Nick Bloom

Nick is the founder of Techspex, billed as “THE machine tool database” and found at Since graduating from SMU in Dallas in 1973, he has worked in sales and management at various levels of the machine tool industry, including working for two builders, a national importer and a local distributor. Techspex is an online database of machine tools that helps visitors quickly find the machine tool model(s) they need. People often ask Nick how the idea of Techspex came about. “Figuring out which builders make machines that can best handle a job was time-consuming and hit-or-miss,” he says. Seeing the potential early on for the Internet to help solve this problem, he launched Techspex in 1996.

Posted by: Nick Bloom 11. October 2015

Small Footprint Multi-Function Turning/Milling Center Completes Large Parts

When referring to machine tool processes, the terms multi-function, multi-tasking, and hybrid, only hint at true capability. My earliest recollection of a machine tool that could handle both the turning and milling process in an integrated manner was in the early 80’s. Simple as it was, the concept quickly garnered a hard-core fan base of early adopters.  So many advantages were obvious from the outset. From minimizing setups, handling, error, and total machine cycle time, to maximizing profit, efficiency, quality, and lean manufacturing benefits.

It seems that design light years have passed as multi-function machines have proliferated. The following short descriptive terms elaborate on just how capable these flexible machines have become;

For lathes: Twin spindle, C-Axis, Y-Axis, B-Axis, A-Axis, Twin-Turret, Tri-Turret, ATC, Auto-Load, Multi-Tool Simultaneous Machining, Additive, and the list goes on.

These terms essentially describe adding function to enable the completion of more operations with less handling (with plenty of additional side benefits).  But one of the long-time challenges of machine tool design has been the ability to handle large parts in small machines and small parts in large machines. Why can’t a low horse power machine, for example, handle large parts as long as stock removal is within the range of the power rating?  Sure, many parts have an envelope to horse power relationship that dictates requirements. But part materials are changing as rapidly as any element in manufacturing, and I see many parts that require less and less horse power to cut, that only need envelope (the space within the machine to maneuver them and the tools around them).

When I recently reviewed the Nakamura-Tome NTRX-300, the envelope of the machine, when compared to the horse power, caught my attention. The machine is capable of machining a 10” square on the face of the part without using the C-Axis, because the Y-Axis travel is considerably greater than most other machines in its class and its B-Axis adds even greater range. And this capability does not sacrifice other aspects of this truly multi-functional machine. It’s a true twin spindle, equipped with ATC to include up to 120 tools for the most complex parts.

This Modern Machine Shop Online article elaborates further on the machine capabilities.

Bottom line: new technology doesn’t need to sacrifice basic needs and this machine brings that important point home. 

Posted by: Nick Bloom 25. September 2015

The Return Of The Golden Rule

The subject of this post is way outside my typical list of topics.  But because it’s such a rare experience for me to be so affected and inspired as I have been by Pope Francis’s determination, authenticity, and grace, I felt compelled to write something.  

I do not actively practice a religion. But understanding the tenets that guide Judeo-Christian values, I try to live ethically and morally and follow the golden rule and try to be a good citizen and caretaker of the environment. Though I try, I am aware that I compromise my ideals every day, by driving a car, by not sharing as much as I could with the less fortunate, and in many other ways. But today I am trying harder, because of Pope Francis.   

Having been raised on Long Island, in a mostly Catholic community, the voice of the Catholic Church has never escaped my consciousness. At first my awareness came through “osmosis,” but later in life by consciously following its public message, both overt and covert.

Although there have been popular and dynamic Popes that preceded Francis, none, in my opinion, have more effectively proposed the changes and solutions that are most urgently needed, both for the Church and the world, than Francis.  

Immediately upon his ascension to the Papacy, Francis began to make his mark, to change the Church’s tone and the focus. Some say Francis has crossed the line into politics and world affairs, places where the Church has no business.  On the contrary, there are no more important matters for the Church than the welfare of humanity and the earth. Every leader of every religion with a following should take Francis’s lead to challenge their congregation to make a difference. Francis’s most important issues: to help the less fortunate and displaced, to save and nurture the environment, to help eliminate wealth inequality and injustice.

I am not Catholic. Yet Francis is an inspiration to me and others, among whom I had rarely heard a positive word about the Catholic Church.  During his visit to the United States, Pope Francis has asked people to pray for him.  I am praying for Pope Francis and trying harder to make a difference. 

