I have to admit that I am a critical thinker skeptical about the whole idea of additive manufacturing as a viable commercial production process.

As a guy who has dealt with Detroit 3 automakers’ purchasing departments, and had to manage production, purchasing, inventory, operations, and engineering, I am not easily swayed by the breathless musings of “unlimited potential ” and “the sky is the limit” claims of a seemingly endless number of fanboy proponents of this new “Additive Technology” craze.

But even a critical thinker  skeptic like me (who knows about cycle time setup time, and EOQ’s (economic order quantities ) has to acknowledge that the process can do some pretty fancy stuff, even if it doesn’t look like  the precision machined products we currently sell.

Art- not part. This I grant you.
A tisket a tasket, this one ain’t made of plastic…

Even a grudging skeptic like me can recognize the beauty  of the articles currently being produced by this new additive manufacturing process.

But I still question whether this will displace the close tolerance, high precision, high volume, low cycle time parts our industry manufactures economically by our ever improving “subtractive manufacturing technologies.”

Do I lack the vision to see where this technology will be in our future? Am I too close to the trees of subtractive manufacturing to see the forest of All viable manufacturing processes?

I don’t think so.

But the additive technology  as a viable manufacturing process today would seem to be easily summed up in just three words.

Art not parts.

(to be continued)

This social media / networking stuff is new to all of us, so here are seven tips from Bernard Martin on how to optimize your profile on LinkedIn.

  • Fill in all the blanks.
  • Connect to everyone that you know.
  • Make sure that you are “open”to connect.
  • Develop a department level outline for Linked In Profiles, Settings, (URL’s and Links).
  • Define “Who” Targets “Whom.”
  • Leverage your company’s connections at “individual” level.
  • Create / develop your company profile. 

Bernard Martin is President of Rapid Production Marketing and is active contributor on many LinkedIn groups in the manufacturing space.

Bernard Martin IMTSedu Linked In Session

He is frighteningly active on Twitter @rpmconsultants .

He has always advanced the conversation when he has contributed to discussions in which I was involved.

I think that these 7 takeaways were  worth the time I took away from walking the exhibits at IMTS. Your LinkedIn profile is important because this is how you are seen online professionally these days.

How you are seen by your colleagues, employer, competitors, and customers.

What tips do you have for effectively using your LinkedIn Resources?

The housing industry seems to be making slow but steady gains while manufacturing seems to be slowing.

Precision machining companies make components used in housing technologies like HVAC and appliances.

PMPA’s Business Trends Index for August is up 6 points to 117  from 111 in July, but shipments are at a level just 93% of same time last year. Our industry shows shipments up 4 % year to date. Our index is contrary to the Fed’s IP numbers for August.  The Fed reported that Industrial Production fell 1.2% in August after having risen  after having risen 0.5% in July.  We see demand as holding on and our shops report that they continue to “hold their own.”

Precision machining is holding its own

According to Chad Moutray at NAM, ” … the housing picture continues to show slow-but-steady gains, with increasing optimism in a sector that continues to have large hurdles. Housing starts rose 2.3 percent in August, with an annualized 750,000 new residential units being built. This continues an upward trajectory, particularly for single-family homes. Housing permits, while down somewhat for the month, remained more than 800,000, indicating that the housing market should continue to expand moving forward. Existing home sales were also higher, and homebuilder confidence rose to its highest level in more than six years.”

I see the return of housing, even at its current low rate, as a positive sign for our industry. Diversifying markets and mix is better than ‘live or die’ with a single market segment.  A varied diet is good for our personal health, and the industry will be healthier when the choices we have are more varied than only one or two markets to serve.

Bill Margaretta, president of the New Jersey State Safety Council, outlined the five common cost elements related to workplace injuries in a great article on EHS online:

  • Emergency response 
  • Reports and case management
  • Interrupted operations
  • Lost revenue
  • Cost of damage

We think that Bill is ‘spot on’ with his five points, though we would add “Cost of reassessing and designing the process” to the above points.

We always see things, especially safety, through the lens of continuous improvement.

We see things through the lens of continuous improvement

Thanks to EHS for hosting the panel discussion and publishing the conclusions.

Every one of us has a stake in safety, and Margaretta’s 5 points above are  a great reminder of the financial non-human costs of workplace injuries.

Who want’s to come up with a list of the human impacts of  workplace injuries to complement this list?


Manufacturing is your best career choice today.

The idea that there is just one narrative for success- go to college and get a good paying job- is no longer a workable one. The majority of unemployed people today have some  college.

Today College assures most students’ debt, but not neccessarily a high paying job.

