bvspcc.com

Designing From Example

A few months ago, a group from work gathered for one of those evening paint classes I’m sure you are familiar with. An instructor takes the group through the process of painting an image, going step by step through the brushstrokes and paint mixing. Although the color choices, spacing, and shaping were unique, in the end, we all had paintings of an owl on a branch in the moonlight.

Contrast that with another recent art project, this time with my kids. They were given several tubs of Play-Doh with pictures of colorful sculpture examples displayed on the packaging—a butterfly, a clown, a flower. After studying the pictures, they came up with their own creations. The butterfly turned into a purple and red lady bug and the clown turned into a snowman with a pointy hat.

Both these adventures in art remind me of the design and engineering process for manufacturing a part.

Step-by-step instructions, rules of thumb, design guidelines, and protocols help you achieve the function of your parts. Examples and case studies show what has already been achieved, so you can make the connection to how it may be applied to your own project.

In this issue of MCDP, we’ve focused on examples. Check out what other designers are doing to achieve their goals for reduced lead time, improved quality, and decreased costs:
•  In the Design Details column on page 20, an aluminum crankcase assembly provided part consolidation, short lead times and part consolidation by combining 3-D printing with low pressure sand casting.
•    In the feature article, “Cast in Place: Integrating Non-Cast Components Into Castings,” on page 28, collaboration between a turbine manufacturer and metal casting supplier resulted in a cast solution that improved part consistency and reduced total cost.
•    The article on page 32, “3-D Technologies Ease Replacement Part Challenges,” is about a project that was specifically launched in order to be a case study for how additive manufacturing and advanced manufacturing practices can increase throughput and reduce cost.
•    Finally, in the Casting Innovation on page 49, “Casting Simulation Helps Part Conversion,”  a marine exhaust housing was successfully converted from another process with the aid of casting process simulation to design a new gating system.

Even though you may not be designing for any of the alloys or end-uses in these case studies, the decision-making process may spark an idea for your own project. Or maybe you have been toying with using additive manufacturing for prototyping but don’t have any experience. Studying case studies and examples opens new possibilities.

Alternatively, when you have completed a successful project, sharing the results with the casting design community may spur the next great design or solution.

Keep creating, and enjoy the case studies in MCDP.

Click here to see this story as it appears in the July/August 2017 issue of MCDP


Know the Updates to Patent Law

From time to time, foundries, foundry suppliers, and casting end-users develop inventions for which they seek patent protection. This could include a new austempered ductile iron composition, a casting made from that composition, a method of making that composition, or a novel molding machine.  While these are a few examples, the limits of the invention are constrained only by what the inventor can dream of.  If you or your company apply for U.S. patents, this column will serve as a brief review of some considerations of U.S. law that have changed in the past few years. The following law changes should be kept in mind prior to and during the patent application process.

As of March 2013, the America Invents Act (AIA) legislated some important changes to the patent law, and patent applicants need to be aware of these changes to more effectively apply for U.S. patents.  Perhaps the most significant change from the AIA is the U.S. moved from a “first to invent” regime to a “first inventor to file” regime.  Simply put, an applicant can no longer gain rights over a later applicant for the same invention by proving that she invented the device first.  Now, the inventor must be first to file, and this encourages inventors to file patent applications early in the process to help ensure that patent rights are maintained over your competitors who may be working on similar inventions.

“Prior art” is a term that refers to patent documents and other disclosures that can be used to defeat a patent application. The prior art available to a patent examiner during the patent examination process in the U.S. is defined by law. One challenge for patent applicants is to identify applicable prior art and thus avoid overlooking potentially fatal prior art. The AIA changed fundamental assumptions defining what will and will not be considered prior art under U.S. law. For example, public disclosures anywhere in the world in any language before your patent application filing date may be considered prior art. In other words, the new definitions remove geographic and language restrictions on prior art and will greatly expand in view of U.S. law what now may be considered prior art. This can add significant hurdles to an applicant because of the large amount of information available to us in many different languages. For example, patent applicants and even patent search experts may have difficulty finding and interpreting patent documents from the Far East that are written in symbolic character languages.

Beneficially for patent applicants, commonly assigned patent applications and subject matter developed under joint research agreements can be used to eliminate some prior art. Under the AIA rules, patents and inventions assigned to a single company can be disregarded as prior art if the invention described in a patent application is assigned to the same company. The same is true for joint research agreements. In one example, if a U.S. patent examiner cites the patent of Company A as prior art against a later Company A patent application, that patent reference can be disregarded under the principle of common assignment.

