“We are not given a dream unless we also have the power to make it happen.” PMPA President Darlene Miller.
I was in the audience when she made that comment at a meeting of students considering their future careers.
That quote resurfaced over the weekend when my son, a CNC operator, sent me the following video “What Do Machinists Dream of?”
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88q3ZoYUKEg&w=560&h=315]
It made me smile, because our machinists can in fact make the high precision, high reliability components shown in the video needed for the sponsor’s “Dream Mission.”
What you dream is important, because it determines what you have the power to achieve. What do you dream of ?
If you dream of an interesting and well paying career, you might want to investigate precision machining.
And yes, we can make the stuff that you see in the video in our shops.
“Moon Mission, anyone?”
Poncari Sweat is a sports drink

PMI shows manufacturing continues to expand, but rate of growth is slowing.

March 2013 ISM- PMI
March 2013 ISM- PMI

“The report was issued today by Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the Institute for Supply Management™ Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. “The PMI™ registered 51.3 percent, a decrease of 2.9 percentage points from February’s reading of 54.2 percent, indicating expansion in manufacturing for the fourth consecutive month, but at a slower rate. Both the New Orders and Production Indexes reflected growth in March compared to February, albeit at slower rates, registering 51.4 and 52.2 percent, respectively. The Employment Index registered 54.2, an increase of 1.6 percentage points compared to February’s reading of 52.6 percent.” ISM

According to the report, Fabricated Metals, the industry classification which includes precision machining, was one of the top 4 market sectors reporting growth in March.

Comments from respondents  highlighted in  the ISM release indicated that reduced government spending and uncertainty about federal regulations were among the reasons for the March slowdown.


The December ISM Manufacturing Report is out, and the headline story is good news.

But the full report is a bit of a mixed bag for our industry.

Manufacturing is back in expansion mode as the Purchasing Manager’s Index, “‘The PMI™,’ registered 50.7 percent, an increase of 1.2 percentage points from November’s reading of 49.5 percent, indicating expansion in manufacturing for only the third time in the last seven months. This month’s PMI™ reading moved manufacturing off its low point for 2012 in November.” – ISM Report Dec 2012


A closer reading however notes that “The nine industries reporting contraction in December — listed in order — are: Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Chemical Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Plastics & Rubber Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Transportation Equipment; Machinery; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Apparel, Leather & Allied Products.”ISM Report Dec 2012

Precision machining is an industry of Fabricated Metal Products.  Four of our most important market segments were also in decline in December:  Transportation Equipment; Machinery; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components. The market we see is not as rosy as the headline.

In addition, the New Orders component of the survey, at 50.3, went unchanged.  This suggests that new orders, the source of our business’s future production, was virtually unchanged in December. The backlog of orders component,  at 48.5,indicates a small contraction of the orders book.

Graph courtesy of Calculated Risk Blog

Just the top five manufacturing sectors shown below contributed 239,900 net new jobs in 2011 year to date through November  according to BLS data.

Leading the way. Data through November.

Precision Machine shops like PMPA members are impacted as follows :

Transportation Equipment: This sector makes up a large share of precision machined industry shipments.

Fabricated Metals: 1)  Precision machining is a subset of Fabricated Metals. From our conversations with shop owners almost every shop is looking for skilled people for immediate work; 2) Many of our products are sold to customers that are also considered Fabricated Metals.

Machinery: We both purchase machinery and make components that are critical to the manufacture of machinery and equipment.

Motor Vehicles and Parts: This is traditionally the largest market served by the precision machining industry.

Primary Metals: Our suppliers of the majority of raw materials machined.

Semiconductors, Computers : Yep. We make parts for these as well as equipment used in their manufacture.

Beverages and Tobacco: That fountain drink you purchased  probably was dispensed through nozzles and fittings made by a precision machine shop.

Chemicals: We make important sensor, fitting, and pressure vessel components for theis Better things for better living industry.

Bottom Line: almost a quarter million net new manufacturing jobs have been added so far in 2011 in manufacturing areas directly related to proecision machining.

Manufacturing, not politicians, is leading this recovery in jobs.

Soda Fountain

w00t! w00t! 1st place solar car and PMPA shop part of it!

PMPA member Wolverine Machine Products Company in Holly, Michigan knows a little bit about Precision Machining.
With their new Wardjet waterjet cutting table, they had exactly the capability that the University of Michigan Solar Car Race team needed.
A new view of Precision Machining.

They used their new waterjet capability to fabricate fixtures to help the U of M team lay-up the carbon fiber parts.
They used more traditional precision machining technologies to help the team make parts out of aluminum for wheels, suspensions, and other important systems.
Blaine Walker, Wolverine Machine’s Special Projects Manager had this to say about their role in the U of M project, “Working with the University of Michigan students gave us a great opportunity to explain tolerances, stackups and other  critical pieces of manufacturing knowledge. That they came in first place is a sign that they were listening.”
And Blaine,  that first place finish also  tells me that Wolverine Machine makes quality parts!
Here’s one other lesson for the precision machining industry:
The waterjet parts were cut out of plate material. The rest of the precision machined parts were aluminum.  Lightness and strength were critical in this solar car’s performance, and automotive jobs in the future will likely be non-traditional materials compared to todays specifications.
What do precision machining, Wolverine Machine, and Solar Cars have in common? All three of these are pointing the way to a brighter future for high skill high technology manufacturing right here at home. 
Thanks for taking on the special project, Wolverine.
And congratulations to the University of Michigan Solar Car Race team!

University of Michigan Solar Car Team

Ryan at Change The Perception discovered this CNN video about Machining.

This isn't old time manufacturing!

Here’s the Video.
Ryan, thanks for sharing this video about the New Blue Collar. About how we make a difference by making things.
Thanks for your work to help our industry Change the Perception.
And  a tip of the hat to CNN Edition for this outstanding video.

 Precision machined titanium bone screws are used in orthopedics.Medical Instruments is one market area that offers the strongest prospects for value added growth over the next few years.   MX: Business Strategies for Medical Technology Executives, in its May/June 2008 edition, estimates that the medical device market will reach sales of $336 billion in 2008.
 Aging population and baby boomers’ demand for active lifestyles supports a strong market for precision medical components in the short and long term. Here are 5 reasons  for your precision machining company to consider serving the medical market:
1) Demographic makeup of the U.S. population is  promising for future growth in the biotech industry.
2) Private equity investment in biotech grew more than two fold during each year between 2003 and 2007. Investment trends will remain strong as medical devices companies continue to innovate and deliver safer and more advanced solutions.
3) Aging population, longer life expectancy, and an increase in chronic illnesses will help the biotechnology industry in the both the near and long term.
4) Healthcare products and supplies revenue will be generated heavily from orthopedics, cardiology, diagnostic imaging, pain management, and oncology in the near term.
5) The outlook for demand of high-tech medical products such as hospital beds, sterilization equipment, and blood analyzers is high because of the aging demographics.
The medical device market is about 50 percent of the world pharmaceutical market, and it is  growing faster than the drug market. The medical devices market was $336 billion  in 2008.
Value added (sales less cost of materials) is a strong determinant of growth for sales to the markets served by the precision machining industry. Value added is not expected to be positive in the near term for all industries.  Value added is expected to remain high for medical market.
What has your shop identified as the most compelling reasons to enter the medical machining market?