Tag Archives: manufacturing

The Pressure is On for Pressure Switches

Nearly three weeks after a massive oil rig exploded in the Gulf Coast, the cast off oil has begun to reach the coastline. The explosion and ensuing fire claimed the lives of 11 workers. As if this loss were not great enough, the continuous flow of oil leaking from the damaged rig will no doubt have a profound impact on wildlife as well as thousands if not millions of people living and working in that area. While we may never know the cause of the explosion, it is evident that shut off switch failure is responsible for the enormous oil spill that so threatens the coastline. Although containment and clean up are at the moment priorities, both BP and the federal government are searching for some explanation behind this disaster. One avenue to explore is the role pressure switches may have played. Continue reading

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What can you Make with Wire Forms?

Wire forms are pretty useful. They include every product made from wire, which are thin, long, usually round pieces of metal that are bent and formed into an impressive variety of products-anything from fishing equipment to a microscopic spring to the dish rack by your kitchen sink. While they aren’t exactly renowned for being air or water tight, wire products are lightweight, have excellent air flow, greatly improve accessibility and are inexpensive and easy to fabricate. Humans have been making wire products for hundreds of years, first for jewelry parts, then for products like wire racks, cages, baskets and fencing. Today, wire is fabricated into bulk spools and then shaped and formed by many different processes and machinery. Wire products are usually made in high volumes by automated, CNC operated machines that can produce mass quantities of the same item with an astonishing rate of efficiency. Continue reading

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GREEN WEEK Environmental Regulations: What Manufacturers Should Expect in the Next Decade

As you’ve probably noticed, environmental regulations in this country have been getting tighter. Due to a high degree of waste and pollution in the manufacturing process, the green movement is affecting us first and foremost. Within the past decade, the dangers of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions have transformed from hear-say to a huge, pressing problem that is impossible to ignore. The changes and restrictions in recent years and those that are soon to come will change every US industry, whether they like it or not. Regardless of the high cost and struggles it is likely to cause, green manufacturing is no longer just an option. The manufacturing sector wastes energy, pollutes our air and water, and generates mass quantities of solid, liquid and gaseous waste. Continue reading

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Summertime and Every Time with Plastic Tubing

April showers bring May flowers. May flowers signal spring, which is just a jump, skip and a hop away from summer. Summer means swimming pools, milkshakes and do not forget the sunscreen or the tanning oil, depending on your prerogative. While it may be the most recognizable connection, sunshine is not the only thing that all of these warm weather staples have in common. Though basking in the summer sun may steal all the glory, plastic tubing makes each of these things possible. Far from limited, plastic tubes actually play an important role in life as we know it not just on summer days, but also cold days, rainy days, stormy days, snowy days and everyday. Continue reading

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Rotational Molding: The Plastic Industry’s Biggest Untapped Resource

There’s a largely unknown secret lurking in the plastic molding industry. While injection molding, blow molding and thermoforming are the big 3 in terms of fabricating complex, three dimensional plastic products, an untapped resource is hiding. It’s called rotational molding, and it takes an ancient process that the Swiss still use to manufacture hollow chocolate Easter eggs and applies it to plastic molding. Also called rotomolding, you might be surprised to learn that it’s an effective method of fabricating many different products; anything from a doll’s head to a kayak to a plastic tank that holds 20 thousand gallons of abrasive chemicals. It’s cheap, easy and has incredible design freedom. This process generates little waste and creates seamless, single part products, which seriously cuts down on production costs. So, why isn’t it as popular as the other molding processes? Continue reading

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The Health Care Bill’s Effect on Label Manufacturing

Last week, the biggest change in healthcare since the implementation of Medicare in the 50s took place. The bill will affect every American in some way, and not just when it comes to doctor visits. One provision of the bill requires restaurant chains of 20 or more locations and vending machine manufacturers with 20 or more machines to display the number of calories for each item on the menu. This will prove to be a definite challenge in the restaurant industry, especially to fast food chains who largely serve unhealthy items. The new information will be added to every menu, kiosk and food container, or else the business will be forced to pay a hefty fine. Many restaurants may opt for new labels on their food packaging, and will be required to redesign every single label to include new nutritional information. While the food industry considers this bad news, label manufacturers are reaping the benefits. Continue reading

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How to Cure Vacuum Forming Wrap Rage