Here are some suggestions that might improve your or your company’s application process in light of the recent changes in U.S. patent law:
•      Develop company-wide employment agreements, employee handbooks and company policies that require employees to promptly report inventions to the company. The employment agreements and employee handbooks should provide that inventions are automatically assigned to the company.
•      Develop a company strategy to promptly review all employee inventions for commercial value. For those inventions determined to have value, promptly decide how to protect the invention (trade secret, patent or copyright). For inventions that the company decides to protect through patenting, develop a procedure to promptly file a patent application.
•      Develop company forms and policies requiring visitors and other members of the public to sign non-disclosure agreements as a condition for entering company premises where an unprotected invention may be in use.
•      Train employees on the importance of not using any invention in any setting that could be considered public until a patent application is filed for the invention.
•      Train employees of the importance of not marketing or accepting orders for a product incorporating an invention until a patent application is filed for the invention.
•      Train employees about the importance of not disclosing an invention, either in writing or verbally, until a patent application is filed.

Additionally, it is best practice to not consider “disclosure” in the AIA as replacing a patent application filing; publishing is not a substitute for filing to obtain a strong patent position on the invention. An inventor or engineer who has publicly disclosed an invention should file a patent application promptly or, better yet, before disclosure because a mere public disclosure will never provide an effective filing date. In contrast, an earlier patent application filing date protects against competitors filing patent applications for similar or the same inventions later. Furthermore, disclosure before filing may be fatal with respect to international patent rights.   

Click here to see this story as it appears in the July/August 2017 issue of MCDP

 


Feeling Smart

The premise of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves is that how we manage our feelings in various situations is a better indicator of our professional success than IQ.

Everyone who purchases the book can use a code to take an online test to see how high their emotional intelligence score is. I will admit my score was much lower than my ego thought it would be.

What is emotional intelligence? According to the authors, it is the “communication between your emotional and rational brains.” This link was discovered when researchers set out to find out why people with high IQs outperformed those with average IQs 20% of the time and people with average IQs outperformed those with high IQs 70% of the time. 

Emotional intelligence guides how we react to stress, problem solve, network, work on a team, manage projects, and communicate. The better we do all those things, the better we will be in our jobs.

The book, which is billed as a tool to increase EQ, lists four main skills of someone with a high EQ. This includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. After you take the online test, you are given a score for each of these skills, along with an overall score. The online test will suggest which skill to work on first, based on your scores, and provide some strategies to achieve the goal.

The full book also outlines strategies to improve the four skills of emotional intelligence, but the additional resources gained by taking the online test is valuable. The authors urge readers to focus on one skill to improve at first, so the personalized suggestion for which one to start on first is helpful for someone who wants to start boosting their EQ immediately.

After working on your EQ using the strategies given in the book, the reader is invited to take the online test again to see how they improved. If you scored low at first, there’s hope—Bradberry and Greaves assure us that unlike IQ, EQ can be strengthened and increased with time, patience and practice.

“Research conducted at the business school at the University of Queensland in Australia discovered that people who are low in EQ and job performance can match their colleagues who excel in both—solely by working to improve their EQ,” the authors wrote.

“Emotional Intelligence 2.0” is a quick read. Some of the 66 strategies to improve your EQ seem almost too obvious, but at least they are simple to apply. If you do pick up the book, don’t skip the online test. It is eye opening to see where you actually stand and motivation to start applying your EQ strategies immediately.   

Click here to see this story as it appears in the July 2017 issue of Modern Casting


The Industry Wins

Almost every year, the May/June issue of Metal Casting Design & Purchasing ranks as one of my favorites because we unveil the winners of the annual AFS Casting Competition.

This year’s winner is Aristo-Cast Inc. (Almont, Michigan) for a unique lattice-designed seat frame for aerospace applications. The investment caster used its established best practices to bring to life a new way of looking at part design, and the result is encouraging for future applications.

Competition is close every year, and this was no exception. It’s not surprising because the diversity of the metalcasting industry means designers have many different avenues of achieving their goals in fantastic ways. This year, the best-in-class and honorable mention winners are prime examples of reducing weight (sometimes even by switching from aluminum to iron), simplifying logistics, improving quality, cutting cost, and turning customer’s dreams and wish lists into reality.  

The Casting of the Year winners were on display on the exhibit show floor at Metalcasting Congress in Milwaukee last month. It’s the perfect spot to recognize the achievement—in the middle of the rest of the supply chain showcasing their own best capabilities and products and in tandem with many other top industry awards that are presented, most of which we share on in our post-show coverage starting on page 34.

When achievement and awards are brought up, the misconception can be that the award is the achievement. On the contrary—awards recognize achievement. We should strive for the achievement, not the awards.

