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Adidas, Carbon take giant step into mass customization…

Adidas, Carbon take giant step into mass customization…

Apr 11, 2017

“Adidas, Carbon take giant step into mass customization of athletic shoes” By Norbert Sparrow, Plastics Today German sportswear giant adidas (Herzogenaurach) brought 3D printing’s promise of mass customization one step closer to the local mall today with the introduction of its Futurecraft 4D athletic shoe line, which features a midsole manufactured using a process called Digital Light Synthesis. Developed by Silicon Valley startup Carbon (Redwood City, CA), the technology differs from conventional 3D printing in that it grows objects from a pool of resin rather than creating them layer by layer. The partnership with Carbon allows Adidas “to overcome many of [the] difficulties to produce a sole that can rival one made by an injection mold, and at a speed and price that allow for mass production,” reports Reuters. Three hundred pairs of Futurecraft 4D shoes have been released for friends and family, and Adidas reportedly expects to sell 5000 pairs of the shoes this year, ramping up to 100,000 next year. Adidas used its extensive library of running data to shape functional zones into a midsole design crafted through Digital Light Synthesis, explains Carbon. “Unlike any traditional manufacturing technology, Digital Light Synthesis allows adidas to precisely address the needs of each athlete in regards to movement, cushioning, stability and comfort with one single component. Carbon’s unique programmable resin platform offers unparalleled performance with respect to material durability and elastomeric responsiveness,” said the company. Initially, adidas plans to produce batches of shoes customized for specific sports and cities, but the ultimate goal is to allow customers to be measured and tested in store for a perfectly fitted shoe that takes into account the user’s gait, weight and athletic pursuit, reports Reuters. Adidas describes the envisioned experience in this way on its website: “Imagine walking into an adidas store, running briefly on a treadmill and instantly getting a 3D-printed running shoe. Creating a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete’s own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points, it will set the athlete up for the best running experience. Linked with existing data sourcing and foot-scan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings.” Not about to be left in the dust, Nike is also exploring the...

Manufacturing Adds 11K Jobs in March, All in Durable Goods

Manufacturing Adds 11K Jobs in March, All in Durable Goods

Apr 10, 2017

By Bill Koenig, AdvancedManufacturing.org Manufacturing added 11,000 jobs in March, with all of the net gain taking place in durable goods. Fabricated metal products led the increase, with a gain of 5500 jobs, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also contributing to the increase was the motorized vehicles and parts category, with a gain of 3000 jobs. Miscellaneous manufacturing posted an increase of 2000 jobs. The largest job loser among makers of durable goods was the machinery category, down 2600 jobs. Manufacturing totaled 12.392 million jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis last month. That’s up from an adjusted 12.381 million in February and 12.355 million in March 2016. Manufacturing showed signs of recovery in 2017’s first quarter. The Institute for Supply Management (Tempe, AZ) said earlier this week that its PMI, which measures economic activity in manufacturing, was 57.2% in March. That eased a bit from the February PMI of 57.7%. Still, March still marked the seventh consecutive month of economic expansion for the manufacturing index. A PMI above 50% indicates manufacturing expansion, below that level indicates contraction. The PMI has averaged 53.2% the past 12 months. The index is based on a survey of purchasing and supply executives in 18 industries. Non-Farm Employment What’s more, durable goods outperformed the overall US economy in job activity last month. Total non-farm employment advanced by 98,000 jobs last month, the bureau said in a statement. Economists surveyed by Reuters forecast a gain of 180,000 jobs. The US unemployment rate fell to 4.5% in March from 4.7% the month before. The March total job increase marked a slowdown from the year’s first two months, when job gains exceeded 200,000 each month. Manufacturing jobs peaked in June 1979 (19.6 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, 19.7 million unadjusted). That sank to a low of 11.45 million adjusted and 11.34 million unadjusted in February 2010 following a severe recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis. Since that low, new manufacturing jobs have been created requiring increased skills because of more automation and technology in factories....

US manufacturing expanded in March

US manufacturing expanded in March

Apr 6, 2017

By Vicki Needham, The Hill U.S. manufacturing expanded in March for the the seventh straight month, although at a slower pace than in February, a new survey shows. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said Monday that their latest index fell slightly to 57.2 last month from 57.7 the previous month, which was the highest level in more than two years. Any reading above 50 is a sign of growth. New orders and production continued to expand, but more slowly, in March, while hiring and new export orders grew faster, ISM reported. New orders were at 64.5 in March, a drop from 65.1 in February, while production posted a 57.6 in March down from 62.9 in February. Employment hit 58.9 in March, an increase from February’s 54.2 percent — the sixth consecutive month of growth and the highest reading since June 2011.  The new orders index hit 59 in March, up 4 points from February’s 55, the 13th straight month of growth and the best showing since November 2013. Manufacturing added 28,000 jobs in February, the most in a year and the third straight month of growth in the sector, according to Labor Department figures. The next government jobs report is set for release on Friday. Manufacturers are expressing record levels of optimism because of the Trump administration’s plans to cut regulations they argue have weighed on their businesses. Comments from respondents ranged from “business is strong and looking up” in the furniture industry to “looking relatively flat currently, and the view for calendar year 2017 looks to be flat as well” for transportation equipment firms. ...

