Intuitive, Intelligent and Interactive

By: Sherry L. Baranek 12. September 2013


Those three words were used by EDM Product Manager Brian Pfluger to describe the Hyper-i control found on the new EDM machines. The U3 and U6 wire EDM machines made their U.S. debut at Makino’s Technology Days.

Brian said this control is very user-friendly and is very versatile. “We are giving the operator everything they need right at their fingertips,” he told me, “with a pinch, spread and drag technology found on today’s smart phones and tablets.

He also explained that the control is very customizable to individual operators as well as those who work different shifts. Some additional features include onboard electronic manuals, instructional videos and a diagnosis tool.


Additive Manufacturing—in Space!!!

By: Sherry L. Baranek 11. September 2013


Made in Space’s customized 3D printer will be the first device to manufacture parts away from planet Earth. The 3D Printing in Zero-G Experiment will validate the capability of additive manufacturing in zero-gravity. “Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station,” says Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made in Space. “Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3D printed when they needed them?”

All space missions today are completely dependent on Earth and the launch vehicles that send equipment to space. The greater the distance from Earth and the longer the duration, the more difficult it will be to resupply materials.

“As NASA ventures further into space, whether redirecting an asteroid or sending humans to Mars, we’ll need transformative technology to reduce cargo weight and volume,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said during a recent tour of the agency’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. “In the future, perhaps astronauts will be able to print the tools or components they need while in space.”

The Made in Space and NASA team envisions a future where space missions can be virtually self-sufficient and manufacture most of what they need in space. This includes such things as consumables, common tools, and replacements for lost or broken parts and eventually even such things as CubeSats (small, deployable satellites).

“The 3D printing experiment with NASA is a step towards the future. The ability to 3D print parts and tools on-demand greatly increases the reliability and safety of space missions while also dropping the cost by orders of magnitude,” says Kemmer. “The first printers will start by building test coupons, and will then build a broad range of parts, such as tools and science equipment.”

Both Made in Space and NASA view the space station as the place to initiate the journey of in-space manufacturing. I for one will be following this journey and will be watching as this story continues to unfold…

Haas Automation Pledges $1 Million to Machining/Manufacturing Education

By: Sherry L. Baranek 9. September 2013


The Gene Haas Foundation recently made a gift of $1 million for scholarships in manufacturing and machining training and education to benefit as many as 1,000 students in North America and Europe. In a ceremony next to the Haas Technical Education Center on the Glendale (Calif.) Community College campus, Gene Haas Foundation Board Chair Bob Murray presented a check to Kathy Burnham of the SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) Education Foundation, which will administer the scholarship fund.

The Gene Haas Foundation was created by Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation. According to Murray, workforce development is a key way to improve the lives of many while helping build a stronger economy for all. “The SME Education Foundation will ensure these scholarships help many communities and support many students,” he said. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $2,500 depending on the cost of the applicant's program.

The funds are sent directly to the recipient's school according to Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation. "As we work to dispel the myth that people with four-year degrees automatically make more money than those without, we recognize the importance of creating educational pathways that allow all students the chance to earn a good living but also to fill the manufacturing gaps that exist; funding for programs like the Gene Haas Machining Technology Scholarship allows us to do just that," Aslin noted.

The application process is online and opened on September 1, 2013. The SME Education Foundation expects to award 950 to 1,000 scholarships this year, exhausting the $1,000,000 grant.

To be eligible, applicants must be pursuing an associate's degree or technology certificate and have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Displaced workers or people training for a second career are also eligible.

A scholarship committee reviews the applications as they are submitted to ensure the minimum eligibility requirements are met. All applicants meeting the requirements will be awarded a scholarship, as long as funding is available.

An Empowered Workforce

By: Sherry L. Baranek 4. September 2013


Mold manufacturer/molder PTI Engineered Plastics prides itself on its low turnover. According to President (and Founder) Mark Rathbone, the company has less than one percent turnover, even through their toughest times. “Our employees are our future, and without them, growing as a company would be difficult,” he says. “The challenge of finding skilled help and retaining employees is not only related to wages—but also healthcare, health awareness and wellness activities, a healthy work environment, on and off-site functions, fringe benefits and employee involvement.”

The company considers in-house training a focal point to provide personnel with career advancement opportunities; and often promotes from within to allow employees the opportunity to create their own career path. “This not only promotes an empowering workforce and culture—but fosters growth as a company,” Rathbone affirms.

Read more about the company’s evolution here.

Labor Day Ponderings

By: Sherry L. Baranek 2. September 2013


Usually for me, Labor Day means one final family camping trip before the craziness of school and sports for my kids make for busy nights and weekends after the work day is done. The other night I was shopping online for my daughter’s school clothes when an ad appeared on the top of one of the sites I was on that said, “Put Americans Back to Work: Take the Pledge Today.” Intrigued, I clicked, and was directed here. Immediately I saw manufacturer/molder The Rodon Group’s name pop up as a supporter of this organization, and I was reminded of how deeply they are involved in these efforts.

Happy Labor Day!

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