Ford Opens $45M Advanced Manufacturing Center

Ford Opens $45M Advanced Manufacturing Center

Dec 18, 2018

By Jeff Reinke, ThomasNet Redford, Michigan, is the new home of Ford’s Advanced Manufacturing Center, focused on improving the company’s approach to building cars and trucks. The $45 million complex houses 100 experts working on integration strategies for various cutting-edge manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), robotics, and digital manufacturing. The Advanced Manufacturing Center contains 23 3D printing machines, and Ford is working with 10 3D manufacturing companies to develop applications with a range of different materials, from nylon powder to sand to carbon. One application currently under development could save the company more than $2 million. The soon-to-be-released Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 features two 3D-printed brake parts, while the F-150 Raptor includes a 3D-printed interior part. The company believes that as this technology becomes more economical, the use of such parts will become more and more prevalent. Assembly line workers at the Michigan Assembly Plant, where Ford builds the Ranger pickup, use five different 3D-printed tools that played a critical role in the launch of the Ranger. In fact, the company says that these tools knocked off weeks from an already tight timeline. Ford is also banking on augmented and virtual reality to help in simulating and designing assembly lines. By donning specialized gaming equipment, engineers can configure a virtual reality production line without leaving the Center, allowing engineers to identify potentially unsafe processes and fine-tune workflows long before an assembly line is put into play. AR and VR can also allow manufacturing teams to work collaboratively in facilities around the world, meaning employees on different continents could work in the same virtual space, at the same time. Finally, the new facility will allow the company to optimize the use of collaborative robots. Ford has more than 100 of them in 24 plants globally. For instance, at the Livonia Transmission Plant in Michigan, a co-bot performs a job that was so ergonomically difficult for employees that they could only perform that task for one hour at a time. The co-bot was a welcome addition to the production line. These co-bots also help the automaker reduce costs by eliminating the safety cages required by larger robots. Utilizing co-bots in...

The Robots Are Coming, but Not the Way You Imagined

The Robots Are Coming, but Not the Way You Imagined

Dec 17, 2018

Industrial robots are driving improvements in productivity, quality, and flexibility that are helping U.S. manufacturers to compete globally. At the same time, they’re spurring the growth of a new ecosystem of jobs, from mechanical design to AI-based computer vision. By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine The robots are coming—that much is true. But manufacturers, by and large, don’t see them as the job-stealing invaders of the workplace that many people have imagined. It’s not that robots don’t excel in performing many tasks formerly done by people. It’s just that people also excel in certain areas where robots aren’t up to the task. And  in the manufacturing realm, industry leaders and company officials who have integrated robots into their plant’s operations say that their impact stretches well beyond the work that they’ve proven to do so well.   “These machines are going to have a huge impact into the broader economy,” said Tom Galluzzo, founder and chief technology officer of IAM Robotics, in a presentation at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Next Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in June. “They’re going to empower people to do the things that we’re innately better at—the creative thinking skills. And I think that’s where our employers have to take responsibility—to educate people and to empower them to do those kinds of creative thinking.” In manufacturing, people can focus on higher-level work because industrial robots are known to perform repetitive tasks with greater precision than their human counterparts. Manufacturers who use robotics in printed circuit board assembly, for example, often report greater peace of mind knowing that the robots are maintaining high quality while increasing the productivity of their operations. Sam Hanna, president of Quality Manufacturing Services, Inc. (QMS), a provider of electronics manufacturing services in Lake Mary, Florida, said that QMS has added robotics to its operation when a reasonable return on investment has justified the investment. The company has invested heavily in late-model surface mount pick-and-place equipment, a key contributor to quality as electronic components and packages continue to shrink in size. “We get consistent output, the machines never get tired, and they’re certainly faster than humans,” said Hanna. “The precision we can get out of machinery is far better than we can get out of...

Design-2-Part Shows Sets Annual Attendance Record

Design-2-Part Shows Sets Annual Attendance Record

Dec 6, 2018

PROSPECT, Conn. — (December 5, 2018) — Design-2-Part (D2P) Shows, a series of design and contract manufacturing trade shows across the U.S., has set a new annual attendance record for its trade shows in 2018. The eleven 2018 shows combined to deliver 14,935 engineers and buyers, the highest number in the 44-year history of D2P. “We are extremely pleased with the year our shows had in 2018,” said Jerry Schmidt, President of Design-2-Part Shows. “We invest a lot of time and money in attracting attendees to each show. But this year, we also acknowledge a resurgence in America’s manufacturing industry and the U.S. economy as a whole. The feedback that we receive from our exhibitors in post-show surveys showed that they also saw a higher level of active buyers than in recent years, resulting in some of our highest Customer Satisfaction marks ever.” D2P will look to continue this run in 2019 with eleven more shows scheduled in Grapevine, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Uncasville, Connecticut; Schaumburg, Illinois; Santa Clara, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Marlborough, Massachusetts; Pasadena, California; Oaks, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Design-2-Part Shows provides U.S. manufacturers an efficient opportunity to meet local and national job shops and contract manufacturers face-to-face to source custom parts, components, services, and design. Exhibiting companies showcase their design-through-manufacturing services, featuring more than 300 product categories for the metal, plastics, rubber, and electronics industries. D2P Shows exclusively feature exhibiting job shops and contract manufacturers with manufacturing operations in the United States. Companies that do not have facilities in the U.S. are not permitted to exhibit. For information on exhibiting or attending any Design-2-Part Show,...

