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[h=2]Latest announcement is meant to underscore for the union and investors that the automaker is focused on improving its U.S. manufacturing.
[/h]When General Motors [URL="http://fortune.com/company/GM"]GM -1.27% [/URL]makes a die for one of its enormous stamping presses that turns sheet metal into auto parts, each die first must be fine-tuned and validated. Otherwise, the resulting parts could be malformed.
Instead of testing dies on the very presses that stamp the parts, GM is changing its process to tweak them in advance — on a new $124 million press, dedicated for that purpose. Quality and efficiency are expected to improve as a result.
The new press, operating at a factory in Pontiac, Mich., represents a small part of the $5.4 billion that GM is plowing into U.S. manufacturing over the next three years. The No. 1 U.S. automaker announced the investment Thursday, having already invested $16.4 billion just in the U.S. since emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2009.

More Here: GM is investing billions in its U.S. plants - Fortune
 

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There is no way you can start off with a piece of flat sheet metal, put it in a forming press and end up with a uniform thickness. The greater the curves or bends, the thinner the resultant will be, even paper thin.

Can do this with carbon fiber, or even fiberglass, but at present, a hand operation. A better method would be to study how to automate this process.

Sheet metal is an age old problem. Die makers were the highest paid, but do have a lot of automation machinery to cut down this cost. Ha, and nobody wants to buy a new vehicle that looks like last years model. But they are working on this problem by skyrocketing the price of labor and parts to repair your old one. Getting cheaper to buy a new one.
 

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Maybe not for production, but sure cuts the cost for making dies and molds. Back in the 60's, needed a plastic molded part, if I handed over the blueprints, price tag was over 100,000 bucks. But made a model that could be used in a tracer mill, that cut the price tag down to 9,000.00 bucks.

With 3D printing, could just feed the prints into this box. Latest versions of Auto Cad do this to feed directly into a NCM.

Ha, what about doing all those mathematical equations by hand? That took hours, just plug those numbers into a computer today and get the answers in a split second.
 

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I think 3D printing will play a role in car manufacturing in the near future.
It already does play a huge role. Nearly everything that goes into car design is now done with rapid prototyping (3D printing). My son has been doing this for nearly two decades for the tier 1 supply company he works for. He has done entire axle and suspension assemblies, as well as frames including hydro-formed frames. It will be a long while before the process can be used to make production parts (too slow), but computer generated solid models are used for most production part design and creation. Manufacturers now require this of their suppliers. The old tool and die maker being used to make hand carved models is long gone.
 

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Suppose being replaced by a high end computer with a 3D printer is not as humiliating as being replaced by a 29 cent wall hook. But the results are still the same, instead of getting a decent paycheck, handing out carts at Walmart.
 

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As is these once high paying jobs.
Pretty sure my Son makes a lot more than a tool and die guy did. But then, in addition to 3D solid modeling, he also does test equipment calibration, prototype builds, pre-production builds, and production line assembly testing. Yeah, he has replaced that old T&D guy, along with a couple of others too. Lean and mean corporate staffing!
 

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Ha, Jim, we have something in common, my oldest boy does the same thing, composing software for industrial automation, but now heads the software department.

When he was around ten years old, brought a computer home, he fell in love with it. Had to buy another one with other kids in the house to prevent a war.
 
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