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Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(01):22-26. doi:10.1115/1.2006-JAN-1.
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This article provides details of small US companies that are competing with Chinese counterparts and earning profits as well. Elnik Systems keeps costs under control by importing expensive molybdenum and tungsten furnace metals from China. It also outsources predrilled molybdenum furnace tray preforms, but must bend them into shape in the United States to achieve the quality it requires. Irwin Industrial Tool Co. sets aggressive cost goals each year, relying on employee teams and ongoing investment to drive down unit costs. It has reduced headcount, sought better deals from suppliers, and even outsourced its warehouse. Reducing costs cuts the premium Irwin needs to charge to profit from making Vise-Grips in DeWitt. As long as ‘Made in America’ means a better product, it can continue to do that. In many ways, the engineering plastic injection molding business of Donnelly Custom Manufacturing Co. in Alexandria, Minn. resembles the short-run, fast-turnaround model of New York's Liberty Brass Turning. Despite his success, Donnelly worries about America's manufacturing future. Donnelly exited the business before it all went to China. Now he questions whether other start-ups would go to a local source or deal directly with China.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(01):28-31. doi:10.1115/1.2006-JAN-2.
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This article focuses on industrial benefits of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). With the ever multiplying functionality of both machine and software, the challenge for CAM programmers has become one of ‘how do you keep things simple and at the same time complex.’ Machine makers now work directly with CAM programmers so customers can get as much from their machines as possible. NX's newest software offers tool paths that are smoother and smarter, and take into account the material that's being cut, to better avoid collision. But the key to optimization is understanding every aspect of a machine, down to when and how it vibrates. Simulations let programs like NX and Vericut know every stage of a part while it is on the machine and this allows users to eliminate one of the most tedious of time drainers: documentation. NX software as well as Vericut automatically outputs documentation for the entire process.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2006;128(01):34-36. doi:10.1115/1.2006-JAN-3.
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Engineers and artists have teamed to create combinations of fire and water that have dazzled people at tourist attractions, festivals, and the Olympic Games. At the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, mechanical engineering professor Ed Pejack and student Eric Eubanks designed a small-scale fountain for educational and demonstration purposes, adapting parts used in irrigation and a camping fuel can. Alan Robinson and Mark Fuller invented a fountain that illuminates water jets with colored flames. Kiki Pettit, a computer programmer, has designed, built, and installed water fountains that incorporate liquid fuel to produce floating flames that flow with water. The water in the Olympic cauldron serves functional and esthetic purposes. The water film flowing down the glass creates random wave patterns that ripple the image of the fire inside. A computer system controls the water flow rate based on temperature of the return water.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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