In Graphite Engineering, It’s Safety First
As we detailed last in a blog last month, cutting, grinding, and shaping graphite materials requires great force and precision. Because of the powerful forces at play, graphite engineering must always have safety in mind first. In this blog, we will detail how we ensure that the employees in our milling department stay safe when cutting graphite materials.
Safety When Milling Graphite Material
As with all departments on our shop floor, we have created a set of general guidelines and safety operation procedures for our mills department. These procedures guide our employees when the milling machines are in use.
Before operating in the mill department, all employees are required to receive basic shop safety training and equipment-specific safety training. Working in the milling department requires employees to wear PPE equipment, follow shop rules, and follow operating manuals for the equipment they use when milling graphite materials.
What Exactly is Milling?
In the context of a graphite shop, milling is a process for removing graphite material from a graphite block by means of a cutting tool that moves around the stationary workpiece. The set of safety guidelines specific to the mills department is established as a timeline for the operation.
Step 1: General Mill Safety
Employees are required to have general knowledge about the department. They acquire this general knowledge partly by speaking with and working alongside experienced employees in this department who share what they have learned from their years of experience milling graphite material. Some of the things employees learn in this part of the training are the following:
- Always keep guards in place while operating the machine.
- While in operation, allow nobody else to touch the milling machine.
- Keep away from moving cutting tools.
- Always ensure that the tools being used are in good condition.
Step 2: What to Do Before Starting the Mill
Now that an employee is ready to start working on machining graphite material, there are a few things they must attend to before starting the mill. They are as follows:
- Cutting tools need to be securely fastened in the spindle.
- Workpieces must be securely fastened to the mill bed with clamps, vise, or other special fixtures.
- The cutting tool must be clear of the workpiece before starting the machine.
Step 3: While the Mill is in Operation
Once the milling starts, an employee must continue to keep safety in mind, not just making the perfect cuts to the graphite material. Here are crucial safety guidelines for the time when the mill is in operation:
- The machinist must make sure to use proper feeds and speeds for the type and size cutter being used, as well as for the material grade and size to be machined.
- The material is not to be approached while it is being machined.
- The employee should always stay at the machine while it is running.
- Once the power has been turned off, the milling machine’s spindle break should be used to stop the spindle.
Final Steps: Housekeeping and Maintenance
Once the cuts are made and the graphite material moves onto the next stage of the machining process, employees in the mill department perform housekeeping and maintenance duties. The guidelines below describe the duties of the machinist that will ensure safe milling operation going forward:
- Do not allow large quantities of graphite dust to accumulate around the workpiece or the milling table.
- Do not use the work table as a storage location for anything (e.g. wrenches, hammers, other tools).
- Follow Lock Out/Tag Out procedures when making repairs or when servicing the mill.
- Do not power the machine to tighten or loosen cutting tools as one would with an electric screwdriver.
- Before cleaning the mill table, remove all the tools from the spindle.