Wednesday, November 20, 2013

See 3-D Printing in Action

This is really a news report on a Minnesota-based plan to put 3-D printers in every school, allowing students to engage this cutting-edge technology while building more interest in the new trends in manufacturing.

3-D printing is really “3-D Building,” as these printers 'build' objects from scanned blueprints.

Click the image above to see it in action (courtesy WCCO in Minneapolis).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Innovation Wins at Manufacturing Awards

Innovation is alive and well in small-town manufacturers. Last week, the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce held its 15th annual Manufacturing Awards of Distinction, and the spotlight was on smaller town companies with big success stories.

Companies honored included Ariens in Brillion, Precision Machine Co. in Algoma, N.E.W. Plastics of Luxemburg, Lindquist Machine in Ashwaubenon and The Solberg Co. in Howard. Keynote speaker, Jim Feeney (president and CEO of Wisconsin Film & Bag, Shawano), praised their ability to innovate with new products and processes.

“Innovation is not about what we know, it’s about what we don’t know,” Feeney said. “Small and medium-sized businesses must take those risks.”

Gov. Scott Walker also spoke, pointing out that Wisconsin is the second-largest manufacturing state in the country and is in the top five states creating new manufacturing jobs.

Read the complete Manufacturing Awards of Distinction summary here.

New Mfg Tax Credits

Everybody wants tax credits…something harder to come by these days. In Wisconsin, however, the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit is being called “one of the most robust credits of its kind,” and begins with tax year 2013.

Recently, Wisconsin Department of Revenue Secretary Richard Chandler said there are a number of other incentives, too, including property and sales tax exemptions for machinery and equipment.

Find more details in this article from Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wal-Mart: Engineers Needed for Manufacturing Resurgence

We all know about the shortage of skilled workers for key positions on the manufacturing floor. But here’s another that is quickly rising up the list.

At a recent manufacturing summit, Wal-Mart President and CEO, Mike Duke, addressed the dramatic drop in students with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills and the effect its having on the industry. He told an Orlando audience “we need more science and more engineers to help us build the foundation for a manufacturing resurgence.”

While Wal-Mart is known for their offshore buying, Duke has been outspoken on issues like this, which he considers to be of "national significance" for all business.

Read more about his comments here

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Manufacturers Know How to Throw a Party

Friday, October 4th is “Manufacturing Day.”

It started out a few years ago with a few companies holding special “open houses.” This year, it has grown to more than 500 companies hosting tours and working with schools to show the critical nature of manufacturing in our economy, and the opportunities for both hands-on and high tech careers.

The site has a searchable map of participating companies and their events

In Wisconsin, Governor Walker has proclaimed October “Manufacturing Month”

Manufacturing Month happens in concert with Manufacturing Day on October 4th, a nationally recognized day sponsored by the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership, National Association of Manufacturers, and Fabricators & Manufacturers Association.

In Minnesota, the Statewide Tour of Manufacturing happens October 24 – 26th.

Details, including participating manufacturers and events are posted on Minneosta's “Dream It, Do It” website

In Illinois, the Illinois Manufacturing Improvement Specialists has a list of participating manufacturers, events and dates. Find out more here.

More on 3-D Printing

3-D printing is quickly emerging as the next great disruptive technology for consumers and businesses across the globe.

In ‘3-D Printing,’ a devices manufactures, or ‘prints’ objects from the bottom up, one ultra-thin layer of material at a time. In the article “3-D Printing: The Next Disruptive Technology,” recent examples of its use include:

  • NASA has successfully tested a part of a rocket engine made through 3-D printing, has plans to send a 3-D printer to the International Space Station in 2014 and is even working with a private company to 3-D print a pizza.
  • Companies are developing ways to 3-D "bioprint" human tissue such as blood vessels and organs.
  • A startup company in Missouri is developing ways to 3-D bioprint meat.
  • A Dutch firm is in the process of 3-D printing an entire house

Read more about the latest in 3-D Printing from BizTimes here.

