Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

For more than 50 years, Tri-State Plastics has been honing its skills in thermoforming, CNC machining, die cutting, assembly, and fabricating plastic parts for government and military applications. A restructuring of company ownership saw the organization pivot toward the lucrative but challenging opportunity of aerospace manufacturing.

Britta Voss’s picture

By: Britta Voss

When you email friends, you don’t have to worry about whether they use Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or some other email provider. You just enter their email address, write your message, and hit send. The reason this works is because there are layers of standardized protocols that all the email clients have adopted so emails can seamlessly fly between users regardless of which client they choose.

Many other types of digital information exchange are not interoperable like email. Instead, if you want to share some data with another user, you often have to use the same software. I encountered this challenge both through my research as a science policy fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division and my personal experience as a user of diabetes management technologies.

Andrew Edman’s picture

By: Andrew Edman

On factory floors all over the world, 3D printing has quietly moved from a prototyping novelty to an essential tool. Advances in printer technology and material science mean that today’s 3D printed parts are robust enough to hold up to real-world wear and tear, and precise enough for demanding production requirements. Today, when production engineers look to maintain quality, reduce cost, or boost efficiency, they are turning to 3D printing to get the job done on time and on budget.

Shortly after Ashley Furniture, the world’s largest furniture manufacturer, brought in the company’s first Formlabs stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer, one of their production engineers decided to try replacing machined alignment pins with 3D printed parts. If these held up to constant cycles and impact, the company could avoid the long lead times and minimum-order quantities of outsourcing the production of the alignment pins.

The engineer’s experiment was successful and led to more tests to find out where they could use 3D printing to improve fabrication and assembly processes. By examining how Ashley Furniture is driving best practices with 3D printing, we can better understand how to apply those insights to any manufacturing or assembly environment.

Simon Côté’s picture

By: Simon Côté

The aerospace industry is known for manufacturing parts with critical dimensions and tight tolerances, all of which must undergo demanding inspections. Given the scale of the controls to be carried out on these parts, it is hardly surprising that quality people in the industry prefer to turn to coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). However, directing all inspections to the CMM may cause other problems: CMMs are hyper-loaded and can generate bottlenecks during inspections, slow down manufacturing processes, and cause production and delivery delays.

Is it possible to unload CMMs so that they are fully available for the final quality controls? How can we improve manufacturing processes to produce more parts faster, and above all, of better quality? In the event of a quality issue occurring during production, is it possible to identify the root cause more quickly to minimize the delays that could impact schedules and production deliveries?

George Gayton, Rong Su, Richard Leach, and Liam Bradley’s default image

By: George Gayton, Rong Su, Richard Leach, and Liam Bradley

Fringe projection techniques offer fast, noncontact measurements of the surface form of manufactured parts. Fringe projection has seen successful implementation in the automotive, aerospace, and medical industries. Recently, advances in fringe projection have reduced the sensitivity of the measurement system to effects such as multiple surface reflections and projector defocus. Typically, the measurement method is altered to optimize the system for specific measurement conditions, without any regard for quantifying the effects of influence factors. Furthermore, there is no standardized calibration framework for fringe projection systems and uncertainty evaluation of surface measurements is rarely carried out in practice, which places some restrictions on the use of this technique in manufacturing industry.

Andrei Vakulenko’s picture

By: Andrei Vakulenko

Taylor Attachments, based in the United Kingdom, custom designs and produces tractor headstock conversion brackets. These are attachments for farm handlers and loaders, for mounting everything from buckets to forks, grapples, saws, carriers, bale stabbers, grabbers, hitches, backhoes, tillers, yard scrapers, and more. Clients also send the company legacy equipment, which Taylor’s specialists precisely measure and reproduce using the latest materials and technology.

In the past at Taylor, this was a 100-percent manual process, which meant a busy 7 to 12 hours of making drawings using rulers and calipers, and pens and pencils to trace out parts and components on cardboard and paper, before creating mock-up prototypes for testing and secondary alterations.

The entire process entailed lots of cross-referencing and double-checking, and would take anywhere from seven days up to two or three weeks for each part. That’s the industry average. And it’s an inaccurate process, requiring lots of fine-tuning before each product is ready to be shipped to the client’s doorstep.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Although certification to major standards is often the threshold to winning next-level contracts, it is when your organization synthesizes the standard’s values that real payoff is realized. Chief among those values is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is paramount to attracting new customers, garnering new contracts, and transforming customers into lifetime clients.

Certified to AS9100D with ISO:2015, Composiflex has been designing and manufacturing high-performance advanced composites for more than 30 years. Composiflex’s World-Class Initiative includes two key values of the standards they are certified to: customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. FARO inspection technology is integral to Composiflex’s efforts.

“Investments in FARO products are helping us support our World-Class Initiative,” says Marty Matthews, sales and marketing executive at Composiflex. “For the past few years, weve carefully identified the proper investments to satisfy our customers and grow our business.”

Customer satisfaction

Composiflex committed itself to the spirit of the standards and purchased specific equipment with specific goals in mind.

DP Technology’s picture

By: DP Technology

Founded in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2001, Green Tools is a leading manufacturer of cutting tools, providing circular saws and other woodcutting machines for the sawmill, furniture, and woodworking industries throughout Russia.

Green Tools began as a small reseller of woodworking tools produced by German tool-maker AKE. Over time though, the company progressed to manufacturing cutting tools of its own, moving from tool merchant to tool maker. As Kirill Smolin, technical consultant at Green Tools relates, At first we were a distributor of woodworking mills and saws produced at AKE factories in Germany while also providing tool sharpening services. Then we started to make tools ourselves on specialized machines that do not require a CAM [computer-aided manufacturing] system.


An array of cutting tools made by Green Tools

Dat Duthinh’s picture

By: Dat Duthinh

One of the undergraduate engineering courses that left a deep and lasting impression on me was a course on innovation and aesthetics in engineering taught by David Billington at Princeton University. So, when I read the story of a skyscraper in New York that had to undergo secret emergency repairs because of a question from an engineering student in New Jersey, I knew that the student had to be one of Billington’s. And I knew then that I wanted to come back and investigate this issue in greater detail someday.

The award-winning, wedge-topped, 59-story Citicorp Building in Manhattan, now referred to as 601 Lexington Avenue, features striking columns in the middle of its four sides rather than its corners. This remarkable configuration was due to the existence, at one corner, of a church (now demolished) that refused to be bought out, but did grant the use of the space above it. Construction of the building began in 1974 and was completed in 1977.

ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions’s picture

By: ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions

Decanter centrifuges from Hiller GmbH, headquartered in Vilsbiburg, Germany, are in demand globally. These centrifuges separate solid and fluid materials, such as in the production of olive oil or wine, or for wastewater treatment. The multiton machines achieve high yields unmatched by competitors, thanks to Hiller’s unwavering commitment to precision. Recently, the company acquired a ZEISS ACCURA to help it deliver on this promise.

Dietmar Heller, Hiller’s plant manager, holds up a small bottle to the light and gently shakes the liquid inside back and forth. It has a golden yellow color with just a hint of green. Any gourmand would identify the substance immediately: olive oil, the best kind, even. A brief taste confirms this: the premium oil has a pronounced olive flavor, but there is no stinging aftertaste. “Extra virgin, extra natural” is written on the bottle, and Heller would swear this is true. He knows the producer of this outstanding olive oil from the south of Spain personally. Moreover, Heller knows a lot about the decanter centrifuge, in which the oil is separated from the solids and water found in the olive paste following the harvest.

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