Category Archive: Industry News

Material Research Institute

I recently had the pleasure of touring the Penn State Material Research Institute (MRI) at the Millennium Science Complex, University Park, Pa.  As a proud Penn State alumni, I always love returning to campus and learning about different areas of this incredible university.

The state-of-the-art community research conducted in the Material Research Institute (MRI) allows for brilliant ideas to be born and brought to life.  MRI is a catalyst for multidisciplinary education and innovations in materials.

Material Research Institute

One of the things that stood out to me was MRI’s set up utilizing collective expertise.  MRI combines 5 colleges and 15 different departments.  That’s 200 faculty, plus 100 researchers and 800 plus graduate students.

It is important to have different perspectives when solving problems.  Penn State has taken this to a whole new level by converging varying backgrounds and experiences to create a multifaceted organization that engages in crosscutting research.

They are helping to solve the most complex problems facing society today and in the future. Better yet they are not stopping in Academia, but reaching out to create partnerships with industry, which allows business to leverage their labs for competitive advantage.

There are many opportunities for industry at the Material Research Institute (MRI), from startups and entrepreneurs, to established businesses.

This facility saves companies the expense of maintaining their own state of the art equipment.  It provides access to highly skilled technical staff, which can help users come up with solutions during their process.  Not only can companies save money on capital and operational expenditures, but they can also save valuable time.

Another way that industry can benefit at the Material Research Institute (MRI), is through Penn State’s “first of its kind” Industry Friendly IP Policy.

This simple and flexible program allows companies to retain ownership of the intellectual property they sponsor.

The institute links with over 400 different companies each year. This collaboration has resulted in numerous inventions, patents and startup companies.  

MRI is broken down into a four lab solutions; the Material Characterization Lab, the Nano Fabrication Lab, the Materials Computation Center, and the 2D Crystal Consortium Center.

  • The Material Characterization Lab provides a wide variety of characterization techniques in the areas of Microscopy, Spectroscopy, and Macroscopic. These techniques help to increase the understanding of why materials show different properties and behaviors.
  • The Nanofabrication Lab offers world-class capabilities in areas of deposition, etch, lithography, material modification, and characterization. More than 65 materials can be deposited and over 70 materials can be dry etched.  This lab has the ability to develop and fabricate a wide array of novel devices and can handle non-standard materials alongside the more common materials.
  • The Materials Computation Center supports faculty and industry, by working in computer-based simulations of materials, across variety lengths and time scales.
  • The 2D Crystal Consortium (2DCC) creates materials that are only one atomic layer thick, a new field of nanoscience and engineering. The 2D materials have totally different properties than their bulky counterparts.  This allows them to be stacked which results in new amazing properties.  Combine this with collaborative research and the sky is the limit!

From the medical industry to the food industry, the Material Research Institute (MRI) is having an impact.  One patented invention born at MRI is the Bioabsorbable Foam for Wound Care and Tissue Engineering.

The material conforms to irregular wound shapes to stop bleeding. It then transitions to a porous gel, protecting newly formed tissue.  Another innovative discovery is the Metasurface Wearable Antenna.

The antenna is used for monitoring the body.  AvoColor, a natural food coloring substance was discovered at MRI.  Derived from avocados, this is a natural and healthier solution to traditional food coloring and holds great potential in the food industry.

Currently, researchers are developing a thermoelectric energy harvester. This device will require no heat sink and will produce enough power to run wireless sensors.  These are just a few examples of the exciting innovation born at MRI.

It is no surprise that Penn State would develop such an innovative resource for students, faculty, and industry members.

This is the same university that became the first to “see an atom,” the first to discover planets outside of our solar system and the first to introduce an established baccalaureate degree program in industrial engineering.

It was a great honor to explore the Material Research Institute (MRI) and learn about the many works that they perform there.

This upcoming October 17th and 18th, you and friends will be able to experience Penn State’s Material Research Institute for yourself during the official 2017 Materials Day: Hot Topics In Material.  Find out more information about the event at:

Learn more about the Penn State Material Research Institute at: and see how it can help you bring your own ideas to life.