If there is only one thing I truly despise about shopping, besides spending too much money-it is vacuum formed plastic packaging. When I say they’re hard to open, that is a gross understatement. Try scissors, a kitchen knife, whatever. The packaging that encapsulates almost every small product these days is not opening without a fight. In fact, since 2004, about 25,000 consumers have been injured and 6.5 thousand per year end up in the emergency room because of clamshells. The average time to open them is well over 5 minutes, and it’s no walk in the park. There’s even a widely used term to describe the madness and frustration caused by trying to open plastic packaging-wrap rage. So I bet you’re wondering-why on earth do manufacturers make it so difficult to pry open their products? Why is it such a nightmare? Continue reading

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A Different Kind of Artist Brush

Aside from raw talent, the most essential element of a painter’s toolbox is a plethora of brushes. While many see just a brush, the artist knows that each utensil has a different shape, size, material, weight and even a ‘feeling.’ Masters like Picasso, Monet and Rembrandt were keenly aware of even the slightest variations and how seemingly minuscule adjustments to the artist brush can create the vastly complex lines, dashes, dots and swirls used in the composition of every masterpiece. A brush in the hands of a skilled artist seems to come to life. This is the quintessential image, the essence of any brush based media. Or so it would seem. Continue reading

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The High Point of the American Aluminum Industry

High atop the astounding obelisk of the Washington Monument rests a pyramid made of precious materials. Glistening in the early morning sunrise of Washington D.C., this capstone serves as a powerful reminder of the nation’s forefathers and the achievements made by all fellow countrymen. With such an important role in our iconography, one might expect this pyramid to be constructed of extremely valuable materials, and it is or rather, it was. The capstone is made of pure aluminum. While nowadays the word might be more closely associated with kitchen products than prized possessions, it was once as precious as silver. Just as the height of the Washington Monument itself has since been surpassed, however, the price of aluminum likewise waned. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, aluminum remains one of the most versatile and integral metals in modern industry. Continue reading

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The Starts and Stops of Air Cylinders

In nearly every old-timey Hollywood hit there is bound to be a dramatic scene depicting the picturesque steam engine train racing across the pristine landscape. Popular locomotive history is likewise riddled with praise for the steam engine, yet there are few mentions of its fireless companion: the air cylinder powered train. Maybe the name just is not quite as catchy. Names aside, pneumatic cylinders were popular in the locomotive world of the past. Far from a relic, however, air cylinders are in wide use today. Found in virtually every modern form of transportation, they generate linear force and motion from compressed air. These economic and environmentally friendly devices are responsible for the stop and start of planes, trains, automobiles and more. Continue reading

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Adhesives: From Grass to Crass to Green Again

While for many the word ‘adhesive’ may conjure up thoughts of the paste-eating grade school classmate who sat three desks over, adhesives have actually been in use for thousands of years. From their beginnings in the ancient world to their current use in everyday objects, these sticky substances have undergone many changes. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Mongols and other archaic groups used simple and natural formulas to bond surfaces and objects together. These early pastes were not replaced until the 1900s when technological advancements made way for the discovery of powerful synthetic bonding agents. Ironically, current concerns with global warming and climate change just might cause a return to the green ways of the ancients. Continue reading

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Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions Introduces the IDEA Non-Captive Programmable Linear Actuator

Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions introduces the Haydon RoHS compliant IDEA™ non-captive programmable linear actuator. In addition to full programmability through an easy-to-use graphic user interface, the non-captive actuator configuration is capable of up to 20′ of stroke length with a variety of screw pitches allowing fine resolution linear motion. The non-captive IDEA programmable actuator is perfect for small gantry robots, motion systems for optics and lasers, high resolution imaging, precision fluid dispense, and other applications requiring precision linear motion. Continue reading

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A Shortage of Rare Earth Magnets Could Mean Big Trouble for Alternative Energy Innovation

Some of the most precious and valuable elements on Earth are buried deep beneath the surface, just waiting to be found. While diamonds, gold and silver are the first that come to mind, lesser known, exotic elements like neodymium, a rare earth magnet, may be the most invaluable of all. It isn’t shiny or beautiful, but this silvery-grey magnet is expensive and highly sought after. Miners crawl deep into open pit mines, thousands of feet below the surface and appear with truckloads of the unimpressive looking chunks of metal. The raw element is shipped in large steel barrels to a manufacturing facility, where it is finely ground into powder and pressed into high temperature molds. Neodymium exhibits some extraordinary and unusual properties. When compounded with iron and boron, this magnet creates a magnetic field up to 25 times more powerful than those made from standard ferrites. It has exceptional resistance to demagnetization, and very small volumes provide the best performance of any magnet out there. Continue reading

