Engineers get excited about the smallest details, usually. And as an outspoken non-engineer, I get that different people are impressed with different interests. I may not own a micrometer but I enjoy some marketing analytics. We’re all different.
However, every now and then I leave a conversation with our engineering team incredibly impressed. This week was the most recent. Except there was nothing ‘small’ about this detail.
Why? I caught up with an engineer who just spent a few weeks overseas as a large die cast tool was being finished and first shots were coming out of the tool.
So, how big is this tool? How about 5.5 feet, CUBED, he said! As in 5.5 feet x 5.5 feet x 5.5 feet (or 167.6 cm X 167.6 cm x 167.6 cm if you prefer the Metric System).
I stood in the hallway with my arms spread out. At nearly six feet tall, I bent my arms a little and made the motion of length, width, and then height. “Wow, that is a big tool,” I admitted!
Me: “So, what does something like that weigh?”
Engineer(grinning ear to ear): “Oh, only 22 tons!!"
Me: “What! 2 2 T O N S!?!?" (As if saying it slower and louder would change the answer or make it fit inside my head any better.)
Engineer: “Yup, 22 tons. It takes the largest crane in the building to move that tool to the 4400 metric ton die casting machine where it runs.”
Me: “Slow down. 22-ton tool and then into a 4400-ton machine?”
Engineer: “No, a 4400 metric ton die casting machine. (Out comes the calculator to help the marketing guy follow along.) Take 4400. Multiply 2.2 (metric to standard). Multiply that times 1,000 (remember, we are after tons) and that is how much clamping pressure, in pounds, this massive machine has to make this large die cast part!" *Spoiler: It’s only 9,680,000 pounds of pressure.
Me: 9,680,000 pounds of pressure. (Now I'm really impressed.)Engineer: "This 4400 metric ton machine is huge — it stands about three stories tall"
Engineer: “I don't know — a lot I bet! (me: Charlie Brown 'ugh' face) But I will tell you the tool cost, is darn (not actual word used by engineer) near half a million dollars!”
Me: (Again repeating large numbers to aid comprehension) “Half a million dollars – for a tool." I asked and stated simultaneously and incredously. “Ok. You guys are impressive!”
Engineer: “Yeah, that’s nothing. Now we can start on the second tool!”
Me: Turning to walk away, scratching my head, still glad I didn’t go to engineering school and very impressed with those that do!
To learn more about die casting and other forms of casting used in manufacturing, check out this previous blog post: Investment Casting vs. Die Casting - 7 Considerations When Choosing a Process.
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