Today's Medical Developments Blog

Smartforce Rally Fighter sports cars, IMTS hot air balloon, sun, and The MFG Meeting

manufacturing Elizabeth Engler Modic 3/25/2014

The MFG Meeting is a joint event for members of AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA).

Held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, Phoenix, Arizona, The MFG Meeting brought together hundred more than 700 manufacturing leaders from March 5-8, 2014, in Phoenix, Ariz.

The theme for this year’s event was “Opportunity has no limits…leap for it.” This joint association event represents members that make up more than 4,000 small-and medium-sized manufacturers and distributors from all 50 states – members that provide products and services for medical, aerospace, defense, automotive, construction, energy, and much more.

The event included:

  • A keynote on competitive advantage, organizational change and transformational leadership by Jack Uldrich, a renowned global futurist, independent scholar, and best-selling author;
  • John Walker, chairman, Oxford Economics, and Alan Beaulieu, president, ITR Economics – known as the “dueling economists” – discussed the state of the economy and the industry;
  • Markos I. Tambakeras, chairman of Xylem Inc., talked about water and the future of American manufacturing;
  • Closing the skills gap was a topic of discussion by Dr. David DeLong, president of David DeLong & Associates;
  • A presentation on knowing about “A, B & C players” – covered by Dr. Brad Smart, president of Topgrading Inc. – looked at role these players have in determining strategic competitiveness
  • Closing out the event was Luke Williams, professor of innovation at NYU Stern School of Business, and executive director, Berkley Entrepreneurship Center at NYU, who covered driving innovation by intentional strategic intervention

The overall event was one not to miss, so make plans to attend next year’s The MFG Meeting, scheduled for March 4-7, 2015, in Orlando, Fla.

Education, engineering, success

design, medical device Elizabeth Engler Modic 2/25/2014

In 6-1/2 years, all of my children will be out of high school, and hopefully onto college. Since they were little I have made sure that they attended our local Camp Invention, which is a STEM-based weeklong summer camp designed to inspire and engage elementary school children in “science, technology, and their own innate creativity.” The kids have loved every summer of Camp Invention, the only nationally recognized, non-profit elementary enrichment program backed by The National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Getting children interested young, in science and technology is the direction needed if they want a career in, for example, medical device engineering!

Recently, Newark element14, an electronic components distributor based in Chicago, created an infographic that details the opportunities and advantages of a career in engineering. It shows great information about a why choosing a career in engineering is good.

It shows:

  • 7 out of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies are run by engineers
  • 3 of the top 10 best paying professions involve engineering
  • The top 10 states hiring the most engineers

Click here to see the full infographic from Newark element 14.



Pleas to educate heard around the world.

design Elizabeth Engler Modic 2/13/2014

From elementary through high school, career days and hands-on activities are happening in hopes of stirring the interest that a career in manufacturing and engineering is cool. Activities and events are design to show students that everything we use is designed and manufactured by someone, somewhere, and how choosing a career in this field can be rewarding is really their purpose – and a good one with which I agree.

In the school district my children attend, the 2014-2015 academic year will see a new concept initiated with small learning communities – dens – that focus on  arts, media & design; human & public services; health & wellness; and E2 (engineering & entrepreneurship). The purpose, according to our academic leaders, is to inspire children so they can learn in the manner that interests them most. We’ll see how it goes, as this is all new, and I, as a parent, just want to make sure that my children are ready when they head off to college.

So, if we make this push in the K-12 years, are we fulfilling it as our children head on to college? And, who are those students attending colleges and universities and are we enabling that talent to stay and contribute to the manufacturing sector? The reason I bring this up is last week I read a piece by James Dyson, a British inventor, industrial designer, and founder of the Dyson company. He is angered that students who attend U.K. universities but are not citizens end up having to leave the country within 4 months of graduating, leaving engineering jobs in the U.K. unfilled. In addition, he adds that, “We take their money and we give them our knowledge, but then we kick them out, dispatching newly trained engineers to foreign shores. Our experts are training the competition.”

Training the competition is not good.

Training the next generation of workers for work in our own back yard should be priority number one, and we’ll see if the “den” idea works and catches on.

Click here to read Dyson’s editorial.

