Dave Schowalter, Director of Global Software Sales, introduces you to Claudio Raia, our newest team member and the Managing Director of Concepts NREC Europe. Welcome Claudio!
A blog on what's new, notable, and next in turbomachinery
On the first Friday in October, manufacturers across the country open their doors in celebration of National Manufacturing Day in America. Students, parents, teachers, local leaders, and others are welcomed into factories, technical schools, and similar venues to see what modern manufacturing is really about.
In that same spirit, Concepts NREC would like to shine a spotlight on what’s new, notable, and next in our advanced manufacturing center. We recently caught up with Mathew Cardente, Manufacturing Application Specialist, to chat about the latest changes and developments out in the shop.
When did you join the team at CN and what is your role?
I came on board in 2019 and handle the front end of the business. I am typically the first point of contact for clients and will review their drawings and data, provide them with quotes, release order packages to the shop, and provide ongoing project management and customer service.
Tell me about the shop? Does it have a particular area of focus or specialty?
Our aerospace certified shop has a full range of CNC lathes and 5-axis milling centers capable of producing some of the most challenging parts in turbomachinery. We specialize in prototypes and low-to-mid volume production runs of bladed hardware such as impellers, rotors, inducers, and blisks. For example, we have manufactured parts under 1” in diameter for artificial heart pumps to around 40” in diameter for custom power generation applications. The shop cuts a wide range of alloys from aluminum and titanium to some of the most challenging nickel-based alloys. If you can name an alloy, we have probably worked on it as we have seen it all.
How has the shop changed or grown over the past few years?
There has been significant growth and change here at Concepts NREC over the past few years as we transitioned from strictly bladed parts manufacturing to full-service turbomachinery manufacturing. Concepts offers a wide range of engineering services for turbomachinery. From the early stages of conceptual design or feasibility studies to preliminary and detailed design to complete rig design, fabrication, and testing…we take projects from start to finish. Our in-house designed products, as well as our customers, require many unique parts beyond impellers to components such as housings, volutes, shafts, diffusers, bearing sleeves, seal plates, nozzles, and much more. As the frequency and volumes for these types of components increased, we transitioned the manufacturing in-house and it has really paid dividends. The variety of work has improved the versatility of our staff and has really added value to our client base. For example, a leading company in the aerospace sector was designing a new sub-system for an aircraft that required nearly 3 dozen unique prototypes such as housings in nickel-based alloys, complex impellers, steel shafts with precision grinding, and much more. They sent the entire package to us to have a look at and invited us to quote on whatever we were interested in. We quoted the entire package which was much to their surprise as they had never seen a vendor with such broad capability. They awarded us the entire build of hardware and we were able to deliver every component as promised. The best part was the positive feedback along the way from their team with comments like “our supplier and project management efforts have never been easier” and “this whole experience has been such a revelation.” They were a very satisfied customer, and we continue to grow our business with them year after year.
What has improved the most since you have been here?
In addition to the increased diversity of our manufacturing solutions, I would have to say it is our ability to handle complex geometries more seamlessly than ever before. We are leveraging the full capabilities of our tools and we can see the quality and measurable improvements in efficiency from start to finish. It typically starts within our MAX-PAC® software and continues to the post-processing and manufacturing on the work centers themselves and finally to our quality lab and our precision inspection capabilities. The growth and advancements of our staff in strategic procurement, project management, and supply chain management has also been quite significant.
What is your favorite part about working in manufacturing?
Well…besides getting to work with my incredibly talented colleagues and all the fun we have along the way, I personally get charged up by solving challenges and being a solutions provider. For example, a customer came to us once requiring a complex housing for a military aircraft that was designed as a casting, but the casting company they were working with failed to deliver from both a quality and lead time perspective. Because the housing was designed as a casting, it had geometry that did not lend itself well towards machining from solid. The part had over 250 unique dimensions, complex surfacing requiring 5-axis milling to undercut flange features and necessitated that a brazed multi-piece assembly be manufactured separately and EB-welded into the housing. The finished assembly required dry-film coating, passivation, carbon-bushing installation, and more via customer-designated approved suppliers, but we did the impossible and got the job done including full PPAP and AS9102 FAI. Oh…and the customer was so thrilled that they ordered another fifty copies. When you can come through for a client on a critical defense project that they weren’t even sure could be done, that is a pretty satisfying day at the office.
What would you say to someone considering a career in manufacturing?
If you have the drive and passion to succeed and can apply yourself, you will be successful in this industry. We are doing cool stuff like sending rockets to Mars and making some of the most powerful jet engines the world has ever seen. The country needs more skilled people in the manufacturing trades and Concepts NREC does as well. Go for it! You can make a great living at it and have a lot of fun along the way.
We welcome your questions and comments here, or contact us at email@example.com for further dialogue.
What is 5 axis machining? In short, it is manufacturing a component on a CNC milling machine that can travel in 5 different directions. These machines allow the cutting tool to reach around parts...