Necessity is the mother of invention. Everyone knows that, especially when times are tough. If you don’t invent, you don’t survive. Mike Brown, president and founder of Santee, CA’s Computer Integrated Machining, Inc. (CIM), can attest to the truth of it from hard experience.
“We were in pretty hard times back in 2002, right after 9-11,” he says “Back then everyone, including my company, was machining aluminum, fighting each other for nickels and dimes. I knew that if we wanted to survive and grow, we had to find a way to diversify, a way to differentiate ourselves from the pack.”
Brown found an interesting way to do just that.
“We came up with a little ad campaign for our website,” he recalls. “It said, ‘We Fear No Material!’ We thought it was kind of funny, and what surprised us, so did a lot of potential customers. People would call up and say, ‘That’s pretty funny. Ha, ha!’ Finally, this one company in Seattle called and said, ‘We have this part we’d like you to make, if you can.’ The material was Rene 41, a nickel-based high-temperature alloy developed by General Electric. Rene 41 retains high strength even in the 1200-1800° Fahrenheit range, but it’s a bear to machine, very tough on cutting tools. They told us everyone else was afraid to tackle the job.”
Even though he didn’t have a CNC lathe to make the part, Brown accepted the challenge.
“I told the engineer, ‘You know what? I’ll make one for you for free to prove we can do it.’ He agreed, and we got really creative and machined the part with our Haas mills and our wire EDM. We won a good customer, and they’re still with us. Since then, they’ve given us more than two million dollars worth of business.
Click here to read the entire article that was originally published by CNC West Magazine, February/March 2009 issue, by editor C.H. Bush.