A customer that hits home

Ocotillo Wells CARiding a dirt bike in the California desert is something I’ve grown to love.  It’s not just the freedom or pure exhilaration of it, but as an Engineer at heart I’d say the technology on motorcycles these days pulled me in like a moth drawn to light.  Brute horsepower that will rip your arms off if not respected, advanced suspension that floats over the harshest terrain, and protective gear that makes for an protective exoskeleton truly fit for battle.  But, sadly there’s often a downside to having so much fun.  I learned this very much the hard way when following a tumble suffered a severely torn ligament in my right knee.

Enter our customer DJO Global, a local booming manufacturer of medical rehabilitation products.  To aid in my safe recovery the hospital had coincidentally fitted me with a knee brace from their DONJOY product line.  Through the entire multi-month recovery process, I truly learned first hand what it was like to benefit directly from American ingenuity and creativity.  It’s a customer who I can say truly made my own life better and that’s something worth talking more about.

Months later when I could properly walk again I caught up DJO’s Senior Prototyping Machinist Robert Funk in nearby Vista to talk more about his machining work at DJO.

Robert, so… working for a such a successful company you could have bought anything you wanted for the shop, but you decided to get a 3 Axis ProtoTRAK SMX retrofit for your Bridgeport and a ProtoTRAK 1630 SLX lathe; not big ticket items by any means.  What’s it about SWI’s ProtoTRAK that convinced you needed this product instead of another for your shop?

It’s so easy to use, and the ProtoTRAK just plain works; it was the best tool for the job.  On a bridgeport it’s flexible and I don’t really need a tool changer anyway.  It feels comfortable (then laughs) …like putting on that old pair of favorite shoes.

Next to the machine is a Anilam 3axis toolroom CNC so I ask about it, but I only get another classic deep chuckle and a one liner “it’s torture”  I decide to skip the topic and ask more about why he felt a ProtoTRAK is the best tool for his work.

It’s perfect for prototyping.  But I’ve also used it to make several hundred of a single part for the production line across the street; they do custom knee braces for athletes and make a bone growth stimulator machine.  Worked great!

Looking over a complicated multi-process part he produced from pocket, I couldn’t help but laugh myself and quip, that must have been fun to program.  How did you machine that?

This one I programmed at my desk using EasyCAM; check out all the o-ring under cuts on the pockets.  I programmed each side of the part, then sent it wireless over the network to the control.  Worked great, no problems.  For what it is, the machine is pretty darn accurate too.

Robert asked if I had learned my lesson about motorcycles, and I assured him …probably not.  Robert, keep up the good work!

DJO Global, a sincere thank you for helping me walk again.

Chris Pratt
Pratt Machine Tools
San Diego, CA

Epilogue: Robert first found out about ProtoTRAK approximately 15 years ago while working as a machinist.  After a 10 year lapse in using this CNC control, he found his new position at DJO and knew he had to have ProtoTRAK again for his new toolroom responsibilities.  Transitioning to the new SMX model was painless, “I picked it up again no problem.” The other 1000′s of users worldwide would agree that real power lies in how easy to use this control is.  For small lot milling and turning the smart choice is ProtoTRAK, and those who know this often come back.

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B.S Mechanical Engineering (Cal Poly SLO) - Operations manager, Pratt Machine Tools

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