Author: Noah Graff

On Jan. 10, 2008, Tata Motors unveiled its revolutionary $2500 car, the Tata Nano, also being called “The People’s Car” by its maker. The vehicle measures 3.1 meters in length, 1.5 meters in width and 1.6 meters in height. It has a mono-volume design, with wheels at the corners and the power-train at the rear in order to provide both maneuverability and space on the inside to accommodate families. The Nano has a rear-wheel drive, all-aluminum, two-cylinder, 623 cc, 33 PS, multi point fuel injection petrol engine. It’s the first time that a two-cylinder gasoline engine is being used in…

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The December 12, Wall Street Journal discussed how 3-D printing machines are now becoming available to consumers to produce objects in their homes as diverse as iPod covers, action figures or ash trays. Such machines also known as rapid prototyping machines have been in use by manufacturers, scientists, and professional artists for years but this is ground breaking because it brings the power to produce objects quickly at low volume to the common person. Video about consumer 3-D printers Last year Today’s Machining World did an interview with the late Larry Rhoades, former CEO of Ex-One, a company that…

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One of the best early indicators of the American economy may be breast implants, tummy tucks and LASIK procedures. According to the December 8th Wall Street Journal, cosmetic surgery is a dead-on indicator of consumer confidence. Confidence is not a perfect match for consumer behavior, but uninsured cosmetic procedures are expensive, put off-able acts like car buying and condo shopping. The Journal tells us that breast building is soft, and the fat has been sucked out of the liposuction racket for the moment, so we can expect the stock market to droop. Cutera, the Brisbane, California laser maker, says that…

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The $100 computer and the $2500 car are the hottest products on the planet today. Neither one is yet a reality, but the intense interest in developing these mass produced items for potentially a billion new customers in Asia, Africa, and South America is driving a mega battle in electronics and autos. Video of $100 Computer A few years ago, the personal computer push built the Microsoft and Intel fortunes. But in 2005, Nicholas Negroponte, of MIT, postulated that the $100 dollar computer was doable and set out to build the market and design the product. In the Nov. 24,…

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I recently made a trip to downtown San Francisco and discovered a new approach to fast food that seems to be prospering — the soup and oatmeal take-out restaurant. Take-out Soup Restaurant Review This is limited menu to the extreme. One location was an eight foot wide hole in the wall. Oatmeal was served until 10:00 a.m. and then replaced by soup. The soups rotated daily. When they run out of one, that particular variety was finished for the day. The other soup outlet had a dozen tables, more staff, longer hours, but also stuck to the oatmeal and soup…

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The immigration pickle we are in is supposedly being debated in the preprimary beanbag in Iowa and New Hampshire. But all I’m hearing is lowest denominator crap about keeping out nasty Mexicans. Lost in the mush mongering is the diminishing magnetism of America to the best and brightest in the world who are getting the fuzzy message that they are welcome to come as tourists or students but if they expect to stay for a career they’ll have to beat a system that is rigged against the honest and successful would-be immigrant. I have witnessed this messed up system first…

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Two decades ago, a cashmere sweater was a soft symbol of wealth and status warn by pipe smoking duffers at the club. Eventually women also wanted to wear the wool from the shaggy goat. The boosted demand beyond the capability of shepherds filled in the production shortfall. But the sharp folk in Bentonville Arkansas who run Wal-Mart believed that cashmere was not the exclusive wool for the rich, and decided cashmere sweaters should be brought to the masses. It was the perfect Christmas present. They asked the disintermediating question, “Why not sell a $49 cashmere women’s sweater, or a $39…

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I see the Feds bagged some more bad dudes relating to the machining world. Zimmer, DePuy, Smith & Nephew, and Biomet owe $311 million in fines to the Federal Government to settle criminal and civil penalties stemming from kickbacks paid to surgeons doing orthopedic implant procedures. That’s a lot of bone screws. Zimmer Holdings alone is taking a $169 million write-off in the coming financial quarter. Stryker of Kalamazoo flipped for the prosecution to seal the deal in this case. Ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft will get in on the gravy train by being appointed the governance monitor for Zimmer. I…

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Two young men still at the top of their games copped pleas on August 27, 2007. They will both be going to Federal Prison despite their fabulous wealth and instant name recognition. They gambled their freedom and careers with bizarre acts of recklessness abetted by cronies without the strength to say no to them. Gene Haas, the unlikely billionaire of American machine tools, and Michael Vick, the quarterback who redefined the position in the NFL, both saw their freedom slip away when their associates flipped to the prosecution. Even the shrewdest legal talent money could buy couldn’t keep them out…

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The Gene Haas tax evasion trial is projected to begin in September. It has been stalled by continuances, but both sides evidently want it to happen now. Denis Dupuis who was Gene’s top deputy was indicted with him. Dupuis has made a deal with the Feds to testify for the prosecution. The Haas Automation company has attempted to distance itself from Gene’s travail and appears to be going strong. My dire predictions about the possible impact of the case on the Haas business have proved wrong to his point. My understanding is that Gene Haas still owns the Haas Automation…

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