Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Innovation Features
Ian Wright
MIT and ETH Zurich engineers use computer vision to help adjust material deposition rates in real time
Having more pixels could advance everything from biomedical imaging to astronomical observations
Chris Caldwell
Significant breakthroughs are required, but fully automated facilities are in the future
Leah Chan Grinvald
Independent repair shops are fighting for access to vehicles’ increasingly sophisticated data
Adam Zewe
How do these systems differ from other AI?

More Features

Innovation News
Exploring how a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse works
High-capacity solution using TSMC’s 3DFabric technologies
EcoBell paints plastic parts with minimal material consumption
Study of intelligent noise reduction in pediatric study
Easy to use, automated measurement collection
A tool to help detect sinister email
Funding will scale Aigen’s robotic fleet, launching on farms in spring 2024
High-end microscope camera for life science and industrial applications

More News

Quality Digest


Moraine Park Technical College and Siemens Partner to Produce Better Machinists

Educating the next generation of machinists with state-of-the-industry equipment

Published: Monday, October 2, 2023 - 11:00

(Siemens: Munich) -- Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) in West Bend, Wisconsin, operates its Applied Manufacturing Technology Center (AMTC) as a leading facility for training individuals to work in the manufacturing sector. With an emphasis on CNC, tool-and-die design, and tool-and-die making, the AMTC challenges its students on state-of-the-industry equipment, controls, and software. 

Opened in August 2002, the AMTC is home to the CNC programmer/operator track of the Machining Technician program as well as MPTC’s Tool-and-Die Designer program. The facility also supports the program’s tool-and-die-making track, housed in another part of the campus. The AMTC is a 42,000 sq. ft. facility comprising a 6,000 sq. ft. CNC lab, three computer labs for CNC, tool-and-die design, and an industry OEM partner lab, as well as other classrooms, conference areas, and an auditorium. 

The “students” in this program comprise displaced workers coming back for retraining as well as new-program participants, especially locals. As anyone familiar with the machine-tool industry knows, southeastern Wisconsin is renowned for its abundance of top-quality job shops, production houses, laser/EDM shops, and world-class OEMs that use machine tools in their production operations. 

MPTC provides a two-year technical diploma in its Machining Technician program, which includes a track in CNC programming and operations, among others. MPTC’s two-year associate degree in tool-and-die design is the only one of its kind in Wisconsin. 

With the rapid evolution of machine-tool technology, keeping pace with the latest equipment, controls, and especially software/communications platforms can be a daunting task. At the AMTC CNC programmer/operator lab, for example, the equipment includes a horizontal machining center with pallet changer and tool-selection carousel, wire EDM, a CNC coordinate measuring machine (CMM), six vertical machining centers, and four lathes. The tool-and-die lab contains four VMCs, two wire EDMs, two sinker EDMs, two benchtop CMMs, seven lathes, seven 6–18 grinders, three 12–24 wet grinders, a 100-ton punch press with servo auto-feed, a 90-ton plastic-injection-molding press, 20 2D conversational manual milling machines, and two power-feed drill presses. 

An important aspect of all machine training today is the onboard control technology. On two of the VMCs in the CNC lab, each a Hardinge 600II with 8000 RPM spindles, there are Siemens SINUMERIK 810D CNCs with the proprietary Siemens ShopMill software suite. 

As Jim Hokenson, CNC instructor of the AMTC, says, “The Siemens CNC is an intelligent control with excellent flexibility. ShopMill is a very productive package, especially when doing shop-floor programming. The graphic user interface is helpful to novice programmers and operators. The 3D solid graphic verification is exemplary. The file management system is easily followed and understood. The fact that normal G-code can be intermixed with ShopMill code is a great feature. We’ve undergone three software upgrades, and the transition has been seamless.”

As Hokenson notes, Siemens requested the software upgrades to keep the training up-to-date, and AMTC provides feedback documentation in exchange. 

Students here normally start out on 6061 aluminum because it machines faster, as well as 1018 tool steel. After the basic concepts are mastered, students move on to other steels, such as O-1, D-2, S-7, 4140, 410SS, P-20, and H-13, plus composite plastics, brass, and hardened tool steels. Typically, the parts produced here resemble fittings, valves, valve bodies, stamping die punches, die blocks, mold die cores and cavities, as well as components for personal machinist’s tools. 

On the Hardinge VMCs, the Siemens controls are used for axis movement and spindle control. Communications on the AMTC’s machine tools is primarily wireless Ethernet, though a fully wired RS232 network is also present and is taught to students. 

Hokenson describes a typical setup protocol on the CNC: “The Siemens control is easy to navigate, and since the file manager is Windows-based, the students have no trouble creating, saving, moving, and editing programs. Typically, the student uses an edge finder to locate their part zero. Once they set up the edge finder in the tool library, they can set the offset. The position screen is checked for configuration. Next, the tool offsets are established. The tool-length measure mode is enabled, then the student will tell the machine to put the proper tool into the spindle via the S, T, M mode. The tool is then brought down to their 1,0000 touch-off block. The 1,0000 valve is checked in the tool-length measure page and then the length-measure key is pressed. Tools and offsets are now set. The Z-axis is set to the home position, using the axis-zero return button. The program is now ready to be written at the machine or loaded offline. If it’s written at the machine, the student will create a program using Siemens ShopMill and verify it with the graphics software. If the program is to be loaded offline, the student will navigate to the program through the local net 1, 2, or 3 channels. The program is then transferred to the CNC memory and executed.” 

Hokenson notes the support Siemens provided the AMTC was very beneficial, and he cited several individuals in particular for their assistance in the setup, training, and service areas. “I’ve been turning to Randy Pearson for over 10 years for everything from application advice to programming questions, and especially to find out what’s new.  When we first started our program, the machines were delivered only a few weeks before school started, so we had little time to learn the controls. Siemens customer service provided us with enough ShopMill manuals for all our students, while John Hanson brought the Siemens End-User Seminar to our facility. John and Randy did an excellent job, and everyone learned a lot from it.” 

Siemens continues to supply the AMTC with training and upgrades as part of its ongoing commitment to assist the vital education of machinists and programmers in the area. 


About The Author

Quality Digest’s picture

Quality Digest

For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.