A Question of Industry: Are Four-Slide Machines Obsolete?

Reading some LinkedIn posts recently, we came across a discussion that we couldn’t help but jump into. A fellow engineer asked whether the reliable and versatile four-slide machine had become obsolete. You can probably guess our answer! Although four-slide machines were originally invented to fabricate springs and wire forms (and continue to do so today), technicians from other industries have continually found new and innovative ways to use them, far beyond their original applications. Rather than being outdated, four-slides are contributing to cutting-edge, efficient and accurate manufacturing just as much as ever.
We were pleased to see that we were just one of a chorus of many voices answering the LinkedIn query with a resounding “No!”, whether from job plants with their own four-slides, or manufacturers that use those plants’ services. Just a few advantages mentioned throughout the discussion were:

  • Increased speed as compared to die presses
  • Superior product design applications
  • Ability to produce more complex pieces
  • Close tolerances

One of the best ways to ensure those advantages is to dedicate enough time to employee training and machine maintenance, and we cannot overestimate the importance of this to other four-slide users and customers out there. With over 100 machines at our facility, and the expertise and creativity to continue to push their boundaries, we look forward to proving their viability and usefulness for years to come.

Circuit Breakers and the Environment: Two New Products

One of the many diverse uses for metal stampings is in circuit breakers, which prevent electrical circuits from blowing out or short circuiting. Two new circuit breaker products that we’ve learned about are used in cutting-edge environmental technology that provide a great look at the continually evolving nature of the industry: Siemens’ electric car charging column and Eaton’s wind farm breaker .
The Siemens charging column represents a real turning point for the electric car industry. It’s expressly designed for use in public places like parking garages and curbside parking spots, and it can recharge two vehicles at once. Siemens’ investment in this type of product – one designed to be used outside the home – illustrates the increasing popularity of electric cars as much more than niche vehicles. The Eaton wind farm breaker uses a unique vacuum interrupting technology designed specifically for wind farm energy-collection points. It also doesn’t require cooling or ventilation. It’s great to see this type of innovation made possible by products like metal stampings, and we’re excited to see what’s next.

An International Outlook: Metal Manufacturing in Mexico

As discussed in this article, Mexico is now the largest supplier of metal automobile parts to the United States. In addition, 11% of cars sold in the U.S. are manufactured in Mexico. Although a large number of car manufacturing jobs are moving back to the U.S. from Mexico, it’s apparent that automotive manufacturing there is a force to be reckoned with. We consider it an exciting time to be part of the industry through our metal stampings, and look forward to partnership opportunities.
One of our biggest strengths here at Keats is our location. Our El Paso, TX facility allows us to be part of the manufacturing chain on both sides of the border. This is a great way to contribute to manufacturing in both places, increasing and improving auto parts production. We’re proud to be part of the resurgent automotive industry as it enters its next phase, here in the U.S., and worldwide. Visit our site for more info on all applications for our metal stampings.

Partners in Production

At Keats Manufacturing, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to assist our manufacturing partners and clients.  Our metal stamping expertise prepares us to meet just about any challenge, and we welcome the opportunity to look at problems in different and innovative ways to come up with a solution.  One of our partners, Pylon Manufacturing, located in Florida, approached us with a two-pronged issue – one of production as well as logistics.

Pylon needed to expand and improve upon a line of Toyota-branded windshield wipers, for which Keats provides the metal stamped edge that allows the wipers to do their job.  On the manufacturing side, we worked with one of our vendors to develop a better type of powder coating for the metal stamped edges, which provided a better texture for more durability, and was generally more attractive to Toyota.  We also reallocated resources to help Pylon expand to South Bend, IN, solving the logistical issues from the production expansion.  These kinds of stories keep our job interesting and rewarding – we hope to have many more in the future.

Application Spotlight: Delphi’s HD Radio Line

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that the radio still exists. We all love our iPhones, iPads, Pandoras and Spotifys, and music is seemingly more accessible than ever. When we’re driving our cars, we still love to turn that radio dial in search of the perfect tune or program: now Delphi’s line of HD radios makes it even more enjoyable. As a customer of Keats metal stamping services, Delphi is a perfect example of the more entertaining side of our industry.

Delphi’s site explains more about HD radio, providing answers for typical questions about the technology. Unlike satellite radio, HD radio operates on the terrestrial AM and FM bands, providing digital sound quality through a traditionally analog technology. From there, features typically found in satellite radio are also offered: artist and song display, traffic and weather reports, and rewind/replay options.