Welcome to 2012! We hereby present you with your customized magazine — Motion System Design — updated for the New Year with a fresh look and expanded editorial.

What hasn't been updated for 2012 is our focus on manufacturing and the designs that move by the output of electric motors and fluid power. As President and author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson said to Washington 200 years ago, “All the world is becoming commercial. Was it practicable to keep our new empire separated from them, we might indulge ourselves in speculating whether commerce contributes to the happiness of mankind. But we cannot separate ourselves — our citizens have had too full taste of the comforts furnished by the arts and manufactures to be debarred the use of them.”

How curious that in its early days, the validity of manufacturing was questioned. Today, in our era of easy conveniences, automated food supplies, instant communications, and quick transportation, our entire way of life depends on manufacturing — and activity in this sector serves as a measure of progress. After years of sputtering, the situation is finally looking better: Globally, manufacturing is picking up slightly, even in debt-strained Europe; here in the U.S., factory output and shipments have smartly beaten recent forecasts to reflect real expansion, and a respectable 150,000 jobs were created in December.

One new Motion System Design item you will notice in 2012 is a series that will cover larger trends in industry — safety, reliability, robotics, and so on. In fact, the first in this series (Page 18) covers modularity — the increasingly standardized interchangeability of both communications and physical componentry. Another department you'll find new to MSD includes a back page dedicated to all that is exciting and fun in our field — the inspiring stories of folks in our industry, new designs based on those of Nature (Page 40), and occasionally, revival of the department called Technology at Play — where we'll dissect motion designs for recreation. Expanded Motion Scenarios topics for 2012 include detailed articles about the specific technologies used for lifting, punching, swiping, drilling, and sorting. We're also building our popular online library of eBooks — downloadable at motionsystemdesign.com/techapters — and ramping up dialogue at facebook.com/motionsystemdesign.

As Jefferson points out, “He who is now against domestic manufacture, must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign nation, or to be clothed in skins, and to live like wild beasts in dens and caverns. I am not one of these; experience has taught me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort.”

Indeed — it is with this in mind that we at Motion System Design salute you — readers serving as engineers to maintain human progress. Contact us anytime to tell us about your projects big or small — and how they're making 2012 the best year yet.