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Rapid Manufacturing to the Rescue

September 27, 2003

Filed under: additive manufacturing,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 09:23

U.S. manufacturing continues to lead in some product development methods and technologies, such as rapid prototyping. Increasingly, RP technologies are being used for the manufacture of finished, series production parts. With “rapid manufacturing,” it becomes feasible to decentralize manufacturing operations and produce parts more quickly, less expensively, and with far more flexibility. Even the manufacture of custom parts becomes a practical option. With this approach, it is possible to manufacture parts—from CAD data to finished production parts—in two days, without tooling.

Rapid manufacturing could become a key to preserving some of the manufacturing base in the U.S. The same is true for other nations that want to protect some level of manufacturing within their borders. Even if foreign competitors with rock-bottom labor costs embrace RM, it will be difficult for them to compete for business in countries that use RM because of the time and cost of shipping. So, if the U.S. is serious about saving some amount of manufacturing, RM may be the answer.

Stratasys and Objet get Cozy

September 12, 2003

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 15:55

On Tuesday of this week, Stratasys announced that it is partnering with Objet Geometries of Israel. Beginning immediately, Stratasys will serve as the exclusive distributor for Objet’s products in North America. Stratasys is also providing technical support and service to current and future Objet customers in North America.

The partnership between the two companies is an opportunity for Stratasys to expand the market for RP systems in the U.S. With both FDM and PolyJet technologies, the company can now more easily address a wider range of applications for patterns, models, and prototypes.

Stratasys brings to the table a highly developed distribution channel consisting of more than 50 sales and sales support personnel. Objet brings modern resin jetting technology that rivals stereolithography for many applications. PolyJet parts have excellent aesthetics and detail and work well as patterns for prototype tooling. 

I’ve had the privilege of being involved with Stratasys and Objet from their inception and can say with assurance that both have good people, products and strategies. This alliance is bound to strengthen the two companies and their positions in the market place.

“America’s Manufacturing Base is Under Attack”

September 1, 2003

Filed under: future,life,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 11:31

“Did you know that we’ve lost more than two million manufacturing jobs since October 2000, and that many of these high paying positions are being shipped overseas to China?” These words were written by the Manufacturing Coalition, a non-profit group that was founded earlier this year to bring together suppliers, trade associations, manufacturers, and individuals who are concerned about the future of American manufacturing.

The mission of the Manufacturing Coalition is to promote an understanding of the critical role manufacturing plays in the economy of the United States. The idea of the coalition came from a series of conversations between Joseph Smith, publisher of Machining magazine, and various political figures and key executives in the metalworking industry. Joseph Smith co-founded the organization with David Smith, an individual who has held director level executive positions with top publishing companies in the U.S. such as McGraw-Hill and Time Warner.

I’m glad to see people, such as Joseph Smith and David Smith, help to create awareness of this very serious problem. The U.S. is currently on pace to losing most of its manufacturing base, including the talent and capabilities that go with it. When we no longer have tooling and other manufacturing expertise within our borders, will we send the designs of our planes, missiles, satellites, and other military and defense systems to Asia for manufacturing? Frightening thought, huh! You can learn more at www.manufacturingcoalition.com.

Another effort, called Save American Manufacturing (SAM), was launched in December 2002 by the Chicago Chapter of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA). For more information, read the commentary below titled U.S. Manufacturing is a Disappearing Act and visit www.SAM-USA.org.