Blog - Advanced Precision Machining

Advanced Precision Machining's machine shop blog deep dives into CNC milling and machining technology, industry news, trends, and so much more!
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October 7, 2022

The precision manufacturing techniques utilized by today’s machine shops are the result of an industry that’s dynamic and constantly evolving, allowing for the design and production of machined parts that are astonishingly more complex, accurate, and versatile now more than ever. Recent advances in milling and machining technology mean that shop floors similar to Advanced Precision Machining (APM) in Colorado are almost unrecognizable compared to what they once were in terms of specialized equipment and current capabilities. More traditional means of removing material to machine a part relied on a system of cams, mechanical linkages, and some sweat equity, but these historic methods eventually gave rise to what we see today…Highly sophisticated, computer-driven machining centers, lathes, and drill presses. Even newer technology introduced electricity, photochemicals, ultrasound, and 3D printing into the machining arsenal. Add in the progression of computerized numerical control (CNC), CAD/CAM software, and robotics to assist with automating certain tasks, and our industry has truly experienced a revolution!

Now, some nostalgic food for thought. Given all of this cutting edge technology presently in hands of CNC machinists everywhere, are we truly experiencing an improvement over some older ways of milling and machining a part? In almost every case, the short answer is a resounding yes! Surprisingly though, a machining concept introduced over a hundred years ago is having a renaissance of sorts today. Swiss-type lathes, pioneered in Switzerland for the watchmaking industry, are seeing their popularity flourish in recent years and are being increasingly utilized in machine shops running conventional CNC turning machines. Unlike their counterparts from yesterday, state-of-the-art Swiss-type lathes now rely on CNC and automation, and they’re a go-to machine for many high-precision, high-production applications that require accuracy. They’re more powerful than ever, generate faster cycle times, and have much greater flexibility and sophisticated controls that help streamline the machining process. Once seen merely as a specialty tool for one-off custom jobs, many machine shops are realizing the benefits and values Swiss-type lathes bring to the table and are installing this variety of turning technology for the first time. This is due in part to the increased demand for small, complex, low-volume machined parts from the defense, automotive, electronic, and medical parts manufacturing sectors. Machine shop owners the advantages they have over conventional lathes for turning small, intricate and fragile parts, especially those that are long, narrow diameter and cylindrical in nature. In short, CNC machinists are manufacturing parts today that would’ve been unthinkable 5 or 10 years ago on traditional lathes. 

What truly sets Swiss-type lathes apart, resulting in reduced setup times, secondary operations and work in process adjustments, is their specific design allowing for extreme accuracy and ultra-high tolerances. They differ from other lathes where the part is stationary and the cutting tool moves. Instead, Swiss turning lets a part move vertically while the tool remains stationary. The key to this operation is a “sliding headstock” style and a “guide bushing”. To explain, bar stock is held firmly in the machine with a “collet” and advanced, or slid vertically through the guide bushing closely past a stationary, single-point lathe turning tool. Only the portion being machined is exposed from the guide bushing to the cutting tool. This results in great rigidity during the CNC turning process minimizing deflection and vibration while maximizing accuracy and efficiency. In fact, the entire machining process can be completed in a single operation with one setup, reducing the number of times a part is touched during production. The use of live tooling and sub-spindles even allows for overlapping operations. Simply put, with a wide range of capabilities, Swiss-type machining is the most precise and efficient machining method for manufacturing the accurate and critical components customers demand. 

Of course, there are a few drawbacks. As expected, price is a common obstacle causing shops to stop short of adding a Swiss-type lathe to the mix with an average cost running significantly higher than traditional machines There are also some nuances to be learned for a CNC machinist new to the technology, and Swiss-type CNC turning certainly requires deft operation to ensure the demands of tight tolerances are adhered to. The learning curve is steep and requires different thinking regarding axis motion. Most of these machines use oil as the cutting fluid rather than water, so this is a concern when it comes to fire suppression. But, the advantages far outweigh the short list of disadvantages! What began with Swiss watchmakers, then on to screw manufacturers, has now become mainstream. The bottom line is that more and more machine shops have discovered the value of these machines as demand for ever-smaller CNC machine parts has grown. The future for Swiss-type machines will only expand, and machine shops that seek to adopt the technology can distinguish themselves with more high-end work and gain a competitive advantage; What every operation needs in these challenging times.

Would you like to learn more about Swiss-type machining? The discussion above only scratches the surface of this once traditional, but now revolutionary technology. For more thorough information on the benefits of turning with Swiss-type lathes, or if you have questions about your next precision machining project, contact the expert CNC machinists at APM’s Colorado machine shop today.

For more APM machine shop information; Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @APMLongmont, or connect with us on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised in Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he began what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.


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October 7, 2022

No one has to tell machine shop owners and CNC machinists that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to differentiate their operation in the midst of a precision manufacturing environment that’s experiencing a revolution thanks to evolving technology, new software, and increased connectivity. Add in changing consumer preferences and government policy, and it seems everyone in our industry is feeling the pressure almost daily! Most recently, the economic slowdown we are facing and potential recession mean the months ahead for our nation’s economy and business will remain quite volatile and dynamic. That means staying competitive in the local, national and global marketplace will require even more of a centralized focus on maximizing productivity and increasing efficiency!

