Monday, April 6, 2015

A Closer Look at Trends in Manufacturing

Photo by Robert Scoble, via Flickr

The manufacturing industry has changed a lot throughout the years and will continue to do so at an increasingly faster pace. One of the most noticeable changes is the renewed awareness of government officials and economists, who publicly recognize manufacturing as the real driving force of a strong economy.

President Obama has commissioned and funded various manufacturing sites around the country to focus on evolving ideas and techniques. For example, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, Ohio, launched in 2012. The Lightweight and Modern Metals Innovation Institute was established in Detroit, Mich., in 2014. And The Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute opened at North Caroline University in 2014. These institutes are spread across the United States and serve as centers of research for new concepts and technology advances in the manufacturing industry.

Another promising trend on the rise is additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has been getting a lot of publicity over the past few years. From appearing on TV or showcased at trade shows, 3D manufacturing has caught the attention of manufacturing pros and the general public. 3D printing is proving to be a game changer. No longer confined to printing plastic modules, 3D printing has rapidly evolved to the point where it can produce items made of metals, mixed materials and even human tissue. The result is shorter lead time, improved quality because of fewer components, reduced waste and the ability to produce complex shapes without complicated machining. This type of printing is causing engineers and designers to change the way they think of how to create products. It will also change the way we educate the next generation.

Cold spray, or 3D printing, is another trend that's becoming quite popular as well. Cold spray involves pushing metal powder through a nozzle under pressure. Cold spray can be used to create parts from scratch to apply coatings to traditionally formed items. However, one of the most interesting uses is to repair or refurbish used components by filling in worn spots using materials that meet or exceed the original material specs.

The Internet of Things, dubbed the IoT for short, is the ability for devices to communicate automatically with one another over the Internet without requiring input from people. Equipment can now monitor its own condition and notify maintenance teams when regular updates are due. However, there is a slight roadblock with this process. There are billions of dollars worth of production machines that were never intended to be connected. Since replacing every machine would be prohibitively expensive, manufacturers will need to find creative, cost-effective ways to retrofit equipment and to realize return on investment. 

Another cost-effectivce manufacturing trend on the rise is a little concept called "next-shoring." Next-shoring was named in 2014 by a team of McKinsey analysts, who describe it as a way of reinventing the ecosystem. It focuses on physical proximity to emerging markets, innovation, talent and customers. Manufacturers are not moving operations to other countries, they're keeping supply and demand close by. Collaboration technology makes next shoring possible. With the use of audio, video and content sharing tools, geographic barriers can be broken down to let research, development and customer interaction take place from anywhere. 

Many manufacturers are also trying to reduce their carbon footprint and energy use as well. Forward thinking manufacturers are working continuously to educate the industry on sustainability, advanced technology and new practices that produce high-quality cost-effective products with less damage to the earth's ecosystem. Lower energy costs, driven by the drop in oil prices, will provide an additional advantage to manufacturers. 

Lastly, success in the manufacturing market depends on recruiting the right talent. As the baby boomer generation retires and companies look to a diminishing pool of young people interested in manufacturing, hiring and retraining diverse talent must remain a priority. Since technology is ever-changing, younger generations will be able to keep up with trends and apply their knowledge and skills to the manufacturing industry. It will be interesting to see which trends will catch the attention of the creative minds in the manufacturing industry during the next few months. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Movie on FIRST Robotics Proves That 'If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It'

A decade ago, WIRED magazine ran a story about four high school students from a tumbledown high school in Phoenix, Ariz., beating MIT in a sophisticated and nationally watched underwater robotics competition. 

The article, La Vida Robot, told the riveting true story about how those four students from Carl Hayden High School—three of them undocumented immigrants from Mexico—defied incredible odds in a 2004 FIRST contest. Using the combined force of $800, old car parts and their own irrepressible ingenuity, the ragtag team of high schoolers claimed victory over a litany of highly funded university teams. 

Readers moved by the indomitable spirit of those four students—Lorenzo Santillan, Luis Aranda, Oscar Vazquez and Crisitan Arcega—donated $90,000 to further their education after learning that their immigration status prevented them from qualifying for federal loans.

