The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going…

The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going…

Apr 2, 2018

“The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going: Manufacturing Innovation” By Marco Annunziata, Forbes  The current U.S. economic expansion is already one of the longest on record—it turned 104 (months) in February. The manufacturing sector holds the key to making it the longest. Manufacturing is currently seen as unglamorous, unloved, needing protection just to survive. I believe this view is profoundly misguided, and that it is in manufacturing that we will see the most powerful growth-enhancing technological transformation ahead. The U.S. economy has picked up speed, and the global economy with it. The IMF recently noted that we are enjoying the most broad-based synchronized upswing since 2010. The U.S. labor market keeps expanding at a robust pace and has created over 17 million jobs since the recovery started; the unemployment rate holds at a very low 4.1%, and strong economic activity keeps attracting more people into the labor force. Wage growth remains muted, however, with average hourly wages increasing at a modest 2.6% pace in the last twelve months. This is a problem. Stronger wage growth would give better support to household consumption, and it would make it easier to reduce income inequalities. Slow wage growth is disappointing, but it should not be too surprising. True, a tighter labor market should boost wages—I believe that it will, and that in the coming months we will see more robust wage pressures. But sustainable strong wage growth depends on productivity. Only when productivity rises at a robust pace can workers enjoy faster wage increases without compromising their firms’ competitiveness and market position. Productivity growth has been dismal of late. In the decade prior to the financial crisis, 1996-2005, U.S. labor productivity rose at an average pace of 3% per year. During the recovery, 2011-2017, it averaged a measly 0.7%–over four times slower. Most other advanced economies have suffered a similar fate. What I find most worrying is that manufacturing sector productivity has suffered an even more severe slowdown: from 4.8% to 0.3% a year. From the early 1990s to the onset of the global financial crisis, productivity growth in manufacturing outpaced the rest of the economy by a significant margin; now it is lagging behind....

U.S. Reshoring: A Collaborative Challenge

U.S. Reshoring: A Collaborative Challenge

Mar 27, 2018

Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine Manufacturing Experts Answer 5 Questions on How to Turn the Tide FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio—North America’s $137 billion metalforming industry is driven by the production of myriad precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming, and roll forming technologies, as well as vital value-added processes. In recent decades, approximately 3-to-4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost to offshoring. The tide seems to be turning modestly in recent years as companies return U.S. production, or sourcing, from offshore. In comparison to 2000-2003, when the United States lost about 220,000 manufacturing jobs per year (net) to offshoring, 2016 achieved a net gain of 27,000. Progressively bridging this gap presents huge collaborative opportunities and challenges for all manufacturers, associations, employees, communities, and the U.S. government itself. The following Q&A explores factors that are key to the collective goal of gaining momentum in successfully returning the manufacturing of parts and products to the United States from offshore. Authors of the Q&A are two men with a vested interest in the subject of reshoring: John Stoneback, president of JM Performance Products, Inc., of Fairport Harbor, Ohio; and Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, based in Kildeer, Illinois. JM Performance Products, Inc. has been manufacturing CNC mill spindle optimization products since 2009. The company’s Patented High Torque Retention Knobs overcome a critical “loose-tool” design flaw inherent in CNC v-flange tooling that was responsible for costly, industry-wide issues with CNC milling and boring that negatively impacted production costs, cycle time, and tooling costs. An essential element of the patented design is a knob that is longer and reaches a little deeper into the holder’s threaded bore. As a result, all thread engagement occurs in a region of the tool holder where the diameter is large, and where there is correspondingly more material to resist deformation. The Reshoring Initiative, founded in early 2010, takes action by helping manufacturers realize that local production, in many cases, reduces their total cost of ownership of purchased parts and tooling. The Reshoring Initiative also trains suppliers in how to effectively meet the needs of their local customers, giving suppliers the tools to sell against lower priced offshore competitors. The Initiative is...

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in

New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in

Mar 22, 2018

By The American Chemical Society Featured on TechXplore.com A powerful new 4-D printing technique could one day allow manufacturers to produce electronic devices and their wiring in a single process. From moon landings to mobile phones, many of the farfetched visions of science fiction have transformed into reality. In the latest example of this trend, scientists report that they have developed a powerful printer that could streamline the creation of self-assembling structures that can change shape after being exposed to heat and other stimuli. They say this unique technology could accelerate the use of 4-D printing in aerospace, medicine and other industries. The researchers are presenting their work today at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). “We are on the cusp of creating a new generation of devices that could vastly expand the practical applications for 3-D and 4-D printing,” H. Jerry Qi, Ph.D., says. “Our prototype printer integrates many features that appear to simplify and expedite the processes used in traditional 3-D printing. As a result, we can use a variety of materials to create hard and soft components at the same time, incorporate conductive wiring directly into shape-changing structures, and ultimately set the stage for the development of a host of 4-D products that could reshape our world.” 4-D printing is an emerging technology that allows 3-D-printed components to change their shape over time after exposure to heat, light, humidity and other environmental triggers. However, 4-D printing remains challenging, in part because it often requires complex and time-consuming post-processing steps to mechanically program each component. In addition, many commercial printers can only print 4-D structures composed of a single material. Last year, Qi and his colleagues at Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with scientists at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, used a composite made from an acrylic and an epoxy along with a commercial printer and a heat source to create 4-D objects, such as a flower that can close its petals or a star that morphs into a dome. These objects transformed shape up to 90 percent faster than previously possible because the scientists incorporated the tedious mechanical programming steps directly into the...