This rings especially true for small and medium-sized operations, especially if you add in the lingering effects of the recent COVID-19 pandemic combined with inflation, labor shortages, and recent supply chain issues. To illustrate this point, small business surveys reveal that many business owners are uncertain about the future of their operations. No doubt, today’s economic challenges are unparalleled, but one has to remain optimistic about what the future may hold. At Advanced Precision Machining, we have faced down past operational slowdowns and reduced demand for precision manufactured parts, and we are now experiencing unprecedented growth. We continue to stake our reputation on meeting our clients’ needs for high-precision parts delivered accurately and on-time, all while providing the best customer service experience in the machine shop business!

With all of this in mind, APM’s CNC machine shop is still unable to match the production capabilities of larger rivals in low-mix, high-volume milling and machining work. In order to better maximize profits and achieve our desired growth goals moving forward in these uncertain times means we are consistently in search of ways to gain a competitive advantage. First and foremost, we can’t get ahead without the right technology in hand. Equipped with the latest in cutting-edge machine shop tools from suppliers such as Mitutoyo, Doall, Hurco, ProtoTRAK, Southwestern Industries, and Yama-Seki, we ensure our clients are completely satisfied with our work. But, this extends well beyond the right equipment and resources. There are always better ways of getting the job done! 

This brings us back to what every machine shops’ focus should always center around; maximizing productivity and increasing efficiency. Enter the concept of lean manufacturing; The systematic practice for eliminating waste in the manufacturing process. As facilities around our country strive to resume normal business operations, “lean” will become ever more so important. But for smaller and mid-sized CNC machine shops, the methods central to lean production models don’t always lend themselves well to low-volume, high-mix, and oftentimes one-off precision machining environments. While true, many job shops have successfully adopted this methodology by focusing on the goals and strategies that are feasible to their particular operation. No matter what size, there is commonality in the desire and ability to incorporate some frequently described goals of lean manufacturing. These elements include: improving quality, eliminating waste, reducing time and effort, and reducing total costs. The core objective is to maximize value to the client while reducing waste in its various forms. 

In a manufacturing environment, the 5S workplace organization method is central to the lean manufacturing philosophy. It is a system first utilized by the Japanese to reduce waste and optimize productivity by maintaining an orderly workplace, and it definitely has its place in smaller machine shops. In fact, a typical 5S implementation can reduce the square footage of space needed for existing operations. The 5S pillars of: Sort (organization), Set in Order (orderliness), Shine (cleanliness), Standardize (standardized cleanup), and Sustain (discipline) are indeed scalable to any size facility and provide a template for organizing, cleaning, developing, and sustaining a productive work environment. In short, transition to lean production should not focus solely on equipment, but instead, with the procedures associated with how existing equipment is used.

This begins with a focus on streamlining various processes, and there are many to choose from on the typical precision CNC machining floor. The key is being flexible and adaptable both to the working environment and to the demands of customers. Here is just a small sampling of some possible improvements:

  • Reduce excessive inventories, scrap and other waste.
  • Incorporate continuous improvement initiatives and investment in quality systems such as shop management software.
  • Use quick changeover carts and visual aides such as shadow boards and foam cut outs for organizing tools.
  • Eliminate wasted motion and time spent waiting.
  • Consider the ergonomics of employees.
  • Reduce downtime through better predictive and preventative maintenance.
  • Eliminate mistakes, reworks and overproduction of parts.
  • Reduce setup times and batch sizes.

Just a sampling to be sure, and what we’ve highlighted is not an end itself, but a means to more streamlined operations by maximizing productivity and increasing efficiency. These are key concepts now, and will become more and more important as economic conditions hopefully improve. Lean is more than simply some best practices, it’s about doing more with less and removing impediments to productivity. By not implementing at least a few lean practices, a machine shop loses its competitive advantage, and future growth, if so desired, will be stymied.

Want to learn more about lean manufacturing, have questions about any of our milling and machining services, or need help with an upcoming project? We’re happy to discuss any need you have, so please contact our Colorado machine shop.

For more APM machine shop information; Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @APMLongmont, or connect with us on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised in Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he began what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.


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August 9, 2022

Despite the recent economic uncertainty gripping our nation, lingering supply chain issues, and labor shortages, Advanced Precision Machining’s (APM) Colorado machine shop is well into the third quarter of what’s been a very successful year for us! Rebounding positively from the COVID-19 pandemic, our milling and machining facility in Longmont, and the industry as a whole, continues to experience growth in all aspects of the business. As the precision manufacturing and metalworking economy has emerged from a somewhat stagnant footing in previous years, we’ve continued with planned expansion and find that our machine tools are now working harder than ever. In fact, demand for our machine shop services has been increasing at a rate that occasionally outpaces our supply and capacity. 

