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Modern Machine Shop’s editors and columnists covered a lot of ground in 2023. From our expert columnists providing tips about difficult processes to our editors covering everything from digital twins to Swiss machining to unconventional automation methods, let’s take a look at the top MMS content from the past year.

Modern Machine Shop’s Top 10 Articles of 2023

  1. Tips for Designing CNC Programs That Help Operators. The way a G-code program is formatted directly affects the productivity of the CNC people who use them. Columnist Mike Lynch offers tips for designing CNC programs that make operators’ jobs easier.

  2. A Higbee Thread Milling Custom Macro. A Higbee thread provides a full thread form at the very start of the thread. In this column, Lynch covers details about Higbee threads, provides Higbee thread photos before and after the milling process and includes a custom macro for the machining process.

  3. What are Harmonics in Milling? Columnist Tony Schmitz, professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, breaks down the basics of milling-force harmonics. These harmonics always exist, and Schmitz notes that understanding the source of milling harmonics and their relationship to vibration can help improve parameter selection.

  4. A Spiral Milling Custom Macro Using Constant Contouring Feedrate. Milling a circular pocket is a common machining center operation. Accepted practices include helical milling (circular XY motion with linear Z motion) and “spiral” milling (XY-circular motion after positioning in the Z-axis). These methods are especially helpful when the circular pocket being machined is quite large — much larger than the milling cutter diameter when multiple XY- and Z-axis passes are required. Lynch provides a custom macro for this process in this column.

  5. Inside the Premium Machine Shop Making Fasteners. In this article, Associate Editor Evan Doran covers Accurate Manufactured Products Group (AMPG) a shop where no one in management knows how to run a machine or possesses a manufacturing background. But rather than see this as a weakness, the team views it as a starting ground for experimentation, working with a skilled team of machinists to succeed even when making choices contrary to conventional manufacturing wisdom.

  6. 5 Tips for Running a Profitable Aerospace Shop. Aerotech Machining has weathered downturns, including both the 2008 financial crash and the drop in aerospace orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senior Associate Editor Eli Plaskett spoke with CEO Joey Jones, who offered five keys to Aerotech’s success.

  7. Generating a Digital Twin in the CNC. In this article, Editor Emeritus Mark Albert writes about new control technology that captures critical data about a machining process and uses it to create a 3D graphical representation of the finished workpiece. This new type of digital twin helps relate machining results to machine performance, leading to better decisions on the shop floor.

  8. 3 Mistakes That Cause CNC Programs to Fail. Despite enhancements to manufacturing technology, there are still issues today that can cause programs to fail. Lynch writes about the sorts of mistakes and failures that can cause lost time, scrapped parts, damaged machines and even injured operators.

  9. 6 Machine Shop Essentials to Stay Competitive. In this column from Udo Jahn, general manager of Modern Engineering, Jahn notes that if you want to streamline production and be competitive in the industry, you will need far more than a standard three-axis CNC mill or two-axis CNC lathe and a few measuring tools. Instead, he offers six essential tools that should be in your shop.

  10. Using the Toolchanger to Automate Production. Taking advantage of a feature that’s already on the machine tool, Lang’s Haubex system uses the toolchanger to move and store parts, making it an easy-to-use and cost-effective automation solution. Discover more in Senior Editor Julia Hider’s article.

If you’re looking for more of Modern Machine Shop’s top content, here are 2022’s top articles.