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New hyper-precise milling machine adds to 'gravitational pull' for intellectual investment at OMIC

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: DARRYL SWAN - Workers at OMIC in Scappoose begin installation work on a newly received WFL Milling Technologies milling and lathing machine Monday, April 9. Workers at the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center in Scappoose on Monday received what could be considered the current crown jewel of the research and development facility's technological offerings: a 52-ton, $3.5 million milling and lathing machine.

"It can fit a lot of different industries," said Duane Stone, the United States service engineer for WFL Millturn Technologies, the machine's Austria-based manufacturer.

The machine is on lease to Boeing, one of several OMIC partners on a quickly growing list of domestic and international industries that also includes WFL Millturn Technologies. It has an integrated laser that allows it to work with a wide range of materials, including extremely hard substances.

With a core about the size of a city bus and boulder-sized bundles of plastic-wrapped components still awaiting installation, workers focused Monday on setting the machine's foundation to establish a stable plane. The machine will be used to aid in the development of improved manufacturing processes, such as improving landing gear and other aerospace applications, and as a teaching tool for student apprentices participating in OMIC.

"It's is one of our central hub features of our campus, and it probably defines next steps in the next evolution of Boeing manufacturing," said Richard Ellis, an instrument technologies specialist with Oregon Tech who is helping establish OMIC.

Ellis and Stone discussed how parts of the Jersey building's electrical subsystems where OMIC is located near Scappoose Industrial Airpark will need to be upgraded to accommodate the machine.

Installation of the milling and lathing machine is expected to be completed by the end of next week.

"This is pretty exciting," said Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, regarding arrival of the machine. "It's part of the gravitational pull of OMIC that will have others, and scientists, wanting to come."

OMIC, established in 2016, is modeled on an applied research and apprenticeship program developed by the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield, England. Industry, public universities and government investment partners expect it to yield new, cutting-edge manufacturing technologies while also serving as an educational resource to train the future of high-tech Oregon workers.

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