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US Manufacturing Expands but Jobs Plunge


The US manufacturing economy expanded for the first time in six months in March, helped by growing orders and output, according to a monthly report by the Institute for Supply Management. That slight uptick didn’t carry over to manufacturing employment, however. US manufacturers cut 29,000 jobs in March, mostly in durable goods, with job losses spread widely among different industries.

What was up: The Institute for Supply Management’s PMI, which measures economic activity in manufacturing, was 51.8% in March, up from 49.5% in February.

The monthly report by ISM (Tempe, AZ) is based on a survey of purchasing and supply executives. A reading above 50% indicates expansion and below 50%, contraction. The March PMI was the first above the 50% mark since August 2015. Of 18 industries, 12 reported economic growth in March, including furniture, miscellaneous manufacturing, machinery and fabricated metal products. Five industries reported contraction, including transportation equipment.

What was down: Employment was the notable laggard in ISM’s report for March. The group said its Employment Index declined to 48.1% from 48.5% in February. The group said nine industries reported a decline in jobs.

That was consistent with the March jobs report issued by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Makers of durable goods pared 24,000 jobs during the month, with non-durable goods industries cutting another 5000 jobs. Manufacturing jobs totaled 12.291 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to a breakdown by industry from the bureau. That compares to 12.32 million in February and 12.318 million in March 2015. Manufacturing employment has lagged other sectors in recent months. Total US non-farm employment rose by 215,000 jobs in March, according to a statement by the US Labor Department.
—Senior Editor Bill Koenig


i3 Forum: Manufacturing is Changing Pronto

CHICAGO—Manufacturing technology continues to advance rapidly, and the global impact of that change was a key subject at the i3 Forum in downtown Chicago, where more than 200 people, including many of the leading thinkers in industry, convened to discuss the current and future state of manufacturing.Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the i3 Forum.

The i3 event—Impact. Innovate. Integrate.—was attended by the Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as Boeing International President Marc Allen, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, and many other Presidents and CEOs of American and Italian manufacturing companies big and small. The event was hosted in late March by the Italian Trade Agency and held at the Gleacher Center at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

A key subject of the event, which stretched into a diplomatic dinner at Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago, was also the key role Italian companies play in driving the technology revolution that’s underway in manufacturing around the world.

US manufacturers import the vast majority of the machine tools and other manufacturing technology used in factories to make things, and Italy is among the leading providers of that technology. In fact, Italy is Europe’s second-largest exporter of manufacturing technologies. By dollar value, about a third of goods the US imports from Italy were machinery products.

The Midwest, in particular, is a home base for about a third of the Italian manufacturing technology companies with North American operations.

There were also several panel discussions where the future was discussed—the social impact that new manufacturing technology will play, how new manufacturing technologies are reshaping industry now and what global manufacturing might look like five years from now.

It’s certainly a future with much smarter done-in-one machines, many more robots, including more humanoid, collaborative ones, a future with more data flow horizontally and vertically and a future where sophisticated digital integration creates a new, smarter manufacturing sector around the world.
—Editor-In-Chief Sarah A. Webster


Obituary: Professor Dornfeld

David A. Dornfeld, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, died March 27 of a heart attack. He was 66.

David DornfeldDornfeld was regarded as a global leader in sustainable manufacturing and smart manufacturing. He led the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability at UC Berkeley, and was appointed faculty director of the university’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation in August 2015. He published more than 350 papers and held seven patents.

Dornfeld was born in Horicon, WI, in 1949. He attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and studied mechanical engineering. After graduating with a PhD in 1976, he began teaching in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley in 1977. He acted as department chair from 2010–2015. After serving as one of two interim faculty co-directors, Dornfeld was appointed faculty director of the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, which aims to provide a space for students interested in technology and design.

Dornfeld was a fellow and past director of SME, and a member since 1971. He also was a founder of NAMRC, the conference hosted by the North American Manufacturing Research Institution of SME (NAMRI/SME).

Dornfeld was recognized by SME with the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award in 1982, the Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal in 2004, the NAMRI/SME Outstanding Lifetime Service Award in 2013, and the M. Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal of ASME/SME in 2015.


3D Systems Names New CEOVyomesh Joshi

3D Systems Corp. named former HP Inc. executive Vyomesh Joshi as president and chief executive officer. Joshi worked at HP from 1980 to 2012, most recently as executive vice president of the company’s imaging and printing group. His hiring ended a search that began after the exit of CEO Avi Reichental in October. Joshi comes aboard as 3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC) is trying to shift its emphasis away from the consumer printer market and toward industrial printers. 3D Systems last year posted a loss of $655.5 million.

“It is clear that we need to develop new and innovative products with unprecedented quality and service levels to drive sustainable growth and profits,” Joshi said in a statement. Andrew Johnson, who had been interim CEO since Reichental’s departure, will remain with 3D Systems as executive vice president and chief legal officer.


MIT-Led Group to Lead Fibers, Textiles Hub

A group led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will manage a manufacturing institute intended to develop new fibers and textiles.

The group is called Advanced Functional Fibers of America. It will oversee the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute that is being established in Cambridge, MA. The institute is the eighth manufacturing hub that has been formed during the Obama administration.

It’s part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, or NNMI. The institutes aim to bring companies, universities and non-profit groups together to develop new products and manufacturing processes.

The fibers and textiles institute has $317 million in funding, according to MIT. That includes federal funding of $75 million, according to a separate White House announcement.

The institute wants to develop fabrics with sensors, that monitor the health of a wearer and can store and convert energy, MIT said. The MIT-led group includes 32 universities as well as 52 companies and non-profit organizations.

Advanced Functional Fibers of America invites anyone who designs, makes, models or measures fibers, yarns or fabrics for defense or civilian applications to join its network to collaborate on applied research and other projects. The organization’s website can be found at

The NNMI is intended to make US manufacturing more competitive. Each institute concentrates on a different type of technology. For example, America Makes, the first institute, focuses on 3D printing. The administration wants to set up 15 institutes before President Barack Obama leaves office and has talked about establishing as many as 45 over the next decade.


New Podcast Launches for Manufacturing Professionals

SME’s Advanced Manufacturing Media has launched a new podcast, Advanced Manufacturing Now, for manufacturing professionals doing business in North America. The podcast will focus on the renaissance in technologies used to make things, as well as workforce development, research, and more.Advanced Manufacturing Now Podcast

Advanced Manufacturing Now is available in the iTunes store and listeners can also download episodes or subscribe at In the first episodes, Advanced Manufacturing Now interviews Al Albrecht, author of the book, “The American Machine Tool Industry – Its History, Growth, Restructuring & Recovery;” Mohamed Abuali, CEO of Forcam, a global leader in software for smart, lean factories; and Jim Reid, General Manager of RoboVent, a leader in clean air technology used by manufacturers. We also talk to Brian Glowiak, director of the SME Education Foundation, about building the pipeline of future manufacturing professionals.

The show will be hosted by the editors of Advanced Manufacturing Media, who oversee a variety of print and digital products.

NewsDesk is edited by Editor-in-Chief Sarah A. Webster and Senior Editor Bill Koenig. Please email submissions to

This article was first published in the May 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read “US Manufacturing Expands but Jobs Plunge” as a PDF.

Published Date : 5/1/2016

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