Posted by: Nick Bloom 14. September 2015

When The Free Market Hits Home

Different industries attract different types of people. In my experience, manufacturers are independent minded, analytical, more likely conservative, hard-working folks. We might also think of ourselves as free-market capitalists who want government out of our business.  So how do you feel about a recent report from the scrupulously nonpartisan Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) that insists that U.S. manufacturing is in sharp decline and in desperate need of congressional action to help offset the devastating effects of the free market?

According to the ITIF’s August 2015 report, which criticizes a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) state of manufacturing analysis, U.S. manufacturing is a victim of global free markets, and not a healthy and growing industry as the CRS analysis portrays.  The CRS analysis was requested by congress to help it determine the actual state and health of U.S. manufacturing. The reports erroneous conclusion of the industries healthfulness will make it much less likely that congress takes action to provide needed economic stimulation for the manufacturing sector.   

The CRS report entitled “U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective” must have been written by free market ideologues, as it denies 1) that American manufacturing is in trouble, and 2) that congressional action is capable of helping it. The CRS report recommends total inaction in support of the manufacturing sector.

The ITIF critique of the CRS report points out the slight-of-hand, misrepresentation, and camouflaged statistics that allow the CRS to throw manufacturing under the bus.  How do millions of lost jobs over the last 15 years get spun into a success story?  Yes, productivity has increased by about 16 percent, but output has decreased by almost 200 percent.  And there’s a difference between greenfield investment (building new factories) and brownfield investment (transferring assets from U.S. owners to foreign owners), but the CRS conflates the two. In truth, only 3.4 percent of new investment created anything new. The CRS’s conclusion that legislation to help U.S. manufacturers isn’t needed, while the rest of the world’s governments stack the deck to help their own manufacturers is either naïve or cynical, or worse, our competition has infiltrated the government and written the CRS report.

The ITIF’s Critique of CRS’s “U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective” may change some manufacturer’s minds about the ideology of free markets as the gospel. 

Posted by: Nick Bloom 8. September 2015

Two Head(quarter)s, Better Than One

Takisawa-Taiwan, or Taiwan Takisawa, or Takisaw-T are variations on the same brand, a joint effort between Takisawa Machinery Company of Japan, in Okayama and its subsidiary Taiwan Takisawa Technology Co., Ltd. In Taoyuan City, Taiwan.

These two companies are held by the same parent. Through cooperation between the two companies, designs and engineering expertise are exchanged.  But throughout the world, these two brands are imported and distributed as two discrete product lines, and for good reason. Though both product lines consist primarily of turning machines, but the actual models and series of models are as different from each other as any two distinct brands might be.

The Takisawa brand is designed and manufactured in Japan and is imported into the U.S. by Yamazen, Schaumburg, IL. The Takisawa Taiwan brand is imported to the U.S. by Takisawa Tech Corp., Ontario, CA.

The Takisawa Taiwan product line includes both horizontal and vertical turning centers, ranging from 10 to over 130 horse power.  The largest LS-1100 horizontal lathe is ideal suited for oil-field work with bar capacity up to 10” and turning length to 175”. Several series include multi-tasking models with C-, Y-, and even A-axes. Other models feature twin spindle or sub spindle configurations.

The Takisawa series is even more extensive with over 50 models including the TCC compact lathe series, the very large TG series for long and large diameter part processing. The PPS series is a special purpose line of oval turning lathes. The TT series feature parallel twin spindle turning centers with capability to transfer parts between spindles via the gantry loader system. Other multi-purpose models include the TCY, TMT, TMX, TMM, and TS series, featuring sub spindle and Y-axis milling, A-axis milling spindle on large envelope single and twin spindle lathes. 

Posted by: Nick Bloom 7. August 2015

Importer Expands Turning & Machining Center Lineup

We just added over 50 new Amera Seiki turning and machining center models to the Techspex machine tool model database. Amera Seiki previously located in Iowa has relocated to Houston, TX.

Their product line has expanded to include vertical turning centers with turning capacity over 118” and 135 horse power.  Their extensive S, FCL, and XCF Series of horizontal turning centers with secondary milling function and multi-tasking capabilities, features 18 basic models configurable in almost 100 different ways. Their ABM and AHBM Series of boring mills handles parts with X-axis capacity up to 236”. The VCB Series of vertical machining centers offer a rigid “closed bridge” design and up to 86” x-axis travels as well as dual table configuration that out-performs built-in pallet changers for reduction of non-cutting time.  14 AV Series vertical machining center models include linear and box way machines and two 5-axis machines. The GM and VB Series of Gantry Style Machining Centers offer machining envelopes up to more than 200” long x 100” wide. In total, Amera Seiki offers over 240 different models capable of handling small to large workpieces requiring heavy metal removal to near net shaped parts in the sub thousandth tolerance range. 

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