The story had legs.

In 2014, a documentary about those four students, titled Underwater Dreams, hit theaters. Narrated by Michael Peña and directed by Mary Mazzio, the film chronicled the incredible true story about the cadre of students struggled against poverty and circumstance to captivate a country in a stunning upset.

It showed how a pair of computer science teachers decided, on a whim, to enter their underperforming, poverty stricken high school into the NASA funded FIRST competition. Only those four boys put their names in the running. But once the team was formed, they conspired to win. calling up oceanic engineers and military scientists for design help. Unable to afford glass syntactic flotation foam, they resorted to PVC pipe from Home Depot, duct tape and, in a last-minute pinch, even a tampon.

At first, their only goal for the contest was to not come in dead last. Instead, as we all know now, they won. In winning, however, they each launched a personal journey to inspire a new generation of young people to pursue science and engineering, to solve problems and elevate their lives beyond even the more dire circumstances. 

Now, the saga has gone Hollywood. In January, Spare Parts hit the big screen, dramatizing the story of the underdog robotics team.

As longtime supporters of FIRST Robotics, it has been incredible to see their story shared with a national audience. Their story is one of many, as FIRST has inspired hundreds of thousands of kids  over the past 25 years to try their hand at robot-building. Among their ranks are more inspiring stories—stories of triumph over defeat, of discovered purpose and changed lives. 

To learn about the teams we're sponsoring this year, check out out previous blog post. 

In the meantime, here's a link to the WIRED magazine article by Joshua Davis that started it all. Here's a link to the documentary. The Spare Parts trailer is posted below. Heads up, though, it's a tear-jerker.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Raising the Profile of Scientists and Engineers Through FIRST Robotics

"The average kid on the street can tell you the names of a dozen football players or basketball players or Hollywood stars. None of them can tell you the name of any famous living scientist or engineer."
—Dean Kamen, inventor, in an interview with CBS News

Right now, we're in the thick of competition season for FIRST Robotics. Some 400,000 kids in more than 80 countries are duking it out in a series of bouts with robots they designed and built themselves. It's all in good fun—intensely competitive and widely watched.
But the primary goal of the robotic sporting spectacle is about something more transformative than thrill of victory. Dean Kamen, the renowned inventor who established FIRST 25 years ago, says the long-running nonprofit promotes a cause near and dear to his heart. And the stakes are high.
"FIRST is all about changing our culture ... for the better," he told CMS Wire earlier this year. "More than 25 years ago, I saw a culture where celebrities and athletes were celebrated and revered, and scientists and engineers were not. I believed then and still believe not that our collective future depends on getting more kids from every background interested and turned onto science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), so that they might seek education and careers in these fields."
We couldn't agree more. 
It's about motivating students to understand, use and enjoy technology through project-based learning.
It's about propelling the next generation of scientists and engineers. 
It's about raising the profile of today's scientists and engineers. 
It's also about legacy, Kamen adds, a way of perpetuating his love of inventing to young people around the world. Kamen, an autodidact who holds more than 400 U.S. and foreign patents, is credited with saving thousands of lives with his healthcare inventions, among a myriad others.

FRC Team 4019Bridges Academy - Studio City, CA
Because to invent, ultimately, is to give—something he elaborates on in a TED talk you can watch here
It's a message that resonates strongly with us as a manufacturer of guided motion solutions. That's why we proudly support FIRST by donating large quantities of DualVee linear guide track for teams to use in building their robots. We also sponsor several local teams. This season, those teams are:
  • FRC Team 1458—Red Tie Robotics, Monte Vista High School in Danville, CA
  • FRC Team 3470—The Patriots, Heritage High School in Brentwood, CA
  • FRC Team 4019—Bridges Academy, Studio City, CA
  • FRC Team 692—The Fembots, St. Francis High School, Sacramento, CA

To learn more about our FIRST sponsorships, including how your team can become a sponsee, click here

Monday, February 9, 2015

Learning From the Not-So-Secret Lives of Scientists

"One of the most beautiful things about science is that it unifies all of us."
—Janna Levin, theoretical cosmologist and novelist

Have you ever drawn inspiration from someone else's story? Chances are that learning about what someone went through made you appreciate the person they are today. And, like all effective storytelling, it probably made you reflect on changes you could make in your own life, or steps you could take to fulfill your own goals.

