Friday, January 30, 2009

Will These Screws Hold?

When you’re designing equipment, the screws are the least of your problems, right?

Hi, Diane here, and I would have thought that until I read an article in the January issue of Assembly. Their story of screws working loose due to temperature swings in transit made me realize, you can’t take these simple fasteners for granted.

An engineer can pay close attention to torque specifications and still have screws fail. Other factors that affect loosening include internal and external threads, length, coatings, spacing of fasteners, environment, equipment vibration and more. Thread lockers like Loctite® aren’t always the answer, because they add time and cost to the assembly process, and can typically only be used once.

And it’s crazy to think you can use stress testing in every case—most businesses will do it only for safety-critical applications. So how can you avoid the scenario depicted in the Assembly story, having your piece of equipment delivered in pieces?

The article had a great recommendation, and I second it: Talk to your supplier. Rely on the experience of people whose business is fasteners. Our Technical Sales staff takes calls all the time from engineers who are not sure which fastener will function without failing in a particular application. (For a sampling of the metric fasteners we offer, visit our Metric Fasteners section.) If we don’t stock the right item, we can obtain it.

Because no want wants a screw loose. (Okay, you know I had to say that.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A New Addition to our Engineers-We-Love List

Diane here, and I just want to say that at J.W. Winco we love engineers. And not just because design engineers keep us in business! We just dig you guys and gals because you're smart, interesting, and quite often, funny. (I should mention "The Big Bang Theory" is my favorite sit com. How can you go wrong with a show that stars four engineers?)

Well, today we want to tell you about a real-life engineer that brightened our day and is sure to do the same for you. We discovered him via a report in a recent issue of Product Design and Development magazine's e-newsletter "Design Daily." Todd is an engineer at National Instruments who keeps a blog called "An Engineering Mind." If you're having a frustrating day, take a couple minutes to watch this sample video from Todd, in which he gives you some helpful economic advice:

Todd, we'd like to assist you in supplying some parts for your Copper Penny Sorting Machine! Perhaps a side-thrust pin? We have these that would go nicely with the theme, as they are available in...wait for it...well, copper of course.

And readers, if you'd like to post about someone we should add to our Engineers-We-Love List, please do!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stainless Steel Three Spoked Handwheels

Hi, it's Diane today. Another regular feature we'll be doing here on our blog a few times a month is showcasing our newest product offerings. So today we're showing off a series from our excellent selection of handwheels.

The GN 949 series of stainless steel three spoked handwheels is pictured here. These handwheels are RoHS-compliant and available in inch and metric sizes, with or without handle. They are designed particularly for sanitary and most corrosion-free environment applications.

The body of the handwheel is precision cast and has a matte, shot-blasted finish. The contact face of the hub is machined, with the rim being concentric and square to the bore. The optional revolving handle is made of black phenolic plastic with a smooth, glossy finish and a stainless steel spindle. Countersunk washers for handwheel retention, as well as special inch and metric bores, are available upon request. Other modifications such as keyways, set screw holes, and more, are offered.

We invite you to find out the full details about these handwheels here in our online catalog. Complete technical data, including dimensional table, is included on the page. You can also check pricing by clicking on the part numbers, or download CAD free by clicking on the CAD buttons.

Looking for a different style of handwheel? Check our full line here, or call our Technical Sales Associates at 800-877-8351 for more information and advice on handwheels.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Clean Your Milling Table T-Slots with Ease

Greetings from Diane! Well, here at J.W. Winco we not only help design engineers, but also machinists, home hobbyists and others who can use our parts and our tools. Today we have a tool-related tip to feature.

You know, we love it when customers are so excited about our products that they want to share what they've discovered. Like this example: The Toolmonger blog included our T-slot scrapers in their 10 Favorite Tools of 2008. Here's what Benjamen Johnson had to say about them:

"How do you get that gunk out of your milling table's T-slots? It's almost impossible to clean the shavings out of these oily recesses--unless you've got this scraper designed just for the purpose. Its T-shaped head matches the shape of the table slots to scrape the metal debris away. [The blade is made] from hardened chrome-vanadium steel and the handle from red and black cadmium-free plastic. Why tout your product as cadmium free? Used in some pigments, cadmium can be an environmental hazard. This product is hard to find...but if you go to J.W. Winco's website you can order a scraper that fits 14-20mm (9/16″ to 3/4″) T-slots for $6.70 or a scraper that fits 22-32mm (7/8″ to 1-1/4″) T-slots for $14.64."

Mr. Johnson, we are delighted to have one of our tools included in your Top Ten List. Readers, you can view all the specs on our Web site here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To 2D or to 3D CAD, That is the Question

Have you made the migration to 3D CAD? How crucial is it that you do?

Diane posting today…Here at J.W. Winco, we’ve been offering free 3D CAD models for almost all our parts on our Web site for several years. Nevertheless, we also offer 2D, and we know many of our customers still work in 2D. What’s holding up the migration?

An article in the January 2009 NASA Tech Briefs discusses this issue. A lot of the problem is classic fear of change. 3D is a whole different animal, and requires more than simply mastering different software: the engineer must think in a different way. A lot of companies recognize that making the transition will take time, and they don’t want to lose productivity.

Fortunately, easing this problem is a task that is being addressed by CAD software companies. After all, it’s in their best interest to make their products more desirable. So the goal is to make 3D CAD products easier to install, learn, and use. Some CAD software developers are taking another look at the outdated concepts that were the foundation of CAD technology and revamping them for the needs of today’s users. It’s possible that product you rejected two years ago may now be able to serve your modeling needs much more effectively.

But for some users, the problem continues to be cost. Before your company springs for 3D, they need to know how crucial it is to have. For some businesses, 2D continues to be sufficient for their limited needs. But for others, the tight economy is weeding out businesses that have lost their competitive edge, and now may well be the time to invest in the upgrade to 3D.

