By: Rob Snoeijs

Rob Snoeijs is a freelance technical writer for LayerWise.

LayerWise, a company based in Leuven, Belgium, focuses on selective laser melting (SLM), a powerful technology that shapes any desired metal-part geometry by melting metal powder layer by layer. Using this digital approach, the optimum shape of complex circulation parts can be produced in a single manufacturing step. Such a part delivers better performance and is more reliable than the complicated assembly it replaces. Furthermore, SLM technology is the right choice for small metal products, of which thousands can be produced simultaneously. In addition to countless industrial applications, the company manufactures revolutionary orthopedic, maxillofacial, and dental implants.

By building up metal parts in layers, the most complex part shapes can be produced, including recesses, ribs, cavities, and internal features.


Kris De Sloovere and Walt Pastorius, Ph.D.’s default image

By: Kris De Sloovere and Walt Pastorius, Ph.D.

In 2008, wheel-alignment machine builder Burke E. Porter Europe NV (BEP) approached 3-D measurements specialists LMI Technologies Inc. for advice. At the time, BEP was developing plans to improve performance for end-of-line wheel alignment with its series of noncontact-alignment (NCA) machines. These measure toe and camber, displaying the results as guides for operators to make the necessary adjustments to bring vehicle parameters within the customer-specified values.

The issues

BEP realized that noncontact alignment needed higher precision, robustness, and a user-friendly plug-and-play interface. It recognized that the way to achieve these goals would be to start at the beginning with a radically new view on the measurement technology.

Existing sensor technologies based on single-laser line profiling had proven to be a dead end. An ambitious start toward capturing a full 3-D image of the wheel had been carried through to a prototype stage when LMI Technologies was contacted.

The QA Pharm’s picture

By: The QA Pharm

My definition of “specification” is rather simple: It’s a promise.

Just like any other promise, you’d better be sincere when you make it and be able to keep it. Failure to keep a promise brings disappointment. Frequent failure leads to distrust. And consciously breaking a promise is nothing less than deceitful.

Just as in our personal lives, the pharmaceutical industry makes a promise to its health care professionals and patients every time it establishes a product specification.

Whether it is a raw material or component from a supplier, in-process material, or final product, a specification is the industry’s promise to provide a product that possesses the attributes known to make it work.

Anything outside of the specification range is either unknown, because it has not been studied, or known to have some probability of a negative effect. Neither is acceptable.

The same could be said for process control ranges. Although they are applied to the manufacturing process and facilities, they nonetheless are “promises” based on a scientific field of study with respect to product quality.

Thus it seems to be particularly egregious when specifications and process controls are capriciously established or changed.

Minitab LLC’s picture

By: Minitab LLC

Gold'n Plump Poultry provides chicken products to stores, delicatessens, and restaurants in 40 states. Commitment to process excellence has helped the company thrive even in tough times, and Minitab Statistical Software has provided the powerful tools they needed to analyze quality data. But the company's many improvement projects were being performed at multiple locations, using a variety of tools. That made it hard for management to assess the total benefit of their efforts. Now, using Quality Companion software, Gold'n Plump teams rely on one application to manage projects from start to finish.

The challenge

Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Gold'n Plump has become the upper Midwest's largest fully integrated broiler chicken producer. This family-owned business also seeks to become the benchmark of manufacturing excellence for the poultry industry. To meet that goal, Gold'n Plump integrates two quality improvement strategies: Six Sigma to address process quality, eliminate defects, and reduce product variation; and lean to boost process speed and flow and eliminate waste. Gold'n Plump's commitment yields real dividends—in 2009, it achieved $5.2 million in companywide savings from improvement projects.

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams’s picture

By: 100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

If you think your time spent outside the workplace is devoid of circumstances that can affect your job, you’re mistaken. There are many factors outside of work that can be detrimental to your employment. The following tips will help you avoid leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that will lead right back to your employer’s door.

