Engineering CNC Machining for Success

08/05/2020 | Greg Herr

A strong engineering team ensures CNC machining projects get done right the first time, every time. Our thorough engineering not only impresses customers but leads to parts that meet or exceed specifications consistently.

Design from Experience and Know-How

In manufacturing, there is no option to fail. This isn't research and development. Customers need their parts manufactured correctly and quickly. An experienced team already has the know-how on what works and what does not. This means our engineering department isn't taking excessive time to figure out options, analyze, and test. For the most part, we design and build what works the first time.

Hands on experience is important. Several of our engineers developed their careers starting as CNC operators. Engineers with production experience know how their designs are used and appreciate designs with optimized loading ability and overall process efficiency. They know the importance of error proofing and robust tooling.

Engineer the Entire Manufacturing Process

Our team covers the entire manufacturing process, from work-holding concepts to final packaging. Every step of this process is designed by experts. Manufacturing Engineers design the fixtures from concept to construction. The engineering team includes fixture builders that produce the small and large machined items. Once these items are produced, these experts assemble the fixture to completion. Manufacturing Engineers that specialize in tooling select and design tools as well as program the CNC machines

Engineering Team Abilities

  • Fixture designing
  • Fixture building: machining and assembly
  • Tooling
  • Programming
  • Processing
  • Packaging 
  • Additional specialty engineering includes pressure testing, assembly, and automation

We use our proven process and abilities to get jobs done right and on time. This starts with the project handed off from our sales team. We then get the ball rolling quickly. Our detailed design process is outlined below.

Engineering Design Process

  • Job Awarded
  • Project entered in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and communicated to new jobs team including timeline.
  • Program iteration is started, and tasks are assigned. This includes all tasks ranging from engineering design to the quality processes. 
  • Create process routing which includes choosing the work centers and scheduling. 
  • Complete design work. Quality team works in parallel. 
  • Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) meeting held to review design and process. We review all the details from reviewing fixture design, process and gauging.
  • Release project to production. CNC programmer and tooling engineer work closely with production to make sure each project runs smoothly out of the gate. 

At times, the engineering department gets involved early with the sales team. On large partner projects, we will review prints, create concepts, and propose machines. Often our engineering team works closely with a foundry to sort out details. An example of this would be, the locations of where a part should be sanded due to how it is located in the CNC machining fixture.

Going All-In for Quality

Some things seem like overkill, but that is what sets us apart. Most of the time we use hydraulics on fixtures for consistent, automated work-holding. The speed and repeatability of hydraulic components outperform manual work-holding. The added cost of hydraulics is worth it for long running, high quality, and consistent production.

Error proofing is built into our process. Whenever possible, fixtures include misload prevention. Fixtures are designed to interfere with misloaded parts so they cannot be clamped. If a part is too symmetric to prevent misloading by mechanical poka-yoke, probing is used. Probing adds to the machine cycle time but provides a precise measurement to check that the part is in the correct orientation.

Our processes are well supported by providing critical documentation. All production processes are fully documented. We create instructions for setup, loading, deburring, pressure testing, and packaging. Processes are designed robustly, and documentation helps any operator run a job correctly and efficiently. This is done so that operators with little experience can be successful at running any part. We don't stop at production, we also design CMM fixtures for every part to ensure repeatability.

Engineering CNC Machining Projects for Success

We recently were awarded 30 parts at one time. This shows the strength of our engineering department. We ran our process and delivered high quality parts on time. We stepped up as a team and helped out. For example, our Manufacturing Engineers, one in charge of programming and the other that specializes in lathes, designed horizontal fixtures. For big projects, we are “all hands-on deck.”

Stecker Machine Company is known for tackling complex parts. We welcome this challenge. We use our experience, know-how, and can-do attitude, to succeed where other CNC machine shops fail. Customers are often impressed with our fixtures, but there is more. Expert engineering for the entire CNC manufacturing process is a proven winning formula.

Our engineering team is ready to work on your project. Submit your Request for Quote (RFQ) online, by phone, or by email.New call-to-action

Greg Herr

About the Author

For his Program Management responsibilities at Stecker Machine, Greg provides upfront design for manufacturing reviews and performs technology reviews for customers (high-level, upfront proposals showing machines, fixtures, processes, and special tools). Greg also assigns tasks to the Engineering team and manages the Fixture Build team. Greg worked his way up the SMC ranks from Machine Operator to Engineer. His nickname, "The Big Ticket," was earned by running the company's annual golf outing and NCAA basketball bracket (for entertainment purposes only).