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SME Speaks: Mission: Growth at SME

 Joseph LaRussa

By Joseph J. LaRussa, PE
Director of Membership
Society of Manufacturing Engineers
Member Since 1994  

Growth is many things. It’s a business objective, a sign of health, a personal goal, and a measure of satisfaction. SME and its members consider growth to be all of these, and together we’re achieving it.

Considering growth as a business objective, SME membership grew by 4% in 2011. More than 6700 new members joined the Society in 2011, demonstrating that our value promise to our members is strong and compelling. SME also experienced 3% less attrition among members in 2011, which is a clear indication that our members are receiving value and making the decision to remain engaged based on SME’s ability to deliver on our value promise.

With SME membership on a growth trajectory, clearly the health of the Society bucks the overall trend among associations experiencing a decline in membership, a lack of member engagement, and unclear member value. The 21st Century member demands value in return for their time and treasure. SME has answered that challenge by developing new products and services, new member benefits, and continuously seeking feedback from our customers and members to ensure we stay in growth mode.

Many of you may know a colleague or subordinate who could benefit from being a part of a growing society focused on the latest manufacturing technology and trends. Consider sponsoring them as a member or send their name and e-mail to, and we’ll reach out to them to provide resources and knowledge that can help them grow.

As a personal goal, growth resonates very deeply with SME members. Growth is a key component of member value at SME. When we say SME is everything you need to GROW, we make a promise to provide tools and resources, and pay attention to your needs for growth, both professionally and personally. In 2012, SME will be unveiling new member benefits to aid you in your professional growth. Those of you who haven’t already done so should login to the new to create/update your member profile. It’s easy! You can augment your profile with articles and papers you like or have written, start a blog, or connect with other members who share your technical interests. If you have resolved to improve your leadership ability, engage with SME as a volunteer or participate in one of our Leadership Series ( All of these avenues show how much value SME places on professional and personal growth.

Finally, as a measure of satisfaction, SME members should all feel a little "puffed up" based on the rise of manufacturing activity, output, and productivity that our industry is experiencing. New technologies continue to improve manufacturing for all manner of products. Many of these technologies are profiled in this magazine and on display at SME’s events. Members will continue to enjoy additional value while attending SME’s 2012 events and engaging with the new Manufacturing Engineering Media group at SME.

The exclusive, member-only digital supplement to Manufacturing Engineering magazine, @SME, is back in 2012, and continues to focus on the Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture; and this month, members attending Composites Manufacturing 2012, FABTECH Canada, and WESTEC 2012 will be treated to exclusive added value in addition to attending SME’s world-class events. I encourage all members to engage and experience a measure of satisfaction that comes from growth and SME membership.

Growth is an important element of SME and membership. Be a part of a growing society and experience growth yourself. SME is everyone you need to MEET, everything you need to KNOW, and everything you need to GROW.

Innovations Logo 

Biomimicry: Manufacturing Inspiration from Nature

Biomimicry takes ideas from nature to inspire designs and processes so that products can be made better and more sustainable. Think of nature as the ultimate engineer. Biomimicry is behind many developments including synthetic gecko tape, strong coatings, and materials inspired by abalone, coloration with nanophotonic crystals inspired by peacock feathers, and an artificial leaf that harnesses solar energy. Another example of biomimicry is the hummingbird-inspired Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) that could provide surveillance in many environments. The vehicle demonstrates hover stability in wind gusts, continuous hover without external power, transition from hover to fast forward, and many other abilities of the hummingbird.

Transistors Go 3-D for more Performance and Energy Efficiency

The 3D Tri-Gate transistor represents a fundamental departure from the traditional "flat" two-dimensional gate. Using three gates wrapped around the silicon channel in a 3-D structure, current flow is controlled on three sides of the channel rather than just from the top. Because these fins are vertical, transistors can be packed closer together. The new technology enables innovative microarchitectures, System on Chip (SoC) designs, and new products. They will first appear in Ivy Bridge-based ultrabooks. Designers will also be able to continue growing the height of the fins to get more performance and energy-efficiency gains.

