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Beginning a Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative is No Small Matter

sustainable manufacturing

Earth Day celebrations each April 22 turn a spotlight on the concepts of conservation and environmental matters. Yet to be truly effective, Earth Day must be more than a one-day celebration. For those who care about the long-term sustainability of natural resources through environmentally sound practices, Earth Day is every day. Those ideas of conversation and environmental sustainability are also alive in the manufacturing industry, as manufacturers look to use sustainable manufacturing processes to minimize negative environmental resources and conserve energy and natural resources.

Positively Impacts Bottom Line

For many years, sustainability efforts remained largely lip-service but with time, these practices are becoming more of the norm for manufacturers throughout the U.S. Why the change? Manufacturers are seeing that sustainability done correctly can positively impact the bottom line for the company and create positive ripple effects for vendors, suppliers and consumers alike.

While there is no common definition of sustainable manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Commerce defines it as, “The creation of manufactured products that use processes to minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities and consumers and are economically sound.”

Sustainable manufacturing is no small matter, encompassing a range of economic, societal and environmental factors. Creating and maintaining an initiative at your company requires looking at all departments throughout the company as well as throughout the supply chain. Done well, sustainability takes time and requires good communication to get everyone on the same page, understanding why the company has chosen to pursue this initiative, possible effects of ongoing actions and the impact of compliance/non-compliance throughout the company. With great effort and over time, good sustainability practices can empower employees, enhance the safety and quality of a product and benefit the community where the manufacturer is located.

Reasons to Create a Sustainability Initiative

Increase operational efficiency through reduced costs and waste

Growth of competitive advantage

Appeal to new customers

Method to protect and strengthen brand

Platform to build long-term positive reputation and improve trust

Boost competitiveness within the segment and industry

Consistent Action for Success

Some companies initially test the waters of sustainability by looking for ways to lower resource and production costs. If that initiative is successful, many manufacturers look for other ways to grow and formalize this initiative. Having a dedicated plan and staff tasked with the initiative can often determine if the endeavor will be successful or not. Sustainability practices are long-term and those who pick and choose applications rather than integrating them across all business functions will find it hard to achieve the same level of success as those that fully commit.

Baby Steps

Understandably, taking on a sustainability initiative in your business is a big step, one that deserves guidance throughout the process. To learn more about sustainability practices, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for resources and tool kits to guide the process.

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Nanomanufacturing has Many Benefits that Enable New Manufacturing Processes

nanotechnology

Faster, stronger, lighter, cheaper and more durable are necessary attributes for the manufacturing industry. But what if one could also have: water-repellent, anti-reflective, self-cleaning, ultraviolet- or infrared resistant, anti-fog, antimicrobial, scratch-resistant and electrically conductive in the mix?

Small, but Mighty

Nanomanufacturing and nanotechnology using nanoscale materials promises just that, and its applications continue to grow. Using elements measured in nanometers or micros of 10-100 nanometers or less, nanomanufacturing is enhancing performance in the manufacturing industry by boosting the properties in high-performance, innovative, next-generation products.

Nanomanufacturing, defined as the production of nanoscale materials like powders or fluids, enables high-precision production through a “bottom up” or “top down” process.

Top-down fabrication – like whittling a large block down into another object, top down systematically reduces to a final nanoscale product

Bottom-up fabrication – builds up nanoscaled products from atomic- and molecular-scale components

Enabling New Manufacturing Processes

Attention for nanotechnology processes gained prominence in 2000 when the government established its National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). Created with a goal to make the U.S. a global leader in nanotechnology, the NNI and its related departments and independent agencies have provided research and instruction to multiple industries, sharing advances in nanotechnology that can reduce costs and improve capabilities along the way. NNI’s website Nano.gov offers resources and information about nanotechnology for the public and private sectors.

Successful innovations through NNI’s initiative include examples from higher-education institutions such as Purdue University, Northwestern University, Rice University and the University of Pennsylvania where researchers apply nanomanufacturing technologies.

