Gilroy’s secret is indomitable aggression. This is what
landed Gilroy in juvy in the early 1980s, on the boxing
circuit’s radar by the end of the decade, locked up in the
early ‘90s, and has made him one of the most influential,
dynamic figures in the industry today.
Gilroy owns and operates a successful and highly ad-
vanced machine shop north of Sacramento that has cut
parts for SpaceX’s and Blue Origins’ engine systems.
It’s lined with the latest Haas machines, all running at
speeds several times higher than most machine shops
would ever dare try. They run fast, rapidly amassing piles
of shredded aluminum and steel, and slivers of more
exotic aerospace materials such as Titanium and Inconel.
It’s in this setting—as it was in his manufacturing-based
reality show, Titan: American Built—that Gilroy is trying
to change the world. His latest vehicle for that: a free
training program dubbed the Titans of CNC: Academy.
The idea behind this fight is simple: No matter the
platform or machine, it all comes down to achieving the
maximum speed and feeds.
“Manufacturing is all about creativity,” Gilroy says.
“Whatever the fastest way to get it done is, that’s what
you need to do.”
That means the machine’s axes, its programming,
“back off” techniques, and coolant choices all come
Getting that right allows Titans of CNC to mill Titanium
at 250 inches per minute (IPM), while others run at 10
IPM. The metal is notoriously difficult to cut quickly, as
the low thermal conductivity creates risk for combustion. The lightweight, heat resistant element is crucial
to aerospace, the one industry American manufacturing
has traditionally dominated. But it’s also one where con-
stant innovation at every level is needed to stay on top.
“When it comes to Space X, Blue Origin, and Virgin
Galactic, they are struggling right now, because shops
are not equipped and not prepared to actually make the
components that are being demanded at the specifications and the timelines,” explains Gilroy, who has made
SpaceX parts for about a decade.
He says he sent Elon Musk letters for six months to
get the chance. Landing the commercial space company
helped Titans of CNC (then called Titan Engineering) stay
viable after the Great Recession nearly wiped him out.
He does it all with American-made Haas machines,
from five different models of CNC lathes to ten types of
CNC mills. The job shop currently uses three UMC-750SS
5-Axis Vertical Machining Centers.
“We haven’t truly accepted how awesome these ma-
chines are,” says Gilroy, who is sponsored by Haas. “Ma-
chining is an art. If you understand the machine and it
has good repeatability, you can actually make almost
anything on a good CNC machine. Haas makes a good
The UMC-750 stands out to him as a platform on which
he can put all his artistry, creativity, and programming
skills to good use.
“This thing is all about making all sides of the parts
all at the same time,” Gilroy says. “Whatever you can fit
in that envelope.”
In a five-axis machine, Instead of stopping a job to
reset the work holding for each side, you can attack all
but the side held down to keep the part in place. On the
UMC-750, the spindle moves along X, Y, Z axes, and
the table holding the part tilts along the B-axis, while
the C-axis rotates it. Programming time is also reduced
because “you only have one zero to worry about.”
He has said that if he’s using one of the Haas Super
Speed mills that have an upper limit of 833 IPM, he is
going to go at 833 IPM. And that’s why he believes he
has a competitive edge.
He says other machinists, who used to run at 30 or
60 IPM and have increased to 150 IPM, shouldn’t settle for these incremental gains when cutting cycle time
generates more money.
THE FIGHT PURSE
To Gilroy and his customers, every minute saved is
a dollar earned, and 833 IPM versus 150 IPM equals
a huge swing in revenue. Fighters wield intimidation
and swagger to land hits before throwing a punch, so
it is possible the Titan brand has perfected marketing
more than it has machining. After all, he does have an
oft-used catch phrase: Boom.
So we contacted Haas Automation and spoke to John
Nelson, Haas’ senior product specialist who has been
with the company for 17 years.
The way he describes the Oxnard-based company—the
largest machine tool builder in North America—it has a
lot in common with every other American manufacturer:
“We’re trying to provide a fantastic, quality machine that
can compete on price with cheaper imports,” Nelson
As such, Haas has tried to evolve its functionality to
meet modern demands. The industry, which now more
than ever needs to get faster, has some reluctance to
evolve with the equipment.
“The interesting thing is that the machining has
changed a lot over the last 20 years, and sometimes
the machinists and operators don’t change with the
times,” Nelson says. “Tooling geometries, CAM pro-
gramming systems, tool path strategies, higher speed
spindles: All of these things are designed to work to-
gether to remove material more quickly. But we run
into machinists who want to do it the same way they
did 30 years ago.”
At Titans of CNC, each job must be of
irreproachable quality, as this company maxim
indicates: “Average is unacceptable, innovation
is the norm, and the results translate into a
relentless pursuit of perfection.”