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Industry, Innovation
In the extremely competitive market of manufacturing technology, innovation is an import asset. Elon Musk once said that the real promoters of success for his automotive and space businesses were the “machines that build the machines”.  SpaceX is able to launch less expensive mission with incredible speed by using scalable processes, as opposed to NASA’s old manufacturing procedures. Even Tesla’s new abnormal Cybertruck design replaces die stamping metal with a more simplified manufacturing method of bending metal sheets. A new manufacturing process that has transformed the approach of making structural parts, called robotic blacksmithing, has created a new division of personalized products

Construction, transportation, mining and power-generation all use metal parts for safety crucial functions.  Most of these parts are produced using methods that haven’t been updated for years. Two of these methods, casting and forging(also known as forming)  require custom molds and dies that can be both expensive in time and money to design and develop. However once these mold are up and running, they can be very effective for reproducing high quality parts, making common parts like nuts and bolts remarkably cheap. After World War II, the rise of digital manufacturing lead to a more agile production cycle. Computer Numeric Controller Machining could cut multiple different parts by booting different programs to the computer. One drawback of this, is it’s relatively low “fly-to-buy” ratio. In order to create a 100-pound component, you might a 1,0000 pound titanium block to carve from. So while computer numeric control machining may lower the time to create parts drastically, it is rather expensive and wasteful. The latest craze in manufacturing is additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Through this process, shapes that were previously impossible to create using machining, like internal passages can be printed one layer at a time.  While this does give manufacturing more flexibility in the parts it can produce, the parts created through this process often falter in strength compared to other methods.

Just like the kneading of dough into a more structured and homogenous object, the constant working of metal by blacksmiths give it unfathomable strength and much like how wood is stronger in the direction of it’s grains, as the metal takes shape, it cultivates directional strength. For swords and other small pieces of metal, this process work amazingly well, but no human blacksmith has the stamina or reproducibility to create parts for aircraft landing gears.  This is where the idea of robotic blacksmithing comes in. Powered presses with interchangeable tools would be able to shape parts by repeatedly and precisely forming a piece of metal. This new approach towards forming could be extremely useful for consistently and efficiently making structural supports for submarines, locomotives, ship and aircrafts.

The original concept of robotic blacksmith, also known as metamorphic manufacturing, was tested by a team of undergraduates at Ohio State University back in 2017. The took traditional computer numeric control milling machine and adapted its software and hardware to handle controlled deformation. There still remains a lot of research to be done before safety-critical parts can be produced using autonomous machine shaping. In order to perfect metamorphic manufacturing, the system must be able to maintain the temperature, condition and shape at each location of the part and decide where to the press the part next to produce the right shape and optimize strength.

 

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Industry
Since mechanical engineering is so diverse and overlaps with many other fields of engineering, like chemical, civil, and industrial, mechanical engineers can be found on a large variety of projects in different industries. The flexibility of this field has given mechanical engineering bountiful job prospects and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon. In fact, it’s expected to grow. According to the  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for mechanical engineering will have a predicted annually growth of around 4% for the next decade. It’s also important to mention that this trend will probably prefer those who stay up to date with the current technologies. Not to say that the core principles of mechanical engineering, like machine design, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics aren’t important anymore, but there has been huge spike in demand for proficiencies in nanotechnology, composites, and mechatronics. Here’s a look at some of these emerging fields below.


Transportation is currently the highest producer of greenhouse gas emission in the United States, contributing to nearly 30 percent of all emissions. From the high demand to find an alternative source of energy for transportation arose electric vehicles. The automotive industries has always relied on skilled mechanical engineers, but now they need them more than ever. The addition of a battery-powered system instead of a combustion engine introduces a whole new set of hurdles surrounding the design of the new electrical system’s mechatronics. In addition to the design of the vehicle, mechanical engineers will be needed to oversee the robotics and assembly lines, as vehicle manufacturing heads towards automation.

Another field that has exploded with an abundance of mechanic engineering opportunities is nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the manipulation of the smallest level of materials. In the coming years, mechanical engineers will be crucial in creating biomedical devices, durable composite materials, and better energy storage systems.

With the rise of biomechatronics, mechanical engineers have become critical for robotics. In order to join body and machine, engineers must design the complicated architecture to mimic human muscular and skeleton structure. Mechanical Engineers will be useful for the design of controllers, sensors, actuators for medical prosthetics and implants. There is also a ton of research being conducted in the military industry, in addition to the medical industry on biomechatronics.

