Stecker Machine Blog

Driving Quality Assurance in Parts Manufacturing: Insights from a Leading CNC Machine Shop

05/12/2022 | Brian Theisen

QA, PPAP, APQP, CMM, PSW, etc. Wow, the world of quality assurance is an alphabet soup of abbreviations.


Manitowoc Area High School Students Launch Careers With Machinist Apprenticeships

04/20/2022 | Matt Oswald

High school students are bright, talented, and enthusiastic. And, many are ready to begin a fulfilling career right now!

College debt can be a burden for decades. The military isn’t for everyone. Retail jobs offer limited advancements. However, a paid, part-time youth machinist apprenticeship right here in the Manitowoc County area can kick-start a career.

A CNC (computer numerical control) machinist uses computer technology to produce highly precise machined parts. This is high-tech work in a clean environment that stresses safety.

Youth machinist apprenticeship programs:

  • Pay well and train well
  • Match a young person’s schedule
  • Open up career advancements

Your High Schooler in a Machinist Apprenticeship? The Opportunities — and Benefits — are BIG

04/06/2022 | Matt Oswald

20 years. That’s the average amount of time it takes for a college student who borrows money to pay off their student loan debt.1

That 20 years is likely longer than you’ve been a parent of your high schooler. Imagine your child taking that much time just to pay off student loans. It’s scary!

Now, imagine a better way for many young people. How about a paid, part-time apprenticeship that kick-starts a career without additional formal education?

Youth machinist apprenticeship programs are available now in Manitowoc County that:

  • Pay well while training happens
  • Introduce students to high-tech equipment and computer-driven tasks
  • Fit a young person’s schedule
  • Emphasize safety in the workplace
  • Encourage career advancement

Getting Started with CNC Machining Services: Unlock the Power of Precision Machining

03/24/2022 | Ken Jones

Many industries have the need for high-quality, precision machining. From automotive to aerospace, construction to agriculture (and many more), when a workpiece needs to be custom-machined to maintain tight tolerances, precision machining is usually the answer.

However, CNC (computer numerical control) machining is a bit different because it’s automated. Not only can CNC machining achieve extreme precision that cannot be achieved by traditional precision machining technology, it does so repeatedly, with cutting done by computer-guided equipment and complex tools.

Computer programming — a code sequence that tells the CNC machine what to do — makes a CNC machined part incredibly accurate, which is key for most parts.

This article begins to answer basic “why,” “how,” “when,” and even “who” questions of CNC machining services, helping you get started and enjoying its many benefits.


CNC Machine Operators’ Career Checklist: From Entry-Level Success to Career Satisfaction

03/09/2022 | Tom Sprang

YOU likely can be a CNC machine operator.

We say that with confidence because of our decades of experience within the precision machining industry. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It means excelling as a CNC machine operator doesn’t require extraordinary strength, a superior IQ, a college degree, or decades of experience. If you possess any of those, more power to you — they certainly help — but, you don’t need them.

Still with us? Good! Consider this article to be a checklist of the best practices and skills that you should have in order to begin and enjoy a long, fulfilling career as a CNC machine operator.


CNC Machinist: Perfect Career for High School Students and Recent Grads

02/25/2022 | Rob Schmitt

Here’s a quick quiz for sharp, young minds: How many jobs can you name that fully train you, encourage career advancement, fit the busy lifestyle of a high-school-age person, and pay you a great wage from the day you start?

We can’t think of too many.

One that we know quite well is a CNC machinist, which may sound highly technical (and it is). Yet, it’s a traditional skilled trade that uses cutting edge technology to produce machined parts that are highly precise — cutting to 0.001” or about 1/4 the width of a human hair.

Entering a skilled trade during or after high school has never been more attractive. Have you seen the average yearly college tuition for a 4-year college in Wisconsin? It’s $8,697 per year (in-state tuition and fees; out-of-state jumps to over $25,000).1 It’s no surprise that the average student who borrows requires 20 years to pay off their student loan debt.2

In a previous article, we explained how A Career in CNC Machining Might Be Perfect For You (rewarding work, environment, variety, workflow, etc.). Today, we’ll explore how a job as a CNC machinist can evolve into a rewarding career for people in and after high school.


Worth 1,000 Words: CNC Machine Parts Photo Gallery Celebrates Precision Manufacturing

02/09/2022 | Scott Waak

A new parent couldn’t be more proud to share the first photos of a newborn child. You’ve seen social media blow up and the comments come rolling in: “what a cutie!” “he’s got your eyes” “she’s perfect ❤️”

For those who live and breathe CNC machine parts, they feel that excitement nearly every day. Okay, the work created by a CNC machine may not reach a baby’s “wonder of nature” status, but it’s not far off for those in precision manufacturing. And, boy, do we love pictures!

CNC machine shops never tire of adding photos to their websites, showing off to the world what incredible parts they’re capable of making. Stecker Machine is no different. We’re proud of our work, and we want everyone to know it! So, you’re invited to view our CNC Machining Photo Gallery, a collection of CNC machined parts and projects.


CNC Machine Maintenance: Tips, Insights, and PM Checklists

12/09/2021 | Paul Endries

“Don’t skimp on the maintenance!”

As far as manufacturing advice goes, that’s solid wisdom. Think about it: nothing gets done when CNC machines are down, and it takes proper machine maintenance to keep them up and running.

A machine breakdown can cost a business thousands of dollars in wasted hours, overnight shipping of replacement parts, and missed deliveries, not to mention a damaged reputation. With so much high-tech equipment in one area, breakdowns are inevitable. However, performing regular maintenance helps keep the machines running properly, eliminating the possibility of a costly shutdown.

Let’s explore CNC machine maintenance in more detail.


Awareness and Action: Promoting a Positive Work Environment

11/29/2021 | Matt Oswald

Happiness makes people about 12% more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick. No surprise, right? Promoting a positive culture is crucial in retaining employees.

But, did you know that businesses with highly engaged employees enjoy 100% more job applications, according to research published in the Harvard Business Review? So, word gets around about a company’s solid culture and attracts great employees.

What is surprising is how some organizations fail at establishing, maintaining, and promoting a positive work environment. I’m happy to share what we’ve discovered at Stecker Machine, a high-end CNC machine shop that excels in teamwork, clear communication, and quality workmanship.


The KPIs You Should Really Care About

11/18/2021 | Brad Kurtzweil

CNC machine shops know the value of precise measuring. It’s what they do, often to less than .001” (¼ the width of a human hair) using computer numerical controlled machines and exact programming.

Yet, there’s more measuring going on — or at least there should be — within the walls of CNC machine shops: measuring performance. Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, for the manufacturing industry are nothing new. They help businesses understand performance in order to make strategic adjustments to improve quality and efficiency.

As you’ll see, there are two main types of KPIs and dozens of metrics that can be used to measure performance. It can leave your head spinning faster than a PCD insert in a 90° square shoulder face mill (that’s a little CNC machining humor). So, this article is an attempt to simplify KPIs and provides an overview to them instead of a deep dive.