining petroleum and gas, known as fracking, has become an especially hot topic among energy enthusiasts.

Fracking (short for hydraulic fracturing) is the process of shooting a highly pressurized liquid mixture into a pre-drilled hole in the earth to create small cracks in the bedrock. These cracks give us access to fuels like natural gas and petroleum that we would otherwise not be able to harvest.

There are a few reasons why fracking is getting such a bad rap. The primary reason is because the injected liquid is infused with harmful chemicals, some of which are even known carcinogens. Shooting this liquid into the earth can lead to groundwater contamination. Another aspect that people are taking issue with is the enormous amount of water used in the liquid mixture, water that could instead be used for drinking, bathing, or irrigation.

Still, fracking clearly has its benefits. The oil and gas we’ve been able to collect through the process has significantly boosted domestic oil production, leading to a reduction in gas prices. It also allows us to generate electricity with about half the CO2 emissions as generation using coal.

So, if fracking is so controversial, why don’t we just make the switch to renewable energy? Simply stated, it would cost way too much. Energy generators like solar panels, windmills, and dams are all expensive to install and maintain. Another big issue is that they’re not very reliable since they all depend on weather. And unfortunately, even when the sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the water is flowing, they’re still pretty inefficient.

Despite these obstacles, the benefits of renewable energy have convinced many people that it’s worth the extra cost. Possibly the most attractive feature is that it doesn’t pollute the environment; it’s as clean and environmentally friendly as power production can get. And, unlike fossil fuels, we never have to worry about these sources disappearing. Renewable energy is especially advantageous in regions where there’s no access to a power grid, as is the case in many third world countries.

When it comes right down to it, the truth is that neither fracking nor renewable sources by themselves can produce enough energy to satisfy the needs of our power hungry world. Since fossil fuel supplies are finite, we do know that there will come a day where we’ll have to depend on renewable energy. Right now, however, we depend on both.

Who’s Capable of Doing More?

When choosing between companies to provide service, customers usually choose between a few key factors of the companies to see where they want to take their business.  Some of the major factors are usually location, customer service, and capabilities. The most important feature for many is capabilities. In any given area, there are more than likely many companies that can provide something similar to what you need done, and regardless of industry, good customer service is an ideology most companies live by. So it comes down to “what can this company do for me that the others can’t?”  That’s where we step in; Keystone Threaded Products is capable of more than our competitors.

custom_roll_thumbUnlike most of our competitors, we have the ability to thread rods up to 15 inches in diameter. Most other companies only have the capability to only go between 5/8 of an inch and under 15 inches. Depending on the size and weight of what you’re moving, most companies in this country can’t handle it –but Keystone can.  Not only are we capable of creating numerous variations of lengths, we also have the capacity to produce more at a fast pace. Recently one of our competitors turned to us to help with a project because they didn’t have the capacity to thread roll 39 in bars in house, but they knew we could.

Even more important than our capabilities is our dedication to making sure our products are made with precision and quality, which is why our products perform the in-process testing for Class 2G tolerances.  We want you to know that we are dedicated to meeting their needs on all levels. For your next roll threaded  project, let Keystone show what we are capable of doing for you.


 

DEFINITIONS AND TERMS in the ROLLED THREAD WORLD

Your applications deserve the best. And We lead the pack when it comes to precision and custom roll threaded products like acme threaded bars and acme precision components such as round nuts, cylinder nuts, and mounting flanges… plus our complete line of standard threaded products.

As you’ve come to expect, a good roll threading process produces a uniform, precise surface without tears, chatters or cutter marks.

How is it done? In roll threading, steel is extruded to form the threaded portion, instead of being removed as in done in cut threading. The product is fed or “rolled” through threading dies to form the threads. To help make this process even more clear, here are some roll threading terms and their definitions.

Class of Thread: alphanumerical designation indicating the standard grade of tolerance and allowance specified.

Crest: top surface joining two sides of thread.

Depth of Thread Engagement: radial distance, crest to crest, by which thread forms overlap between two assembled mating threads.

Helix Angle: The angle made by conical spiral, or helix.

Major Diameter: distance across the crests of thread of the major cylinder.

Minor Diameter: root diameter of thread of minor cylinder.

