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Manufacturers expanding at fastest pace in three years…

Manufacturers expanding at fastest pace in three years…

Apr 25, 2018

“Manufacturers expanding at fastest pace in three years, flash PMI data show” By Jeffry Bartash, MarketWatch U.S. economy is speeding up again, but inflation is warming up too, IHS Markit finds The numbers: American companies grew faster in April, especially manufacturers, in a reflection of a steadily expanding U.S. economy. But inflationary pressures increased as well. The flash IHS Markit U.S. manufacturing PMI climbed to 56.5 this month from 55.5 and touched a three-and-a-half-year high. Readings over 50 indicate expansion. A similar survey of service-oriented businesses that employ most Americans also rose. It edged up to 54.4 from 54. A flash reading is typically based on approximately 85%–90% of responses each month. At the same time, the survey showed the cost of raw or partly finished materials increased at the fastest pace in almost five years. Firms said the recently announced White House tariffs on steel as well as a large basket of Chinese goods were partly to blame. What happened: Businesses boosted production in April to match an increase in new orders. Companies also acted more aggressively to secure materials from suppliers because they are taking longer to deliver them. That suggests companies are running into bottlenecks, a potential hurdle for the economy if the situation gets worse. Tight supplies also mean higher prices — aka inflation. Even with new orders increasing, companies eased back on hiring. They focused more on improving efficiency — no surprise given a growing shortage of skilled labor. Big picture: The economy is ramping up for a strong spring, but shortages of skilled labor, rising inflation and the threat of widespread tariffs could put a cap on U.S. growth despite recent tax cuts and higher federal spending. Higher inflation could also spur the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively, another potential drag on faster U.S. growth. What are they saying?: “After a relatively disappointing start to the year, the second quarter should prove a lot more encouraging,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS...

Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater…

Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater…

Apr 19, 2018

“Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater Technology for U.S. Olympic Team” By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine Butler Technologies, Inc., a specialist in user interface design and printed electronics, has made great strides during its 28-year history. Founded in 1990 by William Darney (now deceased), and Nadine Tripodi, Butler began as a brokerage firm that represented board manufacturers and screen printing companies, before venturing into manufacturing in 1993. Although the company has expanded and enhanced its offerings through the years, it never lost its original core manufacturing focus as a precision printer. “That’s what we started as, and that’s where our true passion lies, in printing, and especially in conductive inks,” said Butler Technologies President Nadine Tripodi, in a phone interview with D2P in February. “We are, in most cases, a contract printer, and on top of that, a solutions provider for those of our customers who aren’t really sure what they want or what the best approach to a print solution might be, especially in user interfaces and different types of graphic overlays.” Today, Butler is heavily focused on printed electronics, a growth market that has the company designing and manufacturing a range of wearable electronics, capacitive touch circuits, and flexible printed heaters, among other products. The company supports its customers’ product design and development goals through the efforts of an approximately 10-member engineering design team that continues to grow. “That’s one place that in the past couple of years, we’ve really added more people, and they’re good—they really are,” Tripodi said. She credited Butler’s head engineer, Mike Wagner, as being instrumental in the company’s ability to offer leading-edge printed electronics. “He is the one who really has a penchant for this and has helped tremendously in getting us more ingrained in the printed electronics world.” Butler’s engineering team offers expertise in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and project management. Its electrical engineers can work with customers to design and integrate custom printed electronics that meet specific size, shape, and functional requirements of a given project, the company said on its website. Sometimes, customers come to Butler with a drawing showing exactly what they need, and don’t make any modifications or alterations to it. But...

How 3D printing is spurring revolutionary advances in…

How 3D printing is spurring revolutionary advances in…

Apr 17, 2018

“How 3D printing is spurring revolutionary advances in manufacturing and design” By PBS NewsHour A young startup called Relativity is pushing space technology forward by pushing 3D printing technology to its limits, building the largest metal 3D printer in the world. And other major companies anxious to try these new ways of manufacturing, too. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien looks at some of the amazing advances that’s launching the technology into a new era....

