Manufacturing 4 Looks to the Future
By Patrick Waurzyniak
From advanced manufacturing presentations to programs for young STEM students, the Manufacturing 4 the Future (Mfg4) 2014 show held May 6-8 in Hartford, CT, featured a lot of innovation on display for everybody. Mfg4 packed in visitors for the MicroManufacturing conference and exhibits, as well as several technical presentations on a wide range of manufacturing topics including 3D printing and additive manufacturing techniques, EDM hole drilling, laser ablation for stent cutting in medical, factory-floor robotic simulation, and five-axis machining for the aerospace and defense industry.
An opening keynote given by Tom Herald, Senior Fellow, Global Training and Logistics, Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD), kicked off the show with his talk on “Affordable Mission Capabilities with Integrated Enabling System Architecture,” highlighting manufacturers’ struggles with cost and quality concerns in the age of sequestration. “How do we go about determining affordability from the customer’s point of view?” asked Herald, noting that the Department of Defense is seeking an 80% solution. “They’re challenging military contractors to provide all of the features, but cut out 20% of the cost.”
Finding the right architectures and business model innovation for achieving affordability isn’t an easy task, noted Herald. To be successful, manufacturers must provide the right supply and logistics for programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. “If the F-35 doesn’t have the systems in place, it’s just a gorgeous paperweight,” he said. Doing needs analyses with customers is the answer for manufacturers today, he added, while noting that what’s needed is a rejuvenation of such skills that have atrophied.
For medical manufacturers, global expansion is a must in a $230-billion industry where emerging markets are booming with 13-15% annual growth, yet the developed world is showing only 2-3% annual growth, noted Peter Walsh, vice president, Cardiac & Vascular Group, Medtronic Inc. (Minneapolis) in the second-day keynote address, “Strategic Manufacturing Leadership.”
“There is a new focus to expand access to products globally,” Walsh said. Medtronic is expanding its research by establishing R&D teams in India and China to develop products to fit global needs. “You’ve really got to become a global player to compete,” he said. In the past five years, he noted, most medical device manufacturers have expanded into countries like Brazil and Russia, and today nearly 70% of stents are coming out of Ireland.
In aerospace engines manufacturing, innovations including the use of additive manufacturing techniques are finding use in building components for the latest generation of turbine aircraft engines. In her keynote address, “Innovation for Large Scale Increase in Engine Production Rate,” Lynn E. Gambill, Chief Engineer, Manufacturing Engineering & Global Services, Pratt & Whitney, United Technologies Corp. (East Hartford, CT), described the innovative techniques being used to make key parts for the latest Pratt & Whitney GTF family of aircraft engines.
Innovation success combines agile systems, manufacturing and design methodologies, said Gambill. “We all know what happens if you don’t adapt,” Gambill said. “Innovation is in the DNA of Pratt & Whitney.” The P&W geared turbofan (GTF) family features a variable gearbox that is in high demand, she said, with more than 60% growth. The engines have a geared architecture that allows the engine to be decoupled, she said, which helps enable a reduced carbon footprint with lower emissions with an impressive 12:1 bypass ratio, offering higher propulsion and a 16% lower fuel burn.
To achieve these benefits, the PW1000G engines use advanced manufacturing techniques with new materials and additive manufacturing methods. “We’ve using some materials that haven’t been used before,” Gambill said of advanced fan blades joined by two types of composites, which reduces part costs and uses fewer parts. The advanced processes being used at Pratt include additive manufacturing, non-conventional EDM hole drilling, and waterjet machining technology, she said.
For finding our future manufacturing leaders, Mfg4 included a female student program, “Making it Real: Girls & Manufacturing Summit,” which was sponsored by SME and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. (CCAT; East Hartford, CT). The program tapped today’s female manufacturing leaders to inspire the next generation of leadership and talent. The program offered more than 130 middle and high school girls from Connecticut with information about career and educational pathways in manufacturing, and experiential activities that will showcase today’s manufacturing workplace.
Another effort focusing on pulling young people into manufacturing featured the “See-It-Trailer,” a manufacturing exhibit trailer created by Skip Marsh and the SME New Hampshire Chapter 124 that was shown on the Mfg 4 floor. The trailer includes hands-on demonstrations with a Haas CNC displayed along with videos and a manual mill meant to show middle-school students what they can do with a manufacturing career.
Published Date : 5/13/2014