Additive Manufacturing: The Industry of the Future

As manufacturing in the U.S. surges back, there are certain technological trends and advances that are helping to lead the charge. One of these is additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, and it’s being called a “game-changer” by many. It’s a trend that’s definitely here to stay.

It’s being used by everyone from students in classrooms to the Department of Defense, and many small and medium-sized manufacturers are using it to create rapid prototypes that save significant time and money.  According to this article, “80% of it [for now] is for models, prototypes, toys, experiments—but only for now.” It’s projected to truly be the technology of the near future, and promises to change the face of manufacturing as we know it.

The process of additive manufacturing uses a CAD-created digital model to make a three-dimensional solid object on a 3-D printer, adding successive layers until the product is created. The technology has become more widely used in the last 15 years, with the past few years seeing extreme growth.

While being mainly used for rapid prototyping now—helping to make American manufacturing faster, better, and cheaper—new uses are being created every day. Just recently, 3-D printing was used by Cornell engineers to make a working loudspeaker in one operation, and a new desktop app was introduced that allows for printing of flexible objects at home.

The aforementioned PackWorld article states that while GE plans to make fuel nozzles for jet engines through this process, soon enough, we might be seeing adaptable child prosthetics and even shoes printed from home. The writer compares additive manufacturing to the radio and the PC—changing our world forever.

With all that’s already been done, it’s beyond exciting to imagine what will come next.


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Buying Products Made in the U.S.A. Has Far-Reaching Benefits

The American consumer market has regained strength after the big recession, while at the same time there’s a resurgence in U.S. based manufacturing.  For the past 30 years or so, manufacturing slowly declined as cheaper overseas products flooded our shores. We became a nation of consumers hooked on price without a thought to where those products have come from or in what conditions they are made. One benefit of the Great Recession of 2008 has been a renewed view of Made in the USA.  As Americans realized the loss of a strong manufacturing sector and started to see resurgence in the industry, they are beginning to pay attention to what they buy.manufacturingday6

American Made Matters® is an organization of 200 members that understands how important our manufacturing industry is to the economic and national security of our country. America was built on a strong manufacturing foundation and for decades produced the finest and most well-respected goods in the world. After losing jobs and business to cheaper overseas labor, the industry is growing stronger, but it needs the support of the American people.

Think about these facts: “For every $1 spent on American-made goods, an additional $1.35 is invested in the U.S. economy. For every one manufacturing job, another three jobs are created.

With the holiday season right around the corner, it is a perfect time to put America on your gift list. Did you know that the average American family spends $700 on holiday gifts? If each family spent just $64 dollars on goods made in the U.S., we could add 200,000 jobs to the economy.  American Made Matters® understands how important manufacturing is to a strong American economy.

Putting a little time and effort into buying American has a trickle-down effect. As more businesses succeed, the need for machinery increases, technical services increase, and more suppliers are needed. These are all jobs for our friends and neighbors. There are numerous companies out there proudly making products with American labor. It’s easy to choose American: this site highlights American products and American Made Matters supplies an easy to navigate listing of their members.

Remember to make America matter this holiday season and buy American because American made matters!

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Save the Date! MFG Day 2013

Many people say—and we believe—that American manufacturing is, and always have been, the most significant driver of our economy. It is also said to be the worldwide leader in innovation and technology. As the reshoring trend continues and major companies bring business back home, Made in the USA is once again a phrase that connotes pride and quality. Multimillion dollar companies from Boeing to Apple are acknowledging and participating in this movement.

Therefore, when the industry bands together on October 4, 2013 to celebrate MFG Day, we can all get together and do our part. MFG Day isn’t just a time to reflect on the positive contributions of the country’s manufacturing sector. It’s also a chance to open up your doors to the community and showcase what you make, who you are, and how you contribute.Manufakturfoto

Perhaps even more importantly, it’s an opportunity to get younger generations interested in and excited about manufacturing. As the industry faces a skilled labor shortage—600,000 manufacturing jobs are left unfilled due to a skills gap—MFG Day can help.

Manufacturers are being given the chance to host events and show students, educators, parents, and community leaders the advantages of a career in manufacturing. According to the day’s organizers, manufacturers can “address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.”

As a country built on the foundations of growth, advancement, and building great things, we can all take charge of our future and celebrate the industry we are so proud of. We at Norwalt Designs look forward to it.

For more information, visit

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How to Get and Stay Ahead in the Contract Packaging Industry

In a relatively short amount of time, much of the business model in contract packaging and contract manufacturing has changed. While most suppliers used to be privately owned companies, these days, with the prevalence of private equity and the changing structure of American business in general, many of the smaller, family-owned business have been bought, merged, consolidated, and/or restructured.

For the remaining privately-owned companies, the question often asked is “should we take on investors, merge, or sell?” For those who already have, they may ask “how can we become or stay profitable and successful in such a competitive market?”

To answer the first question, you need to take a look at if you are currently operationally sound.  Know what you do, who your customers are, and how to serve them best. Be very good at what you do, and make yourself as attractive as possible to potential buyers or investors.  Secondly, have a plan in place for future improvements and innovations. Focus on continuous improvement and ways to add value to your business. Then you can move forward with the possibility of selling.