More than 53% of the unemployed having some college, and the unemployment rate for recent college grads over 10%.

The Associated Press reported earlier this year that “about 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years… Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.”

Recent college grads are actually faring worse in today’s job market than the overall youth population.  And compared to the older college-educated populace, they have at least twice the rate of unemployment.

Over half of recent college graduates jobless/underemployed? In debt with no higher paying job to make the loan payments? Unable to make loan repayments waiting tables?

The Skills Solution.

Manufacturers need skilled workers.

Manufacturers are looking for people who

  • Can solve problems,
  • Are comfortable with math,
  • Are capable of working without a lot of direct supervision.

Community colleges offer programs in CNC machining, offerring programs that award credentials and certificates for a short duration study program, as well as 2 year associate degrees for a formal course of study.

Consider Manufacturing.

  • Manufacturing is recovering.
  • Manufacturing has the most traction coming out of the last recession.
  • Baby Boomer retirements (10,000 per day turn 65 years old !) are creating an opportunity rich environment.

I would try to get employment in advanced manufacturing and then build on that with additional training at local community colleges.

Right Skills Now is one way to get started.

There are other schools and other programs in your area.

The idea of one narrative for success- go to college and get a good paying job- is no longer a workable one.

In manufacturing, you will be making things that make a difference in people’s lives, and the quality of their lives- things like anti-lock brakes, air bag safety devices, orthopedic and medical device, aerospace parts to name a few- I would urge you to consider a job in manufacturing. It is safe, well paid, and between upgrading your knowledge and skills and the inevitable retirements of people already on the job, this might just be the best possible career wave you will find.

The career wave for manufacturing is looking awesome right now…

According to the Fed last Friday: “Industrial production fell 1.2 percent in August after having risen 0.5 percent in July.  Hurricane Isaac restrained output in the Gulf Coast region at the end of August, reducing the rate of change in total industrial production by an estimated 0.3 percentage point.  Manufacturing output decreased 0.7 percent in August after having risen 0.4 percent in both June and July… At 96.8 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production in August was 2.8 percent above its year-earlier level.”

Industrial production fell 1.2% in August.

Capacity utilization for total industry moved down 1.0 percentage point to 78.2 percent, a rate 2.1 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2011) average.”

Down 1% from last month and 2.1% below long run average.

PMPA will have our Business Trends Index for August numbers compiled later this week, but we were surprised by the plunge on IP to levels below February 2012. The direction of revisions of prior months’ data downwards is not optimistic, nor is the full point drop in Capacity Utilization.

3 Reasons to Rethink our Optimism?

  • Both Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization fell.
  • Direction of revised numbers were all negative.
  • You can’t argue with Capacity Utilization being sub-longterm average.

Challenge question for your shop: So what are YOU going to DO about it?

Fed Release


This is your workforce in 2020.

BLS published the data behind the above look at our workforce in 2020 earlier this year.   

BLS Workforce

But it was something that we saw at IMTS made us really think about how this issue will affect our shops- see the video below.


What are you doing to make sure that your vision of your shop’s skilled workforce in 2020 isn’t a shiny faced robot?

PMPA is teaming up with Sonnhalter, the leading B2B agency behind Tradesmen Insights Blog to offer you a free webinar on the “why” and “how” to blog.

Join us on September 25th at 2:00 p.m. EDT for the free one-hour webinar.

You can register here PMPA FREE BLOGGING WEBINAR.

We have seen the value of blogging and want to help you capture this too.

Free Webinar: Should a Blog Be a Part of Your Marketing Plan?

  • Blogging can be a valuable marketing tool that gives your organization a way to prove its expertise.
  • Blogging can help you standout as an expert in your area of expertise.
  • Blogging can help you be found by search engines.

In order to tap into the values that blogs offer, manufacturers need to ask themselves certain questions and make several decisions before their blog goes live.

This webinar will help participants explore the idea of blogging  to help find out if a blog should be a part of their marketing plans- and we will review what all is involved in starting one.

We are certain that this free introduction to the world of blogging will help you put the fear behind you and help start you on the path to greater engagement online with your market.

Please join us on September 25th at 2:00 p.m. EDT for the free one-hour webinar.

You can register here PMPA FREE BLOGGING WEBINAR.

When: Tuesday, September 25 at 2:00 p.m.

What: Free webinar about company blogs for manufacturers

                The webinar covers:

  • What blogs are
  • Pros and cons of starting a blog
  • Which questions to answer before starting a company blog
  • What is involved in starting a blog
  • Some steps to take to get started

You can register here PMPA FREE BLOGGING WEBINAR.

Hope to catch you on the 25th!

 Great photo