Cuyahoga Community College’s Manufacturing Center of Excellence works to fill the skills gap

Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence

In June, I met with Alicia Booker, vice president of manufacturing, and Alethea Ganaway, program manager additive manufacturing & Ideation Station, of Cuyahoga Community College’s Workforce, Community and Economic Development division at the Metro Campus. Booker says, “We take a manufacturing systems approach and not a product approach. We don’t just focus occupationally on the need to fill a gap then three months later the need arises again due to churn.”

For this team, it’s all about workforce development and creating a skilled workforce. More than 3,500 students are attending the workforce programs, including youth, adults interested in a career transitions, students who already have a degree but are returning to upgrade skills, older adults interested in a second career, employees who need additional training for their current role, and job seekers interested in starting a career.

Booker moved to Ohio two years ago from Pennsylvania to accept the position. Ganaway was moved from Tri-C’s robotics program to additive manufacturing in order to write the grant to fund the program. Now, two years later, the fruits of their labor are paying off in the Manufacturing Center of Excellence (MCoE).

Booker says, “We offer a unique brand of training – short-term through two-year degree plus transfer opportunities. Classes are offered in environments that meet the needs of the students and customers — day, evening, weekend, and bootcamp formats, full- and part-time training, and now we can offer onsite training through the Citizens Bank Mobile Training Unit. Our programs are comprehensive, offering exploration and career exposure to students as young as eight years old through our Nuts & Bolts Academy, middle and high school visits (via the mobile unit), and our college credit plus K-12 initiative.”

This is what the impressively outfitted MCoE contains:Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence scanner

  1. A shop that houses CNC equipment
  2. An integrated systems line with Fanuc robots that launched in June 2017 (Students can become a certified production technician in eight weeks, including program automation, PLCs, and visual inspection for quality control.)
  3. A 3D printing lab that houses a Faro scanner and two printers that can print biomedical-grade devices
  4. A PLC training line with both Allen-Bradley and Siemens systems that launched In August 2017 (Students can earn an international certification for Siemens Mechatronics Systems, mainly used by European companies, since there are more than 400 German companies in northeast Ohio, while Allen-Bradley is more common in The United States. Some companies, such as Ford, use both systems in different portions of the plant. The training line includes a PLC station with hydraulic and pneumatic boards and a robotic arm.)
  5. A rover for virtual-reality training and integrated gaming
  6. A Fab Lab, a maker space for community and international collaboration (it houses a classroom; a Techno CNC router; an embroidery machine; a small mill for engraving, heat presses for T-shirts, hats and mugs; a laser engraver; and a vinyl cutter.)
  7. A mobile unit that can go to businesses, events and schools for teaching and demonstration opportunities in a nine-county area that launched in February 2017 (The trailer fits 10 students and instructors; is WiFi, laptop and software equipped; has its own generator; has plugs for different amperages; and can be deployed with electrical, welding, CNC, mechanics and 3D printing equipment. The lab already has been deployed to the 2017 IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo, a workforce summit, Crestwood Local Schools, and Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland.)

According to Ganaway, “The Additive Manufacturing program includes not only 3D printing, but we teach students how to reverse engineer parts, 2D and 3D design, 3D scanning, inspection and other technologies related to additive manufacturing.  Additive manufacturing is not just related to manufacturing; it includes other disciplines, as well, such as medical.  Some of the projects include 3D printing prosthetics for veterans at the VA who are disabled.”

The college offers training by which students can earn college credits and industry certifications. In the welding training, they learn MIG, TIG, and stick welding. Right Skills Now affords students with CNC training in manual and automated machining. They train on Haas CNC mills and lathes, and on Bridgeport manual machines. The 3D/additive manufacturing training is in digital design, and students receive training in multiple 3D printing technologies, including the use of 3D printers, scanners, and other equipment available through the Ideation Station where they can work with a techno router, laser engraver, etc. In Mechatronics, students learn techniques in mechanical, electrical, computerization, and gain an understanding of how these systems work together. Finally, as a certified production technician, students are prepared to begin career opportunities in manufacturing and earn four industry certifications in areas of safety, manufacturing processes and production. This is a hybrid training program that includes training on the integrated systems training equipment to prepare them for occupations in material handling, assembly and production.