For those who have decided to keep their business, or those who have recently merged or invested and want to move forward toward greater success, there are other areas to address. These include knowing your market and your competitors, as well as what makes for success in that market; knowing the business thoroughly, even if it’s new to you; knowing your customers and their needs; and understanding your growth opportunities—new customers, new products, new acquisitions, perhaps.

Whatever your company’s place in the co-pack industry climate—whether remaining privately owned, selling and moving on, or acquiring and expanding—these are some of the important ways to move forward and stay competitive and successful.


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Why STEM Matters To Everyone

As manufacturing in America moves further ahead, innovation is the key to sustaining it.  The idea that American businesses can make products as competitively priced as overseas companies, but with better quality, is what’s brought the business back; the innovation and skills of American workers is what’s driving it.

However, there’s a skilled labor shortage in America, and it is projected to keep growing. As the skills gap widens, we must focus on the next generation—the young people of America—and provide them with the skills they need to perform the jobs that manufacturers require, while earning a good living and having a bright future. This is why STEM education—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—is so important.

American children have fallen behind children in other countries when it comes to STEM skills. As a result of this, as well as the need to build a future workforce, efforts are being made around the country to promote STEM education, enlighten children to the benefits of manufacturing, and prepare teachers to better educate children in STEM subjects.  The government’s Educate to Innovate is one such example.

We personally believe in the cause.  This is why we have joined the Manufacture NJ Road Show, a program that connects us and other manufacturers in the state with middle school students and their teachers and administrators, allowing us to engage with them and promote the benefits of the industry. Mike Seitel, made a presentation on behalf of Norwalt Design, at the last road show, and connected with many young people, getting them excited about manufacturing.

Some of the most crucial skills and requirements needed today and in the future include basic machining, PLC programming, vision system programming, sensor logic, blueprint reading, CAD, interpersonal skills, and the willingness to travel to factories for training and installations. Each one of these relies on STEM education, and we look forward to seeing a future generation prepared to keep this industry moving full speed ahead.

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Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Reducing size seems to be the “new” thing. Smaller drinks, smaller portion sizes, smaller cars –it was only a matter of time before the personal care industry hopped on the bandwagon. Unilever, one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods, is making the first move with their new aerosol deodorant, and is not only reducing its size but its environmental footprint as well.

This new deodorant aerosol can is the first major redesign of aerosol packaging since the 1960s. Female deodorants under the names of Sure, Dove and Vaseline will replace their 150ml cans with the new 75ml ‘compressed’ cans. The manufacturer claims the new cans will last the same as the previous can, by using 50% less propellant.  Other advantages of this new can include reducing overall carbon footprint by 25% per can, as well as containing 25% less aluminum.

Besides hopes of becoming a trendsetter, Unilever is claiming their new designs will not only revolutionize the deodorant aisle but make the category more sustainable as well. This new packaging is the first of many changes for the company. After introducing its Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever plans to decrease the greenhouse gas impacts of its products by half as well as reduce  the waste associated with the disposal of products in half by 2020.

At Norwalt, we understand the importance of this change. Not only will this new packaging help the environment, savings are also being made in the supply chain- something we pride ourselves in. We continue to work with end users to make changes to packaging, making it machine friendly. In other words we help speed things up. Instead of making 2 parts a second we can do 10 parts a second. We also work with molders and end users to help make lighter weight materials to reduce carbon footprints. In Unilever’s case, changes to their supply chain allowed them to produce 53% more new cans onto a pallet, in turn creating a reduction in heavy trucks transporting goods. For more information on Norwalt, feel free to contact us today.

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Norwalt and the Art of Telemetry

The idea of machines independently communicating with each other used to only exist in the world of science fiction.  However, today not only is it a reality, it is an integral part of the business and manufacturing world.  Machine-to-machine communication (M2M), which uses a language known as telemetry, is accomplished through a combination of wireless sensors, PCs, and the Internet.

A great example of M2M communication just might be in the car you drove to work today. Modern vehicles are loaded with computer technology that allows a wide variety of M2M communication. A microchip in your dash might send your engine instructions on how to maintain a certain level of fuel efficiency.

At its heart, M2M communications are a perfect representation of our obsession with and increasing dependence on connectivity.   You can control almost every machine in your life from the palm of your hand. Through telemetry, your smartphone can “talk” to and control almost every machine in your life. From turning the lights on and off in your house while sitting at work, to monitoring and operating complex manufacturing machinery sitting on a beach thousands of miles away from the factory floor, M2M communication is changing the way we live and work.

On a more macro-level, M2M has made automating multi-part assemblies easier and most cost-effective.  For over 40 years, Norwalt has been solving the most difficult automation problems for some of the world’s biggest companies. In order to stay on the cutting-edge of automated machinery, we pride ourselves on staying one-step ahead of all the latest telemetry and M2M technologies.

It is an exciting, if not often confusing time to be involved in the world of M2M communications. The key to success is finding a company like Norwalt that will prevent you from getting lost on the way to the M2M future.

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