machine-shop owner

In the beginning of April Bob Buist attended the JobBOSS conference in San Diego, where he heard speaker Titan Gilroy talk about his experiences owning a CNC machine shop in Northern California. Gilroy’s story is unique. On the one hand he was an entrepreneur’s story: he started his own business in 2005 and now employees around 30 workers. They make precision components from carbon fiber, plastic, steel, and aluminum for a number of high-tech industries.

That’s not all, though. Titan Gilroy also produces and stars in the TV series Titans of CNC, a labor of love he created to highlight the struggles and the victories of the machine shop owners who kept themselves above water in the wake of the Great Recession. Gilroy strongly believes in the importance of CNC machining to the American economy and to workers who benefit from learning a skilled trade that American manufacturing depends on. He also thinks that American manufacturing is the best in the world.

As a result of this passion, Gilroy created an important free training platform and resource called Titans of CNC: Academy in order to train and inspire students, educators, and shop owners. This CAD/CAM and CNC manufacturing educational program is online with thousands of projects, video tutorials and TV episodes available to assist anyone with the desire to learn CNC.

Another way that Titan Gilroy is educating and creating opportunities for other would be machinists is through his machine-shop training program in San Quentin Prison. Gilroy’s upbringing and youth were troubled and full of violence and poverty. A former amateur boxer, he served time in prison himself, but learning the CNC trade gave him better goals and aspirations and kept him from returning to his previous patterns of anger and violence. He’s now sharing those skills with the inmates of San Quentin and highlighting their journey in season three of Titans of CNC. In this way he hopes to be able to help others like him to break the cycle of hopelessness and poverty while helping to rebuild American manufacturing again from the ground up.

Titans of CNC is involved in many initiatives designed to give people both training and inspiration. Check out the Titans’ Giving Back Inspiration page to see more examples of the good that can be done when passion, energy, and concern for the people around you intersect. If you’ve ever thought of CNC machining as just another job or type of work, Titan Gilroy’s story will excite you about the opportunities for both people and innovation in this fast changing industry.

In the beginning of March I attended the 2017 Fabricators and Manufacturers Association Conference in New Orleans. This is a great annual opportunity to meet with other people in the industry and discuss current conditions and upcoming challenges for fabricators and manufacturers. I attended a number of round-table discussions from various fabrication machine builders and fabricators who updated us on the following:

Data and sensors - Laser cutting and forming machines are collecting all types of data that can be used for decision making and to improve the processes, maintenance decisions, costing, and availability of equipment. This raises questions about how to determine what data is important and how to incorporate that into various kinds of ERP software.

Remote service - Remotely servicing machinery is becoming more common in the industry. For this to work, the machine user performs maintenance while wearing a digital camera that is connected to a service person from the company that built that machine tool. Connected by this camera, they work together to analyze and perform troubleshooting of machine issues, saving the cost of travel and improving response. In this way downtime can be reduced and efficiency improved.

Robotics - Robotics are being implemented in various ways for machine builders in order to address labor needs and efficiencies. There are robots being used to load tools into press brakes while the operator is bringing his material to the machine. As a result, some fabricators are reducing setups from an average of 40 minutes to 6 minutes on repeat parts.

Shawn Dubravac, the conference’s keynote speaker, gave a presentation on Digital Destiny. Shawn walked us through some history of technology and talked about how technology becomes wasted as it becomes cheap and abundant. Three things are coming together in the present day that change how we will live in the future. These are:

  • Digitization
  • Connection
  • Sensorization

These things enable monitors to affect what data we collect and how we use it. Some examples of current products that are utilizing these three types of technology concurrently are baby monitors, Amazon Alexa (which controls various technologies in your home) and the Fitbit, a device people wear to monitor the various activities they do throughout the day.

Technologically as a society, we are approaching the point of massive customization of products. The micro customization of these items will allow for increasing personalization of what customers need and want. We are using voice recognition to use our devices, and eventually our behaviors will build profiles that enable our devices to know what we want and automatically produce or perform our patterned requests.

The next phase in this type of technological development will be adding sensors that will collect data and enable the creation of a three-dimensional space that will change how our young people learn and live. This has enormous implications for every aspect of our lives: economic, social, and personal. We certainly live in interesting times.


--Bob Buist

D+M Metal Products’ Bob Buist will be attending the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl.® (FMA) annual meeting in New Orleans on March 8-10, 2017.

This year taking the opportunity to talk with other people in the industry will be especially helpful because the rapidly changing political landscape will have ramifications for the economy and for fabricating and manufacturing in ways we may not already anticipate. FMA’s economic analyst Dr. Chris Kuehl will be sharing his thoughts on what we may expect. Other topics of interest we can look forward to include: the latest in equipment technology and automation, lean principles, employee recruitment and engagement, and how changing technology will affect business in the coming months and years.  

Anyone in the fabricating and manufacturing industry attending, feel free to say hello to Bob while at the conference or to contact him via the website beforehand so we can make connecting in New Orleans possible.

In 1981 D+M purchased its first CNC turret press, since that time we’ve continued to add and update our turret press capacity.  Recently we added a new LVD V30 turret press to replace one of our aging Pega machines.  The increase in sheet size and speed improves our capacity without increasing the floor space required. 

At the same time we purchased a new LVD PPEC 7-axis press brake that replaces another aged out press brake.  The improvement in speed, multi axis gaging and quality also increases our ability and capacity in our press area.  By continuing to invest in new and updated equipment we are able to improve our quality and effectiveness to meet our customers’ requirements.

If you have specific questions concerning punching or forming technology at D+M please contact us at 616-784-0601 or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at


For over 30 years, one of D+M Metal Products strengths has been its welding department.  Since the first robotic welder purchased in 1984 our expertise in robotic welding has grown.   D+M’s robotic welding personnel are well equipped to weld stainless, aluminum and carbon steel for your specific application.  Every year we look to provide additional capacity, reliability and increased value for our customers.  As part of that commitment D+M has recently purchased a fourth robotic weld cell.  This Lincoln System 10 robotic weld cell investment adds capacity and improved throughput because of the cell configuration.  If you have specific questions concerning the robotic welding technology at D+M please contact us at 616-784-0601 or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at