To stay connected to industry, the program has several advisory committees made up of industry professionals from the welding, machining, electrical, mechanical, 3D printing and transportation sectors. They also have specific employer-based programs, including First Energy, Swagelok and ArcelorMittal, who have advised the college on customized programs that lead to employment with their companies. Local businesses, such as Cleveland Job Corps, Cleveland Municipal School District, Towards Employment, Boys & Girls Club, Ohio Means Jobs, Ford, General Motors, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, NASA, Arconic, Charter Steel, and others, utilize the program’s services.

The program, says Booker, helps to meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce by “working to strengthen the region by supporting the existing efforts of our partners and by addressing the needs we hear from employers for a skilled workforce. We provide a quick response for new skills by developing new programs and training modalities. We also are working with schools and youth-serving organizations to enhance the talent pipeline that industry needs.” She continues by sharing that the most common challenge that she sees manufacturing facing is “the alignment of skills — commonly referred to as the skills gap. The impact of technology on the industry is also a challenge as industry works to keep up with the growth of technology, and we (as a training institution) work to keep up with the projected needs for skilled workers.”

Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence mechatronics

Additive manufacturing, 3D printing and rapid prototyping: What’s the difference?

Keyboard with 3D print key

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Liz Fox, senior marketing associate, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network)

If you type “additive manufacturing” into Google, thousands of results pop up, including everything from magazines to materials manufacturers to membership organizations devoted to the subject.

Many of these sites also use the terms “3D printing,” “additive manufacturing,” and “rapid prototyping” interchangeably, which brings up an important question: are these really all the same, or are crucial differences being overlooked?

Let’s start with the basics. Additive manufacturing is a methodology made up of new processes that have been developed during the last 30 years. While these vary on a technical level, all of them involve quickly building components layer-by-layer or drop-by-drop using printers and digital files. This differs from traditional manufacturing processes (such as CNC machining) because it builds up rather than takes away; thereby, constructing something from scratch instead of chipping away at existing material to form a specific shape or object.

At the root of it all, 3D printing and additive manufacturing are one and the same. While most experts prefer “additive,” “3D printing” has become a buzzword that resonates more with the average consumer, as well as the new class of makers that’s emerged in the last 10 years. Some debate this theory, but in our experience, it extends little beyond personal preference, like calling soda “pop” or vice versa.

Rapid prototyping is a different story. While additive and 3D printing describe a process, rapid prototyping is a way to use that technology, specifically in a testing environment and/or for design purposes that have little or nothing to do with service applications. The phrase “fail fast, fail cheap” often applies to this practice, as additive tech allows manufacturers to experiment with different ideas, designs, and functions without worrying too much about the cost of materials. Some options include Color Jet Printing (CJP), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), and Stereolithography (SLA), which have been used to create things as diverse as car components, toys, and surgical implants.

Regardless of its applications, 3D printing continues to revolutionize the manufacturing sector. As current tech is improved upon and new methods are developed, these innovations are impacting companies for the better by offering a faster, cheaper alternative to using traditional processes and materials.

Check out how MAGNET is helping manufacturers harness the power of additive manufacturing capabilities in their products and processes:

For more information, call MAGNET at 216.391.7766, visit manufacturingsuccess.org, or follow us on Twitter at @MAGNETOhio!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

MAGNET’s 2016 State of Manufacturing address took place at Jergens, Inc.

MAGNET state of manufacturing symposium at Jergens

On Nov. 16, 2016, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, in conjunction with PNC Bank, presented its 2016 State of Manufacturing: Important Trends Affecting Northeast Ohio Manufacturers at Jergens Inc., 15700 S. Waterloo Road, Cleveland. There was standing room only as manufacturers and service-industry representatives arrived to hear presentations by Rich Wetzel, Youngstown Business Incubator, on the state of additive manufacturing and Dr. Ned Hill, The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs and Ohio Manufacturing Institute, on manufacturing, the economy and the future.

