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Wall removed to fit new machine

Tech services upgrades

(September 21, 2000, Gazette)

Technicians Paul Martin (L) and Jerry Smith with Technical Services’ new CNC machine.

Photo by Chris Hammond

By David Sorensen

When Memorial’s Division of Technical Services upgraded its machine shop equipment, bringing it in through the front door just wasn’t going to do. A modern CNC (Computerized Numeric Control) Vertical Machining Center required Tech Services to take down an entire wall in the engineering building to fit it inside.

The 10-tonne machine can cut very complex three dimensional shapes out of various types of metal, with the capability to create metal designs such as propellers and fins for boats.

“This is one of the most modern pieces you’ll see in any machine shop,” said Bob Sheppard, director of Technical Services. “It’s a humongous leap forward in modernizing the workshop.”

He said the machine will help Technical Services address the needs of its clients – the Manufacturing Technology Centre for teaching Mechanical Engineering students; C-CORE for space research such as the NASA projects in which it is currently involved; IMD for research done by NRC – and goes a long way to modernizing its machine shop.

“It is also a resource for entrepreneurs interested in setting up a manufacturing plant in Newfoundland,” added Mr. Sheppard. “Increasingly we are seeing the need to cut more complex shapes out of metal and to finer tolerances than we can reach with our existing equipment.”

Mr. Sheppard said the machine is large enough to meet internal demands but also for work now going outside the province. It allows Tech Services to make molds for manufacturers, for example.

“We can churn out a piece in no time,” said Mr. Sheppard.
And at a cost of $213,000, the machine is expected to pay part of its own way, said Mr. Sheppard.

Technicians Paul Martin, Jerry Smith and Doug Bolger have undergone extensive training to get up to speed on the machine. But Mr. Smith said being a machinist makes it easier to use the new technology effectively.

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