With all of this being said, our mission remains unchanged; We’re dedicated to manufacturing the highest quality precision parts while providing the best customer service experience in the CNC machine shop business! As everyone works to get through this period of economic uncertainty, our CNC machinists are making every effort to meet our customers’ needs for high-quality precision machined parts and deliver them accurately and on-time. Recent advances in milling and machining technology, including a vast array of digital tooling utilities, are now used to augment and boost machine tooling operations, and these are certain to play a big role in meeting the demands placed on us. Today’s modern metalworking facilities now have at their fingertips critical, cutting-edge software necessary to make their business successful, and APM will be relying on it more so now than ever. We are hopeful that our positive growth  continues, and to that end, we want to help educate and familiarize by introducing readers to a sampling of the machine shop software components we rely on for our success.

If one were to take a peek inside any CNC machining facility, you will find a host of technologically advanced software programs being run to improve the productivity of the business itself, and most importantly, the CNC milling, turning, grinding, and measuring machines that are at the very heart of the precision machine work. In addition to the purchase order, scheduling, accounting, inventory, and payroll programs to name just a few, APM’s CNC machinists rely heavily on a natural progression of software suites dedicated to one-off or batch production of precision machine components. From initial blueprint and design, to prototyping, to final part production, the following utilities are standard protocol and used by almost every milling and machining operation. Here we present a brief overview:

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software

The CNC machining workflow process cannot begin without the implementation of CAD software; The heavily relied upon technology that allows for the rendering of a 2D or 3D model of a part to be precision manufactured. CAD allows CNC machinists and machine shop customers to digitally create, modify, analyze, and optimize the design of any component before milling and machining work takes place. The precision machining process itself can be facilitated as CAD allows for a part’s materials, tolerances, and dimensions to be analyzed. Diagrams and drawings, or even solid models and prototypes using 3D printing technology, can be viewed and modified prior to production.

Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Software

Once a part is mocked-up with a CAD rendering, it now enters the toolpath and CNC machine programming phase. CAM software is utilized to organize the CNC machining process. In simple terms, CAM takes the geometric models produced by CAD software and generates a series of codes (G-Codes) that are fed into the control software on CNC mills and lathes, for example. CNC Machinists rely on CAM utilities to form machining strategies that enable workflow efficiency. Selection of stock, dimensions, tool designation, speed and feed settings, and streamlined tool paths can all be programmed into CNC machining centers. CAM works in conjunction with CAD to make the entire part machining process more reliable and more efficient.

Simulation and Verification Software

When G Code is converted in the CAD to CAM process, errors may present themselves in precision machining operations. This is not a good thing! Modern milling machines are complex, and programming errors can result in damage to expensive equipment, wasted bar stock, and loss of time, money and productivity. Simulation and verification software is used to better write, analyze, and improve functions before milling and machining begins. Code simulators and verification programs provide a good graphic replication of how a CNC machine will perform, and what will be produced.

CNC Machine Control, Monitoring, and Other Utility Software

Modern CNC machines consist in part of the machine tool assembly itself, and its computer numerical control system, with control software acting as the heart of the system. Most CNC machining centers, including APM’s Hurco’s VMX 50, rely on OEM software built into the machine that converts CAM programming into the motions of precision machining. Machine monitoring software, such as MTConnect, allows for the exchange of data between precision manufacturing tools and software packages tasked with monitoring the performance of the machine shop equipment. PC-based software also exists that allows for a desktop computer to act as a control unit, although this is more common among hobbyists. Utility packages work in conjunction with control software to monitor performance, output, and capabilities such as part feed and speed.

Shop Management Software

Machine shop management software, such as JoBOSS, is a quoting, tracking and price review software specifically tailored to a precision machining operation. Shop owners are constantly up against short lead times, scheduling conflicts, resource constraints, and many more obstacles to running a lean operation. The right shop management software solution goes a long way towards better handling one-off jobs, blanket orders, multi-level assemblies and split jobs, and helps to automate many outdated, manual processes. The end result is more predictability, shorter lead times, and better allocation of resources, milling machines, and personnel. 

Would you like to learn more? Listed above is only a small, but most heavily utilized, sampling of some common machine shop software solutions. For more thorough information on the software you see described, if you have questions about what you don’t see listed, or you want to put our software power to use for your next precision machining project, contact the expert CNC machinists at APM’s Colorado machine shop today.
For more APM machine shop information; Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @APMLongmont, or connect with us on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised in Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he began what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing. 


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August 9, 2022

Thankfully, the recent COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdowns are finally in our rearview mirror despite putting an enormous strain on the precision manufacturing industry. We’ll see what the future has in store however! Earlier this year, we transitioned back to a renewed sense of normalcy amidst a gradual and cautious reopening of the economy. Today, Advanced Precision Machining’s (APM) Colorado machine shop production is scaled fully back up to pre-pandemic levels although we’re still up against a faltering economy, supply chain issues, labor shortages, and shifting demand. Our facility faced down the barrel of COVID-19 and the ensuing operational slowdowns, we never lost pace, and we established new best practices as a result. As we continue to build upon our positive momentum, there is a lot at stake as we face new challenges, but we will continue to feed on our outstanding reputation for meeting our clients’ needs for high-precision parts delivered accurately and on-time. So, with summer in full swing now, the heat is upon us, both literally and figuratively!