Tools and Techniques

Laser shock imprinting – forms nanoscale metallic shapes for gears (Purdue)

Desktop nanofabrication tool – uses beam-pen lithography arrays to build nanoscale structures (Northwestern)

Nanoscale diamond tips – creation of longer-lasting AFM tips for etching or depositing material in nanomanufacturing processing (University of Pennsylvania)

These educational institutions are also joined by companies such as MesoCoat, ArcelorMital, IMEC and Nantero that are using nanotechnology to prevent oxidation, create lighter steel, reduce waste and produce lower-cost solar cells. Well-known names like Hewlett Packard and Intel are applying nanotechnology to create improved memory devices with more computing power and storage capacity.

New Processes Enabling Nanomanufacturing

Chemical vapor deposition – reacting chemicals produce pure, high-performance films

Molecular beam epitaxy – deposits highly controlled thin films

Atomic layer epitaxy – deposits one-atom-thick layers

Dip pen lithography – dipping the tip of an atomic-force microscope into a chemical fluid to “write” on a surface

Nanoimprint lithography – “stamping” or “printing” nanoscale features onto a surface

Roll-to-roll processing – producing nanoscale devices on ultrathin plastic or metal

Self-assembly – bringing a group of components together into an ordered structure without outside direction

Funding Initiatives

The future of nanomanufacturing is bright, but progress doesn’t come cheap. Resourceful R&D will need to rely on funding to further the potential of nanomanufacturing. Currently, there are more than 90 NNI-funded centers throughout the U.S. and $36.5 million of President Trump’s YF 2019 budget of close to $1.4 billion is earmarked for nanomanufacturing.

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Let’s All Come Together to Celebrate Manufacturing Day 2018

MFG Day

Those who work in manufacturing understand continuing education is critical to demonstrate the career opportunities available as traditional manufacturing processes merge with technology. Yet, misconceptions about working in the industry persist. To combat these false ideas, those in manufacturing are offering individuals outside of the industry a personal look at what manufacturing means today.

 

National Manufacturing Day

Although National Manufacturing Day officially falls on October 5th this year, those who make their living in manufacturing understand it to be something worth celebrating each day. The first Manufacturing Day was started as an opportunity to highlight the positive elements of the industry to others and to dispel misconceptions. In October of 2014, President Obama signed a proclamation making National Manufacturing Day an official day recognizing the benefits and achievements of the manufacturing industry.

Inside View

Because of annual Manufacturing Day events, students and job seekers in the United States, have an opportunity to see the inner workings of the industry through factory tours, hands-on demonstrations and career-exploration panels. These efforts offer the next generation of workers and students an introduction to the current manufacturing environment.

In fact, 64 percent of students surveyed after attending a 2016 Manufacturing Day event came away feeling motivated to consider a career in manufacturing. Deloitte’s survey results show a potential 171,000 new members could join the workforce because of improved perceptions regarding the modernization of the manufacturing industry. This is an important step in filling the estimated 3.5 million manufacturing jobs between now and 2025, according to Deloitte.

Manufacturing Day also unites manufacturers in the U.S. in efforts to improve the public image of manufacturing, mend the skills gap and boost ongoing prosperity for the industry at large. During the month of October, manufacturers come together to address the industry’s collective challenges and to define the framework for the manufacturing industry moving forward.

Looking Forward

Officially celebrated the first Friday in October, this year’s occasion falls on Oct. 5 with additional events occurring throughout the month. During this time, manufacturers across the nation will showcase new industry technologies as they open the doors for factory tours, welcoming those outside of the industry to view manufacturing first-hand. To date, there are 387 Manufacturing Day events scheduled in the U.S. with 43 public and invitation-only events planned in Ohio.

Growth of the annual celebration is the result of ongoing efforts from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Institute (MI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). NAM produces the annual event with support from the MI and MEP.

This article is brought to you by The Cleveland Deburring Machine Company. CDMC can provide a deburring solution for gears, sprockets, aerospace and defense, automotive deburring, power transmission, powdered metals, fluid power and custom deburring applications. Our no-charge application evaluation includes a detailed report and process description in as little as 3 to 5 business days. Contact CDMC today and speak with one of our experts!

 

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