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    MALS-12 receives new machines to arm station with greater capabilities



    Story by Cpl. Claudio Martinez 

    Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

    Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 machinists received two pieces of machinery last month that have improved the squadron’s productivity and the station’s readiness to support regular operations here and throughout Japan.

    MALS-12 acquired the Computer Numerical Control Toolroom Lathe 1 and CNC Vertical Toolroom Mill 1 from Haas Automation Inc. Both pieces specialize in machining hard metals to create parts used to support aircraft and other machinery.

    “Previously to not having those machines, there were a lot of components that required simple machining parts that we could not (create) here,” said Capt. Michael Barribal, MALS-12 airframes and aviation life support systems officer in charge. “Having those machines have placed our capabilities back where they should be. The caliber of the machines we were able to acquire, have pushed our machining and repair capabilities higher prior to having them.”

    The CNC Lathe and Mill are able to produce parts made from hard metals, brass and aluminum. The machines can create parts in the shape of 1-foot screws and bolts and also create smaller pieces that can be used in Humvees.

    Barribal said having the CNC Lathe and Mill allows the station to create the parts it needs here rather than spend time and money on shipping overseas.

    To work the machines, the operators input the dimensions of the part they want to create into the machine’s computer. The machinists then place a piece of metal into the Lathe or Mill, depending on the part they are creating, and the device spins the piece of metal while a stationary cutter shapes it into the desired part.

    Sgt. Bradley Stalker, MALS-12 machine shop noncommissioned officer in charge, said the station is the only military site from Naval Air Facility Atsugi to as far south as Okinawa, Japan, to be equipped with the two machines.

    Before receiving the CNC Lathe and CNC Mill, the MALS-12 machinists used a manual version of the two machines, which took hours to create one new part. The new more precise models are able to produce multiple copies of the same parts in a matter of minutes.

    “Would we be able to do our job without (the new machines)? Yes, but we would have to replace them again with manual machines,” said Stalker. “The quality, the speed and efficiency would be greatly reduced. You’re talking about machines that can make a part in a matter of minutes or hours, which can take a manual machinist a day or two days to make.”

    In total, the two machines, setup and software cost approximately $250,000. They have a life expectancy of roughly 20 years. Stalker estimates the two machines have already saved the station approximately $50,000 within the short time they’ve had them.

    Lance Cpl. Joshua Lucie, a MALS-12 machinist, works with the two machines daily.

    “The money that the station will save just having them — the machines are going to pay for themselves,” said Lucie. “They’ll pay for themselves very fast.”

    Although the CNC Lathe and CNC Mill are capable of creating parts for aircraft, the MALS-12 machinist must receive permission from civilian inspectors before any piece can be added to the aircraft.



    Date Taken: 04.14.2011
    Date Posted: 04.13.2011 19:55
    Story ID: 68707

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