In opening remarks, Paul Clark, regional president, PNC Bank, noted that “Thirty percent of PNC’s loan commitments in Northeast Ohio have been in manufacturing for the past 20 of 40 years.” These loans help manufacturers with new product development, new markets and acquisitions.

Wetzel, in his presentation on additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, shared the seven main processes of additive manufacturing, with material extrusion being the most common, and says, “Northeast Ohio is becoming the capital of additive manufacturing and putting the area on the map.” He also shared that low-volume tooling is the low-hanging fruit and the easiest to implement for near-term opportunities but that the market tends to be risk averse.

Last, Dr. Hill (if I had an economics professor like this in college, I might have liked economics and learned something) talked about the current uncertainty in the market due to the election but the positive increase in interest rates. He says, “Manufacturing is looked at nostalgically by the public since it’s gone overseas, and they believe we aren’t making things.” In 2014, although China was the top nation for manufacturing, the U.S. was a close second. He shared that the largest market opportunity in the world lies in the NAFTA nations. He did a retrospective and shared that manufacturers were always in the top 10 employers in Ohio but now the reality is that part-time, low-wage jobs in healthcare, retail and food service have become the mainstay. In that reality, he says, “Midsized companies will be driving this state.”

Another trend he discussed in depth was automation. Since 1979, we lost almost 5-million factory jobs but at the same time more than doubled the value due to productivity. In addition, he shared statistics that we have lost 13 percent of factory jobs to trade and 88 percent to automation and continuous improvement, and that robotics is expected to reduce labor by another 22 percent in the U.S. He asked the audience to consider how many jobs technology has saved rather than lost. The U.S., for the first time in recent years, is a threat to China due to its quality, efficiency and improved internal supply chain. He says that when manufacturing can 3D print a die, it will save 20-30 percent and can compete with China. And, as much as we would like to believe that manufacturing powers the economy, it’s actually powered by consumers who do 70 percent of the spending. They are buying the products we manufacture!

Finally, he acknowledged the present problem of aging-out workers and the lack of a skilled workforce to replace them. He says manufacturing’s greatest enemies are parents, school counselors and OSHA, which limits workers under 20 from being on the manufacturing floor. We are losing talent to other industries. Let’s make these people our allies and work toward STEM education and a resurgence of interest in a field has evolved and shed its former stereotypical image.

 

MakerGear, manufacturer of 3D printers, discusses the amazing real-world applications and how-tos of additive manufacturing

3D printer architectural prototype

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Annie Liao, director of educational outreach, MakerGear, LLC)

What is MakerGear?

MakerGear designs and manufactures desktop 3D printers, primarily for use by businesses, schools, and makers. We originally started in a residential Ohio garage in 2009 and have continued to grow ever since. Currently, we have 25 employees at our factory in Beachwood, Ohio. Also, we received an exciting award this week! Our MakerGear M2 3D printer was ranked #1 in the world out of 513 printers. We’re excited to shine a light on technology and manufacturing here in Northeast Ohio.

What is additive manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing processes create objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material to build an object. These processes are in contrast to traditional subtractive types of manufacturing, such as those utilizing CNC machined parts, where material is removed from an object to create the finished product.

What is the benefit of a 3D printer? What problems does it solve?

3D printing is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry for a number of reasons. One significant contribution is that it saves time and money by allowing for rapid prototyping. When producing an object, the prototyping process has historically occupied a bulk of time between concept and launch. Today, with 3D printing, we can substantially shorten that gap by giving engineers and designers the ability to create their own prototypes in house – and as many iterations as they need — without dependency on an outside source or back-and-forth shipping delays.

