- SPECIAL REPORTS
Articles by Austin Weber
Soft and cuddly aren't words used to describe the plastic or metal things typically produced by today's 3D printers. But, a new type of device developed by Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research Pittsburgh can turn wool into teddy bears and other fuzzy fabric objects. The device looks something like a cross between a 3D printer and a sewing machine and produces 3D objects made of a form of loose felt.
When a special effects company in Hollywood needed to produce a suit for the latest “RoboCop” movie, they turned to additive manufacturing. A 3D printer played a leading behind-the-scenes role in the production of the iconic RoboCop suit, including the helmet, visor, chest armor and boots.
Manufacturers are pursuing a wide variety of “green” initiatives, such as energy-efficient lighting, landfill gas, recycling, solar panels and wind turbines. In fact, more than one-half of our 2014 State of the Profession respondents claim their plant has implemented green-related programs during the past 12 months. That’s a 3 percentage point increase over 2013 and 8 percentage points higher than 2012.
According to the 2014 ASSEMBLY State of the Profession study, a majority of assembly professionals are happy with their jobs today. Manufacturing engineers are slightly happier than design engineers and the happiest assemblers work in the transportation equipment sector. However, location, company size and other factors can also influence happiness.
3M Co. is famous for sand paper, Scotch tape and Post-it notes. But, it’s also bullish on the future of fuel cell technology. The company is a leading provider of materials that are critical to fuel cells, such as fluoropolymers, membrane materials and advanced ceramics.
The General Motors’ Orion Assembly Plant sits in the shadow of a large landfill. But, the 4-million-square foot factory, which is home to the Chevrolet Sonic and the Buick Verano, uses that to its advantage. The plant derives a significant portion of its power from landfill gas.
Kohler Co., one of America’s oldest and largest privately held companies, has a proud heritage of design and creativity that spans more than 140 years. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the company’s Arts/Industry program, which allows artists-in-residence to set up studios on the plant floor.
"Happy Days Are Here Again” was a popular song back in the 1930s. Assemblers in many industries have been singing an updated version of the tune lately, because the new golden age of American manufacturing has begun.
Oakland University is located a few minutes away from Chrysler’s corporate headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI. So, it’s appropriate that the school is home to the Fastening and Joining Research Institute (FAJRI), the only facility of its kind in the world.
Depending on who you listen to, 3D printing (or, as it’s more formally known, additive manufacturing) is either the biggest thing to hit the manufacturing world since the screw or the biggest tech fad since the fax machine. It’s actually a little of each.