There’s an old adage that the smart suppliers build capacity when demand is weak. There are several reasons. For one, costs of construction materials and supplies are low. More importantly, you’re ready to supply customers when demand rebounds. Few companies are brave enough to do it. Directors want costs kept low and financial reserves high.
One company that followed the adage during the downturn of 2008-2009 (and now reaping the benefits) is Carpenter Technology of Wyomissing, PA. The company expanded its premium melt capacity by 40 percent with a $115 million plant that came on line in 2009. Fastener capacity has also been expanded.
“The decision to complete capacity expansion in our premium melt area during the downturn is proving successful,” says Bill Wulfsohn, CEO of Carpenter Technology. He made the comments in a recent briefing with analysts.
Aerospace sales were $196 million in the most recently completed quarter, up 26 percent. Energy market sales increased 146 percent.
What does it mean to design engineers? Leadtimes for nickel and titanium alloys are already extended toward the end of this year. Make sure that your requirements for critical materials are covered in long-term contracts, especially for premium metals. The smart guys, like Boeing, were locking up requirements for titanium alloys during the recession. Roughly half of Carpenter Technology’s business is covered by long-term agreements, but the percentage goes to 65-75 percent for premium materials. Customers are pushing the company to expand capacity to meet future demand.
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.