Amazon has launched the next major iteration of its Industrial & Scientific section, called Amazon Supply. It offers much of the same manufacturing and MRO (maintenance, repair, operations) products for small & medium sized shops as I&S did, but with improved services & options. You will find a broad selection of cutting tools, materials (yes, including metals), material handling equipment, and shop supplies here. But Amazon Supply has built on its purchase of Small Parts in '05, and now offers corporate lines of credit with 45+ days extended payment terms, invoice-level detail, online account management, and dedicated customer service. All this, blended into Amazon's legacy B2C model. (A feature here of interest to small & medium machining and metalworking businesses - an Amazon Prime account gets you free, two-day shipping just as it would for commericial or consumable products).
The AME is an Illinois-based organization dedicated to sharing of best practices among US manufacturers. Its primary focus is on Lean - Lean Accounting, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Supply Chain Management, Lean Product Development, and the entire Lean Manufacturing Enterprise. Members have access to a mature forum that connects with fellow members to consult, inquire, and share experience. Current membership is a little above 5000. The AME site contains some strong manufacturing management information, even for non-members, like past presentations & past issues of its Target magazine.
CCE provides translators in SaaS or SaaP (Software as a Product) models. Register on this site, pay up (with a credit card, thank you very much), download their connectivity software, and you're playing quarterback in the Translator Bowl. There are several combinations of translators across numerous 3D CAD systems, including CATIA, Pro/Engineer, MasterCAM, Unigraphics, Solid Edge, and others. These folks have really pressed the "agility" button hard with this site; by offering more translators and more mature rental menu (i.e., hourly, daily, weekly, etc.), this site just might give shops a glimpse of what will become commonplace sooner—rather than later. This is a great example of how SaaS can effectively address a shop's needs at very granular levels. CCE has evolved to include many specialized, specific design & manufacturing software solutions for businesses throughout supply chains.
Using Scientific Methods to help Business Leaders FIND, FILTER & FAST TRACK innovations that are meaningfully unique vs. competition.
Fabricating.com is the latest sourcing platform to serve the discrete & custom parts manufacturing markets. Many services for buyers & suppliers are free, including searching the Fabricating.com suppliers database, creating company profiles, RFQ creation & management, and many communications & collaborations tools. Higher placement and improved services are available to suppliers at additional costs. According to the company, its customer service and mature technology are its core strengths.
FingerCAD is portable device app that allows manufacturers, designers, & shopfloor personnel to 'draw' or manipulate CAD drawings, save them in various formats (like .dxf), share them, and collaborate with others. Files may be exported to various CAD programs, imported from Web links & Emails, and there are several 2D and 3D capabilities built into this app. FingerCAD costs $5.99.
The Global Alliance of Rapid Prototyping Associations (GARPA), and its annual meeting, the Global Summit, were formed to encourage the sharing of information on rapid prototyping and related subjects across international borders. As a part of this sharing, GARPA members from around the world participate in activities that include technical presentations at industry conferences, the publication of application case studies, business meetings, social events, and the formal and informal exchange of information.
According to their site, MEP is a nationwide network of not-for-profit Centers in over 400 locations nationwide, whose sole purpose is to provide small and medium-sized manufacturers with the help they need to succeed. This site is less of a hotbed of massive metalworking info, and more of a portal through which to initiate contact with MEP. If you're a small- to mid-sized manufacturer and would like some assistance with your processes, this might not be a bad idea.
MAPI is a member association headquartered in Washington, DC, and dedicated to the support of US manufacturing via 26 'councils' to support various stages of members' manufacturing enterprises, meetings and member support. But it's MAPI's research & data that distinguishes this group. Their reports covering the state of manufacturing via economic, trade, business and perfomance data are often outstanding, and provide an impressive macro review of manufacturing in the US.
MobleERP is a customizable, enterprise resource planning app for the iPhone, iPad, Android, & Windows platforms that connects directly to the Windows Dynamics ERP product. Features include sporadic syncing to allow for offline access & management, a simple mobile-designed interface, and native apps. If your business uses Microsoft Dynamics as its ERP platform, you'll want to check this out.
The independent resource for users of rapid protoyping, rapid manufacturing and 3D Printing.
The Supplier Excellence Alliance is a collective of aerospace, defense, and space primes/OEMs, major subcontractors, and suppliers working together to improve capabilities and ensure American competitiveness. Think of this organization as a commune for the supply chain – and if you’re reading this, you’re part of a supply chain. There are numerous resources to help your business on this site, whether you’re outsourcing work or doing it for someone else. SEA’s focus on lean alone is worth a visit. SEA appears committed to improving each link in the chain; or at least your performance in it.
The Management Roundtable is the leading knowledge and networking resource for product developers. Practitioner-oriented and unbiased, our focus is on providing actionable information about new strategies and processes that enable speed, innovation, profitability, and overall competitive advantage.
TCT is Europe’s leading publication serving the rapid product development and rapid manufacturing sector. Parent organization of TCT Live.
Wohlers Associates, Inc. is an independent consulting firm that provides technical, marketing, and strategic advice on the new developments and trends in rapid product development and additive fabrication.