Thursday, November 8, 2012

Watch, Read, Listen, Do: 3D Printing, American Workers and Making Manufacturing Cool to Generation Z

All kinds of interesting manufacturing-related news was scattered around the web this week, so we took the time to collect some of the most interesting multimedia stories that captured our interest. From podcasts to video lectures to free white papers for download, there's a host of resources to keep you busy. As a manufacturer of linear slides and rotary guides used in many industries, we try to keep an ear tuned in to all things related to science, manufacturing, engineering and technology.

[ WATCH ] "Four quiet revolutions are going to change our relationship to things and the structures that surround us," begins Chris Yonge, a thought leader in 3D modeling, in this lecture. One of those revolutions, he says, is how we make things. The accessibility of design an manufacturing tools, especially since the advent of 3D printing and additive manufacturing, will create an open economy and a more democratic society, he says. It's a fascinating 20-minute lecture in which he also speaks to his own experience, starting out as an architect, then a furniture maker, then industrial designer. He used to walk into a machine shop to order parts for his furniture making, he says, thinking that he could never make the hinges, brackets or bolts he bought. But then the simplicity of it dawned on him: "For all these expensive machines are based upon two principles, rotary and linear motion. They go around or they go back and forth." That epiphany sparked in Yonge a desire to study the art of "making things" and eventually turned him on to the world of 3D modeling and additive manufacturing.

[ READ ] The National Institute of Standards and Technologies, or NIST, collects research and white papers all about lean manufacturing. It's an invaluable database and all the info is free to download, including papers about sustainability metrics for lean manufacturing or how to improve production processes at your plant.

[ LISTEN ] This podcast is months old, but its message and topic about the past, present and future of American manufacturing still holds a lot of weight. In it, the reporters take a trip to Greenville, South Carolina, to check out the manufacturing scene and search for a clearer idea of the state of the American worker.

[ DO ] How can we make manufacturing seem cool to Generation Z? As the field of robotics revolutionizes the way we live, 3D printing captivates imaginations and researchers breach the world of regenerative medicine, it's time to start sharing these advancements with the next generation to spark their fascination with all these exciting things going on. This virtual panel on manufacturing seeks to explore some ideas about how to capture the attention of today's youth to get them as excited about manufacturing as we are. It's an online event you can take part in at 3:45 p.m. EST on Nov. 12.