Speaking of heat, this summer has been no stranger to high temperatures! With that being said, the staff of CNC machinists at APM thought this would be an ideal time to discuss heat in a machine shop environment, and how it’s an all too familiar foe in milling and machining operations. We’d like to provide readers with a primer on how we combat heat through the use of coolants, also known as cutting fluids, and introduce some common methods of coolant delivery. To put heat into proper perspective, one must look at the heart of most machine shops…Its investment in very expensive machine tools. On the shop floor, heat is a major concern, but not in the sense of air temperature and keeping staff comfortable. Instead, high speed machine tools such as CNC mills and lathes generate a tremendous amount of friction during the process of removing material from machined parts, resulting in heat, which can damage both workpieces and the cutting tools being used. In short, there is perhaps no greater obstacle to producing a quality and accurate end product than heat!

If milling and machining equipment is at the heart of a machine shop, second only to its CNC machinists of course, then coolant can be thought of as its lifeblood. Consisting primarily of lubrication fluids, types of coolant and their delivery methods vary widely. They have been developed and incorporated into nearly all CNC machining operations, and they work exclusively to lubricate and remove the heat produced at the point of origin between the tool and workpiece. This results in less damage to finished parts and/or equipment, lower operating costs, and increased efficiency on the floor. For purposes of our brief introduction, we want to focus on the most commonly used coolant types: Liquids first and foremost, then paste/gels (solids) and aerosols (gasses). 

In a precision manufacturing environment, the most heavily relied upon coolant application is via a liquid medium. An emulsification combining water, oil and often a chemical component is the preferred method. Water by itself has poor lubricating properties and causes rust, while oil alone is a poor coolant and is flammable. An optimal coolant is created by combining proper amounts of oil, water, and an emulsifier blended together into a semi-synthetic concentration. Certain chemicals can be added to the mix to enhance rust and corrosion resistance, improve lubrication, and control bacterial growth for example. Some machine shop services do require the use of a solid or gel-based coolant, while others benefit from an aerosol or misting application, although these are far less commonly used and don’t warrant much discussion for our purposes.

Today’s technologically advanced CNC machine tools all come outfitted with a standard coolant delivery system, resulting in less damage to finished parts and/or equipment, lower costs and improved efficiency. Properly delivering coolant to a CNC machine and the workpiece in and of itself is a complex task and comes with different techniques and applications. These vary in both properties and pressure. The most common forms include air, mist, flood coolant, and high pressure (aka through-tool). Cooling with air clears chips, but has no lubrication purpose. Misting with coolant is a low pressure method utilized where removing chips and heat are not a real concern. So, for the sake of simplicity, we will limit our discussion again to the most widely utilized techniques; Traditional flood cooling and more advanced high-pressure delivery systems. Advanced Precision Machining relies on both methods, and we’d like to provide a comparison between the two highlighting some key advantages and disadvantages.

Flood cooling, an umbrella term, dates back some 150 years. Relying mostly on lower pressures, it describes the flooding, spraying, or dripping of coolant directly into the tool/workpiece interface. For use with smaller CNC machining centers, slower speed operations, or short production runs, it’s effective to simply splash fluid around the work area to obtain the desired result. Flood coolant does draw heat out of the machining process, but not very effectively on today’s faster, more complex and advanced CNC mills, lathes and routers. Vapor buildup becomes common with flood cooling as the coolant reaches its boiling point rendering it less effective. Simply put, flooding the interface does not direct the coolant to where it’s needed most; directly under where the tool is shearing through metal. Flood coolant is effective however at improving tool life and surface finishes, reducing friction, corrosion prevention, and moving larger chips out of the way.

The higher speeds, faster feed rates, and extreme temperatures produced by today’s more advanced CNC milling and machining centers have led to more innovative cooling methods. Newer machines require higher pressure, more volume, and better directed coolant to keep pace and the flooding paradigm is no longer the clear winner. Delivering coolant into the cutting edge or point of the tool directly through the tool or spindle has proven much more effective. Known as through-tool or through-spindle coolant systems, they are plumbed to create a rotating union between the spindle or tool and the coolant supply, resulting in a host of benefits. Higher pressures and velocities eliminate the vapor barrier problem and heat is removed more effectively. More efficient cooling allows for the utilization of carbide cutting tools over steel, resulting in faster cycle times, better cut quality and greater throughput. Even chip management is improved as shorter shear zones create thinner chips. 

So, as we struggle through the dog days of summer this August, ensure that your machine shop remains cool as the temperatures rise, and look into alternative cooling methods. It’s important to keep the lifeblood of your milling and machining operation pumping! We’ll do the same at APM as we continue to turn out the quality machined parts our customers rely on. Moving forward, we wish everyone continued good health, prosperity, and safe operations as we hopefully put the COVID-19 pandemic far behind in our rearview mirror! 

Want to learn more about machine shop coolants and delivery methods, or have a question about your next milling and machining project? Contact the expert CNC machinists at Advanced Precision Machining today. 

For more APM shop information; Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @APMLongmont, or connect with us on LinkedIn.

About the Advanced Precision Machining

APM provides comprehensive manufacturing services; from blueprint and prototyping, to machining and inspection. In our state-of-the-art machine shop, our fully certified CNC machinists offer a wide range of precision manufacturing services featuring the latest CNC mills and lathes to cut steels, composites, aluminum, plastics, and exotic metals. For additional information or to request a quote, please visit our website or call 303-776-1910.


