Archive for the ‘US Manufacturing’ Category

trump-manufacturingAs the US awaits the presidency of President Elect Donald Trump there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground in reactions to his election. This article isn’t going to take a side, but what it will do is take a look at what his presumed policies and people’s opinions of him will do for the manufacturing sector. Doesn’t he mean make the US economy great again when he says “Make America Great Again”? Specifically, we will be looking at the case of carbide dies and tooling as an example.

US manufacturing has vacillated between stagnant and losing ground since the 1980’s. Most American’s can’t even remember a time when America was booming in this important sector. Frustration in the lagging industrial strength of the US, and all of its benefits (jobs) was a major factor in pushing Trump into the oval office. Business owners and workers alike feel change is needed. Unfortunately for Hillary, she never seemed to offer that desired change. Owners of companies have chaffed under what is perceived as pour trade deals for two decades while workers have watched their jobs move off shore. For many business owners the idea of a businessman in the oval office has long been desired. I’m not saying they all felt Trump was the one they all wanted, but anything would be better than continuing down our current path. His rhetoric on fixing the US trade deficient and reversing the trend of US jobs being sent across borders rang true to them and their labor force. Not all of them obviously, but I’ll get to the other side in a minute. For these voters, Trumps deal making and tough talk was a welcome change to continued globalization and further neglect of the rust belt.

Trump promised to renegotiate almost every trade agreement the US is involved in and doesn’t seem to care whose feathers he ruffles in the process. He has stated that he wants the Mexican/US trade deficit evened out through tariffs against Mexican imports.  He said he would put a 45% terrify on Chinese goods as well, forcing them to stop their currency manipulation which artificially gives their goods an advantage. Furthermore Trump says he will send an army of lawyers to contest China’s unfair practices such as government subsidizing to bolster industries. The Chinese government, known for hard dealing itself has bulked at this, calling him a misguided fool in party run newspapers. Perhaps most importantly however, Trump wants to cut the tax on corporations. This could lead to either greater investment in the struggling manufacturing sector or just more money in the pockets of the wealthy – what Hillary called “Trumped up economics.”

On the other side of the fence, business doesn’t like volatility and Trump offers that in spades. Business flourishes in environments where the future is predictable. Trump business critics point out that a trade war with China will only hurt us both and tariffs on Chinese goods will only move production to other countries like Vietnam,  where labor is 20-23% lower than in China.

Now for our case study. Carbide dies are an essential part of production in many industries. They are the parts that make parts. Carbide dies and tooling are used to construct everything from nuts and bolts to medical equipment and musical instruments. China has recently entered into the market making lower end products, by making up for a lack of quality with low cost tooling they have gained a foothold. US manufacturers using these products have been short sighted, as it cost more to stop production and change dies than the money they saved on inferior products. However, China still has entered the market in areas where it is easier to mass produce dies. A tariff on these dies would be of some benefit to the US die makers but wouldn’t stop the competition that comes from Japan. Additionally, 80% of the element of carbide is located in China, however tariffs wouldn’t affect imports of carbide since the Chinese won’t export it. They are keeping their supplies to themselves! They are playing the long game when it comes to carbide, a resource that some experts have said the planet will run out of in 50 years! This should make you stop and think for a moment. This is big. The Chinese aren’t looking for the quick dollar, they are shrewd. They know the price will go up so they are holding out while the US rushes to capitalize on all its natural resources.

If you have ever played a strategy game where you fight for resources you would know that selling your finite resources early is a bad decision. The US doesn’t have a captain at its helm, it is just reacting to generate the greatest profit immediately. It is the hope of so many in our nations industries that not only can Trump level the playing field but bring the leadership we need to manage our nations resources, both human and natural. Love him or hate him, US industry needs to stick together and maybe even hope for the best under The Donald.


EU business activity picked up in March due to the European Central Bank printing money to spike economic growth, while

US Manufacturing

US manufacturing up, Chinese hitting the breaks.

Chinese factories slowed down fueling expectations of more monetary stimulus. U.S. manufacturing growth also rose despite a stronger U.S. dollar and the threat of an increase in interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

The EU Composite Flash Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) from data vendor Markit, jumped to a 54.1, nearly a four year high, from 53.3 in February. The surveys pointed to 0.3 percent EU economic growth in the first-quarter, Markit said, matching the previous three months’ but coming up short of the 0.4 percent median forecast in a poll taken earlier this month by Reuters. The ECB started buying more than a trillion euros worth of bonds in March in a quantitative easing effort.

A sub-index measuring euro zone prices jumped to 49.0, the highest in eight months. It has been below the break-even level of 50 for three years, suggesting inflation will not return any time soon. Oil prices have dropped significantly over the course of the past nine months and inflation rates across the world have followed suit.

Signs that the EU economy was gaining momentum such as, European shares and the euro rose up on the data, but a slowing in China kept oil and commodities-linked assets under pressure. Both the US dollar and corporate stocks have risen in recent months.