So, what has the industry achieved in the last year?
•    Advances in additive manufacturing and rapid manufacturing.
•    Significant plant safety milestones.
•    Advocacy to the next generation of metalcasters and customers.
•    Advocacy to our city, state and national leaders.
•    Alloy developments in magnesium, copper, aluminum, iron and steel.
•    Molding process developments, from wax and lost foam patterns to sand mold filling.
•    Improved simulation and prediction tools.
•    New tools for employee training and education.

This list doesn’t even start to touch everything. What the individuals of the industry accomplish together when they are working toward the same goals is something to be proud of, and these achievements should be recognized. They elevate the entire industry. Congratulations not just to this year’s winners, but also to all the other members of this industry who have collaborated toward a goal and met it this year.

Click here to see this story as it appears in the May/June 2017 issue of MCDP


Made in the USA

A new presidential administration has taken office, and it has made some appealing promises to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. Whether the new administration can deliver on these promises remains to be seen, but it may be a good time to review government standards for the phrases “Made in the USA” and “Made in America.” Often, these promotional claims are made to imply quality and/or inspire purchases based on patriotism or a desire to help American-owned businesses. As these factors can be quite persuasive, and the U.S. government has an interest in prohibiting false advertising, the qualifications for a promotional phrase such as Made in the USA is regulated under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You might be curious as to how the FTC defines Made in the USA and how that affects metalcasters and their suppliers.

The FTC’s Made in the USA policy applies to all products advertised or sold in the U.S., except for products specifically subject to country of origin labeling by other laws. Two examples of these other laws include the American Automobile Labeling Act and the Buy American Act.  The American Automobile Labeling Act requires each automobile manufactured on or after October 1, 1994, for sale in the U.S. bear a label disclosing where the car was assembled, the percentage of equipment that originated in the U.S. and Canada, and the country of origin of the engine and transmission. The Buy American Act requires that a product be manufactured in the U.S. of more than 50% U.S. parts to be considered Made in the USA for government procurement purposes. There is no other law that requires most other product sold in the U.S. to be marked or labeled Made in the USA or have any other disclosure about their amount of U.S. content.  However, manufacturers and marketers who choose to make claims about the amount of American content in their products must comply with the FTC’s Made in the USA policy.

The enforcement policy of the FTC applies to U.S. origin claims appearing on products and labeling, advertising and other promotional materials. It also applies to all other forms of marketing, including marketing through digital or electronic means, such as the internet or e-mail. The Made in the USA claim can be express or implied. For example, express claims can include “Made in USA,” “Our products are American-made,” and “USA.”  Examples of implied claims can include indications such as “True American quality.”  In cases of implied claims, the FTC will focus on the overall impression of the advertising, label, or promotional material. American symbols or geographic references may convey a claim of U.S. origin either by themselves or in conjunction with other phrases or images. An American brand name or trademark by itself is not likely to be considered a U.S. origin claim.

American origin claims can be unqualified or qualified. Claims of American origin made without any qualification must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S., which includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories and possessions. This leads to the obvious question, “How is ‘all or virtually all’ actually interpreted by the FTC?” This phrase has been interpreted to mean that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. That is, the product should contain no—or negligible—foreign content. This may seem to be open to interpretation, but the FTC has been rather reasonable in its explanations regarding “negligible foreign content” and several factors are used in assessing the product’s manufacturing process. Primarily, the product’s final assembly or processing must occur in the U.S. Other factors include:  how much of the product’s total manufacturing costs can be assigned to U.S. parts and processing and how far removed any foreign content is from the finished product. For example, if a foundry supplier produces a core machine in Oklahoma and uses blow tubes from a foreign manufacturer, then an unqualified Made in the USA claim is not likely found to be deceptive because the blow tubes make up a negligible portion of the product’s total manufacturing costs and are less than significant parts of the final product.

If you feel your castings or casting supplies do not meet the standard for an unqualified claim such as Made in the USA, qualified claims are also accepted by the FTC. Qualified Made in the USA claims describe the extent, amount or type of a product’s domestic content or processing. In essence, they indicate the product is mostly American, but isn’t entirely of domestic origin. Some examples may include: “60% U.S. content,” “Made in USA of U.S. and imported parts,” or “Molding machine assembled in USA from Chinese frame and other foreign parts.”

The FTC is charged with preventing deception and unfairness in the marketplace. The FTC has the power to bring law enforcement actions against false or misleading claims that a product is of U.S. origin.  Should you have further questions regarding the use of Made in the USA claims, please consult your business attorney.  