People instinctively learn through and organize their thoughts in stories. A well-crafted narrative engages, enlightens and resonates over time. It also connects us. It builds community. That's why storytelling has made a resurgence in the business and marketing world—stories stick and they move people to action.

So let's apply the art of storytelling more in the realm of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We need more young people to aspire to careers in STEM, so let's share stories of our successes, let's show them—by telling our own journeys—what success looks like as an engineer, as an inventor, as a cosmologist solving the mysteries of this weird and wonderful universe.

Some words of advice from Tiina Roose, professor of biological and environmental modeling at the University of Southampton in the UK, in The Guardian:
Universities should work with local communities, schools and teachers to talk about what engineering is. It’s important to start working with schools as early as possible – leaving it to secondary school level is actually too late. At the moment in primary schools, engineering only comes in during history lessons. If you explain to children, for example, that all this equipment in hospitals, where you have an x-ray or any procedure, would of had an engineer involved to develop the machine that has helped cure patients, it gives a broader impression early on to children of the wide possibility of this career.
When you view engineering as a narrow discipline, the chances are that it is not communicated in the most exciting way to students either. Some universities are offering narrow degrees – this inevitably means they are restricting their pool of applicants to a narrow remit.
That is so true.

If you're a scientist or engineer, volunteer your time sharing your personal story with students. If you're a teacher, reach out to a local company or university to find someone to speak to your class.

Thankfully, you don't have to wait even for that. We love PBS series, The Secret LIfe of Scientists and Engineers, a video series housed online, "where the lab coats comes off" and the experts talk about how they became the successful scientists they are today. Here's a link to the show's archive.

Bishop-Wisecarver has a video series of its own that we're particularly proud of. Our founder, Bud Wisecarver, is a prolific inventor (read more about that here, on our history page). To fully appreciate the breadth of his work, you have to listen to his story. And boy, is he a storyteller. We filmed him talking about his life's work and we're proud to share it with you. Below is the first in an eight-part series. For the rest, visit our YouTube page.

"There isn't one material thing on earth, that you could think of, that didn't start with a toolmaker."
—Bud Wisecarver, inventor, founder of Bishop-Wisecarver Group

Monday, January 26, 2015

DualVee Vacuum Wheels Nominated for Golden Mousetrap Award

The Golden Mousetrap Awards recognizes technologies driving progress in the design and manufacturing field. The program, hosted by UBM Canon, awards companies contributing to the renaissance of American manufacturing and promotes engineering and manufacturing as viable career paths for the next generation.

That's why we're proud to announce that Bishop-Wisecarver was named a finalist in the annual Golden Moustrap Awards, for our DualVee Vacuum Wheels.

These vee wheels were designed specifically for vacuum environments and processing equipment where it's tough to use other guided motion products.

DualVee Vacuum Wheels are linear guide bearings with precision-ground 90-degree surfaces for applications in testing chambers and ultra-high vacuum environments.

It's a product suited for applications in research and development, package sealing, materials science, space testing and simulation and many other fields.

We put together a handy FAQ page about these new bearings here.

Here's a link to the Design News feature about the nomination.Winners of the Golden Mousetrap Awards will be announced Feb. 10 at the Anaheim Convention Center as part of ATX West. We look forward to being part of the action!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bishop-Wisecarver Group President Selected as one of the Astra Leadership Forum Committee Representatives

 Bishop-Wisecarver Group, a WBENC-certified, woman-owned family of companies, announced today that their President, Pamela Kan, has been selected as one of the Astra Leadership Forum Committee Representatives (FCR). Astra is a regional partner organization for the Women’s Business EnterpriseNational Council (WBENC), the national organization providing certification for women-owned business.  Kan will serve in this new role while also maintaining her position as Astra’s founding chair of the Women in Manufacturing Group.

