setting up a machine shop

Hello to all. I have been a member of this group for the last 1 - 2 months but being a complete rookie i have been quiet.
I have a small setup in India where we design and implement industrial gas systems (www.gases.co.in). So far we have been buying all the gas-system components locally. To improve credibiity, introduce flexibility and also to make use of vacant space at our premises, we are contemplating setting up a machine shop here. The parts that we propose to make at our shop are 1. Pressure regulators 2. Valves - needle and globe 3. gas pipeline fittings 4. gas manifold blocks The MOC of all components are SS/ brass and the size of the barstock is not more than 100 mm. Could you provide me with suggestions on recommended equipment so that I could work out the economics to decide if it is a viable project.
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You haven't provided enough information Praveen. What is the annual volume? How many different part numbers of each of the above? How much difference is there in the individual part numbers within each category? Are the parts pre-cast or are you making them from bar- stock exclusively? To be efficient, you will need CNC equipment. Your investment is going to be fairly substantial. For the valves alone, probably the best method is going to entail a Y axis equipped lathe at the least, with an Integrex- style done-in-one type machine being very possible. A good mission-critical, production capable, Y axis equipped lathe is going to run in the neighborhood of $160,000-$250,000 US + barfeed. An integrex style machine is going to set you back over half a million $ us. You can break the manufacturing down into several ops, but the total investment is still going to be in the same cost range due to having to buy more machines. This will hurt on the maintenance and operating costs side, as you have to maintain, supply and upkeep more machines, you have a larger fixture investment and a larger tooling, gauging and labor investment.
--
Anthony

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He DID provide enuf info , you just cant think/read .
He wants us to tell him he must not machine ,,,,, scout for other methods ... if hardware does not exist and he cant figure how to stamp it .........
How many machine shops do you know make $$ !! I am an industrialist . You must compete ,
if you WANT to machine something , they will eat your lunch by pressing the part !
maybe Aircraft can machine , but other consumer items must be stamped .
Anthony wrote:

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Thank you all for your responses. I do not have answers to all your queries but by your asking them I now know where to start.

are not too many regulations governing production and quality. These are imposed by the clients and at present are very loose. At present, in my field there are many small workshops which have 2 - 3 lathes (the least sophisticated), a drilling machine and a milling machine...thats it. A slightly better workshop would also have a CNC machine (the least sophisticated). Quality, attention to detail and technical knowledge are definitely lacking. These workshops are owned by a not-so-very technically competent person who manages to get a drawing from somewhere and then goes about making it. That is one of the reasons, I wish to set up a shop, cos I believe that if I could produce a better component at slightly higher prices, there is a market. To give you a cost comparison, an imported pressure regulator costs between $400 - $ 600 and the same thing produced here costs around $100. But quality wise products here are very poor. Volumes in this field are not too high. I would be happy to generate a volume of 500 pressure regulators (having 10-12 sub parts) and 1000 valves (having 6-7 sub parts) over the next two years.... In configuring my workshop I am trying to optimise machinery for the desired quality. Also a lot would depend on whether I could get better machinists to work with me.
werty wrote:

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wrote:

<snip> The additional information/context is very helpful.
Perhaps the first thing to consider is that simply copying an existing design is not likely to be the most cost effective procedure.
Foreign designs will have been optimized for volume production, most likely requiring purpose built dedicated machines, and may quite possibly designed/optimized for automatic/robotic assembly.
Your first requirement will be to "translate" these designs into ones optimized for low volume production on general purpose, possibly manual machine tools, from bar stock rather than higher cost components such as impact extrusions or die castings, which can reduce machining time, although sand or lost-wax castings may still be viable.
In your particular product line, only a few areas are critical such as the surface finish on the needle and seat for proper shut-off, and sealing between the body and needle to prevent leakage. Surface finish on the needle at the body seal surface will also be critical, not only for preventing leaks but also durability. Hand finishing/buffing may be a possibility, but you may need to consider outside processing/contracting with a shop with a grinder.
Resilient tip needles or seats can be used in pressure regulators to eliminate or reduce finishing requirements, but the diaphragm material is critical for durability. A dependable supply of suitable diaphragm material is vital, as is a supply of O-rings or X seals in the correct size/materials.
For several of your products, such as the manifold blocks, a manual drill press of adequate size should be adequate, as long as satisfactory fixturing is provided, which does not rely on the strength of the operator to hold a part in position for drilling/tapping. What you may save initially by relying on "Armstrong" tooling/fixturing will rapidly be expended in broken tooling (mainly taps) and scrapped parts.
A basic requirement will be a good set of gauges for the pipe or other connection threads, and test equipment such as leak tanks, and stands to verify the function of the regulators. This will help eliminate many end-user complaints.
You appear to absolutely correct when you suggest "Also a lot would depend on whether I could get better machinists to work with me."
This is more than likely *THE* key. You will actually need just one, who is willing to train the other workers. They other workers need not be general machinists but should understand their jobs with some instruction. This need not be a full-time employee, and indeed, your "best bet" may be to get a retired machinist, possibly with a naval or rail-way background, who would like to work only a few hours a day. A naval or rail-way background is suggested because typically work in these areas involves the repair or manufacture of a single or very limited number of items with minimal special equipment, tooling or attachments, thus developing the improvisation skills and self-confidence of the machinist.
From what you describe, it does not appear that CNC equipment would be cost effective for you at this stage of product sophistication or volume.
From what I understand of your proposed operation, one large engine lathe, possibly with a gap bed, with basic tooling such as a face plate and centers, and one turret type milling machine will be adequate to start. Three and four jaw chucks are very convenient, but not necessary. With the lathe and milling machine you can fabricate any required face plate and drilling fixtures. A substantial drill press will reduce the wear on the more expensive turret mill, but be sure it has adequate low speed ranges and torque. You will also need a grinder for sharpening lathe tool bits, and with an attachment you can also sharpen drill bits. Taps and end-mills can be re-sharpened by an outside service.
Be aware that the current domestic/import cost differential can be eliminated with a stroke of a pen or the whim of a politician, as these depend on import duties and possibly distribution inefficiencies. Implementation of an Internet based mail distribution system for these products in India, possibly with high volume domestic production, would be instant disaster for you.
Good luck and let the group know how things turn out.
Unka' George (George McDuffee) .............................. Only in Britain could it be thought a defect to be "too clever by half." The probability is that too many people are too stupid by three-quarters.
John Major (b. 1943), British Conservative politician, prime minister. Quoted in: Observer (London, 7 July 1991).
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wrote:

============Economy of scale and both product and manufacturing expertise will be critical in this project.
Several of the products such as pressure regulators have considerable potential for product liability, which may not be of concern in India. These components may also require governmental/trade group/insurance type approval before these may be legally installed or sold.
Given the apparent commodity nature of all or most of your components, and the very high volume/efficiency of the major producers, a far more cost effective approach would be to establish a close, long term relationship with volume manufacturers of these products, possibly through long term contracts.
It may well be that the purchase of a few good used machine tools such as a engine lathe, drill press and/or mill, grinder, etc. will be cost/time effective for your operation. What is the status of your workforce? Can they run machine tools, or will you have to hire additional people?
Unka' George (George McDuffee) .............................. Only in Britain could it be thought a defect to be "too clever by half." The probability is that too many people are too stupid by three-quarters.
John Major (b. 1943), British Conservative politician, prime minister. Quoted in: Observer (London, 7 July 1991).
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wrote:

Hey Praveen,
Maybe it does not apply, but don't forget before starting manufacture to include costs that every one of the four items mentioned would require UL and/or CSA testing and approvals before being salable in North America. I have no idea of your local regulations though.
Take care.
Brian Lawson, Bothwell, Ontario.
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