Beyond those advancements in the industry, 3D printing is one of the most cost effective ways to produce small batch or custom items. This is great for everyone from small businesses creating unique products, all the way to doctors printing scale models of a patient’s heart before surgery. And on top of all of that, 3D printers create less waste, if any at all, compared to traditional manufacturing processes. The technology is constantly improving and changing, and we expect to see the number of problems that 3D printing solves continue to grow.

How can you use a 3D printer? What kinds of things are being made? Who are your customers/what are they making?

Our M2 3D printer requires 3D modeling software to design or import the object to be printed, and convert (or slice) that design into a language the printer can understand called G-code. We use a program called Simplify3D, but we also have recommendations on our website for freeware that works great, as well.

Seeing the range of applications our customers are creating is the most exciting part! The students at Mayfield City Schools’ Excel TECC have been creating 3D printed prosthetic hands, which are functional and only cost about $12 in printing materials. It’s an incredible achievement. One of our customers is printing tailor-fit horseshoes for horses with difficult-to-treat hoof conditions. And, we have customers printing parts for drones that transport medication to remote villages in East Africa. There is a limitless range of applications, and we’re surprised daily by the innovative products people are creating.

What materials can you use to build?

Some 3D printers on the market require the use of proprietary filament, which limits options and innovation. But, we’ve worked really hard to ensure that MakerGear printers can print in a range of materials, including a variety of plastics and metal composites. The list of possibilities is constantly growing.

These materials are packaged on spools in filament form. The filament is fed into the heart and soul of the printer called the hotend. The hotend consists of a heater, thermistor and a nozzle and is capable of heating the printing material to a certain temperature and then extruding it in successive layers onto a build platform. In the case of our M2 3D printer, the build platform also is heated to allow the object to better adhere to the bed during printing.

What does it cost?

Our MakerGear M2 printer costs $1,825. A 1-kg spool of PLA plastic, which is the material we recommend people begin printing with, costs $35, but can see you through multiple projects.

Do you see any trends with the industry or technology?

We are definitely seeing more interest in the types of materials available for 3D printing. We’re constantly testing new materials on our machines and have been excited by the results of some of them, from elastics to metal composites. It opens up a whole new world of innovation.

To avoid what happened with Cleveland Indians’ Pitcher Trevor Bauer when he bought a 3D printer from you and used it to make a drone that cut his finger, what safety tips do you have for users and consumers?

If you were following the Cleveland Indians this year in the playoffs you may have heard that Trevor Bauer owns a MakerGear M2 and 3D prints parts for his drones. He explained in a press conference that he got cut while plugging in his drone when the propeller started spinning at max throttle. We are certainly glad that he was able to recover quickly, and we can assure you that his accident didn’t have anything to do with the 3D printing process.

Thoughts from Justin: 3D printers coming to a library near you

Maker space at library

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Justin Mobilian, HGR’s sales & marketing summer intern)

If you remember, I wrote a blog about the future of 3D printing (additive manufacturing). Hopefully my goal of sparking your interest in the industry was achieved. If not, well, I’m sorry. BUT, this post should change your mind.

If you live near Cleveland and aren’t a member of the Cleveland Public Library, you may want to change that. Back in 2014, the library added 3D printers for the public’s use. Note: Libraries offering 3D printers to the public are available nationwide. Just call your local library to see if they are available. If you’ve ever wanted to give one of these printers a shot, now is your chance.

Libraries across the country are unveiling ‘MakerSpace’ stations, which are essentially places for people to gather to learn about technology and get hands-on with the machines – 3D printers being a hot topic right now.

For those who have access to the Cleveland Public Library, their MakerSpace station provides access to 3D printers, laser cutters, music production equipment and many other tools. It is located in the lower level of the Louis Stokes Wing at 325 Superior Avenue (open Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.).

If you’re looking to pick-up a new hobby, make a trip to a MakerSpace. I haven’t been to a library since high school, but that will change in the next couple weeks! Who knows, you might find your next favorite activity AND a new friend. If you have been to a MakerSpace station before, feel free to comment below with your experience of it and where it was.