Click here to see this story as it appears in the May/June 2017 issue of MCDP


Use Your Resources

In so many stories we write about in Metal Casting Design & Purchasing, the spark to convert a component or assembly into a cast part started with a visit from a metal casting supplier. This makes sense. As much as you know about your part’s function, requirements and application, the metal caster understands the capabilities and advantages of casting and how to achieve them.

My husband and I are in the process of remodeling our kitchen. We both know how we want the kitchen to look and function for our needs as a family. But neither of us are handy or skilled in design, so we worked with a contractor who showed us how to achieve our needs and even introduced ways to improve function that we hadn’t even thought about.

You probably know some parts in your shop would be more cost-effective if produced in a different way, but have little time to explore what process to use and how to adjust the design or calculate the savings. This is where the metal caster—your own kitchen contractor—comes in to help.

As helpful as a list of signs might be, the most important resource for converting a part to metalcasting is a metal casting supplier. Many deal with changing designs from assemblies to single cast parts regularly.

This type of information is the cornerstone of why the magazine exists.  Our mission is to share ways to make the metalcasting process more accessible and help you weigh when it is the right manufacturing method (or when it is not). This is reflected in our name Metal Casting Design & Purchasing.

Our cover has a new look this issue. In order to better establish our goal of providing content to help designers and purchasers create and source cast metal components, we have updated our logo to emphasize this. It is a reminder to our readers, and us, as editors, that YOU are our audience and our content should always be chosen with the intent of helping you do your job well. 

Thank you for your readership, and as always, please share your stories and comments.

Click here to see this story as it appears in MCDP.


What's in a Number?

The January/February issue of Metal Casting Design & Purchasing is one of my favorites of the year because it lays out the statistics of the current industry and looks at what we can expect for the coming years.

The annual World Census of Global Casting Production (p. 22) charts the trends in production and sales of major metalcasting nations, the U.S. census (p. 36) breaks down the types of plants and capabilities at home, and the U.S. metalcasting forecast (p. 27) shares how the industries that use castings might be faring in the future.

It’s a lot of numbers, and for someone who would go home and do pages of long division on her own in grade school, they are fun to explore and stack this way and that to see what kind of story it tells us.

This year, the tale that interested me most, although it was nothing new, was the extent of markets in which castings are used. In our forecast, we share data for the main industries for each metal, but in the full forecast, markets for iron, steel, aluminum and the other alloys go far beyond the four or five listed. There is a NAICS code for the totalizing fluid meter and counting device market, and it buys castings. Office furniture is a metalcasting market, so is electromedical and electrotherapeutic apparatus manufacturing. You, the readers of this magazine, are a collective group of makers that keep our society rolling in an expanding network of industry.

The variety of markets that metalcasters serve is also notable. Unless it is a captive plant, rarely is a foundry tied to a single industry. The chart on p. 31 of the U.S. census shows this breadth of markets. Metalcasting businesses serve niches. This makes them flexible to meet new customer needs, apply new developments, or, as in the case of Goldens’ Foundry and Machine Co. (p. 17), create their own product.

Enjoy exploring the numbers and stories in this issue, and as always, I invite you to share your thoughts or stories of what you are making with metal castings.

Click here to see this story as it appears in MCDP.


Manage Your Time

Time management is one of the biggest issues facing employees and employers today. Whether it’s because of a growing list of tasks, increasingly complicated duties, non-work problems that need to be taken care of, or just an inability to get off Twitter or Facebook during business hours, it feels like managing those precious minutes gets harder by the month for anybody who has even a modicum of responsibility during work.

In his book “Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time,” New York Times bestselling author Rory Vaden writes knowingly and seems all too familiar with time crunches. He spells out in plain language ways to make your time matter more, and how not to waste it with surprisingly simple and intuitive ideas.

(Not that it matters, but the title of the book is ironic and catchy. It’s not iconic like “Steal This Book,” but certainly memorable.)

To get his points across to the reader, Vaden breaks up his advice into five “permissions” on what he calls a “Focus Funnel.” They are:
• Eliminate: The Permission to Ignore.
• Automate: The Permission to Invest.
• Delegate: The Permission of Imperfect.
• Procrastinate: The Permission of Incomplete.
• Concentrate: The Permission to Protect.

All of these ideas have value and Vaden gets them across impressively efficiently. The part that had the most relevance for me (of course, your mileage may vary) was on concentration. I have a habit of, well, wasting time until I need to get on deadline and have to accomplish something. Sometimes that means I’m rushing a lot more than I should be. And even though I end up getting things done, it’s more stressful than necessary.

It turns out, this is healthy, albeit in the reverse. In the chapter that focuses on this topic, Vaden goes into detail about working double-time at the start of a task when necessary, so you can have free time later. He also effectively mentioned farmers and how they harvest when they have to harvest, that at times there’s nothing they can do to avoid it and how it has to be a priority for them.