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May 5, 2022

For any precision manufacturing operation competing in today’s business environment, maximizing productivity and increasing efficiency takes on a critical role in order to turn a profit. This rings especially true for small and medium-sized facilities, including Advanced Precision Machining’s Colorado machine shop. By staking our reputation on meeting our client’s needs for high-precision parts delivered accurately, on-time, and on-budget, we are constantly in search of ways to gain a competitive advantage. Success and profitability are dependent on whether resources are being used in an efficient manner, and this has proven even more difficult given current economic conditions, supply chain issues, the skills/job gap, and mounting challenges CNC machine shop owners face as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. All of this, coupled with an ever-increasing demand for high-quality parts, means that milling and machining businesses must place an even greater emphasis on efficiency and productivity. Thankfully, more modern technological advancements in today’s precision machining tools mean many machine shops have the ability to streamline their operations, and one such consideration involves transitioning from more traditional approaches to precision machining and implementing some form of automation on the floor. 

 Automating CNC machine shop operations is a big decision for any owner, but pulling the trigger and opting to automate certain functions has become easier as the use of more technologically advanced milling and machining centers has become increasingly widespread. More and more precision machine shops are now striving for “unattended” or “lights-out” capabilities that incorporate the best of what today’s machine tools and accessories have to offer. The idea is simple on the surface; Minimize labor costs for each part made, thus lowering overall production costs by allowing automation to replace manual labor. By improving workflow processes, automation can help solve many of the productivity challenges machine shops face by reducing machining cycle times, setups and teardowns, while at the same time increasing production/output, improving both efficiency and profit margins. Not to be confused with robotic automation, in a precision machining environment automating machining functions unattended commonly refers to the use of a CNC machining center accessorized with a tool magazine, an automatic tool changing mechanism, and most importantly, a multi-pallet changing system/device for parts to be machined. 

The use of pallet changers has revolutionized efficiency for shop owners, especially in an age where labor market deficiencies and the ever-present skills/jobs gap mean simply finding more qualified CNC machinists is not feasible. In simple terms, a pallet changing device is a part handling subsystem that enables a part to be loaded while another is being machined – somewhat like a tool changing system but instead of switching out tools, pallet changers allow the operator to change out an entire bed of parts. Pallets can be cycled outside the cutting area once completed as the machining center automatically brings in a new one. The integration of a “pallet pool” even allows for multiple part beds to be set up in advance and scheduled for future runs, letting a machine run unattended for quite some time. All of this allows for multiple setups to be built, or unloading operations to take place, while milling and machining goes on uninterrupted. CNC machinists don’t have to wait for the machining process to complete itself. The end result is a significant reduction in part cycle times and non-cut times (spindle-idle time). All of this adds up to increased productivity and a reduction in costs, including labor. 

When the decision is made to automate certain machine shop operations, there are options when it comes to choosing what type of pallet changing system is best suited to particular needs. Cost, space, a shop’s capabilities, and other factors such as production capacity all come into play. Manual pallet and shuttle systems are designed for small job, low-volume lots and are cost-feasible taking up very little space. Loading and unloading is done by the operator. Automated pallet changers (APCs) are designed to work with traveling-column or bridge-type CNC machining centers and typically feature electric servo drives for transferring and indexing pallets. Stationary, dual, rotary, towers, and shelving units – the list goes on. The two examples provided only scratch the surface of what’s available depending on machine shop needs and what various manufacturers provide.

The bottom line is that in today’s competitive precision manufacturing environment, one that is fraught with new challenges, no machine shop owner can let tools or CNC machinists sit idle. Pallet changing can save a lot of money in production costs by significantly reducing part loading and setup downtime.

Need help with an upcoming project? APM’s reputation for quality parts, on-time reliability and exceptional customer service cannot be matched! We’re happy to discuss any machining needs you have. Call us at 303.776.1910 or send us an email.

For more APM machine shop information; Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @APMLongmont , or connect with us on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised in Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he began what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.


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May 5, 2022

To the uninitiated eye, a glance inside any modern machine shop will reveal a wide array of high-tech equipment ranging from multi-axis milling machines, lathes, routers and grinders, to electrical discharge machines, waterjets and plasma cutters. While this list is undoubtedly essential to the day-to-day operations of any facility, it’s Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) and the associated software, complemented by advanced programming languages, that’s at the heart of precision manufacturing processes. Today, most modern CNC systems have become highly automated and quite complex, augmented by a host of software suites, but a precision machined part in the end is only going to be as good as inputs used to create it. Thankfully, there is now a vast array of digital tooling utilities being used to augment and boost CNC milling and machining operations.  

