Tag Archives: manufacturing

Celebrating Earth Day In April

Each year in April the world pays tribute to the planet’s environment and brings awareness to the issue of pollution. Here at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we join in the celebration and take action toward limiting harmful pollution on Earth Day and throughout the rest of the year.

Earth Day

The Story behind Earth Day

The special day is rooted in the environmental movement of 1970 when an emerging attentiveness emerged for the relationship between pollution and public health. Earth Day 1970 was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, spurred on by witnessing the damaging effects of Santa Barbara’s huge 1969 oil spill.

Today, Earth Day is a global event that over a billion people celebrate every April 22. It is a day for taking action to change human behaviors and policies to help protect the Earth.

Working to Support the Environment

Hi-Tek Manufacturing proudly takes steps every day to limit pollution in our many machine tool operations. The tool processes involve central filtration systems and require using a certain liquid, such as grinding oil or coolant.

We ensure the fluid is highly filtered, as well as pressure and temperature controlled, and that the filter system sludges are processed with fluids extracted and returned to system tanks. Also, we further process the solids to retrieve any metallic pieces for reuse. The result is that our waste stream is at almost net zero.

Taking Responsibility

At Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we recognize that we have a responsibility to the local community and, therefore, we do our part by integrating eco-friendly measures into daily machining operations on specialty alloy turbine engine components.

Future generations living on our planet deserve a quality life, and protecting the environment today can help them experience exactly that. We encourage you to seek out involvement in green initiatives on Earth Day 2017 and the other 364 days of the year too. Contact us to find out more about our approaches toward limiting pollution as we use leading-edge manufacturing technologies to compose even the most intricate manufacturing designs.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. hosts Mason H.S. Students

Approximately thirty Mason City (Ohio) High School students along with parent chaperons were given a tour of the Hi-Tek Manufacturing operations on Friday, February 17th.  The tour was organized by one of the student’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Stevens.  Their son is currently involved in classes in AutoCAD and other design engineering disciplines. Additional students in the class joined in to have a first-hand look at the complex manufacturing processes utilized by Hi-Tek in manufacturing HGP components for the turbine engine industry.

Hi-Tek

The tour was divided into three groups, where each of the smaller groups toured the manufacturing facility first, reviewing processes such as CNC grinding, machining, laser drilling and cutting, and various EDM operations.  After observing the manufacturing processes, the groups toured the design facility where Hi-Tek designers demonstrated the use of 3-D Unigraphics and other drawing techniques.  Taking customer provided models, the Hi-Tek designers also demonstrated how these 3-D models are studied, rotated, and utilized to accurately design the fixtures and tools required to manufacture the various required features into the castings.

The group asked numerous questions and experienced first-hand the practical application of graphic design as it applies to the manufacturing process.  At a final wrap up, there were numerous questions about the various manufacturing operations as well as the markets Hi-Tek serves.

“There are excellent career opportunities in manufacturing,” commented Phil Janson, Hi-Tek President to the group.  He went on to encourage the young students to consider manufacturing design, engineering, and other numerous opportunities in the manufacturing sector. Most impressive was the fact that these high school students made the trip on their own time as the Mason HS classes were not in session that day.

N3FC – A New Coating for Wind Turbine Parts

The evolution of technology in the energy production sector is integral in producing more, greener energy at an affordable price. Amongst the highest costs in producing wind energy is the build and maintenance of the turbines themselves. However, these costs may drop in the future, thanks to a surprise discovery by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

What is N3FC

N3FC is the name of a coating that was developed to lubricate and coat, thereby reducing friction between parts. Thanks to carbon-to-carbon bonding that is described as “diamond-like,” the coating helps to reduce micropitting.

Micropitting is a phenomenon that is caused by repeated rolling and sliding cycles in gears and bearings. While this phenomenon happens in more technology than just wind turbines, it is the main reason that turbines have to be brought down for maintenance and repair. Once the micropitting starts, continuing contact makes chipping and corrosion even worse with every cycle. After thousands of cycles, this can produce large cracks in parts, leading to maintenance need or even drivetrain failure.

N3FC reduces the friction, and has been tested at the University of Akron’s Engineered Surfaces Laboratory for over 100 million cycles without appreciable micropitting. While the coating still requires real-world testing outside of the controlled laboratory environment, this is a very encouraging result.

N3FC and Wind Turbines

One of the major costs of producing wind energy is the maintenance of the turbine units. A high-performance coating will reduce the wear and tear on components. This means less of a need for maintenance, a cost that continually drives up wind energy cost. It also means less downtime for each turbine, leading to greater production per unit as well as for the overall grid.

