For people who do not work in the manufacturing sector, the phrase “manufacturing industry” probably brings to mind huge factories belting out smoke and divulging huge metal beams or giant crucibles from airplane hanger doors. A great deal of the manufacturing that goes on in the U.S. and elsewhere, like the graphite machining we do at Semco, occurs on a more modest scale. That’s not to say that Semco doesn’t machine large graphite components: we recently produced, for instance, several custom vacuum furnace graphite plates as three piece assemblies that, once assembled, measured over 13’’ think and a whopping 120’’ in diameter. The parts we produce in these sizes are impressive, but we believe that a lesser known aspect of our capabilities is equally impressive: our ability to machine very small graphite components.
So how small is “small”? Well, we have the capability to produce parts as small as 0.080’’ diameter, and 1’’ long with machined features on the O.D. (outside diameter) of the part, or parts 0.200’’ O.D. x 0.040’’ I.D. (inside diameter) x approx. 2’’ long, with total tolerances of 0.001’’. If those numbers don’t immediately mean much to you, look at your thumb. It’s about an inch wide. We produce small carbon tubes about that long that have a diameter about twice that of a low E guitar string. We regularly machine small electrodes of various sizes and shapes, along with many other graphite punches that are tiny and have tight tolerance and intricate designs. Not only are these parts that we machine very small and often intricate, but they often require special finishes, such as ground or polished finishes, which we can do. All of this requires precision machining and a great deal of experience working with graphite.
While our core graphite machining business is geared towards the production of medium and large graphite products, we pride ourselves on our capabilities that allow us to produce small, tight tolerance products as well. Our engineers’ and machinists’ skills in this area has been one of the secrets of our success, a niche that has helped Semco stand out in the field of graphite machining. In fact, we believe that machining these types of parts has been instrumental in growing Semco into the company it is today. While the larger product has taken over as the main driver in production, small product is still part of our growth initiative.