(Trust me, this makes sense in the context of the book.)

In general, “Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time” is a valuable book for any professional who struggles with managing their precious minutes. I certainly fall into that category and will take many of the lessons with me as I continue my writing. And maybe I’ll be more efficient on my next deadline.  


New Normals. Better Futures

In the late 1990s, dot-com companies that had yet to generate a profit were trading at astronomical valuations. Traditional measures like price-to-earning ratios, we were told, were obsolete in an era when eyeballs and clicks were the metrics du jour. It didn’t take long, though, for the market to crash. It turned out that the longstanding investment rules developed by the likes of Benjamin Graham and Phillip Fisher were timeless and trusty, not outdated and crusty.

Over the past seven years, there has been another new normal. Over that time, the U.S. has failed to enjoy even a single year of 3% economic growth. Not surprisingly, this lackluster performance has led to diminished economic opportunity and reduced tax revenues. Even as the unemployment rate gradually inched back to 4.9 percent, the numbers of people who dropped out of the workforce has been staggering.

This has been the slowest economic recovery over the last 75 years. Some people have bought into the argument that we are destined to perpetual growth rates of 1 to 2 percent. Yet, this seeming new normal need not be a permanent reality. With the right public policies, robust growth is again possible. With that growth would come more demand for goods and services, better opportunities for entrepreneurs, and more jobs. In a phrase, a better future.

For buyers and designers of castings, the American Foundry Society plays a key role in assuring a better future. AFS is waging an aggressive government advocacy program that advances policies conducive to economic growth and opposes unnecessarily burdensome regulations. That work helps to control non-production costs that would otherwise have to be added on to the price of castings. Corporate memberships in AFS—by metalcasters, suppliers, and casting purchasers—make this advocacy work possible.

On the workforce development front, many OEMs and other casting buyers take advantage of AFS classroom courses. A total of 38 classes have been redesigned over the last several years. Moreover, in July 2016, the society introduced a series of e-learning modules on key casting-related topics, with many more still to come. This makes professional training more affordable and convenient than ever.

AFS is also playing a leading role in technology development and transfer, which positions the casting industry to meet the ever-evolving technology needs of its customers for many years to come.

This issue of Metal Casting Design & Purchasing features two articles on designing and cost estimating for additive manufacturing, plus a look at the steel lost foam and iron pipe markets. Finally, a look at casting technology development on page 34 illustrates how metalcasters use engineering and knowledge to eliminate defects and provide quality castings to their customers. All of these contribute to a better future for casting purchasers.

Click here to see this story as it appears in MCDP.


Leading Where?

In the book “You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader,” author Mark Sanborn tries to lay out how anybody in any company can be a leader, regardless of shiny title, fancy business card or even a large salary. He does this by not following a single narrative, but brief vignette after brief vignette after brief vignette after...

Well, you get the point.

This isn’t really a knock against Sanborn, but his writing style in this very brief book of 102 pages didn’t help me to see what he was trying to get across. As I read this book, I kept waiting for repeated extended narratives (even one that would be a few pages), where I could see how somebody took some of the lessons in this book and improved their career and also the life of the business where they work. At least for me, that would give me time to see some parallels in my life and career, and perhaps see how they could be applied to make things even better for myself and my employers.

There are a couple very strong examples of this, and I won’t ruin them, but a few more would have been helpful for the reader.

That said, there are reasons to pick up this book.

Though it didn’t do much for me, Sanborn’s writing style could be helpful if you’re not looking for one story but numerous small snippets and examples of lessons. He breaks down his theory into “six principles of leadership” and then pings rapid-fire stories at the reader one after another.

Some valuable lessons can be learned in the pages of this book. Perhaps the most important is a very early passage in the book. It reads “It doesn’t matter what your position is, or how long you’ve worked at your job, whether you help to run your family, a PTA committee, or a Fortune 500 company. Anyone at any level can learn to be a leader and help to shape or influence the world around them.”

That’s pretty good, and something every employee of every company should take to heart. The six principles also provide value and the snippets do bring strong advice and tips. One that is especially strong is the chapter on the power of persuasive communication. During the nine-page section, Sanborn highlights how to communicate effectively, and stresses the importance of word selection.

In the end, there is a value to reading this book. Leadership is a tricky thing to define. It’s not tangible, and probably falls into the “you know it when you see it” category, and Sanborn does go a long way in illuminating some very helpful and important tactics. They are tactics that may seem obvious but aren’t, and they are tactics that are surprisingly easy to implement.


Displaying 1 to 10 of 140 records

x