Even with proper maintenance, drivetrain parts wear down after time and require replacement. N3FC will reduce that wear, extending the lifetime of drivetrain parts. This means less need for replacement parts, reducing the capital investment in the turbines and bringing the production cost down. As with maintenance, drivetrain replacement can lead to lengthy downtime, so having a more durable drivetrain can again reduce downtime, and increase the amount of energy produced per turbine.

Here at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we applaud any development that can make wind energy a safer, less expensive alternative. Green energy is the future for our community, bringing the needs of the citizens in line with the needs of our surrounding environment. For more information about our capabilities in servicing the turbine industry please contact us.

Manufacturing Needs Skilled Workers

A rather common ‘theme’ for U.S. manufacturers in today’s workplace is the difficulty in finding trained, qualified talent to fill a variety of skilled labor positions.

Whether it is painting a part or turning a wrench, or now, operating intricate machinery, specific skill sets need to be acquired through training or schooling for high quality demanding manufacturing. With the increased  level of automation and sophisticated controls has arisen the need for trained and qualified workers more than ever before.  So what has been the recent trend?

  • Specialized Skills – One of the reasons the skills gap has occurred is that new technology and improved processes require higher, more specialized skill sets. At best, the manufacturing of 25-35 years ago would have been considered semi-skilled. Now, the majority of unskilled or semi-skilled jobs and processes have been outsourced, meaning that the jobs that have been retained require advanced skill sets.
  • Lagging Education – Over the last 25 to 30 years, the manufacturing education system has been reduced or eliminated, so it has become harder for potential manufacturing employees to get training. Manufacturing has also reduced apprenticeships programs. Both of these need to be revitalized to improve the number of skilled and qualified workers.
  • A Rebounding Industry – The layoffs and cutbacks that date back to before the recent recession are now being looked at as likely having been too drastic, forcing manufacturing workers into new careers. Many of these ex-manufacturing workers will be hesitant to return to former careers.
  • Different Mindsets – Both manufacturers and potential employees need to change their mindsets. Manufacturing is no longer the dirty plants of years past, needing mid-level skill sets to earn mid-level wages. Many members of the boomer generation still look at manufacturing this way, and pass on that idea to their children, when manufacturing has actually raised working conditions as well as skills. However, not all manufacturers have been willing to produce wages and incentives that should coincide with the increased need in skills. Both sides need to work on this issue.

Here at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we are always searching for more skilled and qualified CNC machine operators, along with engineers, programmers, and many other positions. As a leading manufacturer in the high-growth field of both aerospace and power generation turbine engine components, we are constantly growing and developing as the demand continues to increase. We are committed to growing the manufacturing workforce, training new workers when needed, and offering wages and packages fitting the skill sets required. Check out our careers page for more information!

The Growing Commercial Aircraft Turbine Engine Market

The commercial aircraft turbine engine market has shown recent exponential growth, which is poised to continue well into the future. A recent study by Technavio revealed that the market will continue to expand through 2020, with an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.85% over that period.

The projected increase in the market is based mostly on the expected continued rise of new aircraft needed as fleets replace older models and grow their existing fleets. New designs offer advantages over older models, helping airlines increase passenger capacity and decrease fuel usage, factors that drive buying forward. Technavio also cites strict regulations concerning noise and carbon dioxide emissions as being additional driving factors.

Another factor for the increased growth is the development and introduction of new materials. Aimed at making the blades more durable and efficient, industry leaders predict these new components will be sought to retrofit older aircraft. New engines such as the LEAP and GE9X reduce the weight of the aircraft through utilizing composites, allowing for the increase of weight elsewhere or, more often, allowing the plane to be more fuel efficient.

In addition to utilizing lighter weight materials, new designs in the HGP (hot gas path) section of the engines have increased the efficiency of the cooling of the special alloy components, contributing to overall increased engine efficiencies. The use of special heat resistant coatings and intricate cooling film designs has raised the technical requirements for the production of these parts.

At Hi-Tek Manufacturing, we have been one of the leading manufacturers serving the aviation and land-based turbine market for over 30 years. This predicted growth gives us even more hope for the upcoming years, but it also means that we will need to rise to meet the demands of the growing market. The key areas that need to be addressed are capabilities and capacity.

Capabilities relates to what we can handle, such as new materials and new designs. We plan on taking these technical changes head-on by keeping abreast of the latest technology, and making the necessary equipment and employee development changes needed to work with the most advanced materials on the market.

