Certification and the Right Machines Help Aerospace Job Shop to Fly

Certification and the Right Machines Help Aerospace Job Shop to Fly

10 new MAG Fadal VMC 2216 machines

Dolphin Machine uses 10 MAG Fadal 4525 vertical machining centers for large-part work, as well as 10 new MAG Fadal VMC 2216 machines.

Tucked away in Las Vegas, Dolphin Machine Inc. is quietly but effectively machining parts for an expanding clientele of manufacturers in the aerospace business and several niche industries.

The company counts Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier among its customers, with orders growing for parts for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Dan DiCello, president of Dolphin Machine, expects a big increase in part production levels for the new Dreamliner as the program ramps up to full production.

Dolphin Machine cuts pieces anywhere from 10 lb up to about 67 lb and relies heavily on tooling from Iscar Metals Inc. (www.iscarmetals.com), including drills (such as Chamdrill) and ball nose end mills. “Iscar makes special radius products that we need, and they have very good pricing,” said DiCello. “Tools like their Helimill have the ability to cut aluminum, and the inserts only need to be changed once per month. They just last forever.”

Dolphin Machine performs CNC milling, CNC turning, ID and OD grinding and large vertical boring, but the heaviest production is done on machining centers. The company has 20 MAG Fadal (www.fadal. com) vertical machining centers – 10 VMC4525s and 10 new 2216 machines that replace older Fadals. The machines cut aerospace parts from titanium alloy Ti6-4, plastics, nylons and some fiberglass-type material. Out of the 20 machines, Dolphin can have as many as eight or nine Fadals cutting titanium at any given time.

DiCello explained the upgrade: “We worked our older Fadals very hard. Some are 17 years old, and we were still using them 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. With the 10 new machines, productivity has gone up by 25 percent. This is mainly due to the newer control technology of the 2216s. Being able to put any job on any machine also makes a big difference.”

This is not the first upgrade for Dolphin. “We have one part that starts out at about 67 lb and ends up around 6 lb,” said DiCello. “It’s about a 20- hour job. We used to make them on some of the 4020s, and it just took too long. About two and a half years ago, we upgraded to 10 Fadal 4525s after seeing how well they removed metal.”


Dolphin Machine sees increasing orders for Boeing 787 Dreamliner components

According to DiCello, the Fadals are the right choice for taking heavy cuts and tackling titanium. “We machine it all day long. I’ve had people say these parts are being made in California in twice the amount of time that we’re making them. But there’s a secret to it,” DiCello said, who naturally declined to reveal it. “There’s a method to it, and we know how to do it. And we can do it all day long with Fadals.”

Another important factor to Dolphin’s success is that the company became AS9100B certified two years ago with a score of 880, the highest possible score for a manufacturing company. “A lot of my competition can’t afford the certification process,” says DiCello. “You need a fulltime quality person to stay 9100 compliant.” Certification process costs are typically between $10,000 and $30,000. Certified suppliers have an edge because it eliminates the need for companies such as Boeing to perform quality audits at their suppliers’ facilities, and they can be sure of the financial stability of their supplier and the quality of the work.

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