Archive for January, 2016

A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, January 2016

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

You hold in your hands the tools to shape your own destiny.

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI PresidentWow, it’s 2016 and by now you have been to the parties and toasted the New Year and have made those resolutions that sometimes are so hard to keep. Some of us give our shop a thorough cleaning with the hope and belief that this is going to be a great year. We sharpen our screwdrivers, point up our tweezers, and, in general, check all of our tools to make sure they are in good working order. We might even buy something that we feel will help us to do a better job. What is the most important tool in our tool box? Perhaps you would say my tweezers or my screwdrivers or that tool that you very seldom use.
All of these are important but not the most important. The most important is you, because without you those tweezers, screwdrivers, and all the other tools cannot repair a clock or watch or service that customer that just came through the door. We hold in our hands the tools to shape our own destiny. It’s up to you to do what you wish with your life. You are in control. You are the driving force behind whatever you do. With a positive attitude you can change your world or possibly change the world one person at a time. Have you ever been in a room where everything was negative? Where one person felt everything was doom and gloom and they influenced the attitude of the entire room? You probably left feeling low and didn’t understand why. My wife recently went to lunch with a lady, and the whole time they were at lunch this person talked about members of her church in a negative way. Shirley said, “I will not go out with this person again because of her negative attitude.” On another occasion, she was with a former co-worker for a luncheon, and they talked about how well this person or that former employee was doing: one had gotten a promotion, and the other one had bought a new house. She came away with a good, positive feeling and looks forward to another visit with this person.
Have you ever been around someone who feels that the world is not treating them fairly or that they are owed something they did not earn? They usually get what they think about all the time, because thoughts become things. The best helping hand is at the end of your own wrist. Whatever you think about all the time will come to pass. Basketball players who are good at what they do visualize making that basket; that outstanding running back knows he is going to score. So it should be with horologists. Do you see yourself being at the top of your game? Do you see yourself working on complicated timepieces? Do you see yourself asking for a higher price for your work and getting it? Do you see yourself taking that test to become a certified watchmaker or certified clockmaker and passing it? Certification should be something that you do for yourself to see how darn good you are or can be—not to get a parts account. Remember: You hold in your hands the tools to shape your own destiny.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. MAY YOU BE BLESSED WITH GOOD HEALTH, PLENTY OF GOOD WORK, AND MAY YOU FIND ALL THE PARTS THAT YOU NEED TO DO THOSE JOBS.

 

Industry News, January 2016

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

 

Business School Students Research American Manufacturing for Watches

“The Two-Week Experts”

By Elizabeth Graves

A group of MBA students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business were tasked with researching the possibilities for manufacturing watches, or watch components, in the United States. Since Detroit’s Shinola is not far from the Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they had some involvement in the project. In the report below, one student reveals the findings of her team.

The term “fire hose” has been used by students at Ross to describe the onslaught of intense experiences—trips, guest lectures, case competitions—students may encounter during our MBA program. Our first fire hose experience was the limited amount of time my team had to complete a case competition dealing with the watchmaking industry.

The objective of the case competition was to develop a strategy to bring more manufacturing back to the United States, specifically in the watchmaking industry. This competition required participants to identify a component of a watch that was best suited to meet this objective. As we sat through a day of presentations, all the teams seemed to come to the same conclusion: Let’s try to source the metal cases. Leather and cloth for watch straps seemed to be already sourced in the United States. Movements seemed to be a profitable secret the Swiss would never be willing to share. So watch cases were the most obvious choice.

Our Google search led us to a group of watchmaking experts, the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. For the next 30 minutes, the Executive Director, Jordan Ficklin, answered every watch-sourcing question we could think of. By the end of the conversation we were well on our way to becoming experts.

Our perspective on the watch industry is that it is steeped in tradition, which leads to cautious evolution, and this instinct is well founded and necessary. It’s a source of pride and the glue that binds a community of makers and wearers.

In that vein, the craftsmanship of the curious has been the key to moving the industry forward. From the adventurers who wanted clocks to cross the high seas, deep ocean, or outer space to those who experimented with quartz and solar panels, the watch industry, like time itself, is always moving forward. In that same spirit, we think the solution to sourcing cases in America is additive manufacturing technology (also known as 3D printing).

From our perspective, there are two types of additive manufacturing—the everyman printers and the printers that cost $500,000. They are truly worlds apart. We feel the top-of-the-line printing technology best suited to this cause is Binder Jetting. Binder Jetting is superior in both speed and versatility. Whereas regular additive printers print single layers at a time, Binder Jetting prints multiple layers at a time. You can think of it as a laser-jet printer laying down multiple drops of ink per swipe across a piece of paper. Where regular 3D printing is done in plastic, with Binder Jetting you can choose between plastic, glass, metal, and wax. After printing you then “bake” the layers in place for added stability. Many Binder Jetting projects are even produced like a shell, baked and then gone back and “filled” with a different material to suit its specific purpose (weight, durability, etc.) Unlike the everyman printer, this is not something that melts in the sun or cannot withstand pressure. This is a technology that is employed to make aircraft parts and fracking equipment. Binder Jetting shares the ability to create complex designs and can be finished in practically any material you can dream up.

The company best suited to the challenge for this case competition is called Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (rp+m) in Avon Lake, Ohio. We were very impressed with its CEO and founder, Matt Hlavin, who was not only kind enough to lend samples of Binder Jetting (to show off to the judges), but also impressed us with the fact that he is one of the leading experts in the field and has worked extensively with the equipment manufacturer to pioneer new materials that can be used to print. The big downside: during the course of our two weeks we did not get the chance to actually print a watch case and so we cannot say beyond a theoretically educated guess what these cases would turn out to look like.*

The big benefit we see as far as watchmaking is the ability for this technology to be so versatile, and once the process is refined 5 to 10 years down the road, 3D printing will absolutely be capable of making new watch movements for both a specialized watch and an old watch whose movements are relics of the past. It will be perfect for embedding your personally designed watch case with designs impossible to duplicate by conventional method(effectively making it copy-proof) or barcodes to scan with your smartphone to find information on where to take the watch for repairs or replacement.

So how did our competition go? We came in second place.

If you would like to learn more about Michigan’s part-time MBA or to follow our adventures online please check us out on Facebook and on Michigan’s website at: www.michiganross.umich.edu/programs/weekend-mba.

To learn more about the company we profiled in this article, Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing, please see their website: www.rpplusm.com/index.html.

Elizabeth Graves is a graduate student at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. When she graduates, she hopes to work with businesses that are environmentally conscious.

*Editor’s note: Vortic Watch Co., (www.vorticwatches.com) based in Loveland, Colorado, uses 3D printing to produce their All American Artisan Series cases using 316 stainless steel. The cases are finished with one of three patinas (Nickel Plated, Antique Bronze, or Medieval Pewter). The cases are also available polished and without a patina. See photos.