3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small…

3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small…

Mar 30, 2017

“3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small, local businesses unlikely to benefit” By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune Large manufacturers benefitting from advances in 3D printing and other technology are saving time and money, but the speed of change will likely leave small and mid-sized companies behind. Gregg Profozich, director of advanced manufacturing technologies for California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) in Torrance, said nearly 99 percent of U.S. manufacturing businesses are considered small, with many employing 20 or fewer workers. And integrating the latest technology — regardless of its efficiency — is often not a priority for these businesses. For many, it’s not even possible. “The problem is that most small manufacturers are so busy working in the business that they can’t work on the business,” he said. “When Joe doesn’t show up they have to go run the press mill, or the injection molding machine or they have to do the billing. They are in the business but they are not stepping back. They don’t have a department for stepping back and thinking about the future, and that’s where we try to come in. That’s what my role is about, to think about new technologies that we might be able to use to help them adopt.” Profozich was a featured speaker at Tuesday’s “Exploring the Next Generation of the Technology Revolution” forum at Caltech’s Athenaeum. The event was sponsored by Technolink Association, a coalition of leaders in aerospace, academia, innovation and other fields who are seeking to develop a virtual high-tech corridor in Southern California. Profozich displayed a pair of slides that clearly illustrate how manufacturing processes have become more efficient. The first showed a circular metal piece that had been machined out of a large metal block by a CNC (computer numerical control) cutting tool. The piece was surrounded by piles of metal shavings that had been carved away to create the part. “It’s like the old sculptor who starts with a block and keeps chiseling away until you end up with the art you want,” he said. “That’s the mentality we had the past. But now we have technologies that allow this.” At that point he displayed another slide that showed...

A New Way to Make Electronic Components

A New Way to Make Electronic Components

Mar 28, 2017

The Ability to 3D Print Electronics Is Here By Mark Shortt, Editorial Director, D2P Magazine When you think about the innovation that’s happening today in the field of electronics, there’s a lot to wrap your head around as people debate the future of Moore’s Law, the fate of silicon transistors and possible role of carbon nanotube chips, and materials that could, possibly, widen the application range of flexible, conformal electronics. One look at the nine manufacturing innovation institutes that are part of the national Manufacturing USA network (formerly the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) gives you a pretty good idea of the impact that electronics will have in furthering the development and adoption of emerging manufacturing technologies and innovative products. PowerAmerica, one of the nine manufacturing innovation institutes, is working to develop advanced manufacturing processes that will enable large-scale production of wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, which allow electronic components to be smaller, faster, and more efficient than they would be if the semiconductors were made from silicon. At the same time, NextFlex, America’s first Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is working to support the advancement of technologies and materials that will bring flexible, stretchable body-worn electronics into the mainstream. Two others—America Makes, dedicated to strengthening capabilities in 3D printing, and the new Advanced Functional Fabrics of America—are working in areas where new developments and breakthroughs will impact how electronics are manufactured and applied to next-generation products. We’re living in a digital age in which collaboration helps further not only the development of new technologies, but also their interdependence across a wide spectrum of industries. So it’s not surprising, then, that we’re seeing some of the more intriguing developments in electronics today happening as a result of applying breakthroughs in materials, 3D printing, and software. These developments, whether they’re highly conductive silver inks for 3D printing, or better ways of integrating electronics into stretchable polymer fabrics, are changing the ways we manufacture electronics and how we incorporate them into more functional parts, components, and products. One of these breakthroughs is the development of innovative 3D printing technologies that offer new ways to manufacture electronics. These direct-write methods are barely beginning to scratch the...

HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive…

HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive…

Mar 27, 2017

“HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive with injection molding” By Norbert Sparrow, Plastics Today HP (Palo Alto, CA) has a storied past, but it may have an even more glorious future if it is able to deliver on its vision of industrial-scale 3D printing that can rival injection molding. Its opening salvo in achieving this long-term ambition came just about one year ago, when it unveiled the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, which prints quality parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D printers, according to HP. The newest milestone came last week, when it launched its 3D Open Materials and Application Lab at its sprawling facility in Corvallis, OR. HP invited several journalists, myself included, and analysts to tour the lab and to lay out its strategy for embedding 3D printing within the $12 trillion manufacturing sector. The Corvallis facility, a stone’s throw from Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium, was the birthplace of thermal inkjet technology some 30 years ago, and remains a hotbed of innovation, where material scientists and engineers design, test and build printheads, silicon wafers and thermal inkjet printer heads. Right now, all eyes are on the capabilities of its additive manufacturing system and the development of compatible materials. Multi Jet Fusion is the culmination of decades of research, Timothy Weber, PhD, Vice President and General Manager of 3D Materials and Advanced Applications, told journalists during the site visit. “The total market for 3D printing is around $5 to $6 billion,” said Weber. “The market wasn’t big enough to interest a $50+ billion company like HP, and we didn’t have a technological differentiator,” he added to explain why the company waited as long as it did before dipping its toe in the additive manufacturing pond. That changed with the development of Multi Jet Fusion technology, which has the potential to compete with conventional plastics processing techniques, and the ability to engineer materials at the voxel level. The mighty voxel HP describes the voxel as a volumetric pixel. With Multi Jet Fusion, HP can manipulate materials at the voxel level by dosing liquid functional agents in the powder bed as the parts are...