Metrology for medical devices needs to become more capable as those devices get more varied and complex. Manufacturers must inspect dental implants, coronary stents, orthopedic joints, and implanted electronic devices. Surgeons are increasingly using intricate, sometimes one-off, surgical tools. There is also a growing number of consumable items, such as hypodermic needles, made on rapid production lines. They all need ever more precise quality control.
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Challenged by an increasingly niche-oriented automotive market, The Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI) must increase the number of models it offers while decreasing its capital investment. The company plans to offer 50% more models in 2009 compared to 2004, according to John Felice, VP of manufacturing, technology and global enterprise for Chrysler.
Materials science has opened new possibilities for designers of cars, planes and other products. Metal alloys are now as precisely engineered as they are machined. The result is longer lasting, stronger parts. But with a wider selection of materials comes risk—how can you be sure that one piece of gray metal stock is different than another? Careful warehousing procedures and paperwork only go so far.
Glenn Bridgman describes the difference between his shop’s manual grinders and its newest state-of-the-art CNC ID/OD grinder, a Studer CT960 OD/ID from United Grinding (Miamisburg, OH), as “feel vs. facts.” Bridgman, president of Bridge Tool & Die (Buckley, MI), believes that manual grinding is a somewhat personal operation.
GE Appliances (GEA) has been designing and manufacturing consumer appliances for over 125 years. The iconic brand, headquartered in Louisville, KY, employs nearly 6000 people, a number that rose to 12,000 employed globally after its acquisition by Haier, making the company part of the largest appliance manufacturer in the world.
Sometimes, too many choices can be a problem. That might be the case today for manufacturers of medical devices, who are facing a host of challenges and opportunities. Devices are small and getting smaller. Their complexity is increasing. End users are demanding tighter tolerances.
I’m among the first to dive into the latest manufacturing innovations and see how they can improve our customers’ operations. Yet, I’m also among the first to advise them to pause and ensure that the fundamentals of their manufacturing processes are in place before adding something new into the complex mix of functionality and desired outcomes.
The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) in 2016 showed unit sales figures in 2015 up 15% on the year before, reaching an all-time high of 253,748. Since 2010, technical improvements in robots and automation have turbocharged investment, according to the report.
Keeping products clean is becoming a more significant part of manufacturing as standards for cleanliness, deburring, and finish grow more stringent.
When a contract manufacturer sees an opportunity in the competitive aerospace market, it sets priorities aimed at providing the right combination of processes required to meet the industry’s exacting demands. Precision machining and finishing, parts inspection, and, of course, certifications from OEMs and industry alliances are at the top of the list. Increasingly, aerospace suppliers like Volvo Aero Connecticut (Newington, CT) are benefiting from five-axis machining, advanced CNC controls, motors and drives, robotic deburring, and on-machine inspection for a competitive advantage.