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Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership backed by tool making industry

The 8th round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment (TTIP) agreement between the European Commission and the United States government took place in February with both sides hailing the meetings as ‘constructive’ amidst wider criticism on the slow pace of progress.

Whilst it remains hard to predict if and when new rules designed to relax trade restrictions between the two regions will come into force, the TTIP could eventually make it much easier for European machine tool manufacturers to do business with their American counterparts. The US currently represents the second largest export market for European firms which collectively export around 16% of their products with a combined value of around €2bn across the Atlantic each year, according to estimates from Filip Geerts, director general of the European Association of Machine Tool Industries (Cecimo).

EC and US governments making progress

“They [the EC and US government negotiators] are making progress and both sides of the ocean are taking it very seriously. But sometimes they can come up against other priorities or political intervention that mean it might have to be postponed for a while,” said Geerts.

The draft TTIP proposal was delayed in 2014 for example when the US insisted that financial services should not be included in the TTIP negotiations, whilst there is continuing disagreement of the investor-state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) cause which would allow investors to take governments to international arbitration tribunals rather than domestic courts. Non-governmental organisations such as Friends of the Earth Europe, Compassion in World Farming and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy have also argued that the terms of the TTIP will compromise food safety and animal welfare standards in support of faster trade, but Geerts doubts any significant protests from the machine tooling industry or business community.

Rather, any objections which do surface are more likely to derive from concerns over health and safety practices, with the TTIP targeting several technical requirements, standards and conformity assessments which are specific to engineering. The US is a member of several ISO working groups for machine tools, including the working group ISO/TC 39/SC 10 on machine tools safety for example, and CECIMO believes that any international standard should provide a straightforward way to meet technical regulatory requirements in both Europe and the US.

Harmonisation with the US will enlarge the Portuguese tool making industry’s recognition in the market

“Normally the tools produced in Portugal follow the European laws and procedures on health and safety issues,” added Manuel Oliveira, secretary general of the Portuguese Association for the Mould Industry. “Any harmonisation with the US in this sense will enlarge its [the Portuguese tool making industry’s] recognition and competitiveness in the market.”

Geerts feels that the removal or reduction import and export tariffs – which he currently estimates vary between 2% and 4.4% – are not as big an issue for European tool and machine manufacturers as non-tariff barriers around bureaucracy and working visas for qualified staff. This may be particularly true for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) within the machine tooling industry estimated to export 50% of their production outside the European Union, but which have limited resources to devote to export activities.

“There are still some [tariff] barriers and it would be better if they were completely abolished but they are not really an obstacle for us,” he said. “The non-tariff barriers – more the technical barriers and the red tape issues, as well transatlantic mobility [immigration issues] which allow us to send qualified people from here to there to do servicing, maintenance and maintenance [on short term entry visas or temporary contracts] for example – those could all be improved.”

Even so the impact of trade tariffs may vary from one European country to another. Portuguese tool and mould makers – which are estimated to currently export 90% of their wares to other countries according to Cefamol – are expected to benefit from the removal of tariff barriers to a certain extent.

“Portuguese companies don’t feel too many constraints on their business related with rules, regulations or bureaucracy, [but] the removal of tariff barriers will certainly increase our competitiveness in the US market, which until the beginning of the 1990s was our main market,” said Oliveira though he points out that any relaxation of rules could also have unwelcome consequences in opening up domestic markets for cheaper imports.

Wider market, increased competition

“If you remove trade barriers you will have a wider market with additional opportunities for development and growth, but on the other hand you will enter an arena where competition comes at you from many different places in the world,” he added.

Geerts calculates that imports from the US specifically are ‘very, very small’ however, representing only around 5% of the total and trailing Japan, Taiwan and China by a big margin.

Any harmonisation around interoperable technology delivered by the TTIP may also help European companies modernise their advanced manufacturing equipment, with Oliveira anticipating greater support for Portuguese mould makers’ efforts to reduce production costs, shorten time to market for new products, and improve their client service and support functions for example.

Implementing new business models

“To succeed, you need to be better and/or different from the others,” said Oliveira. “This situation will lead European companies to implement new business models, introduce new technologies, widen the value chain and invest more heavily in research development. In certain cases, it may help [them] to develop their cooperation activities with clients, suppliers or competitors.”