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Why You Should Support Local STEM Education Programs

Revitalizing Manufacturing in America

Here at American Crane & Equipment Corporation, our company’s culture is rooted in supporting STEM education — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — for local students. We believe that increasing diversity and representation in these fields will not only help revitalize manufacturing’s outdated reputation but also allow the industry to evolve and prosper.

As part of our ongoing efforts to promote STEM education, we participate annually in Manufacturing Day (the first Friday of every October), offering tours of our facility for local students, educating people about the many exciting careers available in the field, and celebrating manufacturing in America. As a U.S.-based manufacturer, we’re proud to be a part of such a dynamic, innovative industry.

Our Executive Vice President of American Crane, Karen Norheim, is especially passionate about sharing her industry knowledge with students. As an alumnus of Penn State and a member of its Professional Advisory Committee Board, Karen often participates in university events, serving as a mentor for students interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing.

MorningStar Solar Home: A Project in Sustainability

A Project in SustainabilityThrough Karen’s close relationship with Penn State, members of the American Crane team recently toured the school’s lauded MorningStar solar home as part of our efforts to support local organizations that promote innovation and engineering solutions for social good.

The MorningStar solar home was built by more than 800 students for the 2007 Solar Decathlon competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The solar home won fourth place among 20 universities competing internationally. Since then, the student-driven project has propelled the school to invest more resources in classes on sustainability and solar power.

Considered a “net-zero home,” MorningStar creates just as much, if not more, energy than it consumes. It’s completely powered by renewable energy, employing an adjustable photovoltaic (PV) array, a dedicated DC/LED lighting power system to eliminate conversion losses, and a ground-source heat pump and radiant floor and shower wall system for efficient temperature control.Morning Star Solar Home

In addition to these energy-efficient features, the structure of MorningStar is made from locally sourced natural resources, including Pennsylvania black slate, Pennsylvania bluestone, Pennsylvania recycled steel, native hardwoods. Many of them are from dead elm trees found on Penn State’s campus and a wall of glass milk bottles, which are filled with water during the day and stored on shelves in front of the windows to help absorb the sun’s heat. Not only are all of these materials environmentally friendly, they’re also celebratory of Pennsylvania’s local industries, forests, and craftspeople.

After earning fourth place at the Solar Decathlon, the MorningStar solar home received a $560K grant from the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association to finance its relocation from Washington, D.C. to Penn State’s campus to serve as a teaching space. The solar home now resides at The University’s Center for Sustainability, where it serves as a renewable energy research lab for both students and the community.

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The American Crane & Equipment Corporation (ACECO) team was truly inspired by our recent visit to the MorningStar solar home. This was a perfect example of the many opportunities for STEM mentorship and education. Projects like these not only benefit the people directly involved, who gain valuable networking skills and career opportunities, but also the community, industry, and economy overall.

To learn more about our community initiatives that support STEM and diversity in the manufacturing space, visit our YouTube channel, where you can find a Manufacturing Day plant tour and videos on choosing a career in manufacturing.

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Calling All Women in Manufacturing
American Crane Partners with WiM to Support Leadership and Education

Led by our Executive Vice President (and woman in manufacturing!), Karen Norheim, the American Crane Team is proud to support the 2016 Women in Manufacturing (WiM) Summit in Nashville, TN. The summit will take place on September 19 through September 21st at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

A national association dedicated to supporting, promoting, and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry, WiM represents more than 500 members offering engaging perspectives from construction, aerospace, high technology, metals, life sciences, oil and gas, automotive, and more from across the country.WiM to Support Leadership

The network offers both regional and national programming, professional development webinars, and collaborative events such as the GE Women’s Leadership Lab. As part of the host committee for September’s Summit, our team is proud to support a full agenda of plant tours, workshops, seminars, speaker events, and panels dedicated to the future of women in the industry. Just a few of the event’s highlights include:

  • Tours of General Motors Spring Hill, the Tennessee Bun Company, Lochinvar, Bridgestone LaVergne, and the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant
  • Opening Remarks from U.S. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
  • Speaker events highlighting additive manufacturing, women in STEM, and manufacturing and entrepreneurship
  • Minute Mentoring workshops and networking
  • In-depth industry roundtables
  • An Importance of Leadership Development panel and the 2016 Leadership Lab for Women in Manufacturing graduate panel

We couldn’t be happier to join professionals at NTMA, Interlake Industries, UPS, and the entire WiM network in helping to create an event stacked with professional resources, cutting-edge information, and skill-building for our industry peers. At American Crane, we strongly believe that programs from WiM, STEM education, and national events like MFG Day are essential both to the success of our company and the future of manufacturing.

In the words of our own Executive Vice President, “Manufacturers need to have diversity in order to have a competitive edge.” Karen’s personal support as an ambassador for women in technical careers has been highlighted at panels for past WiM Summits, National Manufacturing Day, Nuclear Science Week, and countless others.

She joins a full host of executives, managers, students, operational professionals, and service providers in the WiM network to offer opportunities for women nationwide, year-round. The whole American Crane Team joins Karen in believing that mentoring — and supporting diversity — is part of our job, and our future as a company.

Learn more about the American Crane commitment to service and quality by downloading our crane buyer’s guide, or contact the team at Women in Manufacturing to get involved with programming, events, and mentoring in your area.

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Manufacturing Day at American Crane

Berks County Celebrates Manufacturing on October 3rd

We couldn’t be more excited to join the Greater Reading Economic Partnership on October 3, 2015, to celebrate MFG Day. The nationwide event is designed to bring awareness to manufacturing training and careers. We’re thrilled to join the Berks Manufacturing Community for a day of great events.
MFG Day Logo

Students and guests will begin their morning at Reading Area Community College and the Schmidt Training and Technology Center. At Schmidt, guests will have the opportunity to meet representatives from different companies to talk about their unique facilities and the careers they offer before — or instead of — taking tours.

Tours are a pre-registered event. Remember that if you’d like to tour American Crane or any other Berks manufacturers, registration for the Berks Manufacturing Day is required.

We will be open for facility tours between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Guests will be able to see our in-house processes and six manufacturing bays firsthand. They will experience machining, material preparation, electrical assembly, welding, and more, in addition to a full tour at Brentwood’s facility.

Please wear closed shoes during the tour. Individuals 17 years old and under must have adult supervision. Additionally, all registrants are invited to bring up to 4 guests to the tour.

Last year, we were fortunate to host 35 Exeter High School students for MFG Day as part of a new STEM initiative. In addition to a tour and information session about cranes, the students were able to ask questions about different types of careers — electricians, machinists, mechanics, fitters, and designers, to start. Additionally, we covered the various types of engineers on our team: mechanical, electrical, structural and welding.

Participants involved in the Berks County Manufacturing Day event include:

  • American Crane and Equipment Corporation
  • Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania
  • Brentwood Industries
  • Cambridge-Lee Industries
  • Carpenter
  • East Penn Manufacturing
  • Reading Plastic Fabricators
  • Remcon Plastics
  • And many more!

We strongly believe that programs like MFG Day and STEM Education are essential to the future of manufacturing. Our industry depends upon inspiring and educating young people, and we want to give them every opportunity to learn.

Though American Crane has participated in the national event before, we are proud to join with local educators, economic partners, and manufacturers for the first-ever dedicated Berks Manufacturing Day. Having over 20 facilities involved in the program is inspiring for both students and the community overall, and offers plenty of unique opportunities for tours and career exploration.

 We are committed to mentoring aspiring engineers because we believe that it is part of our job and our future as a company and a community. Find out more about our facility tours and register for the 2015 Berks Manufacturing Day by clicking here. We look forward to meeting you on October 3rd.Manufacturing Day Post Card_eletronic

What Are You Celebrating This October?