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Electron Energy Corporation Wins Phase I Research Contract to Design Environmentally Friendly Magnetic Refrigerator for U. S. Air Force

Electron Energy Corporation (EEC), the nation’s leading producer of rare-earth magnets for critical applications, was recently awarded a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, OH, for the development of a magnetic refrigerator. EEC is collaborating on the project with Astronautics Corporation of America, Milwaukee, WI, a global leader in developing cutting-edge magnetocaloric refrigeration systems. The announcement was made by EEC President Michael H. Walmer. Continue reading

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It’s So Cool To Be Green

Air conditioners are probably the most necessary of all luxury and comfort items, especially if you inhabit a warm climate. I live in Michigan, which yes, in the winter months is unbelievably cold, but in July and August, 90 degrees and humid isn’t that uncommon. I’ve also never lived in a house with central air conditioning; so I know-a hot, sunny, humid day without AC is almost torture…until you get your energy bill, that is. Standard air conditioning systems have been the established method of cooling residential and commercial buildings since they first appeared in the 60 because are so effective. Put on full blast, walking into your house is like walking into the Arctic Circle. However, they suck up energy and are probably the most un-green system in your house. During peak summer months, AC is responsible for about 100 million tons of carbon emission each year. Continue reading

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Hydraulic Pumps Help Haiti Recover and Rebuild

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that shook the island nation of Haiti on January 12, 2010 left in its wake a city in ruins. The capital city, Port-au-Prince, was reduced to rubble and residents found themselves searching desperately through the wreckage in hopes of rescuing loved ones. Equipment was needed to cut, spread, lift, pull and separate the tangle of concrete and rebar trapping victims. This machinery was powered by hydraulic pumps. The pumps work by creating pressure enough to move a liquid, often oil or water, through cylinders and hoses thereby creating mechanical energy. This energy is used to run generators, power excavators and hydraulic water pumps even provide water to the Haitian people. Continue reading

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MOKON Offers Heating/Chilling System in One Package

Mokon’s Full Range process temperature control system offers a combination heating/chilling system in one convenient package. These units are ideal for applications including jacketed vessels, reactors, multiple-zone processes, laboratory, sanitary, food processing, chemical processing, and other processes that require both heating and chilling. Continue reading

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Die Cutting: Industrial Processing Taken from your Grandmother’s Kitchen

Think back to the last time you made Christmas cookies with your grandmother. You know, those sugar cookies shaped like candy canes, Christmas trees and snowflakes that are topped in icing and colored sugar. They are a big part of my family’s holiday traditions, and I looked forward to making them every year. Creating those complex shapes was no big deal, even for a little girl. They came out perfect every time, thanks to cookie cutters, those metal cut-out shapes that ensured a high degree of accuracy. Without them, the candy canes would be indistinguishable from the trees. Now, take the idea of a cookie cutter, make it automated and take it from your grandmother’s kitchen and into a manufacturing environment…what do you have? Die cutting-the industrial process that takes 2 dimensional sheets of material and forms them into complex shapes using a metal saw, diamond tipped saw or, more recently, laser beams. Continue reading

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Rotron® Regenerative Blowers for Commercial Spa Agitation Develop Ideal Air Flows and Pressures for Optimized Aeration

Rotron® brand regenerative blowers designed for commercial spa agitation have been engineered to develop ideal air flows and pressures for optimized aeration in spas and hot tubs. This specialty family of blowers includes five standard models available with a wide range of options and accessories to meet the most demanding application requirements. Continue reading

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Deschner Corporation Offers the ‘Super-K’ Kinechek® Speed Regulator-A Long Stroke in a Compact Length

In order to provide a wide variety of motion control solutions, the Super-K Model Kinechek is being offered. Super-K Kinechek models offer the advantages of a long 4 inch or 6 inch stroke unit within a short overall length. These leak proof Kinechek models can handle loads of up to 1200 lbs. Super-K’s have been used extensively in robotics, food processing equipment and packaging machines. Continue reading

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