Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension’s picture

By: Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension

El-Com Systems Corp. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of El-COM Systems Solutions based in California. The local company has been in Puerto Rico since 2016 operating in Caguas. The company is dedicated to manufacturing complex electromechanical subsystems and assemblies for the global aerospace and defense industries. The company has 62 employees including operational and administrative personnel.

El-Com Systems was required to implement and certify its quality management system in accordance with the international standards of AS9100D for the aerospace sector. The challenge was not only to achieve the ISO certification, but also to achieve it simultaneously with an accelerated growth process, which required the hiring of additional employees for new production lines. Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension, Inc. (PRiMEX), part of the MEP National Network, was recommended to provide support in this process.

Dawn Marie Bailey’s picture

By: Dawn Marie Bailey

In this article series, we explain some of the successful strategies and programs shared by Baldrige Award recipients to highlight categories of the Baldrige Criteria and how your organization might consider using them as inspiration. 

Maria Watson’s picture

By: Maria Watson

The U.S. government has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic. But early reports suggested larger companies were gobbling up much of the aid, while many of the neediest ones—particularly those with only a few dozen employees—weren’t benefiting.

Very small businesses, particularly those operating on small profit margins, are especially vulnerable because they may not have the cash reserves to weather periods of economic uncertainty and typically have fewer ways to access financing. A recent poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that one in four U.S. businesses is two months away from permanently shutting down.

Peter Dizikes’s picture

By: Peter Dizikes

With 20.5 million jobs slashed from U.S. payrolls in April, and a 14.7 percent unemployment rate, the Covid-19 pandemic has created workforce problems unseen since the Great Depression. These dynamics are being closely observed by MIT’s Task Force on the Work of the Future, which released a high-profile interim report in September 2019, with a nuanced set of findings: Automation is unlikely to eliminate millions of U.S. jobs soon, but improved policies are needed to support many workers, who have been suffering from a lack of quality jobs and viable careers. The task force will issue its final report this fall.

To look at the current crisis, MIT News recently had a conversation with the three task force leaders: executive director Elisabeth B. Reynolds, who is also executive director of the MIT Industrial Performance Center; co-chair David Autor, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and associate head of MIT’s Department of Economics; and co-chair David A. Mindell, professor of aeronautics and astronautics, the Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing at MIT, and founder and CEO of the Humatics Corporation.

Q: How is the MIT task force reacting to the rapid workplace changes of the last two months?

Vandana Suresh’s picture

By: Vandana Suresh

Plastics are a popular 3D printing material, allowing users to create a variety of objects, from simple toys to custom prosthetic parts. But these printed parts are mechanically weak—a flaw caused by the imperfect bonding between the individual printed layers that make up the 3D part.

Now, researchers have developed the technology needed to overcome 3D printing’s “weak spot.” The method integrates plasma science and carbon nanotube technology into standard 3D printing.

“Finding a way to remedy the inadequate bonding between printed layers has been an ongoing quest in the 3D printing field,” says Micah Green, associate professor in the chemical engineering department at Texas A&M University. “We have now developed a sophisticated technology that can bolster welding between these layers all while printing the 3D part.”

A new way of heating 3D-printed parts

Plastics are commonly used for extrusion 3D printing, known technically as fused-deposition modeling. In this technique, molten plastic is squeezed out of a nozzle that prints parts layer by layer. As the printed layers cool, they fuse to one another to create the final 3D part.

Davis Balestracci’s picture

By: Davis Balestracci

What is the Vasa? It was a Swedish warship built in 1628. It was supposed to be the grandest, largest, and most powerful warship of its time. King Gustavus Adolphus himself took a keen personal interest and insisted on an entire extra deck above the waterline to add to the majesty and comfort of the ship, and to make room for the 64 guns he wanted it to carry.

This innovation went beyond the shipbuilder knowledge of the time... and would make it unstable. No one dared tell him. On its maiden voyage, the Vasa sailed less than a mile and sank to the bottom of Stockholm harbor in full view of a horrified public, assembled to see off its navy’s—and Europe’s—most ambitious warship to date.

What reminded me of the Vasa? The time has been ripe for visible motivational speakers to weigh in on Covid-19 and “inspire the troops.” From a speech using the Vasa as a backdrop:

“I want to see healthcare become world-class. I want us to promise things to our patients and their families that we have never before been able to promise them.... I am not satisfied with what we give them today.... And as much respect as I have for the stresses and demoralizing erosion of trust in our industry, I am getting tired of excuses....

Dave Cook’s picture

By: Dave Cook

We are experiencing the biggest remote-work experiment in history—but many are beginning to imagine life after lockdown. Amid unprecedented global job losses, concerns about transport infrastructure, and the continuing need for workplace social distancing, governments are launching back-to-work plans.

Meanwhile, the latest U.S. research reveals that 74 percent of businesses want some workers to permanently work remotely, and business leaders are actively shedding leased office space—hinting that not everyone will go back to the office.

Here are five key trends that will shape the future of how we work.

Multiple Authors
By: John Smits, Gary Confalone, Tom Kinnare

Confusion between the two terms “RADAR” and “LIDAR” is understandable. Their names are nearly synonymous, and the terms are often used interchangeably. The acronyms are RADAR, which stands for RAdio Detection And Ranging; and LIDAR, which stands for LIght Detection And Ranging. The major difference between the two is the wavelength of the signal and the divergence of the signal beam.

LIDAR is typically a collimated light beam with minimal divergence over long distances from the transmitter; RADAR is a cone-shaped signal fanning out from the source. Both calculate distance by comparing the time it takes for the outgoing wave or pulse to return to the source. LIDAR uses light wave frequencies that have a shorter wavelength, which enhances the capability of collecting data with high precision. RADAR uses longer microwave frequencies, which have lower resolution but the ability to collect signals with reduced impact from environmental obstructions. RADAR and LIDAR signals both travel at the speed of light.

Mary Ann Pacelli’s picture

By: Mary Ann Pacelli

Last year’s Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) was an enormous success for U.S. manufacturers looking to engage the next generation of manufacturers. But how can you ensure the spark you kindled in the next generation finds fuel? Now more than ever, it’s critical to inform students and potential young manufacturers about the numerous career opportunities available in today’s Industry 4.0 world.

Fortunately, there are many ways to inspire potential young manufacturers. Here are a few ideas.

Making and keeping the manufacturing connection

One of the key reasons MFG Day is such a success is that it gives students the chance to experience hands-on learning in a way they may never do in school. According to a recent IndustryWeek article, 64 percent of high-school students choose their career based on their interests and experiences. This means students need to see your manufacturing equipment and observe your processes in action.

David Braun’s picture

By: David Braun

No matter how well designed, there are no running shoes that allow runners to keep up with cyclists. The bicycle was a key invention that doubled human-powered speed. But what if a new kind of shoe could allow people to run faster by mimicking cycling mechanics?

This is the question my students in Vanderbilt’s Center for Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology and I explored as we developed a new theory of spring-driven robotic exoskeletons. We came up with a concept for a new type of lower-limb exoskeleton that could allow the world’s fastest human to reach a speed of 18 meters per second or about 40 miles per hour.


Robo-boots allow the legs to supply energy in the air during running, similar to the pedaling mechanism in cycling. A. Sutrisno and D. J. Braun, CC BY-ND

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