Skills Gap? Maybe Not

The U.S. skills shortage will be far less of a problem than many people believe in the short term, and it is unlikely to prevent a resurgence in U.S. manufacturing in the next few years, according to a report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report is titled “The U.S. Skills Gap: Could It Threaten a Manufacturing Renaissance?”

A key quote from the report: “Our research finds little evidence of a meaningful and persistent skills gap in most parts of the U.S., including in its most important manufacturing zones. The real problem is that companies have become too passive in recruiting and developing skilled workers.”

You can read more about it here in Modern Materials Handling magazine

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Skill-Building + Team Involvement = Dramatic Improvement

We’re all on the lookout for ways to improve performance, costs and bottom line.

One program, successfully in-use by many of our customers, is LEAN. Of course, there are cases where lean manufacturing efforts don’t stick, even when there is initial success. Part of the issue is that we sometimes don’t do a good enough job of training supervisors and getting the shop floor people involved.

In this month’s WMEP (Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) Newsletter, Senior Manufacturing Specialist, Jerry Thiltgen writes an incredible piece on “TWI.” TWI is not just another system or acronym, but is widely considered to be the genesis of modern manufacturing philosophies, such as lean manufacturing and kaizen. The success of TWI is in the fact that it not only changes process, but also impacts a company’s culture.

If you, like most companies, want to find ways to boost productivityy, team morale and bottom line outcome, then this is a ‘must read,’ and can be found here

It's a Plane...It's a Toaster....It's FOREVERTRON!

Sometimes scrap metal winds up in recycling dumpsters. In Tom O. Every’s case, it winds up a work of art.

Very bizarre art.

Mr. Every, better known by his nickname “Dr. Evermor,” is a welder sand fabricator by trade in North Freedom, Wisconsin (near Baraboo). Since childhood, he has also been a ‘collector’ of sorts, scavenging all things meta. In a new article, his work is described as "...carburetors and generators, early x-ray machines, theater speakers, river barges and hamburger signs." But his 'art' is not casually thrown together. "His aim is to blend these objects while preserving their individuality and unique form."

Take a minute and take a visit to Forevertron for yourself in this month's FFJournal (Fabricating & Forming) Magazine.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Building a Strong Workplace (Generation by Generation)

The large degree of cross-generational workplaces has created need, interest and focus on the values, differences and similarities among baby boomers, “millennial” and others in today’s workplace.

This month’s Metalforming Magazine takes a look at generational differences, and how machine shops and fabricators are using it to their advantage.

Find out more about the differences among millennials, boomers and veterans, and how they’re working together more effectively here.

And for more on generational differences, click here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wisconsin Manufacturing Gets an “A”

A new report from Ball State University gives Wisconsin an “A” for manufacturing!

Minnesota, Illinois & Iowa, you’ve done OK, too…but we’re tops!

The “Manufacturing and Logistics National Report," published this month by the University’s Center for Business & Economic Research, gave grades to all 50 states on criteria that can affect their economic success. Criteria included quality and availability of labor force, transportation infrastructure, access to innovation and overall cost of doing business. Not everything was rosy for the Badger State, but it is headed in the right direction!

You can get a free copy of the report here

How to Stop Rust

Q: How can we stop rust from breaking out on lighter gauge steel parts?”

This is a problem that even the most well-run fabricators run into, costing them valuable time and money. It seems like a basic problem with a simple fix (and, in many cases, it is), but sometimes rust and corrosion still find their way into your inventory.

In the latest issue of Product Finishing Magazine, they put this question to their panel of experts to get some specific prevention strategies.

Check out the complete article here

Business Lessons from the Navy SEALs

If you are, or will someday be in a position of leadership, you don’t want to pass this up. Admiral Eric Olson, Retired, offers his insight on “confidently handling an uncertain and fast-changing world” in MSCI’s Forward Magazine.

