October’s Manufacturing Day was the First of Several Manufacturing Events Taking Place
October kicked off with Manufacturing Day, an event designed to educate the public about the role American manufacturing plays in our economy, particularly among young people who might not be aware of their potential career choices in the manufacturing sector. Now in its second year, Manufacturing Day is co-produced by several leading manufacturing organizations, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA). Falling close on the heels of manufacturing day are major educational conferences and trade exhibitions hosted by SME, the society for professional engineers working in the manufacturing field. The first of these is Westec which takes place this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center. A related conference, South-tec, will be held on the other side of the country in Greenville, South Carolina on October 29-31. These two conventions will be followed in November by FabTech, a conference dedicated to metal forming fabricating and welding technologies.
Adam Steltzner, Popular NASA Media Figure, Headlines Westec Manufacturing Conference Opening Keynote
Adam Steltzner, the well-known engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who was responsible for the unique ‘sky crane’ landing system that lowered the rover Curiosity onto the surface of Mars in August 2012, opened the Westec conference this week with a keynote address. The media savvy Steltzner, who has appeared on NPR as well as several episodes of the television program NOVA, is a great ambassador for the manufacturing industry not only because of the unique, exciting space projects he is associated with but also because Steltzner’s ‘rock and roll’ image bucks the stereotype of the straight-laced pocket protector clad engineer.
Importance of STEM Curriculum for Developing Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Professionals
The agenda at Westec (as well as at the South-Tec conference taking place at the end of this month) reflects national trends in the professional engineering field. The first trend is the ongoing effort to attract and prepare today’s students for careers in manufacturing. A well educated workforce is essential to meet the challenges brought on by advances in technology as well as the need to replace the first wave of baby-boom engineers retiring from the workforce. SME will address this as part of their “Bridging the Skills Gap Summit” moderated by Rodney Grover, who serves as a manager at the SME Education Foundation. Grover sees manufacturing as a true wealth generator for future generations and he is focused on developing and improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum in America’s K-12 schools.
The Challenge and Opportunity of Additive Manufacturing: What is Real and What is Hype?
The second trend is coming to terms with what role additive manufacturing will play in the industry in the coming years. While the term 3-D printing has entered the popular lexicon, manufacturing engineers are also beginning to use the term additive manufacturing to refer to a group of related technologies, including stereolithography, laser sintering and fused deposition modeling. The term additive comes from the concept of adding material in successive layers to build a prototype or finished product. This is in contrast to traditional subtractive techniques, like computer-aided milling and machining, which remove excess material to create finished parts. Today SME will present a panel discussion titled: “Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing…Opportunity or Threat” where a number of experts will present their views on the potential of additive manufacturing to be a disruptive game changer that upends established industries and business models by separating fact from fiction and hype from reality.
Third Trend: The Increasingly Important Role Design and Manufacturing of Medical Devices Plays
The third trend addressed at the conference is the increasing importance of the medical devices industry. Technological advances in this field are having a profound impact on our health and quality of life. Recent advances in new materials, such as flexible electronic circuit boards, the ongoing revolution in device miniaturization and nanotechnology, as well as the aforementioned additive manufacturing techniques are converging at a dizzying rate to fuel development of incredible new medical devices whose capabilities seem like they came directly from science fiction. SME will showcase many of the new, unique technologies in their Medical Manufacturing Innovations Center at the conference.
FabTech will Attract Over 35,000 Manufacturing Industry Attendees to Chicago this November
Looking ahead to November, over 35,000 attendees are expected to meet up for FabTech at McCormick Place in Chicago during November 18-21, 2013. Here the focus will be on technologies related to metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing. In addition to SME, the following industry trade groups have come together to sponsor FabTech:
- American Welding Society (AWS)
- Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Int’l (FMA)
- Precision Metalforming Association (PMA)
- Chemical Coaters Association International (CCAI)
Formaspace Keeps Up with New Manufacturing Technology Trends
Here at Formaspace, we will be monitoring these manufacturing industry innovations with great interest. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our own ‘made in America’ workbench manufacturing processes and sustainable business practices in order to deliver the best quality industrial workbenches, computer workstations, packing tables and other technical furniture installations. Why not contact us today and speak with one of our technical furniture experts? We can show you how Formaspace can help your manufacturing facility become more efficient, safe and productive.