Reshoring Trend Continues

Reshoring Trend Continues

Nov 26, 2018

By: Harry Moser, Reshoring Initiative Featured on Metal Forming Magazine.com  Harry Moser, retired president of machine-tool supplier GF AgieCharmilles, is founder and president of the Restoring Initiative, tel. 847/867-1144, www.reshoringnow.org. Manufacturing jobs returning to the United States from offshore climbed to 171,000 in 2017 for a staggering 2800-percent increase since 2010, and equaling 90 percent of the 189,000 total manufacturing jobs added in 2017. This brought the number of jobs returned to more than one-half million since 2010. With at least half of these jobs believed to be at various levels of the supply chain, opportunities are great for metalformers. Moreover, when measured by our $700 billion nonpetroleum goods trade deficit, we count five million U.S. manufacturing jobs offshore, representing a potential for 40-percent growth in U.S. manufacturing. The right national and corporate policies will bring these jobs back. Tariffs/Trade War vs. Alternative Actions The reduction in U.S. corporate tax rates and regulatory costs played a key role in bringing jobs back, and makes 2018 the right time for companies to reevaluate their offshoring decisions. The Reshoring Initiative supports the Trump administration’s trade objectives, but not the tariffs. We have offered the administration our Competitiveness Toolkit, which outlines and quantifies alternative actions. These are intended to avoid retaliation by other countries and to avoid making some domestic sectors more competitive at the expense of others—a result of the steel tariffs. Take Advantage of the Trend Metalformers can reshore in two ways: They can decide to source or produce components or tooling domestically; or they can supply parts or tooling to customers that have decided to reshore. Several trends drive the shift from offshoring to reshoring: the rising costs of offshore production; the impact of distance on quality, innovation, flexibility, responsiveness, inventory and availability; improved U.S. competitiveness via new production technologies; and the increased use of a more sophisticated total cost of ownership (TCO) model—provided by the Reshoring Initiative—to quantify the hidden costs and risks of offshoring. Use the Tools Tools offered by the Reshoring Initiative are well worth getting to know. For example, the organization’s Library shows industries and companies that are reshoring, and could be a potential source of new business for metalformers. Another tool, the TCO Estimator, can help metalformers and their...

When Is 3D Printing Cost Effective?

When Is 3D Printing Cost Effective?

Oct 30, 2018

By Christina M. Fuges, Contributing Editor, Additive Manufacturing Hype continues to surround additive manufacturing. These three factors can help determine whether a part is worth 3D printing. Digging into metal additive manufacturing quickly reveals how expensive it can be, as some parts produced using incumbent technologies, such as laser sintering and binder jetting, can cost thousands of dollars. If there’s one lesson Matt Sand, President of 3DEO, a Los Angeles, California-based metal AM parts supplier, has learned over the last few years, it’s that cost is everything when it comes to serial production. “If you’re not in the ballpark on cost, you might as well not even play the game because there’s no way to get into production without being cost competitive with conventional manufacturing techniques,” Sand says. “If you are not cost competitive, you’re not at the table,” So, to get the total cost structure down, 3DEO developed an end-to-end manufacturing process around Intelligent Layering, a very low-cost metal additive manufacturing technology the company’s founders invented. Based on binder jetting technology, Intelligent Layering uses a proprietary spray system to bind the entire layer, and then uses a CNC end mill to cut the perimeter of the part and any internal features. (Read more about 3DEO’s technology and company strategy.) Although 3DEO’s Intelligent Layering process offers a new take on additive, the company’s differentiator is that “we are not trying to sell machines, we’re only selling parts,” Sand says. The competition for its additive process is not metal 3D printing; it’s traditional manufacturing. 3DEO is competing against CNC machining and metal injection molding and is already cost competitive with both of these technologies when it comes to small and complex metal parts, according to Sand. There are three key factors he considers in determining whether it will be cost-effective to 3D print a given part:  1. Part Size Is it bigger/smaller than a golf ball? One thing Sand has learned over the last few years is that as part size increases, the cost increases on an exponential curve. Smaller (golf ball-sized) parts manufactured traditionally are price competitive. However, as the part size starts to reach softball size and greater, the cost skyrockets. It’s not uncommon in laser sintering for very...