This US manufacturing sector is booming

This US manufacturing sector is booming

Apr 21, 2016

By Jake Novak, CNBC Cheer up, Donald Trump fans! It turns out there is an American manufacturing industry that is not only booming, but it’s running a massive trade surplus of more than $100 billion per year. And it’s chock full of factories and jobs that can never be moved overseas. I’m hoping that most of you know I’m talking about aviation and defense… or the aerospace and defense industry as it’s officially called. A new report from Deloitte says the sector’s gross exports grew a healthy 3.6 percent to a whopping $143.3 billion in 2015. And the export part of the business has grown an incredible 59 percent just since 2010. Again, that’s just exports, not the revenues received from contracts exclusive to the U.S. government. It gets better because remember that unlike much of the tech and all of the financial services sectors, the weapons and aerospace business is very manufacturing intensive and national security rules keep those factories on U.S. soil. And here’s the icing on the cake: Our No.1 foreign customer pushing up its massive trade deficit with the U.S. in this industry with virtually every purchase is none other than China. And 2016 is starting to look pretty good now that the U.S. government is reportedly close to approving the sale of a total of 60 F-15 and F/A-18E/F fighter jets to Qatar and Kuwait. That sale is worth $7 billion toBoeing, which makes those jets mostly at factories in good old St. Louis, Missouri. That deal would be the best sign in years that the defense part of this sector is set to soar again. And it could make it easier for Lockheed Martin to complete its many sales of its new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to foreign allies. Deloitte projected 3.2 percent growth for the sector this year, and that was before this news about the Kuwait and Qatar sales broke. Not bad in an overall economy that’s growing at or a bit below 1 percent. But why isn’t this something the Obama administration, pro-labor groups, and everyone else in America is shouting about? You’d think an uniquely American industry doing so well and keeping jobs in the USA would be a primary bragging point...

Additive Manufacturing Is Reshaping Aviation

Additive Manufacturing Is Reshaping Aviation

Feb 19, 2015

By Kevin Bullis, MIT Technology Review Advanced manufacturing technologies are leading to smaller jet engines. The aviation company Pratt & Whitney is exploring whether technology known as additive manufacturing could be used to develop more compact jet engines that could make commercial airplanes lighter and more fuel efficient. Pratt & Whitney already uses two additive manufacturing techniques to make some engine components. Instead of casting metal in a mold, the methods involve forming solid objects by partially melting a metal powder with either a laser or an electron beam. Other aircraft makers use similar technology; GE, for example, creates fuel nozzles for jet engines using its own additive manufacturing techniques. The methods being used by GE and Pratt & Whitney are more complex and sophisticated than desktop 3-D printing, which involves creating objects by depositing ultrathin layers of material successively. Additive manufacturing processes can reduce waste, speed up production, and enable designs that might not be feasible with conventional production processes. The novel shapes and unusual material properties the technology makes possible—such as propeller blades optimized for strength at one end and flexibility at the other—could change the way airplanes are designed. One possibility being explored by Pratt & Whitney is engines with fewer parts, which would need less assembly and be cheaper to make. Frank Preli, chief engineer for materials and process engineering at the company, anticipates the possibility of radical new aircraft designs “like many engines embedded in a wing for ultra-aerodynamic efficiency.” Such a design could have many benefits, says Mark Drela, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. Distributing engines along the trailing edge of wings and in the rear of the fuselage can theoretically cut fuel consumption by 20 percent and decrease an aircraft’s weight. These benefits “add up to very large fuel burn reductions,” Drela says. Savings of 50 percent “are not inconceivable.” To get to that point, Preli says, additive manufacturing techniques need to improve to allow for higher precision. Once researchers understand the fine, molecular-scale physics of how lasers and electron beams interact with powders, he says, “that will lead to the ability to put in finer and finer features, and faster and faster deposition...

U.S. becomes hot spot for aerospace manufacturing

U.S. becomes hot spot for aerospace manufacturing

Feb 13, 2015

By Alwyn Scott, Reuters (Reuters) – The aerospace industry is shifting more manufacturing investment to the United States after a decade in which production jobs in the sector flowed to China and other emerging economies, according to a new study. Consultancy ICF International analyzed more than 2,000 investment transactions made since 2000, and found 28 manufacturing investments in the United States from 2012 to 2013, compared with eight each in China and Mexico, and four in Brazil. A decade earlier,Mexico led the pack with 10 investments, compared with just six investments in the United States. ICF said its data show a strong flow into China, India, Brazil, Mexico and other emerging markets until 2012. In the last three years, investment has shifted toward the United States. “The U.S. at this point in time has become the hot spot in aerospace manufacturing,” Kevin Michaels, a vice president at ICF, said at the annual Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference this week. “Comparative advantage is a fleeting thing. Three years ago it looked like everything was heading to China. Now that’s changed.” Commercial aircraft manufacturers are under intense pressure to reduce costs within the supply chain to offset falling inflation-adjusted prices for plane tickets. U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co (BA.N) is moving more production in-house to U.S. plants, reducing the outsourcing used for the 787 Dreamliner. Rival Airbus (AIR.PA) is building an assembly line in Mobile, Alabama. For example, Boeing found a 787 air duct made near Seattle was being shipped to Italy, reboxed and shipped to the 787 factory in Charleston, South Carolina, to be installed. “We unwound that,” Kent Fisher, vice president of supplier management at Boeing, said at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference Wednesday. “Now we have a direct relationship and the part ships directly to Charleston.” Labor cost savings that prompted work to move offshore have narrowed as wages have risen overseas and companies in developed countries installed robots to automate production and reduce touch labor. Different regions of the United States are stepping up efforts to win aerospace investments. This year, for the first time, a northwest Florida economic development group is the primary sponsor of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference. Florida wants to recruit companies to build the aerospace industry in Florida, said Jennifer Conoley, economic development representative...