China’s flash HSBC/Markit PMI dropped to 49.2 in March, an 11-month low, this is below the 50 level that separates growth from contraction. First-quarter economic growth in China is expected to slip below the government’s target of 7.0 percent, commonly seen as the level needed to keep employment steady.

Leaders in China are willing to allow a slower economic growth as long as employment stays strong. But the latest PMI employment sub-index dropped for a 17th straight month, hitting its lowest since the depths of the global financial crisis.

The U.S. manufacturing sector has continued to grow, and reached a five- month high in March. The preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 55.3, its highest since October, when the final PMI was 55.9.

The flash reading of the index measuring new orders also rose to 56.4 in March compared to 55.8 in February. Employment growth also rose in March from February.

Cold Forming Dies

Figure 1: Cold Forming Dies

Cold forming is a metal working technique used for rapidly forming steel parts such as screws, bolts and many other fasteners. Cold forming, also referred to as cold heading, uses a heavy strike against a cold metal slug to shape it into the shape of a Cold Forming Die. The force of the strike exceeds the metal’s yield strength, causing the metal to flow into the desired shape inside the carbide die.

The first step in colds forming is cutting the slug, also called a blank. Round wire from a coil is cut to the exact size needed. It is critical that the volume of the metal slug matches the volume of the finished product since cold forming process doesn’t add or take away any materiel.

After a metal slug is prepared the slug is then placed into the carbide die by the cold forming machine (or header) using “fingers”. The slug is then hit by one or more strikes (see figure 1). The carbide die and punch work together to create the new form. The force of the strike is great enough to cause the metal to momentarily become a fluid. This actually creates a stronger part than if the grain of the metal was cut into in order to form the desired shape. Often a progression of dies is used to achieve the final form desired. Each of these strikes are done at a different station and they progressively change the product into its final form. Most cold forming machines utilize either one or two strikes.

After the part is formed an ejector pin is then employed to pop it out of the machine. This, like the rest of the operations completed by a cold heading machine is completed at a rapid pace. Cold heading machines work at such a high rate of speed that the operations are invisible to the naked eye. Additional processes can be completed by these machines as well, for example, trimming, piercing and sharpening.

Obviously, this is a very brief description of cold heading and cold forming. We will continue with more in depth articles in the future.

Many manufacturing companies, in the US, are finding it difficult to stay competitive in today’s recovering economy. The rough

CNC Machining Careers

CNC Machining Careers

business climate has forced companies to find remedies ranging from outsourcing of production overseas (often compromising the quality of products) to seeking tax incentives that entice companies to stay local.

Automation is another solution that is helping to give companies a competitive edge without the need to outsource work. Also, more automation opens up new job opportunities, as more businesses are now in need of skilled technical workers to perform jobs associated with new automated CNC (computer numerical control) processes. These skilled technicians will understand how to program CNC equipment as well as load parts and oversee their operation, they won’t be just button pushers. An increase in new CNC positions is showing up in current job listings while schools and training facilities are in turn responding to meet the increase demand for these newly sought skills.

CNC Machines are replacing older methods of creating parts in many fields. With CNC, something commonly manufactured with a manual lathe can now be produced in mass numbers, effectively automating many processes and saving companies money and time. Tool and die companies, for example, have largely automated production of dies. CNC machining can be combined with more traditional methods in some industries, however, CNC have only had minimal impact on other industries like carbide die manufacturing. (Carbide Die Industry)

Jobs available to workers with knowledge of CNC systems include: CNC Machine Tool Programmers and Operators, Process Engineers, Welding Engineers, CAD/CAM Programmers, Tool Makers, Die Makers and Lathe or Mill Operators.

By Dave Sader

US Manufacturing

US manufacturing

Since the end of the Great Recession, one of the brighter parts of the U.S. economy has been the manufacturing sector. American manufacturers added $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy, about 6.6% higher than the previous year, in 2010. The rest of the economy went up about 2.2%. As surprising as it may be, the United States manufactures more than any other country, including China. Also, in 2000 the U.S. factories reached their all time greatest output, a record they are close to reaching again much like they did in 2007. 2011 brought about some 120,000 new factory jobs. This was the first year-over-year increase in manufacturing employment since the late 1990’s. Despite this growth in manufacturing jobs, 11.8 million Americans work in manufacturing today; this is 40% less than the peak in June 1979. Looking back further, in 1953, 32% of American workers were employed in manufacturing. In today’s age, 9% of Americans are in manufacturing, a significant difference from the peak of American manufacturing. American factories have become much more productive in terms of output per hour, in the past three decades. This production increase is three and a half times higher than production was in 1979. The increase in production is helped by the offshoring of low-value jobs and the automation of factories. These productivity increases are more pronounced during recessions, as manufacturers lay off workers for the purchase and use of machines to increase production as the economy grows and demand rises. U.S. output increases and American manufacturing competing with low-cost operations in developing countries is good for the economy, but when it comes to new jobs and avoiding another recession, factories are not the answer.

(Article by Dave Sader,, 6-18-2014)