I can tell you that the vast majority of CAD downloads from our Web site are 3D. And I can also tell you that our customers tell us the ability to download 3D CAD has been a huge boon in the design process.

So if you haven’t added that extra dimension to your CAD modeling, don’t let the economy deter you from considering taking the step in 2009.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Adjustable Levers for Quick Changeover

Posting today is John--greetings! I started with J.W. Winco, Inc. over 27 years ago and serve as C.E.O.--Office of the President. I’m pleased to be part of our new blogging team!

Today I’m here to talk about one of our favorite topics at J.W. Winco, quick changeover. We love this subject because over the years we have been able to help so many of our customers improve their designs using quick changeover components.

Take, for example, adjustable levers, many types of which we manufacture right here at our facility. An adjustable lever can go a long way to make a machine more efficient by rendering it tool free. But I better not get ahead of myself...

A machine designed without considering quick changeover options will require tools for adjustment, and utilizes “traditional” fasteners instead. So for example, you might have to adjust cross blocks and move guide rails on that machine by using a hex key wrench to loosen or remove cap screws. I see problems with this design: the wrench has to be kept handy, sooner or later a screw will be lost, and it may even fall into the machinery and damage it.

But substitute adjustable levers for the cap screws and you have made your machine faster, more functional, and safer. The ratcheting characteristic of adjustable levers mean they can be used in tight spaces. Their design also allows for easier visual adjustment to specific positions, and their ergonomic shape makes them user-friendly. They are ideal for situations where more torque is required than can be achieved with a simple knob.

The examples on this post show you (1) Adjustable levers used in lieu of cap screws and nuts on an adjustment rail, and (2) A heavy duty adjustable lever used to lock down an arm once it has been positioned properly according to the markings on the scale. (Click to enlarge photos.)

We pride ourselves on our great selection of adjustable levers in metric and inch, metal and plastic, tapped and stud type, in many colors and just about every possible size. The whole line can be viewed on our Web site here. Questions about using adjustable levers? Post your question as a comment on this post, or call our technical experts at 800-877-8351.

We’ll talk more about quick changeover ideas in future posts!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stainless Steel Characteristics

Diane posting, and I’m here at J.W. Winco wondering if we will get above zero temps today in New Berlin, WI. No matter, we Wisconsinites are hardy types, with temperature tolerances that rival AISI 304 stainless steel. Which brings me to today’s topic.

At J.W. Winco we sell a lot of stainless steel components used in applications in the medical, food, electronics and other industries. It’s common knowledge that when corrosion resistance is an essential characteristic of a piece of equipment, stainless steel is the material of choice. But what about if temperature tolerance is an issue?

Engineers understand that there are many different types of stainless steels and they all have slightly different characteristics. Sure, a food industry application suggests using stainless steel. But the specifics of the equipment may require a particular type. For example, let’s say you need to find appropriate handles for a cart that is going to need to serve both in high temperature and low temperature environments, like in a bakery operation. For that you would want to use American Standard Series 304 stainless steel (European Standard 1.4301), because it can stand cold as well as heat up to 700 degrees C.

[Incidentally, a good choice for such an application would be our GN 426.5 cabinet U-handles, pictured here. Got more questions about the material properties of these or any other of our products? Just call us at 800-877-8351, or post your question in a comment to this post.]

We have a great tool in the Technical Section on our Web site for finding a lot of information about stainless steel characteristics in one place, this handy chart, pictured here in the thumbnail. Six common types of stainless steel are evaluated, including chemical composition, tensile and yield strength, expansion and forging properties, suitability for welding, corrosion resistance, and other special characteristics. Typical applications for each type are also listed.

I can’t close today’s post on stainless steel without mentioning my personal favorite of the ~1,230 series of parts we offer, these GN 5335 stainless steel hand knobs. They are AISI Standard 303 and would work great as kitchen fittings. I just think they look really cool. Don’t forget the aesthetics of stainless steel, a material that can be attractive as well as functional.

Just like Wisconsinites!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Blog for Savvy Engineers

Greetings! This is Diane posting today, here to introduce you to our new blog.

As our “About Us” blurb tells you, J.W. Winco, Inc. sells quality inch and metric standard machine components. But our company has always been about a lot more than just selling parts, and we decided it was high time we used blogging technology as part of that.

We’ve always prided ourselves on helping our customers, largely engineers for OEMs, to get their jobs done faster and better. Our Technical Sales staff knows a lot about standard components and the applications in which they are used. We can make suggestions as to what parts may serve best in what capacities, which metals or plastics may work better in particular applications, and how standard parts can be employed by engineers to save time and money.

So why not start putting everything we know in one place, where engineers (as well as home hobbyists, MRO personnel, and others who use standard industrial components) can find the information easily?

Here are some of the sorts of topics our team will be addressing on this blog in the months to come:

• Technical information you can use
• Information on interesting and unique products
• Special application problems we’ve helped address
• Industry news that impacts us and you

We also hope to make this blog a place where engineers can post their own comments on our topics, and ask questions of our experienced staff members. If you have a question you’d like us to address here, feel free to email us at blog @ (without the spaces).

Oh, and I’m the Marketing Communications Specialist for J.W. Winco--pleased to meet you.. In future posts you will meet our Office of the President members including our CEO, some of our managers and associates who work in various capacities here at our facility in New Berlin, Wisconsin (where right now it is cold enough to be mistaken for Alaska).

I have one tip for you right now and that is: Add this blog to your RSS feed right away! And while you’re at it, please visit, our Web site and bookmark it for future reference. If you’d like to read more about our company, visit our About Us page for the full scoop.

More to come tomorrow!