Astra Women's Business Alliance was established in 2000 as a non-profit committed to driving real change for women in business. Astra is a regional partner office (RPO) for WBENC and represents successful women business owners in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Northern California and Washington.

The Leadership Forum serves in an advisory capacity providing input and feedback to WBENC.  Forum leaders represent the voice of all women business enterprises and participate in programming opportunities such as development and networking with corporate and government entities.

“Serving with Astra is a great opportunity to help other female business owners connect, learn and find success,” stated Pamela Kan, President of Bishop-Wisecarver Group. “In this new role, I look forward to being a liaison between the Astra’s WBEs businesses and WBENC so that our specific regional concerns and ideas can be addressed.  By working together, we will all be more successful.”

Kan will begin her new role as Astra’s Leadership Forum Committee Representative in November at the annual WBENC Committee and Board of Directors Meeting in Maryland.

Have questions about Pamela Kan's new role or being certified as a woman-owned business? Post your questions below or contact us at!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Have Some Tough Linear Motion Questions?

View FAQ right on our website [ FAQ Home Page ]

Or, use these product specific pages >>

DualVee linear guide wheels consist of both an external and internal 90 degree vee angle. The vee groove guide wheel is made with a double row angular contact bearing for excellent load capability and long life. Vee bearing guide wheels are available in 52100 steel or 440C stainless steel from stock. Other options include seals and shields to meet specific application needs. Special DualVee guide wheels are available for cleanroom, debris-laden, low temperature and high temperature applications.

GV3 provides a wide array of precision linear guide components utilizing guide wheel androller wheel technology. Slides are available in three different precision grades, ranging from completely ground surfaces to as-drawn quality, to fit performance and economic needs. Lubed-for-life guide wheels come in twin bearings, double row bearings, and compact slimline bearings. GV3 may be used as a simple guide or as a self-actuated rack or belt driven system.


LoPro linear actuators are an actuated linear motion system based upon proven DualVee guide wheel technology for smooth and quiet motion over long lengths. Actuation options include AT series belt, ANSI roller chain, lead screw, and ball screw. LoPro linear actuators are also available in a non-actuated version. LoPro linear actuators provide a tough, cost effective, low friction, low profile modular solution, built to withstand a wide range of operating environments. Complete systems include your preference of wiper or basic wheel plates, and may be mounted or un-mounted. Support beams are available in aluminum or steel to meet application demands and to provide ease of installation. A wide variety of gantry brackets are available to form complete LoPro gantry systems.


SL2 is a completely corrosion resistant linear guide featuring ground stainless steel slides and linear motion bearings. SL2 carriages are made from strong, yet light-weight aluminum alloy. SL2 slides may also be mounted to GV3 beams for further design versatility.


UtiliTrak is an ideal choice for running two systems in parallel, where one slide uses DualVee guide wheels and the other uses MadeWell® crowned rollers. Because precise parallelism is difficult to achieve, it is not uncommon for mounting surfaces to be slightly out of parallel. UtiliTrak's design compensates for mounting errors, and does not require absolute parallelism for accurate operation. The DualVee guide wheel carriage assembly and vee channel serves as the motion side, while the MadeWell crowned roller and open channel side allows for parallel misalignment.         


PDU2's patented wheel technology gives this small belt driven system considerable load capacity for its size. The modular design of the PDU2 allows for quick and easy gantry configuration. Adapter plates can be ordered for connecting PDU2's together, or MCS aluminum framing brackets and extrusion may be ordered to create a machine structure.
PDU2 features an aluminum beam up to 6 meters in length with T-slots, if desired. Aluminum beams without T-slots are ideal for wash down applications, and they will not trap dirt. Additional options for the PDU2 include motor/gearbox mounts, limit and proximity switches, T-nuts, T-slot covers, gearboxes, motors, and electric brake.

Still haven't answered your linear motion question? Comment your question below or email us at!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Application Feature: Stable, Smooth, and Quiet Camera Slider


A manufacturer of camera sliders received complaints from their customers that they couldn’t record sound due to the noise being generated from the bearing and slide engagement on previous camera slider.


In this application, the customer needed a linear parallel guidance system supporting a camera mount and camera. The system required a very rigid but quiet design to reduce vibration, noise and be able to handle a max weight of 190 lbs.  