Capacity, on the other hand, relates to just now much we can produce. Through capital investments in new machines, along with increasing the training of our staff, we can increase our capacity to produce HPT Blades and Vanes, heat shields, fairings, and other parts. We are excited to see how the turbine blade market grows, and to see how it benefits us at Hi-Tek as well as the world of travel overall.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. Installs New 6-Axis CNC CBN Grinding Machine

Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc., leader in the production of aviation and power generation hot gas path turbine engine components, have just completed the purchase and installation of a new 6-Axis CNC CBN grinder.  The grinding machine, Model 930E100, built by the Campbell Grinder Company of Spring Lake, Michigan, joins the growing list of grinders, both CBN profile and Creep Feed Continuous Dress, as Hi-Tekexpands its overall grinding capability.

New 6-Axis CNC CBN grinder

This latest acquisition boasts a thirty-six inch “X”, “Y”, and “Z” axis travel with rapid traverse speed of up to 300 inches per minute and a positional accuracy of 5-microns.  In addition the machine is built with an automatic tool changer with a capacity up to 10 grinding wheels, as well as up to 12 inch milling and drilling tools.  The “C” axis (rotary table) is 40” in diameter with a bearing capacity up to 2,000 lbs. and run out both radially and axially of 2.5 microns.  The grinding spindle is 60 HP with a driven speed up to 7,200 rpm.  Options include wheel dresser capable of utilizing roll or disk dressing tools, part probing, automatic tool and nozzle changer, CO2 fire suppression, and large, epoxy coated enclosure with interior lighting.

The new grinding machine has been installed in the newest area of the plant expansion completed in 2012.  Hi-Tek recently installed a 22,000 gallon central oil filtration system that will provide temperature controlled grinding oil at 150 psi at the grinding wheel nozzles, filtered to 5-microns or less.

“This sophisticated grinding machine is just the latest in capital expenditures required to support recent sales growth,” said Barry Nehls, Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. Sales and Marketing Manager. “Over the next three to five years we anticipate doubling our current grinding capacity in both CBN profile and creep feed grinding. This grinding machine is well suited for the large nozzles and blades required for the newer generation gas turbine engines,” he added.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. has been serving the aviation and land based power generation OEM marketplace for over 36 years and is located in Mason, Ohio.

Growth in the Aerospace Industry

After a few rollercoaster years, in 2016, the aerospace industry across the United States and the world looks to be showing strong growth, and return to the power it was in previous decades. This is great news for companies, including us at Hi-Tek Manufacturing, involved in the manufacture of hot gas path aviation turbine engine components.

Faster, Farther, More Fuel-Efficient

With the global economy fairly stabilized after a few years of ups and downs, the aerospace industry continues to work towards developing and producing next-generation aircraft. With many fleets across the globe aging, or using older designs, there is a need for newer airframes that can go faster, carry more over a long distance, but that also get better fuel efficiency than current models.

Factors Driving Growth

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has forecasted that 2016 will be the year that the aerospace industry returns to positive growth, after a slight decline in 2015. In the coming year there are a number of factors that are expected to spur this growth on, including:

  • Relatively stable growth in gross domestic product throughout the world, meaning there is more spending capability.
  • Lower crude oil and other commodity prices, reducing cost of manufacture and operation.
  • Continued increase in passenger travel demands, which necessitate development and construction of next-generation commercial aircraft.
  • Global security threats have driven an increase in defense budgets worldwide, with an expected increase in aerospace demands.

Next Generation Jobs

The next-generation planes will need workers with next-generation skills for research and development – these are not the low-paying, low-skill jobs that so many people think of when they hear the word “manufacturing.” In fact, these are jobs that pay well above the national average, and rely more on math and science skills than one’s ability to turn a wrench. The jobs that are being created by the growth in the aerospace industry are jobs that will power the economy into the future. Some of these jobs are in new, emerging occupations that have not even been part of manufacturing before

Here at Hi-Tek, we have been providing manufacturing solutions and comprehensive support of hot gas path component production for gas turbine engine manufacturers, so growth in the aerospace industry means there is great potential for our company to grow. We look forward to expanding capabilities and tackling the growth head-on, to continue to provide the highest standard in aircraft turbine engine components.

Delivery of First New Generation GE Power HA.02 Gas Turbine

General Electric Power and Water have recently delivered the first HA.02 unit to the Exelon Wolf Hollow site in Granbury, Texas.   Groundbreaking for the new power generating station was held on July 9, 2015.  The new CCGT (combined-cycle gas turbine) will provide an additional 1,000 megawatts to the existing 704 megawatt natural gas power plant.  The new unit is to be one of the most environmentally friendly and efficient CCGTs in the state and nation. It utilizes GE Power’s most advanced gas turbine technology and an air cooling system, which eliminates the use of water to cool the unit.

