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Introducing the Industrialization of Additive Manufacturing

Introducing the Industrialization of Additive Manufacturing

Feb 14, 2019

By Phil Schultz, executive vice president of Operations at 3D Systems Featured on Manufacturing.net Manufacturers stand at a crossroads of two competing visions. They can either continue with traditional factory processes or they can embrace the challenge of Industry 4.0 and create physical products with a fully digital ecosystem. For those who embrace digital, the industrialization of additive manufacturing (AM) is key. Traditional factory processes have been fine-tuned over the years for process repeatability, part durability, efficient workflows, and low operational costs. These processes predate the digital revolution. Many times these processes also include high labor costs, significant up-front production costs, and safety issues. Today, new marketplace demands are pushing industry to increase speed and agility. Competitive pressures require shorter production cycles and fast product ecosystem evolution. The industrialization of additive manufacturing will allow companies to respond to these demands with digital speed and accuracy. Digital processes have an undeniable ability to drive down operational costs, especially when applied across all processes and not in a selective fashion. Key 3D printing technologies are ready to serve as the strategic backbone of industrial innovation. New materials, technologies, design solutions, and digital workflow processes are readying the factory floor to become the Digital Factory.  Additive manufacturing is disruptive by nature, impacting both supply chain and manufacturing processes. AM business analyst Dr. Wilderich Heising of Boston Consulting Group sees a shift taking place in AM. In prepared remarks at the Formnext Conference in Frankfurt in November 2018, Heising said process optimization in manufacturing is driving new speed capabilities in AM. He said the ability to increase build rate by up to five times at the same quality translates into a total reduction of machine cost per part by more than 50 percent. Such increases will mean break-even production costs can move to much higher volumes than available today. Manufacturers will invest in Digital Factory technology when they see it bringing a balance of innovation and ecosystem maturity. For some that means lowering labor costs and improving safety. To others it means the ability to create previous unbuildable parts and to rapidly move from one product design to another. For most manufacturers, printing in production volume will be the fundamental...

Manufacturers Added 6 Times More Jobs Under Trump Than…

Manufacturers Added 6 Times More Jobs Under Trump Than…

Feb 4, 2019

“Manufacturers Added 6 Times More Jobs Under Trump Than Under Obama’s Last 2 Years”   By Chuck DeVore, Forbes The federal government released its first jobs report of 2019, showing that nonfarm payroll grew by 304,000 in January, far above economists’ consensus estimate of 170,000. The average monthly gain in 2018 was 223,000. Over the past year, average hourly earnings were up 3.2%. After revising its data for past periods, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment grew by 5.1 million jobs in President Trump’s first full two years in office, a 3.5% increase. Private sector payrolls grew by 4.9 million, a 4.0% increase. By comparison, over the same 24-month period, the economy added 5.0 million jobs in former President Obama’s last two years in office, with private sector employment up by 4.7 million. Significantly, growth in manufacturing jobs continued to show strength, with 13,000 jobs added in January. Over the past two years, with the encouragement of the Trump Administration’s red-tape cutting policies and the tax cut and reform law passed in December 2017, manufacturers added 467,000 jobs, more than six times the 73,000 manufacturing jobs added in Obama’s last two years. Looking at Trump’s first two years, the revised BLS data shows that more than two manufacturing jobs were added for every one job added in government at the federal, state, and local level. In contrast, under Obama, almost five government jobs were added for every one manufacturing job. Since Pres. Trump took office in January 2017, employment in manufacturing has increased 3.7%. Over the same period during the last two years under Pres. Obama, manufacturing payrolls grew by only 0.6%. The sluggish growth in manufacturing in the latter half of the Obama years led to President Obama remarking in June 2016 that manufacturing jobs “are just not going to come back.” Weeks after Trump’s election—and in response to candidate Trump’s promise to bring back manufacturing jobs—New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, an economist, said, “Nothing policy can do will bring back those lost jobs. The service sector is the future of work; but nobody wants to hear it.” Trump’s deregulatory and tax policies have confounded his critics and benefited the...

