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Steve Wozniak Headlines at Atlantic Design and Manufacturing

Last week, New York’s Javits Center played host to the Atlantic Design and Manufacturing convention, the East Coast’s largest design and manufacturing event. IMET and TemitroniK both had a presence there — with gigantic LED boards in tow in what was a massive showcase for prototypers, manufacturers and designers alike.

The headlining act and keynote speaker was a legend to both hardware and software tribes.  Steve Wozniak, ‘The Woz’ to his devotees talked about a variety of subjects from Apple’s current attempt to capture the tech zeitgeist to hacking, DIY and maker culture:

I love the maker movement because we started [Apple] with a demonstrable product,with a prototype that was working. I was not just an engineer, I did the whole thing – I brought up ideas, drafted them on paper, I sat down and plugged chips into boards, tested every single wire.

Woz admitted that he still endlessly tinkers (these days with Arduinos and Raspberry Pis instead of Ataris and Apple I circuit boards.

You might go to Maker Faire and you see these things and you might think. ‘Who would want to buy that?’ But the people making it are getting the skills that could change their job in the future.

This is consistent with Woz’s decades-long take on creativity.  He says to make the thing you’re passionate about, and figure out the marketability later.  Or, in his words:

Your first projects aren’t the greatest things in the world and they may have no monetary value — they may go nowhere. But that is how you learn — you put so much effort into making something right if it’s for yourself.

A tinkerer’s mantra, if there ever was one.

 

Here’s some bonus periscope footage of Woz’s keynote speech, via @jeanprytyskacz

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The Ever Exploding Internet of Things

In 1964, in his work Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan stated:

….by means of electric media, we set up a dynamic by which all previous technologies — including cities — will be translated into information systems

These information systems have evolved rapidly, in accordance with Moore’s Law, for decades. As the number of transistors per square inch has doubled, and doubled (approximately every 18 months) the reach of electronics and clouds and connected systems has increased by orders of magnitude.

The computing power that once took a 15lb CRT monitor and a dedicated processing tower to harness now exists on imperceptibly small wafers.  What was once too cumbersome for a home office now seamlessly powers a watch, a toaster, a thermostat or an LED lightbulb.

According to SmallBizTrends,

Currently, the total number of connected devices is estimated to stand at somewhere north of 22.9 billion. By 2020, that figure will scale to more than 50.1 billion devices.

That’s approximately seven smart devices allocated to every single person on the planet. That is beyond the Internet of Things. That is the substructure of an information system overlaid onto the very fabric of reality — populated by a near infinity of objects, scanning, tracking and optimizing in harmony.

 

iot, internet of things, IMET, Contract Manufacuring, PCBA, PCB Assembly, Electronics Manufacturing, Philadelphia

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The Future of DIY – Custom, Local Manufacturing

In 2012, ThomasNet in its piece “Is This the Era of DIY Manufacturing?” predicted that the future of manufacturing would entail “an Industrial Revolution in reverse.”

In this scenario, rapid fabrication (or molecular manufacturing) will turn every home into a personal, flexible factory. Companies and users will sell or share designs that can be manufactured at the point of use: instead of container ships carrying processed goods, the Internet will circulate blueprints and CAD files.

And while industrial mega-scale manufacturing will have still have its place in the decades to come (see the ramping up of Sparks, Nevada’s Tesla Giga-Factory), the core of manufacturing will likely be more localized, more customized and more specialized to the individual.

The desktop is quickly becoming the seat of manufacturing growth.  In 2015, according to Forbes,

More than 278,000 desktop 3D printers (under $5,000) were sold worldwide, according to Wohlers Associates, publishers of the annual Wohlers Report.

And while the vast majority of 3D printing is confined to polymers and thermoplastics, there is progress towards DIY constructing with and manipulating heavier duty, classic construction materials like steel and ceramics.

Take Wazer, for instance. Wazer is a desktop water-jet that can cut metal, ceramic, stone and composites scaled for individual crafters and small businesses wanting to fabricate their own components.  A Kickstarter to fund the project reached $1.3 million last year with a per unit cost of under $5,000.

 

 

Wazer, IMET, and companies like them are unleashing the creative potential of artisans, crafters, makers and DIY-ers to localize and simplify the construction of art, electronics and objects in the Internet of Things. 

According to industrial desginer, Noel Joyce, interviewed in the Wazer promo,

The future of manufacturing is in custom, local fabrication. 

 

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Why You Should Consider a Career in Manufacturing

With international manufacturing powerhouses like China, India, and South Korea constantly increasing their share of the world’s GDP, one might wonder whether the future of US manufacturing is in jeopardy. Is it worthwhile for a current student in the US to consider a career in manufacturing while considering the nature of the world economy’s evolution?

In a word: Yes. Here’s why:

1) The US will soon have a shortage of skilled manufacturing workers:

According to Deloitte,

“The United States faces a need for nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs over the next decade and 2 million of those jobs are likely to go unfilled due to the skills gap.”

In fact, the shortage could be so severe, that wages will have to rise within the industry as the competition among a smaller pool of skilled labor intensifies:

“While 80% of executives report they are willing to pay higher salaries than the market rates in workforce areas reeling under the talent crisis, the industry appears to suffer from an inability to fill positions expeditiously.”

2) Manufacturing is still a huge driver of American GDP.

There is ample evidence that the manufacturing footprint of the entire US economy is vastly underestimated, and could be as high as one-third. According to Mapi:

“The narrow definition of manufacturing industries in national statistics implies that the sector is of only minor importance to economic activity. The traditional finding is that manufacturers’ proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) is only about 11% and manufacturing’s share of economy-wide full-time equivalent employment is just 9%. Since this excludes manufacturing activities such as research and development, corporate management, logistics operations, and advertising and branding, those figures are merely the tip of the iceberg.”

3) By 2020, the US is projected to be the number one manufacturing country in the world.

According to IndustryWeek.com:

“By 2020 the U.S will overtake China to earn the top spot for the most competitive nation in the world.
The reason for this ranking, according to Deloitte and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, is due the country’s investment in research, technology, and innovation.”

For further resources regarding manufacturing study, programs and companies interested in internships, see National Manufacturing Day — falling on the first Friday of October — October 7th, this year.

Here is a summary of a local manufacturing degree program provided by the Pennsylvania College of Technology:

And finally, don’t forget the IMET is hiring! The manufacturing future is bright, indeed.

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IMET to Exhibit at the 2016 Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit

Just under two months from now, on October 19th,  IMET Corporation will be part of a select group of local exhibitors at The 2016 Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit — as presented by DVIRC — The Deleware Valley Industrial Resource Center.

Among other innovations, IMET will be showcasing its largest-in-industry four foot LED circuit board, which is not only impressive to the eyeball, but provides a better light consistency across larger displays and can be more reliable than LEDs run on several smaller boards.

IMET will be joining attendees which, in 2015, represented over 150 regional manufacturers including NASA, Biobots, ONexia, and RTI International.

The conference will include a panoply of panels and special demonstrations.  Last year’s ‘Special Technology Demonstration’ included a Temple University drone demo, and a nanotech demo by UPenn.