Industry News for 12/2016

It’s been a crusade for many manufacturers for years: the battle against an out-of-date public perception of manufacturing as dirty, repetitive work that’s possibly unsafe and probably a dead-end career path. Two recent surveys show that there’s still a lot of work to do in dispelling that myth—but a third offers some hope.
The world of robotics and automation is changing fast. International Data Corp's (IDC) Manufacturing Insights Worldwide Commercial Robotics program peeks over the horizon with predictions for the world of robotics in 2017 and after.
A Boston Consulting Group survey finds that US companies consider digital technologies a priority, but that many manufacturers feel no urgency and have no strategy to implement them. For example, nearly 90% of manufacturing leaders regard adopting new digital industrial technologies as a way to improve productivity, but only about one in four see opportunities to use these advances to build new revenue streams.
While manufacturing technology sales were down in October compared to September (and the high order volume that came along with IMTS), the latest U.S Manufacturing Technology Report from AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology shows October sales were 0.2 percent higher than October 2015. 
MITGI Finalist for 2017 Community Impact Awards
MITGI has been honored as a finalist for a 2017 Community Impact Award from Minnesota Business magazine in the Youth Initiative category. This award category recognizes companies for creating or supporting programs designed to enable youth to develop abilities in areas such as leadership, social responsibility, skilled trades, education and community involvement.
Penn State's Factory for Advanced Manufacturing Education
Penn State reports that it will team with researchers and analysts from Case Western Reserve University, the GE Global Research Center and Microsoft on a $1.5 million collaborative research project to develop a cloud-based wireless sensing and prognostic system for monitoring manufacturing machinery. The initiative will make it possible for such a system to detect early signs of wear, aging and fault conditions in the machines.
The Wonkblog, a regular business feature on The Washington Post website, tackled the need for skilled labor among U.S. manufacturers in its Dec. 15 post. The news item features the plight of the Mursix Corp., an Indiana company that produces seatbelt buckles and bed frames, and has had trouble finding skilled workers to help keep up with the company's growth. It's a story that's been repeated throughout the news media on a fairly regular basis for the past couple of years. What caught my eye with this particular article, however, was a comment from Michael Hicks, a business professor at Ball State University in Muncie, which is where Mursix is located.
Unemployed retrained for high-tech manufacturing jobs
A group of long-term unemployed men last week received high-tech manufacturing training certificates from the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board and MACWIC (Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative) at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) in Worcester, Mass.
Apollo 15 drill chuck
Buy a used drill chuck, which didn't work flawlessly to begin with, for almost $50,000? Sounds like a bid for lunacy. And it is, literally. Auction house RR Auction recently took bids on the chuck that was part of the lunar-surface drill used on the Apollo 15 mission by Commander Dave Scott in 1971.
Ames Laboratory senior metallurgist Iver Anderson
Ames Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been awarded $5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) to improve the production and composition of metal alloy powders used in additive manufacturing.
Magnus Wiktorsson
A look at "how manufacturers make the most of machine data" in CIO magazine goes over the challenges as well as the benefits of using ERP. A major source for the article is Magnus Wiktorsson, professor of production systems at Mälardalen University in Sweden. Wiktorsson outlines four key challenges for companies looking to digitize their manufacturing processes, which are worth reading.
Students at the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools in East Brunswick, N.J., recently earned some media attention for making a device that enables a disabled man to toss a ball from his wheelchair and play fetch with his service dog.
After robot builder MegaBots Inc. determined that its Mk. II robot was unsafe for the two human pilots to operate during the upcoming Giant Robot Duel against Japan-based Suidobashi Heavy Industry’s Kuratas robot, the Hayward, Calif.-based company decided to build a new robot from scratch. 
Attendees at the IMTS 2016 trade show may have noticed a number of magnetic “hybrid” signs affixed to several brands of machine tools. The man largely responsible for the signs being displayed is Jason Jones, inventor of the AMBIT laser cladding head and co-founder of Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies Inc., Plano, Texas. 
As useful and commonplace as robots are in manufacturing, buying one is rarely a one-stop shopping experience. However, robot manufacturer Universal Robots A/S has launched a new service, UR+, which may change the way robots are bought and sold. 
For 10 years, FANUC Corp.’s highly accurate ROBONANO automated milling machines have been in use in Japan’s semiconductor industry. Now the newest iteration of the machine is in the U.S. to help researchers studying emerging materials and manufacturing processes. 
Have a great idea for a machine tool but lack the cash to fund its commercialization? Crowdfund it! That’s what Matthew Hertel did when he leveraged a Kickstarter campaign to raise more than $355,000 for the development and creation of his Pocket NC 5-axis milling machine. And then there's the WAZER, the world’s first desktop waterjet cutter, which runs $4,499 on Kickstarter, and is expected to be affordable to hobbyists and small businesses.
A circular shape provides multiple benefits in the machining world. For example, round inserts are stronger than inserts with any other shape. However, when it comes to coolant channels in cutting tools and toolholders, channels that don’t have circular cross sections can enhance operations.
The Quaker Chemical Corp., Conshohocken, Penn., acquired Lubricor Inc., a Canadian metalworking fluids manufacturer, in a deal announced Dec. 1. Lubricor, which manufactures and markets value-added metalworking products such as synthetic and semi-synthetic coolants, hydroforming fluid, and stamping products, sells directly to primarily Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers in North American, according to a Quaker news release.