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Posted by: Mark Albert 15. August 2014

3DRV Road Tour Visits ITAMCO

This robotic deburring cell was one of the items that caught the attention of the 3DRV touring reporter.

Although we have written about ITAMCO in the past (read this article and this one), it’s good to see this precision machining company getting positive mention in a recent article posted online by Forbes. The author, TJ McCue, visited ITAMCO as part of his eight-month, cross country tour to investigate the impact of 3D digital technology and advanced manufacturing.

The article helps get an important message about advanced manufacturing and its challenges to a larger general audience that follows important developments in business. For example, one of the challenges reported by the author, who visited ITAMCO for a perspective on small to midsize manufacturers in America, is the difficulty of finding skilled employees locally to run advanced manufacturing equipment. Likewise, pointing to ITAMCO’s efforts to help structure and fund an innovative high school program is a good example of the radical solutions required. 

I spoke to Joel Neidig, the Technology Manager at ITAMCO about the visit by the 3DRV road tour. I’ve made several editorial visits to ITAMCO’s main plant in Plymouth, Indiana, so I was curious about how this visit was different from mine.

For one thing, TJ McCue arrived in his famous, distinctively decorated RV, which is serving as his home away from home during the tour. “He carries a 3D printer, 3D laser scanner and high-end camera and video gear with him,” Joel tells me. The RV tour is sponsored by Autodesk, Stratasys and other tech companies.

On the day-long tour, TJ asked the right questions about ITAMCO’s manufacturing operations and understood its significance, Joel says. “He was especially interested in the high school program and was eager to meet the students and instructor there.” Joel learned that, because TJ had taken shop classes himself as a student, he could easily see how different today’s programs have to be to meet today’s needs.

Now that the Forbes article has been posted, I asked Joel what kind of feedback he has received. All of it has been positive, he says, especially from the vendors working with ITAMCO. “Most of all, I'm glad to see manufacturing get this kind of positive attention. There’s definitely more interest from the public in manufacturing and how its image is changing,” he says.


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 15. August 2014

New This Year: IMTS Virtual Field Trip for Students

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Students who are too far from Chicago to be able to visit the International Manufacturing Technology Show in person will be able to experience IMTS in their classrooms thanks to “Technology Applied,” a new, online virtual field trip that will be filmed at the show. Teachers can register to access any or all of the show’s three 30-minute episodes, which will be broadcast on three consecutive days during the IMTS: September 10, 11 and 12.

The virtual field trip will be filmed, produced and hosted by the team that creates The Edge Factor Show. By taking an exciting look at some of the automation, equipment and processes demonstrated at IMTS, the episodes show students the technology they are likely to employ if they pursue manufacturing careers, and will also illustrate how science and mathematics are applied in manufacturing every day. CNC machining, additive manufacturing, aerospace manufacturing and racecar technology are some of the topics to be addressed, with content appropriate to grades 5-12. Learn more by watching the teaser above and by visiting the “Technology Applied” registration page.

Consider encouraging the teachers you know to register for this event. Thanks to the support of Sandvik Coromant, the lead organizer of the virtual field trip, registration is free for the first 1,000 teachers who sign up. Learn more.


Posted by: Derek Korn 14. August 2014

A Swiss-Type with a Laser

This new machine design extends a Swiss-type lathe’s inherent multitasking capabilities by integrating a laser cutting system. 

Swiss-type lathes are known for their multitasking capability. REM Sales, the exclusive
North American importer of Tsugami machine tools, now offers a Swiss-type that features an integral laser cutter. While originally designed to speed production of small, cylindrical parts such as stents for the medical industry, the Swiss Laser has potential applications for other industries that manufacture similar-sized parts. Learn more.


Posted by: Steve Kline, Jr. 12. August 2014

MBI Grows for Seventh Month

 

With a reading of 51.9, the July metalworking index showed that the industry grew for the seventh consecutive month and the ninth time in 10 months. While this growth was at its slowest pace of 2014, the index was still 7.0 percent higher than it was one year earlier, the 11th straight month that the month-over-month rate has grown. As a result, the annual rate of change has grown at an accelerating rate for five straight months and is growing at its fastest rate since April 2011.

Both new orders and production increased for the 10th month in a row, but their rates of growth have decelerated steadily since March. Backlogs have contracted for four consecutive months, and this rate accelerated in July, taking the backlog index to its lowest level since December 2013. This index is still significantly higher than it was one year ago, however, which is a positive sign for future capacity utilization and capital equipment investment. The rate of hiring had been accelerating since August 2013, but while employment is still growing, the accelerating growth trend was broken in July. Exports continued to contract but at a slower rate than they did in 2013. Supplier deliveries continued to lengthen at a slightly accelerating rate as they have done since June 2013.

Over the last three months, material prices have increased more than at any time since the first quarter of 2013. Over that same period, prices received by metalworkers have also increased at virtually their fastest rate since the summer of 2012. Future business expectations remain above average, but they have been trending down slightly throughout 2014.

Future capital spending plans fell to their lowest level since September 2011. This level was 12.2 percent lower than it was one year ago, which is the first month of contraction since February. The annual rate of change is still growing, but it did decelerate from last month. 


Posted by: Peter Zelinski 11. August 2014

How Much Can Unattended Production Add?

A shop running two 10-hour shifts has just about all of the day covered. That was the case with Aztalan Engineering. Using a horizontal machining center—with parts loaded on one pallet while they are being machined on the other pallet—offered a way to keep production going throughout all of the staffed hours. However, for a manifold part needed in relatively high volume, the shop went even farther than this. It added a Fastems pallet system so it could keep on feeding the machine even through the unattended hours. Capturing this seemingly small number of additional hours had a significant impact on capacity. The additional 4 hours per day, plus an extra 6 hours over the weekend, increases the weekly output of this machine by more than 25 percent over what a standalone HMC could do, even an HMC staffed by an operator for 20 hours per day.

Read more about automation at this shop.


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