Industry News for 02/2017
While the Trump administration focuses on trying to bring back coal-industry jobs, the outlook for renewable-energy employment, including in manufacturing, has increased. Solar showed bright prospects in 2016 and the wind industry is picking up.
Automated inspection equipment can offer advantages, such as enabling lights-out machining, but manual methods are typically less expensive and can provide quicker results. One example is a manually operated gage for inspecting round cutting tools.
A joint research project known as “Scaling Ultrafast Laser Productive Precision Processing Technology”, or ScULPT, was conceived to develop an efficient, powerful, ultra-short pulsed laser system with a tenfold increase in throughput on the machining of different types of glass and metals.
Whereas the retention knob is an unmistakably critical component of the machining process, conventional retention knobs, when installed in a toolholder, may deform the precision taper because of the elastic nature of a toolholder’s thin walls. This taper deformation prevents a toolholder from properly mating with the spindle of a CNC machine. JM Performance Products Inc. has worked to overcome this manufacturing bind with its lower-deformation High Torque Retention Knobs.
To maintain and grow its production levels on its newest jet engines, engine components and aircraft systems, GE Aviation investments reached $4.3 billion in its U.S. operations during 2011–2016, with another $1.1 billion invested in its international sites, the company reports. That U.S. amount includes $214 million to establish five new plants here.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that hiring in December 2016 was at a four-month high, while the number of manufacturing hires tied that of November for its best monthly performance since 2010. Separately, the BLS said that manufacturing companies created 5,000 new jobs in January for a second straight month of growth. That’s good news for those who remember the dark days of the Great Recession—but for employers who have more work to be done than workers to do it, it’s a headache. One solution has been to reach that next generation early—while they’re finishing high shool.
In an article posted Feb. 9 at Forbes.com, Bill Conerly of Conerly Consulting LLC, Oswego, Ore., discussed how U.S. manufacturers need engineers to thrive because engineers invent products and optimize production methods.
Down, but getting back up: December 2016 U.S. cutting tool consumption totaled $176.04 million, according to the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT — The Association for Manufacturing Technology. This total was up 4.4 percent from November’s $168.69 million and up 12.5 percent when compared with the total of $156.49 million reported for December 2015, as reported by companies participating in the Cutting Tool Market Report collaboration. With a year-to-date total of $2.042 billion, 2016 is down 4.3 percent when compared with 2015.
AMT — The Association for Manufacturing Technology released its December 2016 U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report this week, noting that orders finished 2016 down 4 percent compared to 2015. But the report also holds some good news: month over month data showed December orders up a whopping 20.6 percent compared to November.
It's always encouraging to read an article about a thriving machine shop, such as one by Cori Urban presented at MassLive.com. Gary T. O'Brien, president and owner of Knight Machine & Tool Co. in South Hadley, Mass., keeps his maternal grandfather's oak toolbox in his office. Andrew Kriesak worked at the Van Norman Machine Tool Co. in Springfield as a machinist, and the toolbox is, for his grandson, a symbol of success.
For the 2020 Olympics and Paralympic games in Tokyo, recycled electronics will be used to make the needed 5,000 medals.
Student apprentices graduating from a new automated equipment program will hold demonstrations in front of high-tech industry representatives in February and March at Oakland Community College and Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Calif.
In recent years the manufacturing world has seen numerous hybrid additive-subtractive machines. These generally are in the form of a 3D printing head combined with a CNC machining center: the additive is added. But creative additive enthusiast Thomas Sanladerer has come at the idea from the opposite direction: he has started with a 3D printer and transformed it to be able to function as a CNC mill.
Two companies, using different 3D-printing methods, have put titanium components into extreme environments. SLM Solutions recently completed a 12.21" × 8.74" × 8.66" dia. titanium aircraft component using its two-laser selective laser melting process. And Sciaky Inc. has used its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) technology to produce a titanium Variable Ballast (VB) tank for an autonomous submarine. Now that such critical additive-made titanium parts are out of the lab and in use, these companies and their competitors are working to speed their processes and increase their maximum build sizes.
Time-tested workholding allows a parts manufacturer to target other areas for improvement, if needed. Husky Corp., for example, needed space-saving hydraulic components when refixturing a dial machine with limited space for fixtures and conducted an extensive search 30 years ago for a solution, said Darrell Vilmer, senior manufacturing engineer – machine/fixture designer for Husky.
A growing global movement toward automation, and it comes at a time in China when demands for fair working conditions and wages have led to increased volatility, resulting in labor strikes in different parts of the country.
After being packed into 11 crates and travelling from Neuhausen, Germany to Baltimore by boat, and onto its final destination by truck back in December, a 20-foot-long, 135,000 lb. industrial machine from Zimmermann was moved into place over the course of several hours at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology.
Epicor Software VP of Portfolio Marketing - Manufacturing Terri Hiskey shared insights on how she believes ERP software will evolve in response to manufacturing trends such as the Internet of Things and increased use of robotics and automation. Artificial intelligence and advanced analytics will transform ERP, she writes at ETCIO.com's Tech Talk blog: "The smart factory and Industry 4.0 will give ERP systems a new lease of life, making the ERP systems of yesterday unrecognizable."