Job Losses: The continuing loss of US manufacturing jobs in September has spurred President George W. Bush to do something about a deceptive economy that shows signs of recovery while similtaneously shedding jobs.
The unemployment rate in manufacturing continues to climb (about 2.5 million U.S. jobs have disappeared since January 2001), with many of those jobs going overseas. Product managers at Texas Instruments' Standard Linear Logic Group have been following this trend and noticed one unexpected impact it was having on design engineers here in the U.S. "As production business was transitioning from the U.S. to Asia
TI's Bernett: The real-deal smaller reel sizes for engineers.
over the past 18 months, we began to see more and more design engineers doing prototype and new product introduction work here, but not ramping up the volume as they would have in the past. That's now being done overseas," says Tim Bernett, a marketing manager who is responsible for OEM customers. "Yet, engineers here only could obtain components in sample quantities, which isn't enough parts to prove out their manufacturability, or in standard production reel sizes of 2,500 to 3,000, which is too many." Those excess components often went to waste, says Bernett, since typically once a reel is opened it isn't feasible to ship the remaining parts to Asia for production use. So in order to accommodate engineers' changing needs and save them the cost of un-needed inventory, TI began offering its more popular families like Little Logic in 250-piece reels six months ago. Bernett reports that engineers have expressed so much interest that TI has responded by now offering some 500 different part numbers in the mid-range reel sizes. Design engineers can buy these parts directly from TI or its authorized distributors. The 250-piece reels are identified by a T suffix appended to the TI part number.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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.