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02/22/2024|Ultra Machining Company

Process integration for increased flexibility

Founded in 1968 in Monticello, Minnesota, Ultra Machining Company, with 215 highly skilled professionals, is recognized as an experienced and reliable manufacturing service provider in medical technology as well as aerospace industries. 

The range of services includes engineering with design for manufacturability (DFM) capabilities, prototyping, machining, and post processing services like, polishing, bead blasting, honing, laser marking, assembly, ie. 22 DMG MORI machine tools – the first of which was installed in 1997 – form the technological backbone of production. UMC attaches great importance to efficient processes and the consistent integration of technologies. The company has been using turn & mill technology for over twenty-five years to manufacture sophisticated components on six sides in one work area. The investment in three additional NTX 1000 2nd Generation machines in 2023 was therefore a logical step towards expanding capacity.

Ultra Machining Company
From left to right: Scott Peterson, Director of Automation and Facilities; Sarah Sundine, Chief Operations Officer; Gregg Anderson, Applications Engineer; Brian DeGrote, Manager of Automation and Continuous Improvement

Complex geometries in difficult-to-machine materials 

“Whether that is lifesaving medical components, an implant to improve quality of life, or engine components to bring families together across the globe, we are utilizing DMG MORI equipment to change people’s lives,” says Sarah Sundine, COO , giving an insight into the company’s range of services and the motivation that drives her and the team. “We focus on complex, palm-sized components made from difficult-to-machine materials.” The consistently clean and bright production areas reflect the demand for first-class quality. “Sometimes our products almost resemble jewelry.” With this high aspiration, UMC and its competent team have developed processes and installed manufacturing solutions that make it possible to accept new orders at any time – from prototype to high production.

“The DMG MORI equipment we have purchased is flexible and scalable for us so that we also can be flexible and scalable to our customers,” says Scott Peterson, Director of Automation and Facilities, explaining the strong focus on machine tool technology from the innovation leader. “Machining is our largest contributor to our value stream by a significant margin. Thus, high machine uptime is crucial to be able to supply our customers on time at all times.” The experience with manufacturing technology from DMG MORI has shown that their machine tools work absolutely reliably and meet all the requirements in terms of efficiency and productivity. Especially, the NTX series has convinced UMC, as Scott Peterson states: “It continues to prove its worth in our environment. It is flexible enough to cover all segments of production and capable of producing the most challenging components.” Challenging, in this case, means that both, medical component and aerospace parts require very tight tolerances and critical finishes.

Process integration: Efficient and reliable high-end manufacturing 

Ultra Machining Company
UMC benefits from the connectivity DMG MORI’s machine tools are capable of. These machines run largely unattended overnight with remote monitoring available for supervisors to dispatch staff to address any downtime.

In particular, the increasing integration of technologies and processes in one working area contributes to flexibility and productivity in production. The NTX 1000 2nd Generation is one of the most important models in UMC’s machine park and is the perfect example. “6-sided complete machining with turning and milling in a single clamping operation is essential for machining high-quality products competitively,” Gregg Anderson, Application Engineer, emphasizes. In-process measurements and constant monitoring are also important factors for process reliability. “For example, sister tools are changed in good time when wear requires it.” This feature is important to UMC since the company machines materials which rapidly degrade tools without machinists present. UMC also benefits from the connectivity DMG MORI’s machine tools are capable of. “It allows us to collect data on total effective equipment performance (TEEP) for reporting and we are able to predict equipment load,” Brian Degrote, Manager of Automation and Continuous Improvement gives two examples.

Booming space side of the aerospace market

While medical and aerospace industries are continuing their growth patterns, UMC has also been seeing a large increase in demand from the space side of the aerospace market. According to Scott Peterson this ties directly into UMC’s recent acquisitions of DMG MORI equipment: “This machinery has proven to meet highest standards in terms of productivity and quality. Thus, we will be able to make parts that ensure safe missions to space.”

Investment in further process integration as well as automation solutions 

Looking at the economic development, UMC continues to invest in growth. “We recently completed a 65,000 sq ft expansion, which is providing us with the opportunity to procure new equipment and restructure our original space to better serve our customers and provide scalability for the future,” says Sarah Sundine. UMC also owns more land beyond what is currently built upon for future growth. “We are dedicated to sourcing the best equipment possible to serve our customers and end users of the products we produce.” As DMG MORI covers all disciplines for production – from sophisticated prototype construction to quality-oriented high production – UMC is also planning to invest in the machine tool manufacturer’s production technology in the future. “A NTX 500 is high on the list for discussion. Its increased capability with a Y-axis turret, larger turret tooling capacity, increased RPM, and reduced footprint are very attractive”, Brian DeGrote considers. Automation solutions are a decisive factor for future investments, too. “With the opportunity to have it shipped with robotics (IMTR) it checks all the boxes again. The biggest decision is where and how we want to deploy regarding options to best serve our customers.”

Scott Peterson

The DMG MORI Turn & Mill machines of the NTX series enable us to produce highly complex and demanding parts for our customers. They do so with absolute reliability and meet all requirements in terms of efficiency and productivity.

Scott Peterson, Director of Automation and Facilities, Ultra Machining Company

Ultra Machining Company
500 Chelsea Road
Monticello, MN 55362, USA

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