Plan for MFG Day is Oct. 3, 2014

manufacturing Elizabeth Engler Modic 2/7/2014

Illustrating what manufacturing is, and what it isn’t, is the purpose behind Manufacturing Day. I know the next MFG Day is not until Oct. 3, 2014, and that probably seems far off, but before you know it, the day will be here. Did you know that last year’s Manufacturing Day included more than 825 manufacturers, in 48 states, opening their doors to more than 35,000 guests.

  • Will your facility be hosting an event?
  • Did your company participate in the first two events?
  • How do you see this helping the manufacturing industry?

Reports after the last event show the enthusiasm growing. Commenting right after MFG Day 2013 was Jay Timmons, NAM president and CEO, stating, “The robust response and participation in Manufacturing Day from across America shows manufacturers’ commitment to developing the talent needed for a 21st-century workforce. By opening shop floors to young and curious minds around the country, we are able to show that modern manufacturing is a technology-driven industry that offers secure, good-paying jobs and the ability to develop products that will change the world.”

Make sure to register to stay informed as plans unfold for the third annual MFG Day.

I’d appreciate hearing what you have in mind for Oct. 3, 2014. 

What’s draining U.S. manufacturing revenue?

manufacturing Elizabeth Engler Modic 1/30/2014

During a panel discussion at The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) headquarters, officials unveiled a study - "Economic Impact of Global Software Theft on U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness and Innovation" that is among the first to prove how stolen software use damages sectors of the U.S. economy beyond the software sector.

The study, by Bill Kerr, associate professor at Harvard Business School, and Chad Moutray, chief economist for the NAM, finds that unfair competition fueled by stolen software is a significant drain on manufacturing in the United States. The authors estimate losses between 2002 and 2012 totaled nearly $240 billion in manufacturing revenue, $70 billion in GDP and 42,220 U.S. manufacturing jobs. 

Coauthor Kerr notes that, “The use of pirated software by foreign manufacturers hurts manufacturers in the U.S. that pay the full cost of their inputs, costing the U.S. economy jobs, revenues, and GDP. This represents an unfair practice that deserves attention.” 

Also presented at the panel discussion were results from a recent survey of NAM members regarding this issue, showing:

  • 1/3 of NAM members report theft of IP, trade secrets, or proprietary knowledge being stolen by competitors in emerging markets.
  • 3 out of 5 NAM members say that IP and trade secret theft impacts their overall global competitiveness, including 1/3 who say it has a strong impact.
  • Manufacturers are reluctant to do business with firms in emerging markets out of concern for theft or use of IP, trade secrets, and proprietary information in direct competition with their interests.

The Kerr-Moutray study is available here.

The National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation (NAJI), a nonpartisan organization of nearly 400 U.S. member companies and associations, commissioned the study with the NAM.

Name change presents a unified front

manufacturing Elizabeth Engler Modic 1/23/2014

GF AgieCharmilles is officially GF Machining Solutions. This officially happened on Jan. 1, 2014, but one might have been left asking, “Why?” So, in order to offer some clarity, Glynn Fletcher, president of GF Machining Solutions, took the time to discuss the organizational, product, and branding changes currently taking place within the company.

He explains that, “This is a name change that underscores that Georg Fischer AG (GF) is a unified company with three divisions. The new name emphasizes the company’s role as a total solutions provider.”

GF Machining Solutions is a company with one of the industry’s most diverse portfolios, which includes milling, EDM, laser texturing, spindles, tooling, automation, and customer services.

According to Fletcher, customers will not feel any hiccups in this change, as it’s not affecting customer interaction, but precisely the opposite. The company will be utilizing more R&D collaboration across all of their divisions, which will only benefit customers.

Now, where you will see the change is for the logos on the machinery. Prominent on machinery will be the GF surrounded by the plus sign on either side, and below that will be the logo of that machine line.

In addition, if you’re curious, the website still works, but the new web address represents the name change as well - – and gets you to the same spot.

Google[x]'s smart contact lens

design Elizabeth Engler Modic 1/17/2014

The advancements in medical devices just continue to stun and amaze me.

Checking out Google[x]’s latest blog, written by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, project co-founders, shows just where Google[x]'s research is taking us – it’s looking to help people with diabetes control their blood sugars levels throughout the day.

This is wonderful. You see, I had a friend who lost her father in a car accident a few years back at Thanksgiving because her mother, who was driving the car, blacked out from low blood sugar. Both her mother and brother were hurt, but her father is gone too early, and too young. Research hopes to help prevent this from happening.

