Mark Albert

Mark Albert is editor-in-chief of Modern Machine Shop Magazine, a position he has held since July 2000. He was associate editor and then executive editor of the magazine in prior years. Mark has been writing about metalworking for more than 30 years. Currently, his favorite topics are lean manufacturing and global competitiveness. Mark’s editorial activities have taken him to numerous countries in Europe and Asia as well as across the United States many times. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).

Posted by: Mark Albert 28. March 2014

Discover More—And I Did

I happened to be in the Chicago area in time to take in part of a day at the Discover More with Mazak Midwest event at the company's Technology Center in Schaumburg, Ill. Designed to help attendees “discover new tools and techniques for staying ahead of the manufacturing curve,” the event brought several good ideas to my attention. Here are four that particularly stand out.

  1. Mazak is big on MTConnect, the open communication protocol that provides “interconnectability” among CNC machines, shopfloor devices and software applications from different suppliers. Mazak has helped more than 173 customers to implement MTConnect-enabled applications, involving more than 800 machines. In fact, Mazak uses MTConnect for machine monitoring in its own factory in Florence, Ky.
  2. Per Matt Gimbel, production manager at Penske Racing, the Penske team uses its Mazak five-axis e410 Integrex machine to produce critical parts such as steering knuckles. With the latest changes in NASCAR regulations, the new top priority for racing teams is not squeezing in a little more horsepower, but rather squeezing out a few pounds. Instead of having separate parts welded together, the steering knuckle is now produced as a more compact, lighter-weight, one-piece casting. The Integrex enables Penske to do the complex machining that this casting requires.
  3. Do done-in-one when you can, but if multiple setups are unavoidable to complete a part, Dan Skulan from Renishaw made the point that today’s advanced probing systems can greatly reduce the risk of introducing errors when refixturing workpieces, changing tools or working lights out. Probing technology makes new machining strategies possible.
  4. Cloud-based manufacturing resources are a harbinger of sunnier days for machining companies that program CNC machines. Reps from Esprit, for example, were showing how their CAM software tapped into the Kennametal's cloud-based NOVO system to incorporate the latest tooling recommendations, matching machining data and process knowledge. 
Posted by: Mark Albert 21. March 2014

How to Promote Careers in Precision Manufacturing

Step one: create a great manufacturing training program with good instructors and a well-equipped machining facility. Step two: create a compelling video that sells the program to high school seniors about to choose a career path. The ITAMCO Manufacturing Education Center at Plymouth High School in Plymouth, Indiana has both steps covered.

The video above describes the program through the voice and viewpoint of a student, which is a nice touch! Tom Felke at Plymouth High School filmed and produced the whole video.

The public/private partnership behind this program is a team effort by Plymouth High School, Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO). Especially commendable is the contribution from ITAMCO, which donated $100,000 worth of equipment in addition to technical assistance to the program. 

Posted by: Mark Albert 14. March 2014

Keynote Speakers for the MTConnect Conference Named

Dr. Dean L. Bartles, recently named executive director of the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation Institute, will speak at [MC]2 in Orlando, Fla., April 10 2014. 

The keynote speakers for [MC]2 2014 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference have been announced. This event is presented April 8-10, 2014, at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida.

Dean L. Bartles, Ph.D., Executive Director, Digital Lab for Manufacturing, UI LABS, and Greg Harris, Ph.D., U.S. Army AMRDEC, will speak about the federal investment for the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute that will be used to establish the Digital Lab for Manufacturing. This lab is intended to be the nation’s flagship research institute in digital manufacturing. It is being called “a world-class, first-of-its-kind manufacturing hub with the capabilities, innovation and collaboration necessary to transform American manufacturing.”

Peter Lucas, Ph.D., founding Principal of MAYA Design and co-author of Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology, will present “Interoperability in the Age of Trillions.” Describing the goal of a true “Ecology of Information Devices,” Dr. Lucas’s talk will explore the challenge of making a world producing more than 10 billion microprocessors each year and containing a trillion computers work in an effective and humane way.

The [MC]2 Conference is a three-day event designed for end users, equipment and device suppliers, software developers, distributors, integrators, students, professors interested in the advancement of data-driven manufacturing.

MTConnect is a set of open, royalty-free standards intended to foster greater interoperability between controls, devices and software applications by publishing data over networks using the Internet Protocol. Since its introduction in 2008, MTConnect has become the standard for manufacturing connectivity. The manufacturing technology community commonly uses MTConnect to connect the shop floor to monitoring applications and to integrate the shop floor with the entire manufacturing enterprise. 

Posted by: Mark Albert 6. March 2014

The MFG Meeting Opens in Arizona

With the iconic Art Deco façade of the Arizona Biltmore in the background, AMT's 2014 IMTS and Smartforce Rally Fighter sports cars bask in the bright Southwest sunshine.​

For many of us in manufacturing, it seems that the industry is enjoying a figurative springtime of renewed vitality and growth. So it is appropriate that The MFG Meeting, an important event that brings together machine builders, distributors and end users from all areas of the manufacturing technology industry, opens today at the Arizona Biltmore near Phoenix.

This setting represents a fitting convergence of history, style and flowery splendor that reminds visitors from wintry regions of the country that springtime (the warming season of the year, that is) is not far off. The MFG Meeting is a joint event for members of AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA). Conference presentations, technical sessions and activities at the event are designed to help attending members maintain the momentum that has been propelling the manufacturing industry in recent years—a welcome turnaround that many pundits only a few years ago predicted would never happen.

The Arizona Biltmore is an historic resort hotel, the design of which was heavily influenced by America's most original architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who helped oversee construction of the complex in the late 1920s. The hotel's bold, yet intricate, styling still seem fresh, hopeful and appealing—exactly the sort of image that manufacturing is projecting to a new generation of entrepreneurs, technicians, engineers and apprentices.

The hotel and its lush landscaping proved to be the ideal setting for a pair of the daringly different vehicles brought to the event by AMT. The 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) and Smartforce Rally Fighters are characterized as the world's first open-source production vehicles, designed and developed by a collaboration between Local Motors and a global community of designers, fabricators, engineers and auto enthusiasts. The vehicles represent a new era in manufacturing that is based on the latest advances in digital manufacturing, one of the trends being discussed and promoted at The MFG Meeting.

Posted by: Mark Albert 28. February 2014

IMTS Gets First 3D Printed Electric Car

Local Motors co-creates vehicles and related components with a global community of designers, engineers, fabricators and enthusiasts.

Local Motors built one of its Rally Fighter open-source production vehicles on the show floor at the 2012 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). For IMTS 2014, Local Motors is taking the concept of online design and hardware co-creation one step further. At this year’s show, the company will build and deliver the first direct digital manufactured vehicle.

This project is a partnership between IMTS sponsor AMT—The Association for Manufacturing Technology and Local Motors. It is intended to be a high-profile demo of how sustainable green technologies that use both additive and subtractive techniques can deliver stronger, safer, faster and more efficient vehicles.

Designed by the company’s global community and built using the material science and advanced manufacturing techniques available at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Local Motors plans to produce an electric vehicle that is purpose-built for the urban transportation needs of cities like Chicago.

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