Metal 3D Printing Hits the Big-Time

Metal 3D Printing Hits the Big-Time

Mar 14, 2018

By Jeff Reinke, Industrial Equipment News Engineering powerhouse Roush explains their end-product manufacturing strategies after purchasing the largest metal additive manufacturing system of its kind. Livonia, Michigan-based Roush is a full-service product development supplier with over 4,000 employees throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The company is known for its innovative engineering, testing, prototyping and manufacturing services within the mobility, aerospace, defense and theme park industries. Oh, and then there’s Roush Fenway Racing, Roush Performance and Roush Cleantech that develops and manufactures performance vehicles and alternative fuel systems.  So, it’s safe to say that the company knows a thing or two about manufacturing and product development technologies. The company recently invested in the largest powderbed metal additive manufacturing system of its kind –  the Xline 2000R.  Made by Concept Laser, which was acquired by GE Additive in 2016, the machine features a build envelope of 800 x 400 x 500 mm production of parts as large as engine blocks. IEN recently interviewed Roush’s Brandy Badami to get some insight on the machine, how her company utilizes the technology, and the impact additive manufacturing could have on production strategies  Jeff Reinke, IEN editorial director: Could you offer a little background on Roush’s history with additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies? Brandi Badami, Roush business development manager – additive manufacturing:Roush has over 20 years of experience with 3D printing/additive manufacturing, mainly in plastics/polymers. We started off with stereolithography (SLA), then selective laser sintering (SLS), then polyjet/objet technologies. Roush adopted 3D printing into our everyday practices with product development and rapid prototyping to support our design engineering and tooling groups.  As the technologies and materials advanced, we used additive manufacturing for functional prototypes, end-use components, fixtures, tools and gauges. Now, with the recent investment of new 3D printing technologies and equipment, including fused deposition modeling (FDM) from Stratasys and 3D metal printing (powder bed fusion) machines from EOS and Concept Laser (a GE Additive company), we are able to expand our reach within the aerospace, defense, entertainment and transportation industries. JR: How will the addition of this machine change things on a day-to-day basis? BB: The addition of the Xline 2000R has, and will continue, to open many doors for how...

U.S. Trading Partners, Businesses Say Tariffs Will Backfire

U.S. Trading Partners, Businesses Say Tariffs Will Backfire

Mar 12, 2018

By Lorne Cook & Joe McDonald, Associated Press, Manufacturing Business Technology BRUSSELS (AP) — The Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports drew warnings Friday from businesses and U.S. trading partners that the measure could backfire, provoking a trade war without resolving the problems it’s intended to address. President Donald Trump said the tariffs, due to take effect in 15 days, are needed to protect U.S. workers. Businesses say the 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent levy on aluminum will jack up costs, raising prices for consumers and potentially putting people out of work. Trump has long singled out China as being unfair in its trade practices and for dumping cheap steel on the global markets, depressing prices. But experts say the new tariffs will in fact not affect China much, but rather hurt key allies like the European Union and South Korea. The move drew consternation outside the U.S. The Chinese government said it “firmly opposes” the move but gave no indication whether it might make good on threats to retaliate. “These measures could make a significant impact on the economic and cooperative relationship between Japan and the U.S., who are allies,” said Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono. The EU said it hoped to be exempt from the tariffs, like Canada and Mexico are, or that the issue might be solved in international arbitration at the World Trade Organization. If not, the EU vowed to retaliate. “We will have to protect our industry with rebalancing measures,” said Cecilia Malmstroem, the EU Trade Commissioner, who this week confirmed that EU states are finalizing a list of U.S. goods — from peanut butter to bourbon — to hit with retaliatory tariffs. The head of Eurofer, Europe’s main steel federation, said Trump’s reasons for slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum were an absurdity and that the move could cost tens of thousands of jobs across the continent. The tariffs would cost lost trade worth $2.6 billion a year for the EU and $1.1 billion for South Korea, according to Chad Bow, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. While that is not a lot for the economy...

Magna Puts a New Twist on Welding

Magna Puts a New Twist on Welding

Mar 9, 2018

Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine TROY, Mich.—Magna has put a new twist on joining thermoplastic materials in order to help automakers cut weight and costs: torsional welding. The torsional welding process, developed by Magna (www.magna.com) for automotive applications at its exteriors plant in Liberec, Czech Republic, presents a new way to join plastics. It features a high-speed twisting motion that creates enough friction-based heat to join a plastic bracket to a thermoplastic fascia. The innovative technology achieves an approximate 10 percent weight reduction because it allows thinner materials to be joined, which, in turn, reduces material costs. Torsional welding is currently used to make the front fascia of the 2017 Skoda Octavia, and it has potential for other applications where materials of similar composition need to be joined.   There may also be uses for torsional welding with the increase of advanced driver assistance systems and the development of self-driving cars. The trend will be for automotive fascias to become heavier with the increase in autonomous features, due to the addition of sensors. With torsional welding, it’s now possible to reduce weight on the outer skin and brackets so more sensors can be added without impacting the overall weight of the vehicle. The Society of Plastics Engineers’ Detroit Chapter recognized Magna’s torsional welding process with an innovation award at its TPO conference last fall in Troy, Michigan. “We seek every opportunity, from design and materials to enabling technologies, to help customers meet their lightweighting goals,” said Magna Exteriors President Grahame Burrow, in a press release. “We appreciate this recognition from SPE and look forward to expanding the use of this innovative process.”...