New evidence of the stunning decline of the North American injection molding industry seems to gain speed almost daily. I reported earlier on the proposed sale of GE Plastics and the large layoffs at Milacron. This is on top of bankruptcies at leading Tier One suppliers and auctions of molding machinery. Now there is news that Bob Schad is putting Husky Injection Molding systems up for sale. Schad was a skilled tool builder who built Husky from the ground up as a technology leader and blue-chip company. Its original forte was very sophisticated systems to produce PET performs. Husky later branched into injection molding, and was a major player in stack molding and other high-productivity systems. The word is that Schad is disgusted by very low valuations of Husky on the Canadian Stock Exchange. Prices of shares jumped 20% when news of the sale broke. None of this is good news for the design engineering community. GE Plastics, Milacron and Husky were among the very best companies in the field, and important innovators. Outsourcing to China is only partly to blame. There is a growing lack of appreciation of total value when many companies make purchasing decisions. CEOs are driving companies to short-term profit gains through extensive use of processes such as electronic reverse auctions. We will pay a heavy price.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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