With the ever-increasing demand to cut operation costs, while still increasing efficiency, the manufacturing industry is constantly changing strategies and looking for cutting edge innovative technologies. One area that has been of great interest to the manufacturing industry and in which mechanical engineers are critical for success is robotics and automation. Even though the industry has seen huge amounts of growth, there are still a lot of manufacturers having trouble finding skilled engineers to fill empty positions.  This means skilled mechanical engineers have a lot of opportunities to choose from in the field of manufacturing.

Even with the ever-changing field of engineering, the future of mechanical engineering still looks  bright. Practicing Professionals will have to keep up with the current technologies and advancements in order to stay ahead of the wave of engineering graduates, who are being taught these new emerging fields of study.

 

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Innovation
A giant autonomous delivery drone with the ability to carry upwards of 1,500 pounds has recently been revealed by Yates Electrospace Corp.

The cargo aircraft, called Silent Arrow GD-2000 includes precise landing, stealth abilities and an enhanced glide ratio. The delivery drone was designed in response to the tactical resupply issues facing the defense market. In addition to tactical resupplies, the drone would be able to provide humanitarian and disaster relief.

Inside the fuselage, the Silent Arrow sports an integrated packaging systems with spring deployed wings. It can be launched via rotorcraft to distribute fuel, cargo or supplies under tight timeframes or critical conditions.

According to Yates Electrospace Corp, it has already signed distribution agreements with over 30 territories. Some territories include the U.K, Brazil, India, South Korea, Israel and the EU

Believing the Silent Arrow to be the next generation of last mile logistics, many startups and even larger and more traditional companies are advancing the development of these delivery drones.

Many other big name vendors like FedEx, Google’sWing, Airbus and Amazon are already working on similar initiatives. UPS is currently seeking FAA approval for its drone parcel delivery services. A numerous amount of startups like Matternet, Zipline, Workhorse Group, Flytrex and Drone Delivery Canada are also throwing their hat into the race, hoping that this new emerging approach to delivery could provide a healthy source of revenue in this new market.

Wanna learn more about the latest in drone technology? Check out how agriculture drones are changing the farming industry

 

 

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Economy, Industry
The Reshoring Initiative is an organization dedicated to spreading the message of returning manufacturing jobs back to the United States. They release an electronic newsletter 6 times through out the year informing people about the recent news in reshoring. Below are three or the most recent article they’ve shared.


Trump’s Trade Wars Winning for America

Alan Tonelson, a columnist for IndustryToday wrote that, according to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, “Many more companies that reported net negative impacts from tariffs were responding by replacing imports with domestic production, not with non-tariffed foreign products. The sample size here is small (46 firms), but 17.4% said they were mitigating the tariff damage by finding new domestic suppliers and another 17.4% were bringing production or processes back in house. Only 10.9% said they were finding new foreign suppliers.”

3D Printing May Disrupt Ports and Reduce U.S. Imports from China, Says Fitch Ratings

In this article, Patrick Burnson offers some interesting foresight into the world of 3D printing. He claims that the rise of 3D printing could decrease global trade, reducing imports from China by 10-25%. He also states that as 3D printing becomes more economically attainable, mass production via 3D printing could be a feasible option for manufacturing parts. This new manufacturing option could shorten supply chains to a more local level thus reducing transportation costs as a result. Finally he affirms that, according to Fitch Ratings, the majority of U.S. imports from China are products that are now well suited for 3D printing thanks to recent advancements in 3D printing technology 

How Total Landed Costs Impact Your Bottom Line

In this Thomasnet Insights article, Marilyn Gettinger helps explains the cost impacts that arise from the Incoterms, the International Commercial Terms and the CBP, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She describes the difference between Total Landed Cost and total cost of ownership and how the latter can be much more comprehensible and understandable.

To learn more about return of manufacturing jobs to the U.S., consider signing up for the Reshoring Initiative’s Newsletter here.

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Economy, Industry
Additive Manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, could be revolutionary for the manufacturing industry, helping save a considerable amount of materials, time and cost. Currently, different parts are produced in bulk at factories and then delivered to the consumer. But with the rise of 3D printing, there could be a major switch from the current more centralized model to a distributed model, where factories synchronize and coordinate to fill the specific local manufacturing needs.


Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Lisbon have joined forces to explore whether or not 3D printing would upset this central model and how it could lead to a more distributed manufacturing industry. They specifically investigated how it would impact the aerospace industry, where this technology and the ability to swiftly produce parts would be extremely appealing compared to amassing a stockpile of them.

“Our results suggest that 3D printing may not be as conducive to distributed manufacturing as some might hope,” says Parts Vaushnav, a researcher in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy. He and his team found that most of the integral parts for the product often need to be processed after materializing from the printer, which can be costly and expensive. They concluded that additive manufacturing would better be applied to non crucial parts that don’t need to undergo this process.

