Jeff Ryan of Sherline Products on the Importance of Machining Skills

Interview by Viktoria Pashtriku

Jeff Ryan, Marketing Manager for Sherline Products, a Duro Harbor AUV sponsor, shares with us why learning hard machining skills is important for the new wave of engineers and why Sherline Products are great both for beginners and serious manufacturers.

Viktoria Pashtriku: To get started, can you tell us a little about the history of Sherline Products?

Jeff Ryan: It was started by Ron Sher, an Australian, back in 1972. He partnered with Joe Martin, here in the United States, to distribute his product in the U.S.. Joe Martin was so enthused by the quality of the lathes that Ron Sher was producing that he became a manufacturer of Sherline products here in the United States in 1974. Since then, we have become the sole manufacturer of the Sherline Products line. Our founder, Joe Martin actually passed away in 2014, but the company is still going strong.

The Sherline Crew

VP: Sherline is a sponsor for the Harbor AUV project, in which junior engineers are trained on Sherline machines. Do you think that this type of training is important? Do you feel there is a lack of hands-on training for students in manufacturing?

JR: We here at Sherline believe it is very important to teach hard skills, like machining. The United States doesn’t have a strong presence in manufacturing any longer. We believe that if people learn these skills, we can return to a strong, vibrant manufacturing community within the United States. We also believe that there is a lack of training in these skills in our schools and institutions.

VP: Why do you believe that Sherline products are best for training the new wave of engineers?

JR: We have small benchtop machines which makes them very accessible. Because they are small, and safety is paramount in all instances, it is a lot easier to train on a smaller machine before moving into the large-scale machines.

“Students need to get back to learning the hard skills of machining and learning in a hands-on manner… You can design a wonderful program to run on a machine, but until you actually learn the machine itself, you will never be able to foresee the complications that can arise. You must have both sides of the skill set – the software side and the hardware side.”

VP: Aside from sponsoring projects like the Harbor AUV, how else is Sherline helping to promote machinery skills?

JR: We also have trade schools that have come to us, along with community colleges, and we offer discounts to those programs so that they can get machines into their classrooms so everybody can have that hands-on experience.

We also have an industrial side, where we have industrial tools for engineers and tradesmen who are using our machines in a manufacturing and industrial settings.

The Sherline factory in Vista, California, near San Diego

VP: I understand that you just started working at Sherline in 2015. How has your personal experience been working there so far?

JR: Well, it’s been great! They’ve accepted me with open arms. It’s a relatively small company as numbers go — we have about 50 employees. 40 or so work on the actual manufacturing side, leaving about 10 of us working administratively. The whole company is very family-oriented.

VP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JR: Just that students need to get back to learning the hard skills of machining and learning in a hands on manner, rather than just learning the programming side. You can design a wonderful program to run on a machine, but until you actually learn the machine itself, you will never be able to foresee the complications that can arise. You must have both sides of the skill set – the software side and the hardware side.

VP: Thanks so much!

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