Parker “51” post war production
Product Improvement Advances Characterize 1947-1948 Production
During 1947 the Product Development and Manufacturing divisions spent a great deal of time and effort in the improvement of the quality of our product. We are convinced that it is futile to attempt to improve quality by only increasing the amount and scope of inspection. Quality results from correct design and consistent, careful workmanship.
Therefore, a number of minor changes in design were made during the year, all of which have had a substantial effect on the functioning of the pen. Among there have been the following:
Establishment of correct capillary channel sizes in the collector. This change was based on a series of exhaustive tests in the Physical Laboratory in which the effects of the size of these capillaries on flow, flooding and skipping were very carefully checked over a whole range of sizes.
The feed bar was carefully studied and a new length and profile established.
The length of the slit in the nib was changed.
These are a but a few of the many but very important changes which resulted from some very carefully conducted tests made in the Physics Laboratory.
In the meantime our manufacturing methods were being carefully scrutinized by our newly organized Methods Engineering unit.
Knowing that the nib is the vital part of the pen, we engaged two outside organizations in addition to our own engineering and technical laboratories to go over all our nib manufacturing processes to discover improved methods. The Armour Research Foundation spent 15 months time and some $40,000. on an independent study of our methods. The net result was a thorough investigation of other methods. These methods did not show any substantial improvement over those which we are now using. We count this money well spent to know that independent research was not able to suggest any better methods than those we are using. We have known for some time that after a nib is properly spaced and mounted in the holder it will change over a period of time, often to the extent of tightly closing at the slit, and crossing or bending of the two legs of the nib. Careful investigation disclosed that these changes resulted from stresses in the metal caused by the nib manufacturing operations as well as in the mounting of the nib in the collector and the heatdown of the shell. Our technical staff have worked out a heat treatment of the properly spaced and adjusted nib which removes these stresses. We also mount these stress-free nibs with the aid of optical comparators which enlarge the image of the parts 62.5 times actual size so that we make all the adjustments not only more carefully, but also without applying additional stress to the nib in the process. In this connection it might be interesting to note that the glass a watch repairman uses enlarges only eight times actual size.
We have often heard it stated that hand ground nibs are superior to machine ground nibs.
If the argument were confined to one hand ground nib made by a master craftsman as compared to a random selected machine product there might be some room for doubt. However, we do not make one nib at a time. We make 25,000 nibs every working day and have made over 35,000 for several weeks on end. It is not possible to get enough master craftsmen to make this quantity of nibs and make them exactly alike. We have under construction a completely automatic machine which will produce, hour after hour, nibs which are exact duplicates of each other without any human errors whatsoever. We have already spent $50,000. on its development, and may easily spend two or three times that amount before we have a practical working model. But we are convinced that we at Parker will have, in the not too distant future, equipment which will be the envy of the industry.
Another big improvement in performance is our beryllium copper heat treated clip. This is by test the best clip on the market today.
We have greatly improved our Inspection set-up. In 1945, at the end of the war, we had one full time salaried Chief Inspector. We now have seven full time salaried technical men in the Inspection Department. During 1947 we spent $300,000. more on direct inspection costs than we did in 1946. This was brought about by additional inspection points in our manufacturing.
During the war years a plant wide incentive system was installed whereby inspectors were paid in accordance with the volume of parts they inspected. This resulted in a very marked deterioration in our inspection results. In December, 1946 we negotiated with our union for the elimination of all inspection work from the incentive plan.
We have greatly increased the number and quality of our inspection equipment, introducing many of the new types of gauging and measuring equipment developed during the war for ordnance work. A recent compilation of the value of one each of the gauges required for inspecting the “51” pen indicated a total cost of $7,500. This did not include the cost of micrometers, comparators and similar general measuring instruments. We have many duplicates of this equipment to handle the peak volume of 18,000 “51” pens per day.
In addition we have instituted the practice of selecting at random a certain number of finished pens each day and giving them complete functional and dimensional testing in the laboratory. Among them: FILLING TEST to see that the pen takes on minimum volume of ink in ten strokes. WRITE OUT TEST in which the full pen is written dry in a mechanical writing machine (the quality of the writing is tested as well as the percentage of the ink in the barrel used in the writing). DRIP TEST CHECK of principal parts to see that they are within specified tolerances.
We are confident that pens produced now are greatly superior to those produced at this same time last year and that those produced in 1948 will show even more improvements.