The cover of Modern Machine Shop’s November issue features a striking image: Three employees checking bore and thread sizes on a massive machined aluminum part — which is situated inside an even more massive five-axis machine tool. The caption reads, “Automation Still Needs You.” Curious about what you are seeing? Read on.
If you looked at Modern Machine Shop’s November 2021 cover and wondered what you were looking at, you are not alone.
The cover of Modern Machine Shop’s November issue, photographed during the fall of 2021 at Major Tool. Photo Credit: Tim Schumm/Major Tool
Simply put, you are looking at the human component of machine tool automation: Employees of Major Tool & Machine in Indianapolis are standing inside a 10-meter Parpas five-axis machine using dial-bore and thread gauges to inspect a large aluminum part for the semiconductor industry.
The article about the company, which coincided with its 75th anniversary year, focuses on Major Tool’s systemized approach to confronting the skilled-labor gap, a strategy that involves developing and retaining talent and implementing various forms of automation.
This is not an uncommon strategy, of course. But what sets Major Tool apart from your typical machine shop is the sheer size of the parts the company produces — and the machine tools that are large enough to accommodate them. As the article states, when it comes to the dimensional and weight limitations of its parts, Major Tool & Machine is constrained only by the size of its bay doors and the legal weight limits for travel across America’s highways.
Pictured is Major Tool’s Parpas XS 10.4, the smaller of the company’s two large-format high speed machining centers. Both maintain a high degree of accuracy via air-cooled internal components. Photo Credit: Tim Schumm, Major Tool
The machine you are looking at is actually the smaller of Major Tool’s two Parpas large-format machining centers. You can read more about this and some of its other large-format machines in the original article, but here is what Mike Griffith, president of Major Tool, had to say when we asked him for a few comments about the cover photo for Modern Machine Shop’s November issue:
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