At Advanced Precision Machining’s (APM) Colorado machine shop, we now have cutting-edge equipment at our fingertips, combined with the critical software necessary to make our business successful. In our tireless and dedicated effort to manufacture high-quality precision parts, and maintain our reputation for accuracy and on-time reliability,our CNC machinists have evolved to become skilled in all aspects of software drawing and design, code writing, and machine tool operation. In addition to the purchase order, scheduling, accounting, inventory and payroll software programs that are common to most businesses, the certified machinists at APM must heavily rely on a natural progression of software suites dedicated to one-off or batch production of precision machine components. When combined with CNC’s programming language referred to as G-Code to direct essential machining functions, the end result is a high-quality part. From the initial design phase, to final output, the following software utilities are standard protocol and used by almost every machine shop. Because of their importance, APM would like to provide a primer; Here is a brief look.

CAD Software

The CNC milling and machining workflow process begins with the implementation of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software technology that allows for a 2D or 3D model rendering of a part to be manufactured. CAD allows CNC machinists and machine shop customers to digitally create, modify, analyze, and optimize the design of any component before actual milling and machining work takes place. The precision machining process itself can be expedited as CAD software allows for a part’s materials, tolerances, and dimensions to be analyzed in advance. Diagrams and drawings, or even solid models using 3D printing technology, can be viewed and modified prior to production.

CAM Software

Once a part is mocked-up with a CAD rendering, it now enters the toolpath and CNC machine programming phase. Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software is now utilized to better organize the CNC machining process. In simple terms, CAM takes the geometric models produced by CAD software and generates a series of codes (g-codes) that are fed into the control software on CNC mills and CNC lathes for example. Machinists rely on CAM utilities to form machining strategies enabling workflow efficiency. Selection of stock, dimensions, tool designation, speed and feed settings, and streamlined tool paths can all be programmed into CNC machining centers. CAM works in conjunction with CAD to achieve the desired precision part results.

Simulation and Verification Software 

When code is converted in the CAD to CAM process, errors may present themselves in precision machining operations. This is not a good thing! Modern machine tools are complex, and programming errors can result in damage to expensive equipment, wasted bar stock, and loss of time, money and productivity. Simulation and verification software is used to better write, analyze, and improve functions before milling and machining begins. Code simulators and verification programs provide a good graphic replication of how a CNC machine will perform, and what will be produced.

CNC Machine Control and Other Utility Software

 Modern CNC machines consist in part of the machine tool assembly itself, and its computer numerical control system, with control software acting as the heart of the system. Most CNC machine centers, including APM’s new Hyundai multi-axis CNC turning center, rely on OEM software built into the machine that converts CAM programming into the motions of precision machining. PC-based software also exists that allows for a desktop computer to act as a control unit, although this is more common among hobbyists. Utility packages work in conjunction with control software to monitor performance, output, and capabilities such as part feed and speed. 

Want to learn more about  modern milling and machining software, or to put its power to use for your next precision manufacturing project, contact the expert CNC machinists at APM’s Colorado machine shop today.

For more APM machine shop information; Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @APMLongmont , or connect with us on LinkedIn.

About Advanced Precision Machining

APM provides comprehensive manufacturing services; from blueprint and prototyping, to machining and inspection. In their state-of-the-art machine shop, fully certified CNC machinists offer a full range of services featuring the latest CNC mills and CNC lathes to cut steels, composites, aluminum, plastics, and exotic metals. For additional information or to request a quote, please visit our website or call 303-776-1910.


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March 30, 2022

The updated site has an innovative new design and contains everything you need to know about one of the best Colorado machine shops in the industry.

LONGMONT, Colorado – Advanced Precision Machining, a shop that prides itself on serving clients across a host of industries using cutting-edge technology, announced today the unveiling of a new website. The revamped site was designed with the user in mind, and the changes make it easier to review their offerings. Put another way, learning precisely how they can help you—and why they’re the ones who should—is now just a click away.

Founded in 2005, APM has been offering a broad range of manufacturing services ever since. Using the most advanced equipment available, they specialize in producing high-quality precision parts, and they always promise to provide them on time and within budget. With impeccable attention to detail and unparalleled customer service, they rank among the best Colorado machine shops for customer satisfaction. Whether you need electroplating, laser marking, or electric discharge machining, you can count on APM to get the job done right the first time around.

“Our team is comprised of certified CNC machinists who know how to deliver exactly what our clients want,” notes Gerry Dillon, Owner/Operator. He adds, “We’re proud to stand apart from other CNC machine shops, and we wanted the new website to highlight as much. We also wanted to streamline the site’s navigation and make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for.”

Mr. Dillon, who oversaw the site redesign, says, “I couldn’t be happier with the final result. APM’s enhanced site looks and feels more sleek and sophisticated without inundating visitors with confusing or competing elements. It communicates our message so much better. Head to our home page and see for yourself!”

Each of their services now has its own dedicated page, so you can learn more about all it entails. You can also review their complete list of offerings at a glance to confirm they can meet your needs. Instead of falling down a rabbit hole about the different kinds of grinding machines or turning processes, scan their services with ease until you land upon those you need.

For more information on Advanced Precision Machining and to view the updated website, visit: https://advancedprecisionmachine.com.

About Advanced Precision Machining

APM is a one-stop shop for all your manufacturing needs. From blueprinting and prototyping to milling and machining, their state-of-the-art shop is equipped to bring your vision to life. Staffed by certified CNC machinists and backed by decades of experience, they maintain the highest standards of quality and professionalism while they work. With a commitment to complete customer satisfaction, they’ll always finish your project on time and on budget. Check out their website to learn more about one of the best Colorado machine shops in the field.

