Tech Tour Takes a Global Approach to Learning

More than 20 National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) members gathered in Japan at the end of April to learn about the latest manufacturing technologies and discover new solutions to apply in their own shops. The 8th annual NTMA Technology Tour was hosted by Okuma, BIG Daishowa (BIG KAISER), and Blaser Swisslube.

During the weeklong trip, sponsors demonstrated advanced technologies and revealed their own manufacturing processes. Guests took in Okuma Dream Site 1, Okuma Dream Site 2, the Okuma headquarters and Kani Plant, plus BIG Daishowa facilities in Osaka and on Awaji Island. The experience helps visitors evaluate technology products and the return on those investments. It is also valuable to see how facilities in other parts of the world are organized and operate to take away some new ideas.

“Knowledge has a shelf life,” explained Wade Anderson, Product Sales Manager for Okuma. “We can’t just stay with what we know in terms of technology, as time and technology will pass you by. Trips like this give us the opportunity to network and learn.”

The final tour stop was BIG Daishowa on the island of Awaji just outside of Osaka. Here, NTMA visited three factories as well as the technical center to see cutting demonstrations, including a comparison of collect chucks for end milling, a BIG PLUS comparison to HSK, the Sphinx deep-hole coolant drill and their new Smart Damper system for boring and milling to reduce chatter.

“Most people don’t realize the depth and breadth of what we offer,” said Jack Burley, VP of Sales and Engineering for BIG KAISER. “There are many original developments of BIG Daishowa, like the right-angle head which allows machining of internal features that cannot be created any other way. We know not only how to produce very precise tools, but have a full line of measuring systems as well.”

During the BIG Daishowa visit, the general manager of Blaser Swisslube, Carsten Witthuser, explained the impact coolant can have on productivity and cost. Although coolant is only 0.5% of the cost to produce parts, Mr. Witthuser demonstrated how this LiquidTool® can have a dramatic effect on tool life and productivity as well as machine uptime and a healthy shop environment.

Tours and seminars were interspersed with sightseeing, group dinners, and an introduction to Japanese culture.

“My son and I had an incredible experience, met some great people, and toured some awesome facilities … hopefully everybody else got as much from it as we did,” Scott Harms, President of MetalQuest Unlimited, Inc.