Spirit AeroSystems Using Robotics for Quality Inspection of…

Spirit AeroSystems Using Robotics for Quality Inspection of…

Jan 28, 2019

“Spirit AeroSystems Using Robotics for Quality Inspection of Large-Scale Aerospace Structures” Featured on Design-2-Part Magazine  WICHITA, Kan.—Spirit AeroSystems engineers have combined a wide range of robotics hardware and software technologies to meet the complex needs of inspecting the company’s composite aerospace components, such as fuselages, wings, and substructures, the company reported. “Typically, inspections for meeting customer requirements have been done by large, fixed systems that are difficult to adapt to new applications,” said Spirit Vice President, Global Quality, Dan Caughran, in a press release. “Our new approach is built around two industrial robots that can interchange among seven different sensors and multiple inspection methods. In short, had this technology not been available, we would have had to rely on solutions of far less flexibility and roughly twice the cost.” “Either cooperatively or independently, the robots automatically inspect complex composite parts up to 200 feet long, dramatically reducing the time required for inspection—sometimes up to 40 percent faster,” said Mike Grosser, Spirit’s lead nondestructive inspection (NDI) engineer. “Analysis of the results is achieved through advanced phased array digital signal processing, which can be automated through machine learning.” Spirit is implementing the new robotic NDI technology at its headquarters location in Wichita, Kansas, and plans to use similar technology at its Prestwick, Scotland, facility. Spirit engineers are also investigating and applying robotics technology for other manufacturing applications where flexible automation—such as machining, sealing, and material handling—is required. Spirit AeroSystems (www.spiritaero.com), focusing on composite and aluminum manufacturing, designs and builds aerostructures for commercial and defense customers. The company’s core products include fuselages, pylons, nacelles, and wing components for the world’s premier aircraft. Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Spirit operates sites in the U.S.,...

Counterfeit Part Prevention Starts with Industry Standards

Counterfeit Part Prevention Starts with Industry Standards

Jan 21, 2019

By Megan R. Nichols, EBN Online Nearly every industry, from consumer and aerospace and defense to fashion and automotive buy electronic components. These parts need to be of the highest quality, especially for applications where safety and reliability are paramount, which is why the growing number of counterfeit parts is becoming an enormous problem. New industry standards may be the answer to preventing the spread of counterfeit parts. Let’s take a closer look at these standards and the issues that counterfeit parts are creating. The rise of counterfeit parts In 2009, NASA came under fire for the use of apparently counterfeit parts in their satellites and spacecraft. While the components weren’t putting astronauts or expensive satellites at risk, it cost the space agency extra money in testing and quality assurance to make sure the parts met the standards required by NASA and similar agencies. It’s important to note that the word “counterfeit” in this context doesn’t mean the same thing it would if the term were applied to money. Counterfeit money is fake, plain and simple. Counterfeit parts aren’t necessarily fake — they just haven’t undergone the sometimes expensive safety and quality testing to ensure they meet the specified performance and standards promised by the part. In this realm, the user might be unaware of the origins of the part (who made them, how they were handled, etc.) as well as the quality (specifications, packaging, etc.) of the components. Thirty years ago, few worried about the problem of fake parts, but, particularly with the globalization of the electronics market, this problem has only grown over the past decade. In 2011, reports indicated that more than half of the electronics distributors in the United States had encountered counterfeit parts in their dealings. In 2012, a survey conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that more than one million counterfeit parts appeared in the Pentagon’s supply chain — and more than 70% of those parts could be traced directly back to manufacturers in China. These components also cost the consumer electronics industry more than $250 billion each year. As recently as 2017, the United States military estimated that nearly 15% of its supply chain is made up of counterfeit parts. On-going...

