Cool Stuff Being Made

Made Possible By Manufacturing

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There is nothing more exciting than the roar of a dozen engines and the wave of a flag at the start of a NASCAR race. All of that energy and excitement is made possible by manufacturing. From the engines and pistons essential in every car to the bleachers and grandstands where crowds watch the race unfold manufacturing is everywhere.

One company and NAM member, SKF has been in NASCAR Cup racing for almost 20 years bringing innovation in manufacturing and engineering expertise to its racing partners.  SKF is a global manufacturing and supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics and lubricant systems that are used in industries ranging from machinery to NASCAR. SKF utilizes its advanced computerized modelling and simulation systems to evaluate components in these high stress, high load environments in order to improve efficiency, speed and reliability. Read More

NAM Member Kawasaki To Make New Subway Cars for DC Metro

By | America's Business, Cool Stuff Being Made, Transportation | No Comments

By night, Washington, D.C. is a mid-sized American city of roughly 600,000 people, somewhere between Baltimore and Nashville.  By day, the population explodes to over a million.  If those commuters aren’t battling some of the worst traffic in the nation, there’s a good chance they are taking Metro, the D.C. area’s public transit system.

And, in a couple years, they’ll be riding in style in new train cars (the 7000 series, to be precise), all brought to you by manufacturing in the United States.

Yesterday, Metro unveiled its new railcar, which will made by NAM-member Kawasaki at its rail car manufacturing facility in Lincoln, Nebraska. Kawasaki has made train cars for transit systems across the country.

Among the innovations in the new Metro cars are floors composed of “a dark, nonslip vinyl colored with blue, red and white specks that focus groups favored for its patriotic feeling.” Many riders will welcome the new doors, which no longer will crush unsuspecting tourists. “The new doors will have a ‘sensitive edge’ that can determine when a rider is trapped as the doors close, the Washington Examiner reports. “The doors will spring open slightly but not all the way, said Metro’s chief vehicle engineer, Joseph Reynolds.”

And there’s more. Metro highlights some other features of the new cars and offers a sneak peak of what’s to come.


Cool Stuff Being Made: Marlin Steel Wire

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Drew Greenblatt, president and CEO of Marlin Steel Wire Products, takes us on a tour of his Baltimore operations and factory floor, highlighting the people, automation and innovation that enable the company to ship its products to 34 different countries.

Take note, please, of his emphasis on the abilities of the people who work for Marlin Steel Wire.

Drew is a member of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Board of Directors and recently testified on behalf of the NAM before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on manufacturing, competitiveness and innovation. Follow the company via Twitter @SteelWire.

By the way, this is the first full NAM in-house production of a “Cool Stuff Being Made” video. Thanks to Matt Preiss, James Skelly and Christian Moritz for their work to make it happen. Looks good!

The Glif: Designed in New York, Manufactured in South Dakota

By | Around the States, Cool Stuff Being Made, Innovation | 2 Comments

For providing a sense of how manufacturing now often works in the United States, we love the Glif,  a tripod mount & stand for the iPhone 4. It captures a simple, elegant concept for a consumer product developed by New York City designers, a new form of financing, even search-engine optimization and ultimately, contract manufacturing out in the Great Plains. From

The Glif was created by Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost, two designers who operate under the moniker Studio Neat. We live and work in New York City and enjoy making simple things and making things simple. 

The Glif, our first product, represents a new way of approaching consumer products, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a few thousand people who believed in us. Not too long ago the Glif was just an idea with nowhere to go. We knew it was going to be something people might like, but we needed a way to share it with the world. Typically, if you want to make a physical product (especially an electronics accessory) you have to be or sell to a large company, but we didn’t like that idea. We wanted to stay close to the Glif and more importantly, to our customers. So, after much thought, we decided to put the Glif’s fate into the hands of the masses and begin a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money required to make it a reality.

Kickstarter is a platform that connects creators with people who are interested in helping them out. Our contributors on Kickstarter pledged money towards our goal with no guarantee that we would ever be successful.

The manufacturing is contracted out to Falcon Plastics, a customs injection molding company based in Brooking, S.D., a region and process well portrayed in our Cool Stuff Being Made video:

What’s all that you’re seeing? From (our emphasis):

Falcon has designed products for companies such as Toshiba, Berkley, Daktronics, and 3M, using expertise in areas including: Pro-E and Cad Key software, tooling, hotstamping, sonic welding, automation, insert and scientific molding, prototyping, assembly, and much more.

