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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Making Music: Inside the Steinway & Sons Manufacturing Day Tour

Music and manufacturing merge every day at piano maker Steinway & Sons, which opened the doors of its manufacturing facility in Queens, N.Y., on national Manufacturing Day today to students from nearby Bard High School Early College for a shop-floor tour. Employees at the Long Island City operation, which was founded in 1853, explained the piano manufacturing process and demonstrated some the 12,000 parts that go into creating Steinway & Sons’ famed instruments — from the wood-cutting process to the handcrafted leg pieces.

Steinway & Sons was among 150 companies and educational facilities around the country that participated in Manufacturing Day, an initiative began by several manufacturing interest and trade groups to spread awareness about the role of manufacturing to local economies all across the country as well as its vitality to U.S. economic growth.

Besides getting a close look at the intricate CNC machining and milling systems that are used toward piano making, students got a glimpse of work processes. “Manufacturing requires working as a team,” said Steinway & Sons employee Lorenzo Espinal, who spoke about the wood technology.

Piano making in progress at Steinway & Sons’ facility on Manufacturing Day, which welcomed local high school students onto the factory floor.

John Marek, fabrication manager, led the tour, making stops on the facility floor to describe each step in the process, which started with the raw boards going into the press. He noted that unlike other manufacturers that may use nails, all of Steinway & Sons’ wood rims are completely glued together.

Frank Melfi, in charge of CNC and advanced machinery at the facility, demonstrated the laser cut library, utilized to eliminate waste. He described how the crosscut optimizer is used to eliminate knots in the wood. A programmable logic controller ensures proper humidity, which is essential in wood production.

Also attending the facility open house was Arthur Davis, a client advisor at the Industrial + Technology Assistance Corp. (ITAC), which is a New York City-based part of the federal Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Davis explained that ITAC coordinated with the famed piano manufacturer to take part in Manufacturing Day and boost manufacturing’s profile.

“When we were asked to recommend a manufacturer, we chose Steinway & Sons because of its world-class reputation,” he said.

“Manufacturing is important in this country for our growth and maintaining  competitiveness overseas and internally. It offers high-standard jobs,” Davis emphasized to Machining Journal in an interview.

“You make a high contribution to something that’s vital to the nation’s growth. I think focusing on manufacturing with an event like Manufacturing Day truly sheds the spotlight on an area that deserves to have a spotlight on it,” he continued. “It should be considered an area where support continues nationally and locally. I think there are great opportunities in manufacturing for kids coming out of high school and college, and it should be looked at seriously.”




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