HA.02 unit

The HA.02 unit is seen being positioned at the facility.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. worked to develop the manufacturing of several critical components for the HA.02 hot gas path engine section.  The components include stage 1 and stage 2 vanes, baffles, and near flow path seals, and were developed with an extremely fast track New Product Introduction (NPI).  Hi-Tek Manufacturing’s engineering, quality, and manufacturing team developed the processing of these critical hot gas path components in the shortest time frame in the company’s history.  Utilizing the latest developed technology in laser, CBN grinding, fast hole EDM machining, and in-house braze and heat treat was the key to Hi-Tek’s success.

“It was a collaborative effort,” stated Barry Nehls, Sales and Marketing Manager.  “The General Electric Power and Water need dates for qualified, finished components was critical to the engine assembly and test schedules. Working with the GE team from engineering, sourcing, quality, and production required constant detailed communication in order to achieve our common goals.”

The HA.02 gas turbine power generation turbine is the first of two to be installed at the Wolf Hollow facility.  An additional 1,000 megawatt CCGT is being constructed at Exelon’s existing Colorado Bend Generating Station in Wharton, Texas, approximately 60 miles outside of Houston.  Both sites are expected to achieve commercial operation in 2017.  Hi-Tek Manufacturing, Inc. is pleased to be a GE Power and Water global supply chain partner to provide manufactured components for this exciting new HA.02 engine program.

The Name in Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) is Hi-Tek!

EDM, an extraordinary technology, alternatively referred to as “spark machining” or “wire burning”, is a manufacturing process in which innumerable kinds of shapes are obtained utilizing electrical discharges or, what laypeople might call, sparks. In this seemingly magical process, material is removed from the piece being worked by a series of rapidly repeating current discharges between two electrodes that are separated by a dielectric liquid,  which is basically an electrical insulator in liquid form that can be polarized when an electric field is applied.

Electric Discharge Machining is surprisingly quite simple to explain when broken down:  An electrical spark is initiated between an electrode and the piece that is being shaped. The spark that is visibly emitted produces extreme heat that melts almost anything it contacts. This electrical spark is highly controlled and localized so that only the surface of the material being worked is affected. The liquid medium serves to cool and flush away any eroded metal particles eventually leaving behind a finished product.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing’s state-of-the-art electrical discharge machining services offer over 100 EDM machines that perform a wide variety of processes from the most staggeringly complex to simple, one-off operations. Hi-Tek’s equipment list consists of in-house designed and built fast hole machines, multi-axis CNC sinker machines, 3-axis sinker machines, a variety of EDM plunge equipment, and wire EDM machines. Holes can be produced as small as 0.001” and hold the true position to +/- 0.0005” and diameter tolerance to +/- 0.0002”.

The electrode manufacturing capabilities at Hi-Tek can produce stamped copper, brass tubes and rods, graphite, and tungsten rod electrodes and process holes in various forms such as cooling, round, shaped, pin seal, tip and non-line of sight, as well as non-hole features like slots, grooves, pockets, and notches. In other words, Hi-Tek is a one-stop shop!

To learn more about Hi-Tek’s cutting-edge electrical discharge machining (EDM) services, call today and discover why Hi-Tek lives up to its name.

Hi-Tek Manufacturing’s Precision Grinding is Unmatched!

There are numerous types of grinding techniques used to produce specific shapes and finishes on a variety of both metallic and non-metallic components.  Specializing in the manufacture of hot gas path turbine engine parts, Hi-Tek Manufacturing has developed unparalleled grinding technologies in the areas of continuous dress creep feed and plated wheel CBN profile grinding.

The company’s grinding equipment includes a continuous dress creep feed that operates up to a staggering100 HP with a 20″ wheel, 4-axis continuous dress creep feed, 5-axis CBN, 1 & 2 spindle cylindrical verticals, and CNC surface grinders.

Creep feed grinding is similar to a milling operation where large stock removal is possible to exacting shapes and profiles.  Various types of abrasive wheels are used from aluminum oxide to ceramic composite.  By employing diamond dress rolls to continuously dress the wheel surface, precise shapes are achieved by the clean cutting abrasive wheel.

With CBN (cubic boron nitride) plated wheels, radial shapes and features can be easily produced on intricate turbine engine nozzles, blades, and other components.  Sometimes referred to as “superabrasive” grinding, Hi-Tek Manufacturing utilizes a number of these CNC 5-axis grinding machines on a variety of parts.

A key to the successful grinding by Hi-Tek Manufacturing is the use of central fluid filtration systems.  These filters provide water soluble coolant for creep feed grinders and grinding oil to the CBN or superabrasive grinding operations.  Each machine receives fluid to the grinding or cutting zone at the same concentration, temperature, pressure, and cleanliness to ensure uniformity in grinding operations across all machines.

Contact Hi-Tek today to learn more about the high quality grinding services provided by an ISO 9001:2008 certified company.