And a great Christmas present!

Member Focus and Cool Stuff Being Made: Explosion Welding

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The November issue of the National Association of Manufacturers’ monthly publication, Member Focus, has just been posted online with reports on the 2010 elections, the lame-duck session of Congress, and top policy issues including taxes and trade.

There’s explosive coverage, or rather, coverage of explosion welding in the feature, “Cool Stuff Being Made,” highlighting the manufacturing processes used by the Colorado-based manufacturer, Dynamic Materials Corp.

As Member Focus reports:

Based in Boulder, Co., Dynamic Materials Corporation is the world’s leading provider of explosion-welded clad metal plates. In the late 1960s, Dynamic Materials started an explosion metal forming business that shaped blank sheets of metal alloys into complex three-dimensional parts for aerospace equipment manufacturers.

Today, its products are typically used in industrial capital projects in a variety of industries, including oil and gas, petrochemicals, alternative energy, hydrometallurgy, aluminum production, shipbuilding, power generation and industrial refrigeration, among others.

In this month’s “Cool Stuff Being Made,” we get a sneak peek at Dynamic Materials’ explosion welding process, the only welding method capable of joining nearly every kind of metal combination, regardless of the type or composition. Watch how the intense force of these high-powered explosions almost seamlessly welds large metal plates together. Fire in the hole! 

For more Cool Stuff videos, visit

Cool Stuff Being Made: Mack Trucks, Inc.

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Today marks the return of Cool Stuff Being Made, mini-documentaries about manufacturers and manufacturing. Each issue of Member Focus, the monthly magazine for National Association of Manufacturers, will now highlight a company and its video story. Go to the publication, and this month’s issue is available here.

As for Mack Trucks:

For more than a century, Mack Trucks, Inc. has produced some of the most durable and powerful heavy-duty trucks and engines in the world. In 1905, brothers John, Augustus and William Mack chose Allentown, Pa., as the home of their main manufacturing operations facility, and Mack soon became the standard in the United States for large commercial motor vehicle trucks.

Mack immediately set the bar high for innovation, becoming one of the first manufacturers to mount a cab directly over the engine to increase driver visibility and maneuverability.

Today, Mack is one of North America’s largest producers of heavy-duty trucks, and Mack trucks are sold and serviced in more than 45 countries around the world. Mack trucks have helped build America’s roads, bridges and buildings. The famous Mack bulldog symbolizes the company’s longestablished
reputation for strength, endurance and tenacity.

Mack trucks touch Americans’ lives in some way on a daily basis—whether transporting goods or removing waste.

In this month’s “Cool Stuff Being Made,” Roy Ernst takes us through Mack’s 1-million-square-foot assembly operations facility in Macungie, Pa., just outside of Allentown, and shows us step-by-step how Mack’s granite cab construction and refuse vehicles are manufactured. To view the video, please

Cool Stuff Being Made: J&J Frozen Desserts

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Is it the season for Italian ices yet? Perhaps not so much on the consumption end, but production is well under way at Mia Products, a frozen dessert manufacturer in Moosic, Pennsylvania. In this week’s “Cool Stuff Being Made” we get a selection of their J&J Frozen Desserts — watermelon and lime. Frozen at 40 below.

Mia belongs to the J&J Snack Foods Corp. family of companies. From the corporate profile:

J&J Snack Foods Corp. is a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of an expanding variety of nutritional, popularly priced, branded niche snack foods and beverages for the food service and retail supermarket industries. The Company is listed on the NASDAQ exchange as “JJSF”, and serves both national and international markets.

Our growing portfolio of products includes frozen soft pretzels under SUPERPRETZEL®, Pretzel Fillers® and other brand names; ICEE® frozen beverages; LUIGI’S® Real Italian Ice, Whole Fruit®; frozen juice bars under the Minute Maid®, Barq’s®, SHAPE UPS® and CHILL® brand names; TIO PEPE’S® churros; The Funnel Cake Factory® funnel cakes; and cookies under the Mrs. GoodCookie® and CAMDEN CREEK® brands.

Snacks? There’s a meal in there. And, Mia is certified organic.

Thanks to T.J. Couzens, general manager, for the tour, and to Pennsylvania Cable Network for the video footage.

