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Posted by: Matt Danford 3. May 2016

Student Video Contest Promotes Manufacturing Education

The team that won the best overall video award, Killingly High School & Web Industries, received a trophy assembled from parts manufactured at each of the participating manufacturers. Next year, that travelling trophy will be up for grabs again.

There’s usually a clear line between teacher and student, but that wasn’t the case for one recent effort to spread the word about manufacturing industry career opportunities. On April 14, participants in the “Manufacturing a Path to Success” video competition gathered to celebrate the conclusion of a contest that had high schoolers partner with local manufacturers to produce their own educational videos about the industry.  

The organization behind the contest is the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (EAMA), a group of more than 40 manufacturers in Eastern Connecticut, South-Central Massachusetts and Northwest Rhode Island that aims to promote industry careers generally; strengthen the regional workforce; and enable members to advocate as a team for common interests. As we reported a few weeks ago while voting for the videos was still underway, each of 13 student teams made multiple visits to a local manufacturer to conceive and shoot their submissions. In the process, they learned about different job functions, the skills required to be successful in those jobs, and how various employees got into the profession. After editing and refining the message, the students were responsible for promoting the videos within their schools and local communities. Participating high schools included technical schools, middle colleges, regional and town-based schools.

The April 14 gathering culminated in a film festival, aptly dubbed the EAMY awards, at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson, Connecticut. Students arrived in formal attire, and some were even treated to a limousine ride to the event by their manufacturing partner. Videos were screened and evaluated by a panel of judges from the manufacturing improvement, education and video production industries, and winners received various cash prizes and trophies.

“Manufacturing a Path to Success” is the second annual video competition hosted by EAMA, and it was even more successful than the first iteration, the organization reports. As a result, the organization will host a similar event next year for its members.

Here’s a list of this year’s winners (all submissions are available for viewing on the EAMA’s website): 

  • Best Overall Video: Killingly High School & Web Industries
  • Outstanding Videography: Putnam High School & Ensinger Precision Components
  • Best Narration: Killingly High School & Web Industries
  • Outstanding Educational Value: Plainfield High School & Westminster Tool
  • Most Creative: Plainfield High School & Westminster Tool

Viewer’s Choice Awards                              

  • 1st Place: Three Rivers Middle College & MPS Plastics
  • 2nd Place: Woodstock Academy & Whitcraft
  • 3rd Place: New London Science & Technology Magnet High School & Sound Manufacturing

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 2. May 2016

Video: Update on Cardinal Manufacturing

Cardinal Manufacturing is a Wisconsin high school machining program run as commercial business. This brief video produced by state legislators offers a glimpse at how far the shop has come since we first reported on Cardinal.

You can also see the shop in person at an open house May 18. Learn more.


Posted by: Mark Albert 29. April 2016

Metalworking in the Age of Connectivity

A white paper from Walter Surface Technologies shows how its new Wi-Fi-enabled passivation tester is a striking example of innovative sensor technology, web-enabled networking, cloud-based platforms and mobile apps coming together to support the metalworking industry in the digital age. It’s a compelling case study of data-driven manufacturing in action on the shop floor.

Many metalworking companies apply processes and treatments to workpieces in the course of producing them for customers. One example is passivation, a process to make stainless steel corrosion resistant. Testing passivated workpieces to be sure the process was complete and effective can be a challenge. However, any company concerned about quality control and inspection will be interested in this discussion of how a handheld wireless diagnostic tool, Walter Surface Technologies’ Surfox Smart Passivation Tester, is an example of the Industrial Internet of Things at work. The device measures the chromium oxide layer found on the surface of stainless steel. This layer protects the metal from corrosion and rust. Within seconds, the tester syncs a numeric value of the quality of the passive layer to a smart phone and uploads the test results to the cloud.

The device integrates both the physical and digital worlds and provides real-time data that can be shared with customers. Using this device as an example, the white paper puts the development and implementation of web-enabled technology into a real-world context.

As a plus, the paper includes a primer defining many of the most popular buzzwords related to the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 and Big Data is also handy and informative.

Fill out the form and download the white paper here.


Posted by: Matt Danford 28. April 2016

Additive Survey Shows Less Tinkering, More Practical Use

The bosses on this machined turbine engine combustor case, showcased at an Okuma America open house last year, were produced on a laser deposition machine from RPM Innovations. The two companies foresee a big future in hybrid additive/subtractive cells. 

“While desktop printers and entrepreneurs may grab the headlines, manufacturers are also pushing 3D printing to its limits and are prime movers in ushering the technology to higher maturity levels.”

That’s a quote from a recent report on the adoption of additive manufacturing technology for industrial applications. Conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) and The Manufacturing Institute, this 2015 survey of 120 U.S. manufacturing professionals is titled “3D Printing Comes of Age in U.S. Industrial Manufacturing,” and it offers plenty of evidence to support that view. Here are a few highlights:

  • Among the 71 percent (!) of manufacturers that are currently applying additive in some way (up slightly from the 67 percent reported in a 2014 PwC study), the trend is toward less experimentation and more actual application, whether for prototyping or production. 
  • The number of manufacturers that expect additive technology to be used for high-volume production in the next three to five years has grown from 38 percent to 52 percent since the last PwC study, while those expecting it to be confined to low-volume, specialized products slipped from 74 percent to 67 percent.
  • Although most agree that additive technology could disrupt the industry, they’re split on what exactly those disruptions might be. The most popular scenarios include supply chain restructuring, threats to intellectual property and changed relationships with customers.  

The full study offers more detail on all of these trends, and includes a list of questions to help manufacturers determine how best to take advantage of additive technology. It’s certainly worth a look.


Posted by: Emily Probst 27. April 2016

A Cool Way to “Visit” Your Machine Shop

Online marketing is a necessity for job shops. In fact, we’ve written about it several times. (This column and this later column are just two examples.) Aside from investing in your website, blogging, posting to various social media channels and perhaps sending mass emails, what can you do to promote your machine shop?

Gilman Precision of Grafton, Wisconsin, took an interesting new approach that I haven’t seen before. The company partnered with Google Street View service to provide a virtual tour of its facilities. You can view it on their website or on Google Maps. This tour lets you navigate through Gilman’s main doors and around the factory, including its class 10,000-level spindle clean room.

A virtual tour is a great way to show potential customers (and magazine editors) a little about your shop, machines and capabilities.

Tell me, are you using Google Street View service at your shop? 


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