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March 8, 2022

Colorado based provider of precision milling and machining services adds to their growing inventory of cutting-edge machine tools with procurement of a Keyence 3-axis hybrid laser marker, allowing for precise and permanent surface marking.

Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a leading Colorado machine shop serving the Front Range and beyond, announced today a major upgrade to its suite of precision manufacturing services geared towards delivering high-quality machined parts. After a lengthy search, APM is pleased to share news of their recent acquisition; A Keyence MD-X2520A multi-axis, hybrid, laser marking unit. Engineered as a versatile, general purpose system for marking and processing a wide range of materials, the MD-X series of machines achieve high-quality, high-accuracy, and maximize productivity.

APM’s facility has experienced rising demand, allowing for continued investment in new equipment to broaden their range of machine shop services. A strong customer commitment and long-term growth initiatives have now enabled the company to upgrade with this long sought after machine tool with industrial traceability applications. As APM owner Gerry Dillon notes, “Today’s transformative laser marking technology has led to revolutionary design and production improvements for precision machined parts, and the added multifunctionality of 3-axes and hybrid construct makes the Keyence a monumental addition to our lineup.” In the quest to provide customers the best service in the industry, APM is of the opinion that the Keyence machine delivers unmatched reliability.

As a leading supplier of sensors, measuring systems, laser markers, microscopes, and machine vision systems worldwide, The Keyence Corporation is a global manufacturing frontrunner dedicated to adding value to customers by combining superior technology with unparalleled support. The MD-X2520A model is a versatile unit boasting an internal vision system, full-field autofocus, and marking analytics tools, allowing it to achieve unmatched quality and efficient laser marking regardless of material. As Dillon concludes, “Our CNC machinists have earned a reputation for exceeding our customers’ needs for precision machined parts, and now with greater capability to create marks like serial numbers, barcodes, and graphics, acquiring this tool allows for the further pursuit of perfection, which this industry demands.”

To learn more about APM’s range of services, including laser marking, contact the expert CNC machinists at APM’s Colorado machine shop for all of your milling and machining needs.

About Advanced Precision Machining

(www.advancedprecisionmachine.com)
APM provides comprehensive manufacturing services; from blueprint and prototyping, to machining and inspection. In their state-of-the-art machine shop, fully certified CNC machinists offer a full range of services featuring the latest CNC mills and CNC lathes to cut steels, composites, aluminum, plastics, and exotic metals. For additional information or to request a quote, please visit our website or call 720-702-2822.


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March 7, 2022

Despite recent economic conditions, the challenges faced from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing supply chain issues, this year is still delivering increasing demand for Advanced Precision Machining’s milling and machining services. We’re continuing with expansion, steady sales, net profit, and investment in cutting-edge technology to broaden our range of precision manufacturing offerings. Now that our Colorado machine shop is well into the first quarter of what, by early indications, promises to be another year of continued success, we are well aware of the uncertainties that still lie ahead, but we remain confident and positive as we operate in a “new” normal.

As business conditions inevitably improve, and the manufacturing economy continues to rebound from any damage the virus has dealt, all aspects of APM’s machine shop are experiencing growth. Owing to the hard work of our CNC machinists, our committed customer base, and ongoing demand for the precision parts we manufacture locally, we are still in the midst of an unprecedented period in our company’s development.

2022 is already shaping up to be another positive one for our balance sheet, and the need for our CNC milling, grinding, turning, and surface finishing services continues to be on the upswing. We’re always looking forward, and we’re optimistic about plans for future facility expansion and additional capital expenditure in new CNC machining equipment. This will allow us to further improve upon efficiency and lower costs. In fact, late last year, APM upgraded its commitment to part accuracy and precision with the purchase of a new coordinate measuring machine (CMM); We’ve added a Hyundai WIA multi-axis turning center into our lineup, and in February, we acquired a Keyence MD-X2520A multi-axis, hybrid, laser marking unit and will adding laser marking to our machine shop services.

Currently however, we have more pressing concerns that are consuming our focus given today’s labor market. Any thoughts of expanding APM’s machine shop footprint, or investing in new big ticket equipment, is quickly tempered by one factor; The human factor. There are currently certain economic realities faced by the precision machining sector, and for that matter, the manufacturing industry as a whole. When work orders increase and operations reach capacity, it doesn’t matter how many or what types of machines you possess if you don’t have the necessary personnel to operate them.

Machine shops today are still facing a familiar reality; a lack of qualified labor. Finding experienced CNC machinists has proven difficult for many shops including APM. To combat this “skills gap”, as it has been coined, there has been a resurgence in apprenticeships, community and technical college curriculums, and vocational school training, all offering machinist instruction and on the job training. The good news is that our staffing levels are adequate, and the labor market is improving, but we are still in need of a few good men or women to realize our full potential, meet increased demand, and move forward on plans for future expansion and growth.

To this end, we are currently accepting applications for a highly skilled journeyman machinist and another good machinist who will both be trained up by co-workers and management. Here is a list of qualifications and benefits…Come join the APM team!