The team states that the dialogue surrounding 3D printing and it’s potential for the manufacturing world has been embellished and magnified in some areas, particularly when it comes to the economics of it. Currently, a company has a choice between closer or farther factories from their consumers, which impacts the cost of shipping and stockpiling. While decentralized 3D printing may reduced this need to stockpile, the cost of this post processing that some parts need to go through may still end up favoring the centralized manufacturing.

There are many forces that could pull additive manufacturing in different directions, so the researchers took a look at the aviation industry, which already uses 3D printing for some of their parts, and used location and cost models to get an approximation on the supply chain costs. They came to the conclusion that the traditional centralized model would still beat out a distributed model when it came to cost effectiveness. The only way the decentralized model would win is if production volumes were to grow or the need or cost for post processing were to decline.

Since the Federal Aviation Administration requires that spare parts be identical to existing ones and that they meet mandatory safety requirements, the team of researchers chose to concentrate on non-crucial spare parts. During the analysis, they made a vital assumption that an assortment of parts could be printer on a particular 3D printer. They deduced that, if the annual production volumes for non crucial spare part were in the tens of thousands, then the distributed model would be better economically.

According to the model, even if 3D printers become faster or less expensive, the reasoning for a centralized model would still remain. The only way that the distributed model can become more profitable for lower production volumes is if the post processing cost could be reduced or eliminated. However these less expensive machines could end up impacting employment. In the end, the researchers concluded that additive manufacturing could have a tremendous potential for good and advocates that companies take it more seriously and not automatically assume that it will lead to distributed manufacturing.

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Innovation
Autonomous vehicles may be a lot closer than people think. They probably won’t be commercially available with the next couple of years, but they could be the transportation of the future, driving commuters to work, running errands for the lazy or busy and safely shipping drunks from the bar to the comfort of their own house.

There are a lot of questions people have about these autonomous vehicles, like for one what will they look like? Will they be similar to the machines we currently used to get ourselves from point A to point B? Protean Electric an automotive technology company may have an answer. They’re aiming to change the game by redefining the auto’s wheelbase.

The “global intelligence mobility market” is estimated to reach a mind boggling 1 trillion dollars in just 6 years according to Protean.  They plan to cash in on some of this money by developing a new wheelbase that provides full rotation around the wheel’s vertical axis as well as integrated steering and obedient kneeling.

A ProteanDrive hub motor with a mini double wishbone suspension connected to a 360 degree rotation steering arm could provide all these impressive features in one simple package. As announced by Protean, a Protean Pd18 unit will power each ProteanDrive, capable of providing each wheelbase with 107HP of torque.

Protean hasn’t announced a price for the ProteanDrive yet, but with the 1 trillion dollar market cap approaching in 2025, Protean should be giving more details about the ProteanDrive soon.
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Economy, Industry

The manufacturing industry business conditions continue to improve and the outlook remains positive. US Manufacturing reports from March show increased factory activity for the fifth straight month with factories expanding despite a strong U.S. dollar, which makes American products more expensive in overseas markets. They also have recovered from big cutbacks in the energy industry, which reflected low oil prices. Factory orders were up 5.5 percent from a year ago  with total shipments of manufactured goods increased 0.2 percent after surging 2.5 percent in December.  Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy, is regaining its footing after being buffeted by lower oil prices and a strong dollar. The truly successful companies know that to be successful, outsourcing deployments require finding the right partner. Enser’s extensive experience as a leading engineering services company uniquely positions us to provide the best and most cost-effective solutions. ENSER can provide integrated solutions from the best tooling solutions and custom developed equipment & machines, to test and measurement devices, to prototyping, component and part fabrication, we deliver cost effective solutions reliably.

Custom Machine, Tooling and Build Services
  • Enser brings leading reliability in both Custom Design and Build to Print services to increased factory activity.
  • From our experience we have developed a completely USA based fabrication program that takes the unknown out of off-shore manufacturing.
  • Using our Quality Process to increase factory activity that has been developed over the past 70 years, we enable our customers to meet their “time to market schedules” 
  • We utilize local staff to provide a constant interface to our clients and ensure our manufacturing and quality team clearly understands the requirements and scope of the engagement.

Services offered out of our Engineering and Technology Development Centers include:
    • Systems Engineering
    • Design validation
      Systems Integration
    • Software & Controls Development
    • Prototyping
    • Fabrication
    • Tooling and Fixtures
    • Test Systems
    • System test and Debug

    • From the Engineering and Design of your product to the manufacturing, tooling and testing, to supporting your process engineering, Enser can deliver superior cutting-edge solutions to increased factory activity. Since 1947, Enser’s reputation has been built on the quality of service and firmly believe long-term customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of our success. Call us today (877) 367-3770 to schedule a visit to discuss the options available for your specific needs.
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