Economic Machining of Hardened Steels and Superalloys with Hyper-Carbide Cutting Tools

Hyper-carbides are sintered, metal-matrix composites that differ from traditional "carbides" in the binder composition. By replacing the traditional binder metal (cobalt) with others such as Re, Mo, Ni, and Cr, the composite achieves a much greater hot hardness and thermal resistance, thus giving the tool an ability to withstand the extreme temperatures and pressures of higher-speed cutting. The resulting performance allows machining at 10 or more times the usual material removal rates. Yet, hyper-carbides are produced using the same basic methods as other carbide tools resulting in similar tool production costs.

Artificial Parts Replaced withSynthetic, Grown Body Parts

Nanotechnology has played a critical role in the first synthetic trachea transplant. A patented nanocomposite was used to form a scaffold exactly the same size and shape as the patient’s own windpipe, which was then seeded with adult stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow. This innovation is in addition to other methods being used to grow or print new body parts. While the list of parts that can be built is limited (bladders, heart valves, etc.), it is imaginable that new parts could be built eliminating the need for things like dialysis machines, artificial hearts, and artificial joints.

Tighter Tolerances on Leading and Trailing Edges with Automated System

An automated profiling system has attained precision levels never reached before, reducing the need for manual inspection, and increasing performance and efficiency with tolerances within 50 microns. This also reduces the abrasive material consumption up to 75% and allows designers to define more complex shapes on the leading and trailing edges. This adaptive automated process yields high repeatability, and the system has been benchmarked to eliminate the typical manual final inspection of the edges. The system is currently being used in the production of jet engine parts and is well suited for gas turbines used in generators.

Green Steel TechnologyUsing Recycled Rubber Tires

Traditionally, in Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) steelmaking, scrap is reprocessed using large amounts of non-renewable fossil fuel. Polymer injection technology mixes plastic and rubber waste, reducing the reliance on coke, a refined version of fossil fuel. The technology reduces carbon emissions, requires less electricity, and reduces the amount of plastic and rubber that ends up in landfills. OneSteel, in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, has seen a 3% energy reduction, 3% productivity improvement, and 10% reduction in carbon emissions in test plants. Expanding this to all plants, they estimate the reduction in carbon dioxide would be the equivalent of removing approximately
4000 cars from the road.

More Good Batches at Lower Cost Using the Model Predictive Control

For batch processing, a multivariate-based model allows for a more accurate analysis and provides process insights not available from other approaches. Using available online multivariate analytics, the Model Predictive Approach can provide immediate and substantial benefits including an increase in the consistency of product quality, greater throughput through better yields, and decreased cycle time and outages. During Lubrizol’s first trial at a plant in Rouen, France, 18 input variable, 38 process variables, and four output variables were used. They realized numerous and ongoing benefits, including uncovering a fault in the process that went unnoticed through traditional monitoring systems, quickly solving problems, and avoiding extended downtime.

Technology "Sees" into the Future for Lower Energy Production Costs

Predictive header pressure controller adjusts boiler loads to maintain header pressure several minutes into the future. Controlling more like an operator, the system anticipates a change in header pressure, makes an adjustment, waits, then tweaks. The result is substantially reduced fuel costs, which will benefit every energy consumer as well as the environment through efficient consumption of fuels. Through use of the technology, a major pulp mill in Western Canada reduced fossil fuel costs by more than $500,000 per month and electric power imports by $60,000 per month. These savings resulted in a 2.5% reduction in pulp production costs.


Innovation Watch List

  • Fiber optics replacing metal wiring between computer components.
  • Quantum locking.
  •  New methods of color mixing for LED production.
  •  Semi-solid flow cells for electric cars.
  •  Artificial photosynthesis to turn sunlight into liquid fuel.
  • Aerovoltaic wind technology with no moving parts. 

Each year, the new list of Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture is presented at SME's Annual Conference. This year's conference will be held June 3-5 in Cleveland. Register today at and enter "SPECIAL1" as your promo code to save $300. Don’t delay—offer expires on March 31! You can also view all the innovations (from 2008 to present) at

This article was first published in the March 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF


Published Date : 3/1/2012

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