Materials and Measurement Will Bring the Full Promise of AM — Implants Show This

Exploring what the advance of 3D printing for orthopedic implants signifies for the rest of manufacturing. Read »

Exclusivity Is Not a Wall; It Is an Open Wound

I’ve been spending time with Peter’s epistles—those two short letters penned by the seeming leader or the most prominent of the Twelve Apostles, about 30 years after Jesus’ death—and so I keep coming across the first epistle’s imperative to “always be ready to give ... a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Writing Is Service

The one person who I think taught me the most about writing was as much a businessman as he was a writer. My first employer after college, he was the owner of a small public relations firm who had spent his career at this firm’s helm. He didn’t teach me about writing as expression; I already had that. I was full of that. He taught me about writing as service. In our case, that meant service to the client or customer, but it also proved to mean service to the reader.

Writing Is Thinking

There is this term people use to refer to writers: “wordsmith.” I’ve never liked it. It doesn’t ring true. Words are not really the raw material a writer is “smithing.” A real-life smith, a blacksmith, is working with metal as the raw material—heating it, hammering it, shaping it. What is the comparable raw material for the writer? Answer: It is thoughts. A writer would more fittingly be called a “thoughtsmith.”

When in Doubt, Tell the Truth

This piece is a couple years old, but I am posting it here now because it is part of a project I wish to resume. I am exploring the 10 or so simple mottos about writing that have been the most valuable to me. This piece is the second in this series, here is the first, and the third post in this series is coming soon. Read »

For 3D Printed Implant Maker, Growth Is Built into the Plan

How metal 3D printing changes the possibilities for orthopedic implants, and how a company in Maine is preparing to capitalize on that promise. This is the story that involved my first air travel since the spring lockdowns. Read »

“The Cool Parts Show” at the Cincinnati Zoo (Video)

Meerkats stole the show in a special episode about 3D printing for animal enrichment. Watch »

3 Reasons Machine Shops are Paying Attention to ERP

Machining facilities’ attention to software has tended to focus on programming machines. Now there is greater interest in software for organizing the efforts of people. Read »

Additive Manufacturing Under the Microscope

Recent articles focus on tiny advances: An aid to the strength of 3D printed parts and an implant made possible by 3D printing are both practically too small to see.

Practical Approaches to Automation (Video)

A conversation about machining automation and how machining facilities should think about automation today. Watch »

“The Cool Parts Show” Season 3

We have just completed our latest season of “The Cool Parts Show,” our YouTube series on 3D printing for manufacturing. The first episode of this season proved to be our most-watched episode to date. Here is the complete third season:

20 Years of “The Z Axis”

As of this year, I have been writing my monthly column in Modern Machine Shop for two decades. To have this platform has been a privilege. Considering this milestone brings me to several thoughts. Read »

Midlife Is a Real Thing—Here Is What I See Now That I am 50

“Midlife” is a real thing. It is a real and meaningful passage of life, different than what came before. I’ve slowly come to understand this. About the “midlife crisis,” I am not so sure. A life lived well is full of change and challenge and therefore full of crises; to label one of them a “midlife” crisis seems arbitrary. But midlife itself is real, and I have at last come to see—with gratitude overdue—that this vital and powerful time of life is where I now get to be.

Machining Suppliers of the Future Will Be Both Bigger and Smaller

The disruptions of 2020 will bring opportunity to U.S. machining suppliers, but the machining businesses that rise to meet these challenges will look different from machine shops of years past. Read »

For Additive Manufacturing, Software Is as Important as the 3D Printer

 3D printing needs software, and software tools aid its use in manufacturing. Read »

Demonstrations of Software for Additive Manufacturing (Video)

The team on Additive Manufacturing produced a series of pieces, each consisting of an article plus a recorded demonstration, on software tools for manufacturers employing 3D printing. My contributions describe simulation for very big 3D printed parts, using a simple spreadsheet for trial-and-error of the process, and making discoveries by mapping the layers of a 3D printed metal part.

Conversations With Machine Shop Owners (Video)

Recent conversations I have filmed with machine shop owners focus on launching a startup machine shop and the challenge of succession planning in family-owned machine shops. Plus, a panel discussion on reshoring includes two owners of machining businesses talking about the importance of returning mold and die machining to the United States.

5 Hard Lessons from a 28-Year-Old Startup Machine Shop Owner

This owner/operator of an independent machining business openly and authentically shared his story with me, and allowed me to draw these conclusions. Luck, endurance, and long hours were all important factors. Read »

Hope Is an Asset: Here Are Machine Shops Following Clear Visions for the Future

A simple strategy offering a clear aim to hope for is particularly valuable during a disrupted time. In this essay, I talk about examples of machining businesses following clear ideas for the way ahead. Read »

My Latest E-Book Both Continues the Pattern and Doesn’t

My latest longform work is the e-book This Is Not a Book. It makes the case for physical books and argues that e-books and printed books are different media serving different roles for readers, writers, and the very transmission of ideas. It is an odd work out of an odd time. I wrote it entirely during my state’s shelter-at-home period of the 2020 pandemic, and I drew inspiration from this period.