25 January 2016

Machinists bring ideas to life

MagLab machinist Danny McIntosh. MagLab machinist Danny McIntosh. Kristen Coyne

This week at the lab, a team of veteran machinists is turning two-dimensional dreams into three-dimensional reality. Their deep skill and decades of experience help keep visiting scientists (or "users") on track with their experiments and bring to life the visions of the lab’s magnet designers and engineers.

Six experienced machinists work in the MagLab machine shop. Using both old-school and cutting-edge machines, they juggle some 400 to 500 projects a year — everything from repairing unexpected damage wrought by a broken screw during an experiment to constructing one-of-a-kind probes.

"Typically we’ll have visiting scientists coming in with rush projects that need to be done right away," said Vaughan Williams, who oversees the machine shop, "and in between we’ll fill in with other projects that are longer term. Users have top priority." The team also gives young scientists valuable hands-on training on how to effectively design parts and instrumentation.

Among other things going on in the machine shop this week, machinist Danny McIntosh was drilling holes in a large aluminum block headed for the Ion Cyclotron Resonance Facility, while his colleague Morgan Oliff was translating a three-dimensional model of a rotator part into code that one of the shop’s high-tech computer numerical control (CNC) machines can understand. Scientists at the lab’s Applied Superconductivity Center will use the part to study superconductors in high magnetic fields..

Text by Kristen Coyne

Last modified on 25 January 2016