Machining With Meaning: CNC for a Great Cause

Raise your hand if you know a seafood importer who’s also a machinist. By day, Dan Azari is importing, but part-time, the founder of Machining With Meaning, a non-profit job shop that honors the memory of a great friend by donating all proceeds to support pancreatic cancer research

Dan Azari of Machining With Meaning is the recent winner of a custom Gerstner tool chest that was given away during the TITANS of CNC BOOMBASTIC show. We spoke with Dan and his co-founder, Raf Fiol, about how the endeavor came about and what it means to them.

Tell us a little about why Machining With Meaning formed.

Raf: Our story began with a monumental loss. In May 2020, we lost a very good friend of ours. Not because of COVID, but pancreatic cancer. We all knew it was coming, but it was still hard to process. Before he passed, Steve was a big supporter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), so Dan and I wanted to do something lasting to remember him.

Dan: I’ve always been into CNC machines and devices. I’m a hobbyist engineer and have always been interested in being a maker. I started machining with hobby-grade equipment and found I really enjoyed it. Over the years, I’ve upgraded my equipment, and that coincided with Steve’s diagnosis. Initially, MWM was going to be something he participated in, but his disease progressed so rapidly that he was gone before we launched.

What kind of work goes on at Machining With Meaning?

Raf: We’re a small CNC machining business, and our first customer is a telescope company. We are making multiple precision parts for pro-grade telescopes.

Dan: Machining With Meaning was launched in July of this year and we received a nice kickstart with several jobs from a high-end telescope manufacturer. At present we are running MWM as a part-time endeavor, but plan to add resources as demand increases. We already have completed some jobs with outstanding invoices that will generate approximately $6k in donations to PanCAN. We ask that anyone interested in learning more, or receiving quotes, contact us through

Where’s that new Gerstner going to go?

Dan: Not sure! It’s gonna be so nice, I might not want to fill it. I’ll find a good protected area for it.

Raf: Put it in the living room and showcase it.

What do you remember about Steve?

Raf: Oh man. Steve was probably one of the funniest, smartest guys you’d ever meet. Always smiling, always joking. Software developer just like me, I met him in 1992. We became really good friends, bought a boat together. He was working with me a couple of years ago, but once he got cancer, he resigned to spend time fighting it. He didn’t just sit back, he fought real hard, got involved with PanCAN. He loved the ocean and loved boating. He loved just about every outdoor activity, come to think of it.

Dan: He just loved people. Always so positive, and he brought everyone together. I met so many wonderful people through him. Raf is one of them. He never had a bad thing to say about anyone. Just positive energy with a strong moral compass. He made you a better person.

If you would like to make a donation to PanCAN, you can do so here. The charity has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for 16 straight years.

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