An area technology firm has developed a manufacturing tool that gives new meaning to the term "whistle while you work."

An area technology firm has developed a manufacturing tool that gives new meaning to the term "whistle while you work."

Technology and engineering services provider EWI recently unveiled a new system that uses sound waves to lubricate fast-moving parts used in manufacturing and industrial work, such as metal-cutting drill bits. While the idea has been on the drawing board for at least a year, the company demonstrated the process on a national scale last month at a summit in Lynchburg, Va., said company CEO Henry Cialone.

"This is one of the projects we're really excited about," Cialone said. "We have been doing a lot of work over the years using ultrasound in the welding process, but we came to a point where we couldn't go any further unless we changed the way ultrasound is applied to metal.

"We started off with drilling because that was the easiest point in the manufacturing process. The ultrasound only needs to go up and down the shaft of a straight bit."

While drilling through industrial-strength metals is typically a lengthy process that requires regular lubrication and replacing drill bits, using sound energy to lubricate the moving parts cuts down on both time and wear, Cialone said.

EWI has been in talks with French company Areva to use the new process in work on nuclear reactors, Cialone said. Cutting down the time it takes to finish a job increases safety as well as productivity in that field, he said.

"They were very interested in the fact that if you're doing a repair on a reactor, a lot of times those workers are in a hot area, and with the traditional drilling system, that fluid you're using to lubricate the bit becomes radioactive and needs to be disposed of," he said.

"These are very big holes they drill in order to extract a sensor, and that turns a job that takes a couple of hours into minutes. You can put a man in the hot zone for a much shorter period of time that way."

Located just east of Upper Arlington's city limits on Arthur E. Adams Drive, Cialone said many of the company's employees call Upper Arlington home.

"We have several folks who walk to work," he said. "It's kind of a well-kept secret in your own back yard."

Along with the Arthur E. Adams Drive headquarters, the company operates a number of centers throughout the country, employing about 2,800 engineers, scientists, technicians, industry experts and project managers. The company's works with manufacturers in the aerospace, automobile, defense, energy, chemical, government, heavy manufacturing and electronic industries.

Advancing the technology into future applications will first require coming up with the proper presentation to the public, Cialone said.

"The terminology of sonic machining is an old term, for a very different process," he said. "We need to come up with something that doesn't conjure up old ideas.

"We have a branding challenge right now, but we're going to knock that one down as well," he said. "I would say that in terms of what we're doing, there probably isn't anything else like this out there."

More information on the new process can be found on the company's website, www.ewi.org.