Cool Stuff Being Made: Whirley Drinkware

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From the website of Whirley Drinkworks:

Once upon a time (actually it was 1960), two entrepreneurs named Bob Sokolski and Hal Conarro started a coin-operated laundry business. They called it “Whirley Wash,” after the motion the machines made as they cleaned. Success soon followed.

It wasn’t long before Bob and Hal decided to parlay their good fortune into another arena: car washes. “Sparkle Car Washes,” a chain of coin-operated sites, was soon born. The two founders even went so far as to design their own equipment, which they began supplying to hundreds of other car washes.

Looking for a fresh challenge, Bob and Hal turned their attention to plastics. Over the next nearly four decades, their new venture, Whirley Industries, took the plastic promotional drinkware world by storm, becoming the #1 company of its kind in the country!


In this week’s “Cool Stuff Being Made,” Lincoln Sokolski brings up to date, walking us through the Warren, Penn., operations of the drinkware products manufacturer. Extrusion, molding, printing – yes, there’s plastic at work.

And a Spiderman angle!

Thanks to the good people of the Pennsylvania Cable Network for sharing their video documentaries for adaptation here at

And thanks to the NAM’s Matt Preiss for the editing and posting. For more NAM videos, go to

Bottom’s up! (Odds are good Whirley will be on the bottom of the mug.)


Cool Stuff Being Made: Scaramuzza’s Pasta Products

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The mini-documentary seeries of American manufacturing, “Cool Stuff Being Made,” returns to after a production hiatus. We wanted to be sure to get back in time for sweeps.

We return with an American classic, pasta, in this case, the production of ravioli, shells, lasagna, gnocchi and the like at Scaramuzza’s Pasta Products of Clifton Heights, Penn. (Outside of Philadelphia.)

So that’s how a machine produces ravioli, eh? And 600 pounds of cheese in a day they use! (Lots of hand labor still being employed, though.)

Thanks to Bob Scaramuzza for a tour of the operations, and to our friends at the Pennsylvania Cable Network for supplying the video, grazie!


Card Check: Sundry

By | Cool Stuff Being Made, Labor Unions | No Comments

From the Washington Post, “Battle Deepens Over Union Organizing“:

In recent television ads, opponents have linked heavy unionization to job cuts and other problems afflicting the airline, steel and automobile industries.

“I really worry that this issue is a public policy disaster and political nightmare in waiting,” said political strategist Mark McKinnon.

McKinnon, who worked for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the Republican primary season but refused to work against Obama in the general election, argued that the opposition to the issue could jeopardize the rest of Obama’s legislative agenda. “I think it has the potential to be like gays in the military was for Clinton if they try to roll this out quickly,” he said.

Weekly Standard, The Blog, “The Tale of Blagojevich, and What (If Anything) the Transition Knew“:

If the SEIU was freelancing with Blagojevich, Obama’s inclination to extend himself for Big Labor by pushing Congress on card check should shrink considerably.

You would sure hope.

It now appears the Democrats will not reach the 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filisbuster. Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic comments in “60 Might Have Mattered“:

A Republican senator, speaking to reporters this morning, offered up EFCA, the “Employee Free Choice Act” — card check — as a prime example of where Republicans would unite to fight tooth and nail against the Democrats and the Obama White House.

“We will do everything we possibly can to get every Republican on board,” the senator said.”We’re even working on Arlen,” the senator said, referring to Pennsylvania’s Sen. Specter, a reliable ally of labor unions. A few Democrats, the senator said, will be targeted…[snip]

Card check would allow workers to “show cards” at a union-sponsored event; if more than 50% of them did, then the union would be recognized as the bargaining agent for the workers. Alternatively, employees could ask for a secret ballot election, but employers would have to recognize its results. Labor unions have been salivating for card check elections, as their ranks would significantly expand because of it; Obama has promised to sign it.

Well, that’s not right. Here’s the text of H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act. No meetings required. You can intimidate the employees into signing individually. Although in a small group, perhaps you could crowd them all into a room at one time and impress upon them the need to sign.

If the Board finds that a majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for bargaining has signed valid authorizations designating the individual or labor organization specified in the petition as their bar gaining representative and that no other individual or labor organization is currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit, the Board shall not direct an election but shall certify the individual or labor organization as the representative described in subsection (a).