 The TTIP is a huge cross industry initiative which may have far reaching effects on many vertical sectors including agriculture and textiles. But ultimately its impact on the European tool and mould making industry, whilst positive, is likely to be far less profound.

“When I speak to our sister organisation in the US – the American machine tool association – they are even less interested in this subject [the TTIP] than we are,” said Geerts. “I don’t know why, but like us they probably don’t have a real problem with tariffs. We just want to make it even better.”

Machine tool maker appoints Crotts and Saunders as distributors

“I know the team at Crotts and Saunders is the right company to demonstrate the value that Hurco technology provides manufacturers throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. Hurco CNC technology is especially valuable for high mix/small batch shops where minimizing setup time and maximizing chip time is critical in order to increase profit margins. The dynamic team at Crotts and Saunders is dedicated to finding solutions that improve the speed and quality of manufacturing processes to reduce the overall cost to manufacture products, and I know the Hurco product line of CNC mills and lathes will be a valuable asset as they contineu to fulfill their mission,” said Joe Braun, General Manager of Hurco North America.

Arburg: Energy efficiency award goes to ARaymond

Photo Gallery Arburg Technology Days

According to Chris Miller, Vice President and General Manager of Crotts and Saunders, “We are proud to partner with Hurco to bring the latest technology to shops throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. Charles Saunders and Marcus Crotts, who founded our company in 1956, were aware of the modern technology being produced around the world and built their company around the intent of bringing ‘Tomorrow’s Technology Today’ to the Carolinas and Virginia. This philosophy still holds true and we are proud of our core beliefs in helping our customers exceed their ever increasing manufacturing challenges. The broad line of Hurco CNC machines, equipped with superior motion control technology and the most versatile control technology available, will help us achieve our mission to help manufacturers increase profitability.”

No waste – Fashion show vividly reflects the plastics industry’s pursuit of zero waste

What do vinyl sheet protectors, yoga mats, and plastic beads have to do with a unique and fashionable dress that would turn heads at any gathering? Plenty – thanks to the recyclability of plastics and the artistry of students at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

The dress (see photo) is just one of the creations from recycled, reused, or repurposed plastics that models will display in the Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show at the opening ceremony of NPE2015: The International Plastics Showcase. SCAD students designed the garments and accessories in a partnership program with the producer of the triennial NPE show, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.
The fashion show will take place at 8:30 a.m. in West Hall C on Monday, 23 March 2015, at the start of the five-day NPE2015 exposition at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, Florida. Subsequently, the SCAD creations will be on display in the Zero Waste Zone, a special sector of the exhibit floor in the South Hall of the OCCC devoted to the plastics industry’s mandate to reduce, reuse, or recycle its materials.
In addition to the garments created from used plastics, the fashion show will also include a design created with 3D printing technology by a SCAD student using bioplastics from Green Dot, Sponsor of the fashion show. It will be one of 13 outfits shown, as well as a number of dazzling accessories also created with recycled, reused, or repurposed plastics.
“We found the students at SCAD to be not only talented and creative but also very involved with environmental issues,” said Brad Williams, director of marketing and sales for SPI. “Their designs are vivid demonstrations that recycled plastics can gain new lives in many forms—both as purely utilitarian goods and as objects of beauty. The Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show at NPE2015 will add a new dimension to our industry mandate to reduce, reuse, and recycle the valuable materials that make up our products.”
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution conferring bachelor’s and master’s degrees at distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers degrees in more than 40 majors. Visit for more information.
Green Dot will exhibit at NPE2015 at booth S19200 in the Sustainability Pavilion, part of the Zero Waste Zone. Visit to learn more about their sustainability efforts.

Euromold joins forces with Wohlers

Euromold organiser Demat has announced a partnership with Wohlers Associates principal consultant and president Terry Wohlers, Dr. h.c., and his team of consultants and associates. According to Demat, this strategic relationship would help to preserve Euromold as the world’s leading exhibition on additive manufacturing and 3D printing.

Related: Formnext powered by TCT

“I am more excited than ever about Euromold’s role and influence in the development of the additive manufacturing industry,“ Wohlers commented. „The organisers are taking a comprehensive and careful view of the AM ecosystem of today and the future.”