Drive responsibly

Does the way you drive affect your job performance? After all, it is part of your job performance. When you are behind the wheel of a company vehicle, you are not on a break. Your judgment and road etiquette, while you are at work, can reflect well or badly on your company and, therefore, on your employment.

If you find yourself on the road for business—especially when you are driving a company vehicle—recognize that your behavior on the road is more visible than your behavior in a stationary location. Consider how many people can see you when you are in your vehicle.

“Rules of the road” are a common denominator in all businesses. Nearly all employers consider them to be as important as their other policies and procedures. If you drive as part of your job responsibilities, remember that your employer should never have to tell you to pay attention to speed limits and drive responsibly.

Jennifer Robison’s picture

By: Jennifer Robison

They might not know who you are. But they can make you fat or thin, they can make you smoke or quit, they can make you happy or sad—and they don’t even mean to. They do know the people that you know—and that’s how your network of friends, their friends, and their friends’ friends influence you. And rest assured, you’re doing the same thing to them.

This process, called social contagion, was made famous in the widely discussed book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (Little, Brown and Co., 2009) by medical doctor and Harvard professor Dr. Nicholas Christakis, Ph.D., and James Fowler, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Social contagion works like any other kind of contagion—through transmission from one person to another. Instead of germs, however, social contagion transmits behaviors, norms, and emotions.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Blount is a discrete manufacturer specializing in chain-saw components. At their plant in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, the company operates a 1,200-machine facility and serves a global market. Manufacturing executives were looking for a performance management solution to support the company’s lean initiatives and needed to find a means to improve production reporting accuracy, reliability, and frequency.

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams’s picture

By: 100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

A large part of developing a rapport with customers is to offer a conversational tone that is warm and inviting. This can sometimes be achieved by paying close attention to the little things a customer might say. Search out ways to take your verbal exchanges down a road that is paved with friendly conversation.

Recognize and acknowledge

As you get to know your customers, you might discover some things about them that are worthy of your praise. If you learn of a birthday, marriage, anniversary, graduation, or other recent milestone, offer your congratulations. It’s a quick and easy way to instantly put a smile on their faces.

Look for things that can allow you to offer sincere validation of their interests as well. Acknowledgements can mean a great deal to people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, just so long as your questions take on the form of “small talk.” Don’t let customers perceive you as someone who is prying into their personal lives.

By: Mario Gislao

Reporting and documentation are fundamental aspects of the modern quality control (QC) laboratory. Whether using digital imaging to document a defect on a mission-critical subcomponent, performing micron-level measurements of wear on precision machined parts, or collecting important statistical information on the roundness of orifices in nozzles between production runs, virtually all pertinent QC information needs to be documented in the form of a report. Reporting has a number of vital purposes: It helps serve as proof of the organization’s methods and processes; it provides documentation to other entities that may want to purchase products from the organization for resale or incorporation into other products; it offers the manufacturer the opportunity to refine materials or processes to improve on the design or the production process; and it helps the organization find areas of weakness that it can address in terms of quality or efficiency.

Direct Dimensions Inc.’s picture

By: Direct Dimensions Inc.

“The Awakening” is a 70-foot sculpture by J. Seward Johnson that depicts a man struggling to free himself from the earth. The installation, which has been a landmark for nearly three decades in Washington D.C.’s Hains Point, is comprised of five aluminum body parts: a right foot, a left knee, a right arm, a left hand, and a bearded face. It was originally installed in 1980 and became a well-recognized attraction next to the Potomac River. It has been on loan to the U.S. Park Service by the artist.

In 2007, the piece was sold to a developer and it became necessary for the sculpture to be moved.

Moving the sculpture and reinstalling it in its intended orientation proved to be a true logistical and spatial challenge. Jon Lash, CEO of Digital Atelier, called on Direct Dimensions Inc. to find an affordable and accurate solution to document “The Awakening” in its exact current state and provide him with a 3-D plot showing the intersections of the sculpture’s mating surface with the ground. The plot would then be used to prepare the new site to receive the sculpture in its original configuration.

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