JUNE 18, 2013
Almost everyone knows Jay Leno, the comedian, host of NBC’s “Tonight Show” and avid classic-car and motorcycle collector. Far fewer know Jay Leno, the advanced manufacturer, writesThe Wall Street Journal (June 11, 2013).
Leno houses his more than 200 cars and motorcycles in solar-powered warehouse like buildings near LA that span 110,000 sq. ft. In one of the structures is an expansive shop equipped with an impressive array of 21st-century machines, including a Stratasys industrial-grade 3-D printer, a NextEngine scanner, a Fadal computer-controlled mill and a (very pricey) KMT Hammerhead water jet cutter that can slice through steel. Along with a battery of more-traditional metal machining equipment, the tools allow Leno and his small crew to fabricate just about any auto part that has been produced in the past 100 years.
“The days of going to a junkyard and trying to find an auto part that says Packard or Franklin on it are over,” Leno says. “We can make almost anything we need right here in the shop ourselves.” For his 1906 Stanley Steamer, “We took the worn piece and copied it with a scanner that can measure about 50,000 points per second. That created a digital file or image of the part, which we can modify in the computer if there are imperfections or defects in the part being scanned. Then you feed that data into the 3-D printer, and, presto, you have a mold that will allow you to cast a brand new part.”
For a modest investment by virtually any industrial measure, Leno has been able to extricate himself in a meaningful way from the globe’s vast network of producers, distributors and sellers. As he puts it, “We’ve sort of gone off the grid.” He agrees that the new tools will increasingly empower other individuals and entrepreneurial ventures to make increasingly sophisticated things themselves. “Manufacturing started out with craftsmen making stuff in small cottage industries. In many ways I think we’re going to go back to that cottage-industry model.”
This post provided courtesy of Jay and Barry’s OM Blog at www.heizerrenderom.wordpress.com. Professors Jay Heizer and Barry Render are authors of Operations Management , the world’s top selling textbook in its field, published by Pearson.