Bishop-Wisecarver’s custom UtiliTrak carriage and a hardened steel raceway with a precision ground running surface of Ra 0.8 micrometers was used in order to ensure smooth quiet operation.


Got another application you'd like to share with us? We're all ears! Email your linear and/or curvinlinear motion application story to and it might just get featured here on our blog!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Internships Bring Awareness to Various Careers in Manufacturing

Part of what prepares you for a career comes from what you learn outside the classroom. Internships provide you with an opportunity to connect text book learning to real-world applications, giving you a competitive advantage in the workforce as you build a stronger network and develop your marketable talent. Here at Bishop-Wisecarver Group (BWG), we value STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives and believe interns not only learn from the experts we employ but they help to teach us more about ourselves through their own unique perspectives.

Osiel Mendoza, a second year student at the University of Oregon had the opportunity to be a part of the Bishop-Wisecarver family as an intern for the marketing team. His 6 week tenure went quickly, but the knowledge he gained was prominent.

Read about Osiel’s BWG internship experience:

“While I reflect back on my experience now and remember how busy the marketing team kept me, I can truly say that I have learned an extraordinary amount of valuable things that I never thought I was capable of learning before. This was all due in part to the wonderful marketing team for always teaching me something new every day and for making it clear as to how each and every little mechanism was important to be successful in a marketing position.

I learned about various areas of marketing from social media marketing to digital and content marketing.  Here are some of my favorite and most valuable things that I learned throughout this internship: how to utilize social media to engage with the manufacturing community, how to use a marketing automation tool to create forms and landing pages to communicate with prospective customers, and how to film and edit a video to inform customers about what new things are going on in the  company.  I became knowledgeable about the power that an infographic can provide to the general public or a target audience, the importance of STEM education in America, and most importantly, how to successfully work in a team environment to reach a goal.

In addition to this, it was so interesting to actually go out on the factory floor and learn how a manufacturing business works on a daily basis and to see linear motion in action. 

Throughout this internship I learned so many new skills that I know will benefit my future education and career. I can apply all of my developed marketing skills and strategies to my marketing career after college. I can also apply the more general skills, such as working together as a team and having great work ethic, to so many different aspects of my life. I loved the fact that I was given the freedom to explore and develop my creativeness. I was asked to come up with infographic and giveaway ideas for upcoming tradeshows and for the 2015 FIRST Robotics competition. I also had a chance to edit a video for the Bishop-Wisecarver ALS Challenge.  It was very valuable for me to have the chance to come up with my own ideas and expand my creativity as a whole. 

Bishop-Wisecarver does a great job of creating a successful company culture. Although my time was short, everyone made me feel like I was an invaluable addition to the team. Seeing how a small business like Bishop-Wisecarver thrives in its workplace with everyone driven towards success is really inspiring. Hard work goes a long way and I’m lucky to have worked with such hardworking people. It has motivated me to work hard towards my goals and reach my dream job. So thank you so much to everyone at Bishop-Wisecarver for making my first internship an unforgettable one.”

What has been your memorable internship experience? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

Do you enjoy marketing? Are you an engineer that wants more hands-on experience? Interested in an internship or career with Bishop-Wisecarver? Visit our Career Page!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bishop-Wisecarver Builds an Automated Ice Bucket Machine to Support ALS

The engineers at Bishop-Wisecarver built an automated ice bucket machine for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Not only did we participate, but we donated money and matched our employee's contribution!

Bishop-Wisecarver President, Pamela Kan, describes her experience:

"A good friend of mine and one of our distributors challenged Bishop-Wisecarver Group to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to support the fight against this disease. I accepted the challenge and tasked our engineers to build an automated ice bucket machine using our components because after all we eat, breathe and live MOTION!

I stood nervously under this big bucket filled with ice cold water, regretting that my engineers built a slow pour functionality. You haven't lived until you feel a steady pour of ice cold water rolling down your back while your entire company burst into fits of laughter. After all was said and done, I'm extremely proud of the work everyone did to build this machine and that we supported an amazing cause.

