Portrait photo of Lynn Stanley

From the Editor

lynn stanley
Puzzle Solving

n March, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute released the results of two surveys gauging perceptions of U.S. manufacturing. The surveys targeted both executives and consumers. Attracting and retaining a quality workforce was at the top of the list for 83 percent of manufacturers surveyed. Almost 45 percent of executives said they turned down business opportunities due to a lack of workers.

A nationwide survey conducted by Leading2Lean found that 49 percent of millennials did not believe that manufacturing could offer fulfilling careers. The survey summarized the need to continue to reach young people through schools, universities, websites, scholarships and social media. But there is still work to do when it comes to exposing and educating individuals about modern fabrication shops and smart factories.

In this issue, CMM manufacturer AIMS Metrology, 5-axis probe system pioneer Renishaw Inc. and measurement solutions expert Verisurf Software Inc. talk about how the nexus of their technologies is helping job shops and fabricators decode big data by instantly accessing actionable information on parts and processes. Aside from the practical applications for fabricators, the science and inventiveness behind the turnkey tool is also a great illustration of how exciting and fulfilling careers in manufacturing can be.

The modern fab shop is a place of possibilities, where raw material is transformed into saleable products like a motor housing for the next Tesla or components for a flying electric taxi. AIMS, Renishaw and Verisurf also point to another less tangible ingredient—a driving curiosity and motivation to solve puzzles.

Take Samuel Pierpont Langley as an example. He was funded by the War Department to develop an airplane at the turn of the 20th century. His job at the Smithsonian and a seat at Harvard gave him access to the best minds. The press followed him everywhere. By comparison, Orville and Wilbur Wright seemed to have very little to recommend them. Neither had a college degree or had finished high school. They ran a newspaper before opening a bicycle shop in 1892. They didn’t know the right people, and they had very little money. But they believed human flight was possible, and they were determined to unlock its secrets.

Langley made two attempts in 1903. Both were abject failures. Nine days later, the Wright Brothers flew a small bi-plane for 12 seconds at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1905, the Wright Brothers flew the world’s first practical airplane, demonstrating controlled, sustained flight by circling Dayton, Ohio’s Huffman Prairie 30 times in 39 minutes for a distance of 24 ½ miles.

The same spark of purpose drove David McMurty to establish Renishaw in 1973 and invent the touch-trigger probe to solve an inspection requirement for the Olympus engines used on the Concorde. That product led to a revolution in three-dimensional, 5-axis coordinate measurement of machined components and finished assemblies.

Frustrated with the limitations of other CMMs on the market, Dave Delph and Mark Gearding formed AIMS Metrology in 2009 and created a coordinate measuring machine 100 percent compatible with Renishaw’s 5-axis probe technology. That led to the first mobile 5-axis CMM and later, the 5-axis Summit for large parts inspection.

Verisurf, founded in 1993 by Ernie Husted, created a highly specialized model-based software that uses CAD as the design authority to simplify and automate inspection planning for improved process control.

It’s important to talk about science and technology in manufacturing, but I think there might be value in taking a step back to fire up the imaginations of young people about the power of an idea or the sense of satisfaction that can be gained by creating products that make the lives of everyday people better.