LCSC T&I receives new CNC lathe
The Lewis-Clark State College Technical & Industrial Division has received a new Computer Numerically Controlled lathe, which will help students remain on the cutting edge of technology and give them skills that are in high demand in the industry.
The $25,000 lathe came about with help from the United State Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant. The grant covered approximately 80 percent of the cost of the lathe with T&I picking up the remaining tab.
The CNC lathe has been certified and installed and will be used by T&I Associate Professor Rob McDonald in his classes.
A CNC lathe is different from a regular lathe because it takes most of the human error out of the equation. On a regular lathe, the worker must do all the work. With a CNC lathe, the exact dimensions of the work are programmed into the computer and the lathe automatically does the work. The advantage of a CNC lathe is that if more than one of the same part is needed, the work can be programmed so that the two pieces will be identical.
McDonald says the CNC lathe is used for automatically producing any round shaped part such as punches for punch press machines, ball bearings for automobiles, nozzles for hot tubs, and/or any round part that has threads on it such as a bolt.
“Repeating intricate parts is its strong suit as hundreds of parts can be produced in a day using this technology,” McDonald says. “The new lathe benefits our programs by allowing us to train the next generation of students interested in machining parts (manufacturing). There is a huge need for anyone interested in building things. That brings up an important side benefit of this particular lathe in that we will get dual usage out of it because it has a “Manual” mode which allows us to use it as a “normal” lathe in our conventional machining classes. That increases the number of student workstations we have available which will help with meeting industry’s demands for technically skilled workers.”
McDonald said students from the Automated Manufacturing program and the Engineering Tech program at LCSC will use the lathe to build a wide variety of parts.
“Both programs are sort of the ‘liberal arts’ degrees of the technical side due to the fact that graduates could be working in almost any field,” McDonald said. “They could specialize in building medical equipment, or just as easily end up making custom motorbikes. The sky is the limit. It really comes down to “What area is the student interested in?” Any manufacturer who builds a ‘widget’ needs our students to design and/or fabricate the pieces. Our first project on the lathe will keep with “Tradition” by making an aluminum and brass chess set. We already have the pawns drawn up, and will be working on more the more complex pieces shortly. After that, the only limit is the creativity of the individual student.”
The specific equipment was chosen with the helpful input of several local manufacturers who either have identical equipment in their shops, or have similar enough machines that they are confident they can retrain LCSC graduates on related machines, McDonald said. “We really try to stress the idea of “transferability of skills” so even though the students learn on this particular model, they can transfer what they learn to different brands of equipment. We try to teach them safe operation of any machinery regardless of maker.”
“The local manufacturers were overjoyed to hear that we had gotten the grant and look forward to hiring our students as soon as they are trained,” McDonald said. “One of my students even got a job offer as soon as the employer found out that he was interested in CNC machining, even though he didn’t know how to run it yet. I like to see that kind of enthusiasm.”
For more information on the Lathe, contact McDonald at either email@example.com or call 792-2383.