His advice is for leaders and, though based on training the skills and mindsets of the Navy SEALs, will easily apply to anybody in your company who has to direct others, make decisions or be accountable for a productive outcome.

Take a look at the steps that Admiral Olson lists, and see for yourself how each one can be adapted to the purposeful and productive workplace:

  • Know the purpose
  • Focus on the mission
  • Educate your team about the problem
  • Listen carefully
  • Stay calm
  • Follow your instincts.

Read Admiral Olson’s article in its entirety here

Admiral Eric Olson is a retired U.S. Navy Admiral who served as commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2007 to 2011. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-serving Navy SEAL on duty.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Laser Cutting Hitting BIG Numbers

One of the fast-growing segments in the industry is laser cutting. (More and more of our customers are demanding tighter, stretched and leveled steel.)

No surprise then that the overall market for laser cutting keeps growing. According to a new report from Dallas-based Markets and Markets, the laser cutting market (across all materials) hit 2.08 billion last year – and will top 3.7 billion by 2018 (just five years from now).

Read more about it here.

And, just a reminder, here at Dalco Metals, we’re equipped to meet your laser-ready steel needs:

New Manufacturing Skills in Focus

We’ve commented here about the ‘skills shortage’ facing manufacturers, always highlighting the solutions being taken on by schools and companies here in the Midwest.

Now here’s an excellent article from the Wausau Herald on the steps being taken at Wisconsin companies and Tech Schools to very literally create a new generation of skilled workers.

And check out the terrific video, too

Monday, May 6, 2013

3-D Printing in Manufacturing

One of the hottest ‘new innovation’ topics in manufacturing surrounds the process of '3-D Printing.’ The name can be misleading…it’s more a process of building than printing….but the process is both adding and changing steps in manufacturing.

With 3-D Printing, a design is scanned, along with all dimensions. Then the printer gradually deposits fine layers of material, like plastic, carbon or metal, and builds a physical object.

The finished product can be as hard or as flexible as you want the printer to make it, and even include moving parts rather than being a solid block.

Applications run from creating instant molds to short run production. But it’s greatest use will likely be in the creative process. If you can think you can make it.

You can read more about 3-D Printing here

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wisconsin Leads the Way

Area Development magazine is considered the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection, relocation and facility planning. Editorial coverage provides valuable information pertinent to the factors, key issues, and criteria that affect a successful decision. Published bi-monthly and has more than 45,000 executive subscribers. ….examining the planning of economic development at the federal, state, locally and globally.

The April issue takes an interesting look at manufacturing in the 50 states, and features a graphic look at manufacturing trends. Fo example, the top ten states leading the US Manufacturing resurgence are: 1: Indiana 16.7% 2: Wisconsin 16.3% 3: Iowa 14.5% 4: Arkansas 13.3% 5: Michigan 13.2% 6: Alabama 13.1% 6T: Ohio 12.7% 8: Mississippi 12.5% 9: Kansas 12.3% 10: South Carolina 12.0%

They go on to say: "Manufacturing is the backbone of America. It’s in our blood. Americans know how to build — it’s how we forged a nation, won two world wars, put men on the moon, and shaped the “new economy.” American workers are among the most productive in the world. With new advances in technology, lean manufacturing techniques, and best practices, American manufacturing is becoming cost-competitive with offshore locations, resulting in more companies bringing their operations back to the United States (or near-shoring to Mexico)."

See more of the graphics and read the full article here

Manufacturing News in an Instant

The latest news on manufacturing, here and around the world, can be instant accessed via WMEP (The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership) via Twitter.

Sign up to follow them at

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Here’s one more look into the proverbial 2013 Crystal Ball on what to expect from the economy, business-wise.