So here it is, a smart contact lenses embedded with sensors so tiny they look like glitter bits on the lens, as well as inclusion of an antenna thinner than a human hair.

According to the Google[x] blog, “Many people… say managing their diabetes is like having a part-time job. Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising, eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day. It’s disruptive, and it’s painful. And, as a result, many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they should.”

So, after years of many researchers working to help ease this process of glucose checks many times a day, Google[x] researchers developed the smart contact lens that measures the glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material.

Currently in testing is a prototype that produces a reading once per second, with further developments ahead, such as early warning for the wearer when glucose levels change.

So why did Google[x]'s team announce this when it’s in such an early phase? Well, the team says they are “In discussions with the FDA, but there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use… we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market. These partners will use our technology for a smart contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor.”

All I have to say is I can’t wait to see where this leads in the coming years.

Okuma America’s 2013 Technology Showcase was largest to date

manufacturing Elizabeth Engler Modic 1/9/2014

Following on the heels of the Japan technology showcase, Okuma America’s event drew record attendance and was the largest to date for the number of CNC machines in action. 

In case you were not able to attend, to get a glimpse of new technology, some highlights from the Okuma 2013 Technology Showcase are:

  • 27 machines under power, cutting parts for a range of industries
  • Demonstrations of 16 THINC apps – many of which were designed and written by distributor applications engineers
  • On-machine demonars (brief seminars conducted at the machine with actual cutting demonstrations) were held throughout the event
  • THINC Try It stations, including the new, 19” P300 control monitor were around the event for attendees to test, with 3 lucky Try It users winning iPads
  • 30 members of Partners in THINC were on-hand demonstrating peripheral equipment and software

If you don’t want to miss the event next year, you can slate it on your calendar for Dec.9-11, 2014.

The medical device excise tax as we enter 2014

regulations Elizabeth Engler Modic 1/8/2014

No, the medical device excise tax has not been repealed. But, as 2013 came to a close, the U.S. Senate joined the House in approving a new federal budget including provisions to repeal the medical device excise tax. But wait, this language used in the budget is non-binding, so it's not a repeal but rather the ability fund the healthcare plans by alternative means - such as moving around funds from other programs to fund the unissued now funded by the ACA.

This is the first noticeable step showing there may be negotiable actions with regard to the medical device excise tax. But, even with the look of both sides willing to negotiate - or at least put language in a budget that allows for negotiations - the Senate continues pushing the Medical Device Access & Innovation Protection Act. This Act is a direct repeal of the excise tax, and one that will most likely not get any support from President Obama.

So, as we enter 2014, the battle continues on the the medical device excise tax and the ACA.

Manufacturing's transformation

manufacturing Elizabeth Engler Modic 12/17/2013

"The transformation of manufacturing," according to Deloitte LLP... highlights much of what we have mentioned in the last few issues of Today's Medical Developments magazine.

The authors from Deloitte discuss:

"Changes are sweeping the world of manufacturing. Advanced materials and innovative production technologies are maturing. Digital manufacturing techniques are gaining adoption. These technology trends are offering manufacturers new ways to compete, innovate, and grow profitably even as they face challenges from volatile energy costs, workforce shortages, proliferating regulations, and a host of evolving risks. While analysts and consultants have heralded these trends over the past few years, they are now emerging with more clarity and attracting significant investment."

I couldn't agree more. Just look back at some editorial in TMD:

So, do you agree that manufacturing is transforming? Let me know your thoughts.

Moving beyond their beginnings

design, manufacturing Elizabeth Engler Modic 12/12/2013

We all know companies starts with an idea – that’s what you need to found a company. And typically, a company will evolve, adding more product, more services, etc. This is the nature of business and I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know if you are in the business world. However, what caught my attention was the direction one company has headed – taking precision engineering technology from the shop floor to apply to medical devices.

Renishaw began with the development of touch-trigger probes in 1973. Its founder, Sir David McMurty, developed it to solve a specific inspection requirement for the Olympus engines used on the supersonic Concorde aircraft. This innovative product led to a revolution in three-dimensional coordinate measurement, enabling the accurate measurement of machined components and finished assemblies.

