With IMTS 2018 just around the corner with it’s myriad of machine tools under power, I am reminded of the story of the perhaps the greatest machining demo ever. It happened at the 1900 Paris Exhibition and world’s fair.
Robert Kanigel wrote about it his massive (675 page) biography of Frederick Winslow Taylor, called The One Best Way. Taylor was considered the first efficiency expert and the creator of scientific management, a field that uses time and motion studies to increase productivity. Before that though, he was a leading cutting tool researcher at Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania. His Taylor curve and Taylor tool life equation are still in use today. Along with Maunsel White, Taylor invented High Speed Steel and introduced it to the world in Paris. In the relatively tiny Bethlehem booth they installed a massive lathe that chucked a 10-foot long solid steel cylinder. They would run their HSS tool for 20 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. French news reported that machine shops of Paris would see metal cut SIX TIMES faster than ever before. Crowds packed the small booth to watch the Taylor-White cutting tools in action and other exhibitors complained about them siphoning off attention.
Kanigel wrote: “No one who saw the sight ever forgot it. For many it was the defining moment of their careers, when they watched the world speed up before their eyes. When they told their colleagues about it or talked about it among themselves, technical restraint gave way to simple wonder, the very sight of billowing coils of hot blue chips burned into their brains forever.”
Note in the photo above that hanging between the stanchions at the front of the booth are not velvet rope, but ribbons of the blue chips that came off the tool, so thick that a hammer and chisel had to be used to break them to length.
Germany’s largest machine shop, Ludwig Loewe, sent engineers to view the demonstration where they collected pieces of the chips to take back to their disbelieving bosses.
Wouldn’t every IMTS exhibitor like to have the impact Taylor did in 1900?
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