Wisdom without knowledge is useless; knowledge without the wisdom to apply it is unprofitable! For forming and fabricating practitioners and equipment manufacturers to gain intelligence on the latest technologies, products and industry trends, as well as sharpen their skills and broaden their fields of application, “the FABTECH show has become the premier go-to conference and exposition,” so says Jeff Cass, president, Airgas (Independence, OH). Cass is representative of over 30,000 attendees and 1500 exhibitors from over 70 countries expected to gather together at the FABTECH International Show in Las Vegas Nov. 16–18. In addition to attending the exhibit floor, wise visitors will also take advantage of 130 educational programs, including workshops and one to three-day seminars as well as technical, managerial and workforce-development-focused sessions. The special event program will feature an opening keynote by boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard and three high-level panels focused on industry education.
In a survey conducted for SME, half of the expected visitors are interested in seeing and hearing about the latest in cutting and welding technologies, and about the same proportion expects novelty in forming technologies. Laser machinery, robotics and additive manufacturing interests drew respectively 38%, 33% and 26% of the responses. Surely these last three interests exhibit a dramatic increase since the end of the last century. Imagine Austin Powers being put into hibernation after FABTECH 2000 in Cleveland, barely five years after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum opened there, and just now waking up in time for FABTECH 2016. Certainly Dr. Evil remained busy throughout that period, attempting to destroy the world, even through a major 2008 global economic crash through which we saw staples like General Motors and Chrysler being resuscitated from bankruptcy, and by the year of Michael Phelps’ triumphant 28th Olympic medal, both are roaring back with record sales! Would Austin have been among the ones in 2000 poking fun at the possibility of driverless cars manufactured by Google that can pick up the kids from school while you are at the gym? How about a vehicle that is 3D printed from the bottom up by one of those BAAM machines? Or powered by Microsoft where you counterintuitively have to push the start button to shut the engine down? Could he picture a show floor where over 80% of laser machines have flexible-cladded fibers delivering up to 100 kW of infrared laser power?
However, enormously fast pace that change is, the paradigm shifts in materials of choice for various products is equally consequential, impacting standards, safety, profitability, the environment, competitiveness and even employment. “Cars are made out of steel, aluminum is for airplanes and plastic is for toys!” This adage held true throughout the 20th century when the Boeing 767 and Airbus A320 airplanes contained over 70% aluminum by weight. In contrast, the latest 21st century Dreamliner 787 and Airbus A350 civilian airplanes contain less than 20% aluminum, displaced by over 50% carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP). The newest V22 Osprey military “plane-copter” by Bell Helicopter and Boeing is made of 70% FRP: a $72 million toy! Such industry-quake within a 20-year span could be seen as dastardly by some on the wrong side of “change.” For others, it opens up opportunities with changes in design, engineering, tooling, fabrication and supply chain. Interestingly, this civilian aerospace industry-quake sent tremors in the automobile industry where steel reigned and any alternative to steel was relegated to low-volume luxury and electrical vehicles. Today, Audi features a lightweight aluminum body on main models and Jaguar on all their models. The high-volume Ford F-150 truck body is all aluminum and the Cadillac CT6 sedan is 64% aluminum. The electrical BMW i series cars have an all-FRP upper body, a material dominating now in the BMW 7-series flagship model.
New materials invariably demand new ways of bending, forming, curing, piercing and drilling, lubricating, welding, joining, cleaning, finishing painting and thus present opportunities for new types of machineries, all of which will be on display at FABTECH 2016. See you there!
Apply Today: Manufacturing-Focused Scholarships Available
The SME Education Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications. The Foundation’s scholarships offer students a powerful reason to choose a manufacturing-focused education. The scholarships are awarded annually, so students can reapply every year. Scholarships range from $1000–$6000 and can be used for tuition, books or lab/course fees related to attaining a technical or engineering education. Eligible students include high school seniors, undergraduates, graduate students pursuing degrees in advanced manufacturing and related fields at two and four-year colleges.
In addition, the SME Education Foundation annually offers substantial scholarships to students with at least one parent or grandparent who has been an SME member in good standing for the last two years. The Family Scholarships include one award in an amount of $40,000 and three scholarships of $20,000 each, all payable over four years.
The application process is open from November to February. To apply, register at smeef.org/scholarships.
Enter SME’s 2017 Direct Digital Manufacturing Design Challenge
This year, high school and postsecondary student designers and engineers are encouraged to create designs that enhance physical mobility in one or more of the following areas:
- Personal transportation;
- Existing sporting goods;
- Medical appliance/physical therapy devices;
- A new and/or unique product addressing two or more of the above categories.
Innovation and mobility take many forms, all of which have the potential to be improved by additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Student designers and engineers are challenged to go beyond the classroom or laboratory and showcase their technical and commercial talents by demonstrating new and creative ways additive manufacturing can add value.
Contestants need not build their item, but must recommend and justify through their research and cost-benefit/value analysis, their design, process and material selections to achieve the performance mobility restoration, enhancement(s) or new capabilities claimed.
The top designs in each academic level and category will be recognized during the RAPID + TCT event May 8-11, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Entries must be submitted on or before midnight EDT March 13, 2017, to be considered. Competition information is available at sme.org/ddm-competition.
This article was first published in the November 2016 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Read “SME Speaks: The Revolution on Display at FABTECH 2016” as a PDF.