I recently blogged that restructuring of the American steel industry was a good model for US auto makers. Soon after, the New York Times suggested the same. Well, now I have another one: the American mold manufacturing industry. Ten years ago, US mold makers were under attack from Asian competitors who benefited from lower costs. Sure, the folks who owned those businesses were plenty scared, just as Rick Wagoner of GM is today. No one suggested that the mold makers should be bailed out, probably because they lacked size and clout. Despite that, the importance of tool building to the US economy could not be debated.
Many mold makers went out of business, particularly in Michigan. The ones that survived though are world competitive. One example is NyproMold, which now makes highly innovative products such as modular tooling and multi-shot spin stack tools. NyrpoMold uses the most productive and newest technologies, such as Laser Cusing and fluids flow analysis. And there are several more top-of-the-line American tool makers who didn’t just beg for a bailout. They adapted and grew.
It’s a long list that includes: Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering, Rochester Hills, MI; Triangle Tool Corp.,Milwaukee, WI: Rexam Mold Manufacturing, Buffalo Grove, IL; MSI Mold Builders, Cedar Rapids, IA; ABA-PGT, Manchester, CT; and Hi-Tech Mold & Tool, Pittsfield, MA. There’s also a long list of Canadian mold makers who are at the top of the competitive curve.
Interestingly, even the Asian tool makers are being tested by the newest breed of low-cost tool builders in India. Nokia and Motorola have both opened new plants there. The tool making will follow. Building tools for cell phones was once at the top of the technical food chain. Now it’s a commodity. The same is true for tools used to make inkjet cartridges for printers.
Make the auto manufacturers adapt and compete. No handouts. No bailouts.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
As we saw on the show floor this week at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing and co-located events in Anaheim, Calif., 3D printing is contributing to distributed manufacturing and being reinvented by engineers for their own needs. Meanwhile, new fasteners are appearing for wearable consumer and medical devices and Baxter Robot has another software upgrade.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.