We would like to challenge our customers, suppliers and distribution partners to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge."

Watch and Share this video on YouTube!

Want to share your ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Video? Post the link of your video on the comments below!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Roll" With the Punches: Choosing the Right Protection for Your Challenging Environments

Whether it be wood dust, metal shavings, or water; the type of guide wheel bearing protection is determined in the environment it will be used in. Check out these four environmental scenarios and Bishop-Wisecarver’s recommended guide wheel bearing solution.

Environment Scenario #1: 
Heavy Concentrations of Liquid or Fine/Powdery Particles  
Solution: Sealed Guide Wheel

Environments with heavy concentrations of liquid or fine/powdery particles can disturb and/or change the properties of the guide wheel bearing lubricant, causing premature wear and failure of the
bearing balls and raceways. Using a sealed bearing for this operating environment can prevent damage to the bearing elements, ensuring the predicted lifespan of the system.

Environment Scenario #2: 
Heavy Concentrations of Large Particles
Solution: Shield Guide Wheel

Generally, shielded bearings are used in environments with heavy concentrations of large particles, such as metal flakes, that can work their way between the balls and bearing raceways. The larger debris can cause premature wear and damage such as brinelling (permanent indentation of a hard surface) or spalling (breakage into smaller piece).

Environment Scenario #3: 
Heavy Concentrations of Both Small and Large Particles  
Solution: Sealed and Shielded Guide Wheel

Bearings that feature shields and seals combine the advantages of both sealed and shielded wheels. The shield protects the seal from damage by large particulates, while the seal protects the bearing elements from thefine particulates and liquid that the shield is less effective against.

Environment Scenario #4: Washdown
Solution: Washdown Wheel

The washdown bearing includes a patented inner seal and outer shield design. The design of the outer shield allows it to act as a momentary seal when forced to undergo pressure from high velocity fluid such as washdown spray. The pressure causes the shield to deflect and conform to the wheel’s metallic surface. When the pressure is removed, the shield returns to its normal position, allowing liquid and debris that entered between the shield and seal  to drain out or be spun out by centrifugal force when the wheel rotates.

Ensure your guide wheel bearing lifespan by choosing the correct protection for your harsh environments.Watch Bishop-Wisecarver's Video about how tough DualVee guide wheel bearings handle all types of elements.

Bishop-Wisecarver Group is a woman-owned family of WBENC certified companies in its second generation, and has remained one of the most respected names in custom automation solutions and guided motion technology since 1950. The San Francisco Bay Area company manufacturers, stocks, and distributes guided motion components and systems for linear, rotary and curved track applications. Bishop- Wisecarver products are used worldwide in industries such as packaging, medical device manufacturing, wood processing, food processing, and semiconductor fabrication.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Up to Standard: 5 Benefits of Having an ISO Certification

As a business owner you may ask yourself, how can I increase satisfaction for my customers? If you want to increase satisfaction, you want to increase your ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard. An ISO standard is a document that supplies guidelines, characteristics, specifications or requirements, which can be used frequently to guarantee products, services, materials and processes are satisfactory for its purpose.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization), an independent, non-governmental membership organization, has 19 500 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and business, making it the world's largest developer of voluntary International Standards.

ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors, and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade.

So how does your ISO Certification benefit your business? 

Cost savings - International Standards help optimize operations and therefore improve the bottom line.
      Enhanced customer satisfaction - International Standards help improve quality, enhance customer satisfaction and increase sales. 
Access to new markets - International Standards help prevent trade barriers and open up global markets.
 Increased market share - International Standards help increase productivity and competitive advantage. 
Environmental benefits - International Standards help reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Now that you understand the benefits of having an ISO certification, you’ll need to contact an external accredited certification body which can certify you for being ISO compliant. These resources can be found at International Accreditation Forum.

Want to learn more about certifications or other subjects? Submit your ideas and we may feature your idea on a future blog!

Bishop-Wisecarver Group (BWG) is a woman-owned family of WBENC certified companies who has been certified AS9100C, EN 9100:2009, JISQ 9100:2009 and ISO 9001:2008.