Yes, that was something that Vince and I were discussing when he was outside with the crane.
Nearly everything made in this country of any size used to be a machined casting, even the basic electrical fuse and switch boxes were castings with machined screws etc etc.
Now we have either fabricated or injection moulded casings for everything, so you've lost the basic steel production and jobs, the machine-shop production and jobs and the assembly-line production, and jobs.
Think of the jobs that were once available in places like Ward and Herbert, where they made almost everything in the machine tool line, and those machines are still out there in the ex-colonies, and being shipped out there still as secondhand units from dealers over here.
The all of the subbies have lost work as well of course, so it's a big downwards spiral of jobs and manufacturing.
Clarksons, one of the original tooling leaders (in my view) almost crashed, then did crash and is now part of a tooling conglomerate. I spoke to their technical guy today about some tooling inserts, and give the guy credit he was able to pick up the right info immediately for me, but what a shadow of their former self they are now. The Tool & Cutter Grinder business went to March Engineering who folded the year before last, who's next??
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Very relevant, I was over at one our sub-contract Toolmakers in Clacton today. He started the business 32 years ago and built it up into a 6,500 sq ft toolroom, packed to the gills with equipment both ancient and modern. A month ago the inevitable happened when the accelerating decline in the level of new work became just too low, and he's shutting up shop at the end of March.
The shop has *not* suffered from lack of investment in technology and has several seats of Powermill feeding direct to 5-axis m/c centres and multiple wire and CNC sparking. He has made superb mould tools for me over the years, with capacity from little Austin-Allen size up to 5 Tonne tools and has never been late on delivery or overpriced. But he still can't compete with China or Eastern Europe He has had an offer for his entire shop from a company that will ship it all over to India. He didn't get anywhere near the best price for the equipment but the offer takes everything in one go.
The list is huge - amongst the lots going are10 Bridgys, a couple of XYZ's, 3 Hurcos, 7 Sparkers & 2 wire eroders, 10 grinders in the shop (4 cylindrical) and so on. There's old stuff too, and I was having a fiddle with a big 1960's Donau radial drill while I was there - like playing "up periscope" on a submarine:). He tells me this probably hasn't been used in 5 or 6 years. There are pantographs tucked away in the corners gathering dust and a nice Harrison M450 that again, hasn't been used for years since they got a CNC turning centre. The place is just packed with wonderful machines, must be 60/70 at least, and now it's all off to India:(
Unfortunately the corporate decisions that drive the major tooling buyers to go overseas to make big capital savings on mould tool purchase conveniently forget the need to modify and repair these tools over time, and the consequence is that once these toolmakers are driven out of business it will ultimately leave us nowhere to get things fixed. A sad day.