Precision millwork can be built with materials like steel, copper, aluminum and other metals that are cheaper and stronger than what’s available in the world, according to a new model.
The new materials could make up a significant portion of the U.S. and global market for the high-strength, lightweight steel used in machines that cut steel into bars, sheets and other products.
“The idea is that you don’t have to go to China to get the materials,” said Mark M. Haggerty, a materials scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.
“You just have to have the right amount of production capacity.”
Manufacturing of millwork equipment can cost up to about $30 million a year, making it far cheaper than it would be in the West, where mills are more labor intensive and often use machines that have more advanced manufacturing capabilities.
The technology also has the potential to increase productivity in the mill, making the material cheaper to manufacture, said Andrew L. Mihm, an engineer and materials expert at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
But to be successful in a global market, millworkers need to be able to buy their materials and to have enough raw materials in their supply chain to produce enough to meet demand, Mihl said.
Manufacturing the millwork is expensive.
That’s a challenge in a world where the cost of producing a commodity has been falling for decades.
“You can’t just import a lot of stuff,” he said.
“The problem is you can’t get the price you want.”
The U.K.-based company RMS Precision Metals recently announced that it had won a $20 million contract to build a new mill with a new technology that combines advanced steel and aluminum to make high-end machine tools.
The company has already been producing the metal in China.
The U.k.-based manufacturer is also working on an aluminum-rich, high-tech mill.
“It’s a new frontier,” said David J. Taffin, vice president for product management for RMS.
“There’s lots of stuff out there and there’s a lot more than what we’re doing.”
The new mill is also made with the same steel that’s used to make many of the industrial equipment used in factories in China, including lathes and counters.
Taffin said that the mill has already undergone testing and that the company is planning to build production capacity at its mill in the United Kingdom and is preparing to introduce the new mill in India.
The company is now working on new mills that will make high quality tools for the world’s manufacturing industries.
“We have a lot to learn,” Taffan said.
“When you start out as a company, you have to think about a few things,” said Mihbty, the materials scientist.
“Is the material really important?
Is it good for the job?
Is the job interesting?”
To be successful, he said, mill workers need to have an understanding of the materials they are working with.
The materials and the work that they do need to balance each other.
“A lot of these mills are made by people that are already professionals,” he added.
“It’s just that these are not necessarily professional people.
They’re just doing the work.”
The mill’s new tool, a machine made of stainless steel with a 1,000-pound (450-kilogram) capacity, is the latest example of how millwork has evolved.
The steel and the aluminum are all made by RMS’s Advanced Steel Products division, which has made millwork tools in other countries.
“In this business, we’re always looking for new products that have the potential for being an alternative to steel and other materials,” RMS president and chief executive Scott G. Tipps said in a statement.
The new mill comes with a price tag.
The price of the mill itself is about $2.5 million.
Middel, the mill’s supplier, has spent about $5 million on the project.
The mill has a range of materials, from high-quality stainless steel and steel alloys to steel alloyed with nickel to nickel alloys.
The mill has been made by a company called the American Manufacturing Group, which also makes high-capacity, low-cost machinery.