CNC Machine Shop Boosts Efficiency with Aid of…

CNC Machine Shop Boosts Efficiency with Aid of…

Jan 7, 2019

“CNC Machine Shop Boosts Efficiency with Aid of Collaborative Robot” Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine BOSTON—Fitzpatrick Manufacturing, a CNC machine shop and custom manufacturer founded in 1952, regularly brings new technology into its factory to increase speed, improve efficiency, and remain competitive. The company recently deployed Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer™ collaborative robot at its Sterling Heights, Michigan, facility to increase operational efficiency and to counterbalance a tight labor market. “We were very deliberate about finding the right job for Sawyer,” said Kevin LaComb, co-president at Fitzpatrick Manufacturing, in a press release. “This is the first time we’ve deployed advanced automation. In job shops, it’s hard to predict what project will come in. With Sawyer’s adaptability, we can automate the repetitive, mundane jobs and free up human workers for more skilled, higher value tasks.” Fitzpatrick Manufacturing supplies parts to more than a dozen sectors, including aerospace, automotive, medical equipment, and oil and gas. The company is using Sawyer to help hone parts that become components for the motion control industry–work that requires precise tolerance and repetitive action. Sawyer identifies which part to run first—short versus long—and loads it into the honing machine. When the first part is finished, Sawyer removes it, loads a second part into the machine, and places the first part in the wash station. From there, Sawyer dries the part at the air blow station before packaging it in a box for shipment. With 400 spots on the pin board to be processed, Sawyer can package between 280 and 300 before a human worker needs to intervene. This process could take five to eight hours, which allows Sawyer to run overnight, lights out, and have all the parts ready to go when workers arrive back at the facility. Sawyer is one of two collaborative robots manufactured by Rethink Robotics—the other is Baxter®—that are designed to work safely alongside people.  The cobots are powered by the Intera software platform and can be trained and on the job in a matter of hours, according to the manufacturer. The majority of Fitzpatrick’s employees have been around for years, and introducing Sawyer was initially met with uncertainty on the floor. However, once the team saw the cobot’s versatility, and...

Trump hypes jobs relocating back to the US. Are they?

Trump hypes jobs relocating back to the US. Are they?

Jan 4, 2019

By Jason Margolis, Public Radio International (PRI) President Donald Trump once named his style of elocution “truthful hyperbole” — what he described as a form of promotion to get people excited. One area the president currently likes to pump up is foreign jobs coming back to the United States. “We have literally hundreds of companies moving back,” President Trump said in November, repeating a statement that’s become a major talking point.   But is this another instance of truthful hyperbole? Are hundreds of companies indeed shifting production back to the US? “I’d say 300, 400, at least, announced in 2017,” said Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit that tracks jobs coming back to the US.  OK, score one for the president.  But is a few hundred companies significant? “I would call this movement right now a trickle,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. There’s considerable debate over how to measure any reshoring trends and very little data available. It’s often not as simple as a company closing a factory in China and reopening it in Ohio. Moser, for example, includes “partial shifts” of jobs, whereas some other research only includes shifts of entire businesses, and thus, have reached less optimistic conclusions about reshoring trends. What is clear, however, said Paul, is that the US is seeing more companies that rely on cheap energy — now in abundance in the US — coming back. “That includes some types of chemical processing, some types of plastics,” said Paul. “I’ve also seen jobs come back in everything from auto parts to textiles in jeans.” Paul said this trend began about a decade ago. Moser, who also assists companies with information about the benefits of shifting work to the US, said President Barack Obama got the ball rolling. “He [President Obama] used to call it ‘insourcing,’” said Moser. “He started a program of increasing our skilled workforce of apprenticeship programs and certificates. He did many useful things.” According to Moser’s research, things have picked up under Trump, with work largely shifting away mostly from China and other parts of Asia. “In 2017, companies announced 170,000 manufacturing jobs coming back from offshore, up 50 percent from 2016.” (This includes both reshoring and foreign direct investment jobs.)  So, what’s driving this? Let’s...