Euromold 2015 takes place from 22 – 25 September 2015 at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre, Germany.



Formnext powered by TCT to feature EOS‘ AM solutions

EOS, a global leader for high-end additive manufacturing (AM) solutions, has decided to showcase its AM solution portfolio in Germany in 2015 at the Formnext powered by TCT show in Frankfurt.
„Our goal was to make a well-educated decision for the future of our company and for our industry,“ Adrian Keppler, head of sales and Marketing at EOS said. „We are currently operating in a fascinating and growing market environment and see great potential ahead for the entire industry. After a thorough analysis of all possible alternatives, we feel that ‚formnext powered by TCT‘ has the biggest potential to become the leading, long-term global AM show of the future, offering the best platform we can currently think of to support further extensive market development of the entire AM industry.“

Related: Photo Gallery: Tool & Mould Expos 2015

The organiser of Formnext, Mesago Messe Frankfurt and the organiser of TCT Show + Personalize, Rapid News Publications Ltd, have recently agreed on a long-term strategic partnership.

The trade show for tool making and additive technologies/3D printing takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, from 24 – 27 November 2015. This fact is underlined by the new brand of Formnext powered by TCT.

“This partnership offers additional strength to the formnext concept, creating a very attractive, international and long-lasting trade show concept,” said Johann Thoma, CEO of Mesago Messe Frankfurt. “The benefits to the additive technologies/3D printing sector are most obvious, but the tool making sector stands to gain from the innovative partnership.”

formnext powered by TCT will take place in Hall 3, one of the most modern halls of the Frankfurt exhibition centre.

Orders up 3.1% in 2014

December US manufacturing technology orders totaled $506.89m according to AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTO program, was up 32.7% from November and up 4.7% when compared with the total of $484.08m reported for December 2013. With a year-to-date total of $5,079.05m, 2014 was up 3.1% compared with 2013.

„The momentum we saw in manufacturing toward the end of 2014 is fueling optimism for 2015, with many major manufacturers saying they plan to hire more and invest more throughout the coming months,“ said AMT President Douglas K. Woods. „The 3.1% gain in orders for the year was in line with our yearly forecast. While there are reasons for caution – a rising dollar, falling oil prices, and a shortage of skilled workers – overall we feel that the U.S. economy will continue to improve its fortunes through the first half of 2015 and manufacturing will see a measure of restrained growth.“

Video – USMTO in a nutshell – AMT Vice President – Strategic Analytics Pat McGibbon comments on USMTO numbers and the manufacturing technology market in the U.S.

Hannover-Messe adds „Additive Manufacturing Plaza“

The overarching integration of industrial processes is entering the next round: Exhibitors at the Digital Factory trade fair (to be staged under the umbrella of Hannover-Messe 2015 in April) will demonstrate what industry needs for this next evolutionary phase, how product development and manufacturing processes will be coordinated in the future, and what the integration of information technology and automation can look like in action. The lead theme of the world’s most important trade fair for industrial technology is “Integrated Industry – Join the Network!”, and it is in this spirit that the hot topic of Industry 4.0 will be addressed.

The new Additive Manufacturing Plaza gives additive manufacturing a dedicated showcase at Digital Factory. The Plaza will put the spotlight on digital prototypes as a prerequisite for automated production. The heart of this special display is being staged in exclusive collaboration with Arburg. A group pavilion and individual stands by key players are part of the display. The focus will be on industry-capable machines as well as standard industrial materials of representative hardness and other parameters. Among the leading suppliers to appear alongside Arburg are alphacam, ExOne, Kisters and voxeljet.  According to Arburg, it is the only manufacturer to cover the entire spectrum of industrial production of high-quality plastic components, from additive manufacturing of one-off units all the way to injection moulding for mass production.

“At this special display, we are not only presenting our Freefomer and Arburg Plastic Freeforming technology, but also promising ways of using Industry 4.0 technology to deploy additive manufacturing and injection molding throughout the entire process chain,” explained Heinz Gaub, CTO, Arburg. “Along with the manufacture of functional components and small batches, we are presenting cutting-edge additive manufacturing using the Freeformer for user-specific customisation of mass-produced components made of plastic. Full integration throughout the value chain makes it possible to flexibly respond to customers’ individual wishes.”