Nominal Size: designation for general identification based on the major diameter.

Pitch: axial distance from a point on one screw thread to the corresponding point on the next screw thread. Pitch is equal to the lead divided by number of thread starts.

Pitch Diameter: On a straight screw thread, diameter of an imaginary cylinder surface that passes through the threads at such points to make thread width and the width of the spaces cut by the surface of the cylinder equal. On a taper screw thread, diameter at a given distance from a reference plane perpendicular to the axis of an imaginary cone, the surface of which would pass through the threads at such points as to make thread width and the width of the spaces cut by the surface of the cone equal.

Profile of Thread: contour of a screw thread ridge and groove delineated by a cutting plane passing through thread axis. (Also called form of thread)

Root: bottom surface joining two sides of thread.

Root Diameter: diameter of an imaginary cylinder bounding the bottom of the roots of a screw thread. (minor diameter of thread)

Thread Series: Groups of diameter/pitch combinations distinguished from each other by the number of threads per unit of measurement.

 

Facing a shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing

A number of U.S. manufacturers are facing a growing challenge: job opportunities without enough applicants with the necessary skills to fill them. This shortage has another name:  the skills gap.

quality_assuranceExpansion in the field of manufacturing over the last 3 years has played an important role in supporting and strengthening the overall economy — and it’s generally expected that manufacturing will continue to play a crucial role in our country’s economic future.  It’s imperative that the right workers are in the right jobs for continued growth… but where are they?

In some areas of the country, demographics are to blame.  The workforce consists of baby boomers ready to retire; estimates suggest that nearly a quarter of U.S. manufacturing employees are 55 or older.  Boomers bring expertise and experience to the job — and that knowledge could be lost if apprenticeships and mentoring opportunities aren’t continued with the next generation.

Once baby boomers retire, there are fewer and fewer young employees to take their place. Why? Possibly, it’s misconceptions about the industry as a whole.  For years young people have been told that manufacturing jobs are headed overseas, or that these types of employment aren’t worthwhile as an educational investment. They’ve heard that the industry is volatile… or it’s “dying.” This negative information has influenced the areas of study and career choices of millions of young Americans.

Many companies, Keystone included, have increased automation to keep up with demand but that’s not the whole answer.  Talented production and manufacturing team members can’t be replaced with machines.  We’re facing the possibility that the lack of qualified candidates could impact future growth.

Government, schools, and employers must all join forces to create a long-term strategy. Workforce and education programs that link the training of participants to the needs of employers are the best solution. Schools must improve their technical curriculum. Graduates need easy access to training programs.  And employers must do their part by providing on-the-job training and good wages. Keystone is currently starting a program to combat this by hiring employees with basic skills, and having our skilled employees mentor them.

In the meantime, the manufacturing industry continues to have opportunities for skilled workers ready for the challenge.

Manufacturing output is positive right now – why?

precision-roll-threaded-bars-heat_largeManufacturing output is at its highest level in months right now – and that can be attributed to rising factory output, innovation, and strong manufacturing production gains. That in addition to the natural gas boom has made American workers appear much more attractive than they have in the past. Lower energy costs doesn’t necessarily mean that manufacturing output will increase from 9% of the total workforce to 30%, but it does mean that there will most likely be a steady increase within the next few years.

Countries with strong manufacturing outputs have a competitive edge in the global economy. According to the article “Is the U.S. Manufacturing Renaissance Real,” for every $1 of manufacturing output in a community, there’s another $1.48 of wealth created. Natural gas prices are at an all-time low, and with supplies plentiful in the U.S., it translates to affordable electricity and production for manufacturers.

The U.S. also remains consistent in its position as the leader in innovation across the global industry. 31% of U.S. spending comes from research and development, which is nearly double the spending of countries like Japan and China. As a manufacturer that prides itself on staying at the forefront of technology and up-to-date with the most technologically advanced products and services, we see the importance of keeping R&D as an integral part of our business practices at our facility.

In a recent survey conducted by Buying Consortium Prime Advantage, manufacturers are confident about their revenues, and anticipate growth in their current workforce. Manufacturing employees are working more hours than they have ever done before, and we that number is expected to continue to rise going forward.