In a 1st quarter survey of small and mid-sized manufacturers, predictions and plans were all good, if not solid in their predictions of steady growth for the balance of the year. Prime Advantage buying consortium releases their Group Outlook Survey twice a year, and their newest findings include:

68% expect revenue increases,

87% expect capital expenditures to grow or stay constant,

43% plan to hire more workers

The cost of raw materials is a big concern, named the top cost pressure among 90% of respondents.

Read a complete summary of the Group Outlook Survey here


This 2-minute video will give you a student’s eye view of the future of manufacturing. Of course, early perceptions don’t always hang on as those same students sample more and more of what the working world has to offer (including the incredible opportunities in manufacturing). But it’s definitely worth a look. They offer some interesting insight.

As reported by Jeff Engle in the Milwaukee Business Journal,many manufacturers agree that manufacturing has an image issue, and needs to reach out to young people to get them interested in the industry. As reported by Jeff Engle in the Business Journal, Waukesha County Business Alliance has set its sights on high school students with its Schools2Skills program, which shows them it isn’t your grandpa’s “dumb, dirty and dangerous” business. Click the video above. Plus, you can read the complete article here


While there are more things facing manufacturing than the ‘skills gap,’ it has been the hot topic this winter, and it was also front and center at the Manufacturing Matters Conference, put on by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

In his follow up story, WMEP’s Rich Rovito reports on coverage given to the topic by Dan Ariens of Ariens Co, and Jeff Clark of Waukesha Metal Products and others. During a lively, no-holds-barred session, they discussed specific strategies each company is using to address the problem.

The full article, “Manufacturing Leaders Emphasize the Reality of the Skills Gap” is a great read. Check it out here

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Americans Push for More Manufacturing Support

With the high number of jobs tied to manufacturing, it’s really no wonder that American’s maintain their belief in the need for a strong manufacturing base.

Proof can be found in the annual “Public Viewpoint on Manufacturing” survey from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. The survey studies public perceptions on a wide range of manufacturing topics.

Here are a few examples:

90 percent of respondents rated manufacturing as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ for their economic prosperity and America’s standard of living

84 percent either “strongly agree” or “agree” the US “should cultivate a more strategic approach to developing its manufacturing base.”

And 82% support further investment into the U.S. manufacturing industry.

There’s an excellent article summarizing the report in Modern Metals magazine. You can read it here.

Fabricating Classic Cars

Cass Nawrocki is kind of a classic character. His life has taken him from Communist Poland in the 60’s to Moose Lake, Minnesota, where today he hand-makes the frames of classic cars. He has built exact replica frames of Packard, Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes models, each one from scratch, using equipment that he himself modified for metal fabricating and shaping.

His is a terrific story, and you can read it here in an article from the Moose Lake Star Gazette.

From Pipe Layer to Fabricator

Out of the need to change comes innovation and, sometimes, a whole new business. From New Berlin, Wisconsin, comes the story of how Underground Pipeline Inc. grew (and changed), and now also houses UPI Manufacturing, a fabricator of parts for the U S Government.

You’ll find their complete story in the most recent FF (Fabricating & Forming) Journal:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What Does 2013 Look Like?

You can count the nation’s purchasing and supply management execs at the Intitute of Supply Management among those who are upbeat on 2013, predicting that the past year’s economic growth will continue.

The one weak spot, they point out in a recent report, is in employment. That’s where they expect growth to remain mediocre…less than 1%

You can read more about their analysis and opinion in this article from Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation (IMPO) magazine

5 Radical Ways to Rethink Managing the Manufacturing Line

Be creative in how you approach the floor.

Business author Steve Denning has some great ideas for improving the manufacturing floor, and reveals the details in this excellent article. It’s all about re-thinking the manufacturing line.

Some of his thought-provoking strategies may sound a little like ‘flavor of the day’ suggestions, but he then provides his reasoning and logic.

Some of his suggestions for managing people on the floor include:

-Forget output, focus on profits
-End the annual review
-Re-think ‘teamwork’
-Take a lesson from (video) gamers (No kidding)

Sound interesting? Then check out the rest in the full article here