July 15, 2008

Cutting Edge Technology!

I just got back from overseeing the production of one of our books in China. Even though I’m hazy with jetlag and desperately want a nap, I’m here to share with you the newest item on my Christmas list. Behold, the automated steel blade die forming machine! (I’m a sucker for new technology.) In all my visits to the various manufacturing plants my favorite part of the factory tour is watching the workers hammer and bend the die blades like some sort of medieval blacksmith. It is an art form and requires a lot of patience and skill. And now in place of a worktable stands a machine that crimps and cuts steel die blades, which are fed from a reel in the rear. The machine translates my digital die lines in the CAD software and that means I can get perfectly formed die blades that match any intricate design. Coupled with a calibrated laser mounted plotter to cut the die mold and you have a winning team…that is until laser cutters get faster and cheaper and carve up the printed sheet without leaving scorch marks. If Moore’s Law holds true, I’d say we have about ten years to go. In the meantime, I’ll keep watching the workers bend steel like Superman.

- Kyle

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