What we’re looking for:

We’re looking to add exceptional CNC machinists to our team of top performers. Training is provided in all aspects of the machine shop environment for suitable candidates. Our culture is innovative, fast-paced, and continually improving. Ideal candidates will need an enterprising mindset with substantial experience in starting up and carrying out milling and machining projects. The successful applicant will need the ability to communicate with a sense of openness and transparency, operate with a high degree of independence, responsibility, self-sufficiency, and be able to balance best practices with a willingness to explore better ways of performing tasks. We’re growing rapidly and are moving quickly to hire well-qualified, professional CNC machinists. Our ideal candidate is an open-minded team player who will fit in well. Skills that are essential to work with APM’s team include: a good attitude, an open mind towards new ways of doing things, an eagerness to learn new skills, ease to work with, and a willingness to help in other areas of the shop.

Skills/qualifications needed:

  • Preferred: 7+ years experience
  • Proficiency in MasterCam CNC software and Hurco conversational programming
  • Cross skills are a plus – We have multiple CNC mills and lathes
  • Ability to set up required material blanks in the machine precisely as directed by programmers
  • Ability to read technical drawings and retrieve dimensions for measurement, and measure parts after machining to ensure they match drawing specifications
  • Ability to perform quality assurance (QA) in all aspects of machining metals and plastics
  • Possess a strong understanding of inspection reporting methods/techniques
  • Ability to adjust speeds and feeds to maximize production runs
  • Ability to deburr parts as they are machined
  • Strive to produce extremely precise parts for our customers every time
  • Some physical effort required (lifting 10-50 lbs. when loading/unloading parts)
  • Ideal position for an experienced, self-motivated, independent machinist

What’s in it for you:

  • Benefits apply to only full-time, eligible employees
  • Competitive Pay – Salary commensurate with experience ($25.00 – $35.00 per hour)
  • Paychecks are received bi-weekly, or twice monthly
  • Full-Time Hours
  • Flexible schedule
  • Clean work environment
  • Friendly co-workers
  • Training provided
  • Half of medical premiums paid
  • Paid holidays
  • 2 weeks paid vacation after 1 yr. of employment

Want to learn more about our open positions, or have a question about our range of services? Contact the expert CNC machinists at APM’s Colorado machine shop for all of your milling and machining needs.

Be sure to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @APMLongmont for latest industry news and highlights from the shop.

About Advanced Precision Machining

APM provides comprehensive manufacturing services; from blueprint and prototyping, to machining and inspection. In their state-of-the-art machine shop, fully certified CNC machinists offer a full range of services featuring the latest CNC mills and CNC lathes to cut steels, composites, aluminum, plastics, and exotic metals. For additional information or to request a quote, please visit our website or call 303-776-1910.


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January 27, 2022

Despite recent economic realities, the COVID-19 pandemic, and lingering supply chain issues, precision manufacturing facility commits to further growth and expansion with ongoing search for skilled journeyman machinists and CNC programmers.

Longmont, CO – January 26th, 2022 – With an eye towards future facility expansion and additional capital expenditure, Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service Colorado machine shop serving the Front Range, announced today they are currently accepting applications to fill CNC machinist and CNC programmer vacancies to meet increased milling and machining demand. Despite the challenges presented by today’s labor market, APM is well into the first quarter of what promises to be another year of continued success, increasing sales, and investment in cutting-edge technology to broaden it’s range of CNC machine shop services.

With a professional team, a committed customer base, and a growing need for precision parts, APM’s long-term growth initiatives seek to take advantage of an unprecedented period in the company’s development. According to company owner Gerry Dillon, “After nearly tripling in size and capacity since 2005, demand for our CNC machining, grinding, and turning services continue to be on the upswing, but our Colorado machine shop is still faced with a familiar reality; a lack of qualified labor.” He adds, “We’re optimistic about plans for future facility expansion and we’ve heavily invested in new CNC milling and machining equipment, but plans for further growth are tempered by one factor…The human factor.”

When work orders increase, the numbers or types of machines don’t factor in if the necessary personnel are not in place. Gerry adds, “The good news is that we’ve upgraded our essential CNC machining capabilities and our current staffing levels are adequate, but as we look to further ramp up production and capacity, we are in need of a few good men or women to fill key roles.” To this end, APM is currently accepting applications for highly skilled CNC machinists and programmers. Your next career opportunity may be just a click away…Come join the APM team! Here is a list of qualifications and benefits.

To inquire about open positions, or to learn more about APM’s range of services? Contact the expert CNC machinists at APM’s Colorado machine shop for all of your milling and machining needs.

About Advanced Precision Machining

APM provides comprehensive manufacturing services; from blueprint and prototyping, to milling and machining, to inspection reporting. In their state-of-the-art machine shop, fully certified CNC machinists offer a complete range of services featuring the latest CNC mills and CNC lathes to cut steels, composites, aluminum, plastics, and exotic metals. The company maintains the highest standards of professionalism and quality to ensure an unmatched level of service and complete customer satisfaction.

For additional information or to request a quote, please visit https://advancedprecisionmachine.com or call 303-776-1910.