US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of…

US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of…

Apr 16, 2018

“US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of 2018” By USCTI, AMT – Press Release Featured on AdvancedManufacturing.org February US cutting tool consumption totaled $190.12 million according to the US Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the Cutting Tool Market Report collaboration, was up 3.5% from January’s $183.61 million and up 8.7% when compared with the $174.98 million reported for February 2017. With a year-to-date total of $373.73 million, 2018 is up 7.4% when compared with 2017. These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals reported by the companies participating in the CTMR program. The totals here represent the majority of the US market for cutting tools. “February cutting tool sales show that business continues to grow, gaining 3.5% over January, a very solid start to 2018,” said Philip Kurtz, President of USCTI. “Year-over-year sales posted a 7.4% gain and it certainly looks like the trend will continue. News of tariffs and pressure on raw material prices could have an effect, but with strong market momentum it is certainly not a given that much will change. March may or may not bring winds of change, but it will for sure bring spring.” “Orders for cutting tools have benefitted in recent months from a faster rate of business investment spending, due to recent tax cuts and renewed strength in key markets such as metals, mining and machinery,” said Mark Killion, Director of US Industry at Oxford Economics. The Cutting Tool Market Report is jointly compiled by AMT and USCTI, two trade associations representing the development, production and distribution of cutting tool technology and products. It provides a monthly statement on US manufacturers’ consumption of the primary consumable in the manufacturing process -– the cutting tool. Analysis of cutting tool consumption is a leading indicator of both upturns and downturns in US manufacturing activity, as it is a true measure of actual production levels. Historical data for the Cutting Tool Market Report is available dating back to January 2012. This collaboration of AMT and USCTI is the first step in the two associations working together...

Why Technology Could Change the Way You Manufacture…

Why Technology Could Change the Way You Manufacture…

Apr 13, 2018

“Why Technology Could Change the Way You Manufacture Metal Parts”  By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine Metal 3D Printing Brings Big Improvements in Speed, Cost, and Quality If you feel the power of Desktop Metal’s claim that it’s reinventing how metal parts are manufactured, you’re not alone. Some of the biggest names in manufacturing and venture capital—BMW Group, GV (formerly Google Ventures), GE,  Stratasys, and New Enterprise Associates—have bought into the company’s vision of making metal 3D printing more affordable, more accessible, and much, much faster. That’s largely because Desktop Metal has developed an innovative metal 3D printer, the Production System, which it calls the “fastest 3D printing system for mass production of high-resolution metal parts.” Based on a new approach to metal 3D printing called Single Pass Jetting (SPJ), the DM Production System™ is said to build metal parts in a matter of minutes, instead of hours. It operates at speeds of up to 8,200 cubic centimeters per hour, which the company says is 100 times faster than laser-based systems. The technology also doesn’t require tooling, further reducing the time needed to make complex metal parts. Desktop Metal (www.DesktopMetal.com) has garnered more than $200 million in funding from investors enamored with the prospect of mass producing strong, functional, and high-quality metal parts at unprecedented speeds. The Burlington, Massachusetts-based company is on a mission to make metal 3Dprinting more affordable and accessible, from prototyping through mass production, and has launched two systems—the DM Studio System™ and DM Production System™—to make those goals a reality. The Studio System, designed to bring metal 3D printing to an engineer’s desk or the shop floor, is a complete platform that includes a printer, a debinder, and a sintering furnace. Desktop Metal began shipping the Studio System to early customers—including Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group—in December as part of its Pioneers Program roll-out. The Production System, designed for mass production of metal 3D printed parts, is scheduled to begin shipping in early 2019. Other Pioneer customers are the U.S. Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division; Built-Rite Tool & Die; The Technology House; Medtronic; and Lumenium LLC. Opening Doors to Opportunities “This marks the first time our team...

Putting the ‘smart’ in manufacturing

Putting the ‘smart’ in manufacturing

Apr 11, 2018

By Silke Schmidt, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Phys.org “Although smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, many of the companies that make our everyday consumer products still rely on paper trails and manually updated spreadsheets to keep track of their production processes and delivery schedules,” says Leyuan Shi, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That’s what she hopes to change with a research idea she first published almost two decades ago. During the past 16 years, Shi has visited more than 400 manufacturing companies in the United States, China, Europe, and Japan to personally observe their production processes. “And I have used that insight to develop tools that can make these processes run much more smoothly,” she says. These tools are based on the notion of a “digital twin,” or a computer representation of physical assets (machines and people) and processes that helps managers better operate the systems that connect them. Take, for example, a car manufacturing company with 15 different suppliers, each of which delivers a specific car part. As these parts arrive at the company, they are assembled by people who work in different departments, such as sheet metal cutting, heat treatment, welding, painting and so forth. The overall goal of this manufacturing system is to fill a set number of vehicle sales orders. That’s a classic example of a supply chain: a set of processes that link raw source materials to final consumer products. A company’s goal for making supply chain manufacturing more efficient might include decreasing production downtime due to delivery delays for required parts, and better adjusting to unpredictable events, such as rush orders, machine breakdowns, or defective parts. The technology Shi has developed helps managers meet these goals. With a database system, user software and equipment sensors, it creates a digital twin of what is physically happening at the supply facilities and shop floors. Managers can use that digital representation to visually track the global production progress in real time and adjust workflows as needed. The tool provides continuously updated start times for each assembly stage and constantly refined delivery times for the customers who ordered the cars. “That’s what we mean by smart manufacturing,” Shi says. The technology...