There's An App For That? Cutting Tools & Machining Utilities

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There have been a couple of interesting developments lately for machinists on the online front.

It's always been interesting to me that machining and small- and medium-sized manufacturers have been so far behind the curve when it comes to anything online - adoption of the Web to market and promote, utilization of tools & utilities, social media ... the list goes on. There really isn't a study or survey to point to - but there's more than enough anecdotal evidence. Ask any marketing or media professional that works with SMMs and they'll confirm it - manufacturing, in general, has lagged about 5 years behind the consumer markets in Web adoption.


The RPM & IPM calculator is one of many included in the first version of the Machinist's APPrentice app for the iPhone, available for $2.99 (USD)

That's why I was not surprised - but encouraged - by a couple of utilities that I learned of via Modern Machine Shop this past month.

First, there was the release of two calculators from Boeing that help discern the COSTS - not just the PRICE - of cutting tools to their suppliers. As Boeing's logic goes, "a cheap tool can be expensive, if it limits the productivity of the machine." There is one tool to review cutting tools usage costs for roughing, and one for finishing.

The second is an app for iPhones, that looks to be one of the first steps toward meaningfully modernizing the Machinst's Handbook. A company called Smart Calculations run by long-time machining stalwart Dan Murphey has brought what is believed to be the first true machining calculators to smart phones.(You may remember Dan from numerous forums serving CNC and machning, since the mid-nineties. This is a formidable guy.) As a matter of fact, Dan's had The Machine Shop Calculator as a hand-held, stand-alone calculator for years now.

Dan's The Machinist APPrentice brings many of the useful tables from the original Machinist's Handbook to database/calculator form and onto your smart phone. The calculators in this app include many milling and turning functions, like SFM to RPM, RPM to SFM, SFM & FPT to RPM & IPM, SFM & FPT to RPM & IPR, Hexlix Angles for Threading, Tread Reference Points, Tap Feeds, Tap Drill Diameter, Drill Point Length, and much more. The significance of this is so strong - not only is it movement toward empowering the shop floor, but its impact on education of our next generation of machining and manufacturing professionals is potentially game-changing.

It's about time, I say. Manufacturing arts deserve this service before many others, and these guys deserve our respect and thanks for bringing machining into the accessible world. If you never use the calculators or download the app, take the time to thank Dan and these good folks. They're pioneers.

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