Since then, Renishaw has grown and taken its core skills in measurement, motion control, spectroscopy, and precision machining and applied them to many areas – machine tool automation, coordinate measurement, additive manufacturing, gaging, Raman spectroscopy, machine calibration, position feedback, CAD/CAM dentistry, shape memory alloys, large-scale surveying, stereotactic neurosurgery, and medical diagnostics.  

So, what caught my attention is their recent involvement in medical devices. Just a quick visit to their website shows they offer advanced engineering solutions for stereotactic neurosurgery, neuroinspire surgical planning software, and research & development for implantable therapeutic delivery devices.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Most recently, when McMurty was contacted about how deep brain stimulation (DBS) rods might be improved, he took interest and saw this is a new area to explore. Bone-anchored hearing aids inspired the design for this neurological implant, Renishaw’s expertise in 3D was able to personalize the device, and today, its undergoing trials for Parkinson’s disease and cancer treatment.

Not what you might have expected from a company that started with touch-trigger probes.

From noodle machines to precision machine tools

manufacturing Elizabeth Engler Modic 12/9/2013

 Eiichi Okuma established Okuma Corp. in 1898 in Nagoya, Japan. The first machines produced there were noodle machines, then cigarette rolling machines, and by the early 1900s, machine tools. Today, Okuma produces a vast product line, and in order to meet increased pressure to delivery machine tools faster, facility expansions and upgrades have occurred.

The company’s investment in automation was obvious on my recent trip to the Kani and Oguchi manufacturing facilities in Japan. The Kani plant consists of 1.13 million square feet of space and is the location where the company manufactures its double-column, vertical, and horizontal machining centers, and grinders. Oguchi makes up 1.3 million square feet of facilities with manufacturing multi-tasking machines and lathes occurring there.

A highlight to the overseas visit was a tour of the new DS1 facility – located in Oguchi just outside Nagoya. With construction started in May 2012, the new facility was completed and put into operation just 12 months later.

Automation and flexible manufacturing are keys to the advanced productivity in the new facility, which boasts energy-efficient operation as well. DS1 (Dream Site 1) looks like a factory of the future because of its blend of machine technology, automation, and expertise. Operating 24/7, 365 days a year, DS1 has enabled twice the production of machinery with half the lead team previously required while maintaining roughly the same amount of workers.

Regarding the energy-efficient facility, a quick look at the side of the facility, and photos of the roof of DS1, shows the 5,000+ solar panels installed that are reducing energy costs by 30%. Matching the rest of the plant’s advancements is the software that monitors the efficiency of the solar panels and displays the kWh usage.

The public unveiling of DS1 occurred in conjunction with Okuma Machine Fair (OMF) 2013. OMF 2013 boasted 10 world premier machines, and more than 40 machine tools in all.

While attending OMF 2013, I was able to take time to talk with Yoshimaro (Dean) Hanaki, Okuma’s president and CEO, gathering his thoughts on the future of Okuma and the machine tool industry.

When asked about these 10 new machine models unveiled recently by Okuma, Hanaki could not guarantee this pace of innovation every 1-1/2 years, but readily agreed that continually coming out with new models is necessary. Quite often, he said, these models develop directly from customers’ input regarding what they need next in terms of advanced manufacturing technology.

Automation was another clear area that Hanaki was eager to discuss. Previous plant operations ran two shifts a day and no weekends. However, with robotic loading of the machine tools, Fastem pallet systems, and aisle upon aisle of Okuma’s own machining centers, DS1 achieves lights-out operation for 24/7 productivity.

Hanaki also explained that beyond the investment in automation and machines within the facility, there is a lot of software, and hardware behind the scenes that maintains the success realized with DS1. The production control implementation delivers the necessary information to coordinate accurate start to finish scheduling for on-time part delivery to the machines in assembly. Although this is not visible to those of us touring the facility, the result is the elimination of extensive warehousing of parts and the production of parts through final machinery in an expedited manner.

One last note of importance is the emphasis Hanaki places on Okuma’s Intelligent Technology. These performance enhancement features are unique to Okuma and encompass four areas of technology: 

  • Thermo-Friendly Concept
  • Collision Avoidance System
  • Machining Navi
  • 5-Axis Auto Tuning System

To learn more about Intelligent Technology, click here.

Virtually visit Okuma’s Japan facilities by clicking here.

Get the App