October is a month full of awareness campaigns and holidays – some more widely recognized than others. We’ve become accustomed to seeing football players don bright pink shoes and gloves in support of breast cancer awareness; we look forward to seeing what crazy costumes people can come up with for Halloween; and for the perennially stressed, there’s even Moment of Frustration Day to let out all of that pent up energy (not that this is ever an issue in our office).

But here at American Crane, we feel it’s important to celebrate and promote some additional holidays that particularly matter to those of us in the industrial space. In October, for example, we celebrated Manufacturing Day on Friday, October 3rd, and we’re also pleased to celebrate Nuclear Science Week this month, which runs from October 20th to the 24th. This is a national event aiming to educate people about the field of nuclear science. Each year, one U.S. city is chosen to host the main Nuclear Science Week event, and this year it’s Seattle’s turn. Across the country, numerous events will be taking place before, during and after the actual week-long celebration. For a full schedule of events, check out the Nuclear Science Week Calendar of Events.

As October winds down, what other events are you celebrating this month? Let us know on Twitter!

Stacking Lockheed Martin’s Orion Crew Module for NASA

For many years now, American Crane & Equipment Corporation has been lifting some of the most mission-critical materials in the world. But recently, we extended our reach to mission-critical materials that are out-of-this world, too.

Orion Crew Module for NASALifting the Orion Crew Module – photo credit to NASA

For many years now, American Crane & Equipment Corporation has been lifting some of the most mission-critical materials in the world. But recently, we extended our reach to mission-critical materials that are out-of-this world, too.

This summer, our 25 ton double girder clean room crane (with single failure-proof hoist) was entrusted with the important job of lifting Lockheed Martin’s Orion crew module and fitting it atop their service module. This particular crane was ideally suited for the job thanks to its micro speed movements, which allowed for precision in this delicate operation.

The unmanned Orion space capsule will be launched on a Delta IV Heavy Rocket later this year, traveling 3,600 miles beyond low-Earth orbit. The mission will be a quick test flight that returns the same day, and will help ensure that future flights will be safe for a crew.

Orion is NASA’s first spacecraft designed for long-term, manned space exploration. The goal is to bring humans safely to asteroids, the moon, and eventually Mars. The capsule represents major strides in aerospace exploration technology, and American Crane is proud of our role in bringing these future missions into fruition. Our 25 ton double girder clean room crane is perfect for these types of projects thanks to a combination of self-locking fasteners, runway conductor bars enclosed in plastic housing, a debris shield on the lower block, and kick-plates that run across all the walkways, capturing dirt and debris.

For more information about our work with Lockheed Martin and other major aerospace companies, feel free to call us at 1.877.877.6778 or visit our Contact Us page to find the appropriate person for your query. We look forward to speaking with you.

A Look at What’s Driving Growth and Optimism in the Construction Sector

According to a Wells Fargo Construction Industry Forecast for 2014, optimism in the construction sector has risen to an all-time high this year. This is a major achievement considering the industry hit an all-time low just a few years ago in 2009.

Survey respondents polled for the Forecast cited “economic uncertainty” and “political uncertainty” as their main concerns for the industry, with the threat of rising interest rates and new regulations posing a possible risk as well. Overall, however, respondents were optimistic about the improving economic situation, anticipating growth for the construction industry.

According to additional information gathered by Reed Construction Data, infrastructure development is also getting a boost thanks to the expansion of other industries such as health care, higher education, leisure and travel, and more. With new initiatives like the Affordable Care Act, the increasing demand for more health care facilities is already evident as Urgent Care centers spring up across the country. And in Florida in particular, the state is seeing a strong tourism industry driving the need for more multi-dwelling buildings such as hotels. There is also a noted rise in demand for multifamily housing in residential areas – which is a trend being experienced in Florida, as well as the rest of the country.

With all of this data at hand, it’s clear to see that there is a growing need for construction companies and professionals as the economy continues to pick up. We also expect to see a rise in construction equipment sales to accommodate the growing sector. American Crane has a wide variety of products to serve construction contractors. For more information, please visit us online to learn more.