3D Printing Reboot

Dana Blankenhorn for SeekingAlpha:  While many people consider 3D printing dead, given what has happened to the stocks of industry leaders such as 3D Systems, Stratasys, ExOne and voxeljet , it's more accurate to say the industry has rebooted and is preparing for another run. This means the industry's excitement is now coming from college campuses and startups. As an investor you want to keep an eye on this, but withhold your investment. Industry leader 3D Systems has been drawing a bid this year as it  undergoes a restructuring, bringing in more professional management, anddropping the Cube, its consumer printer, from the product line. For all of 2015 it reported a loss of $664 million, $5.85/share, on revenues of $666 million. The stock, which once traded as high as $96/share during the last boom, is now at around $13, but it had been as low as $6.42 in mid-January. Founder Charles Hull, 76, has been kicked upstairs to a Chief Technology Officer role.   Cont'd...

America Makes and ANSI Launch Additive Manufacturing Standardization Collaborative

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) today announced the launch of the America Makes & ANSI Additive Manufacturing Standardization Collaborative (AMSC). The purpose of the AMSC will be to coordinate and accelerate the development of industry-wide additive manufacturing standards and specifications consistent with stakeholder needs and thereby facilitate the growth of the additive manufacturing industry. Participation is open to any interested person.  The catalyst for the AMSC is the fact that a number of standards developing organizations are engaged in standards-setting for various aspects of additive manufacturing, prompting the need for coordination to maintain a consistent, harmonized, and non-contradictory set of additive manufacturing standards.   Full Press Release:  

Bosch combines "Industrie 4.0" platform and Industrial Internet Consortium standards

Connected industry is now becoming an international reality. In a new project, Bosch is working together with partners to combine the technical standards of Germany’s “Industrie 4.0” platform and of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) for the first time. This combination of the two approaches allows the exchange of data between central areas of connected industry. “Industry 4.0 is not so much a national as an international issue. Only a truly global approach – without competing company standards or differing national regulations – will allow it to develop to its full potential,” said Dr. Werner Struth, a member of the Bosch management board, at the Bosch ConnectedWorld IoT conference in Berlin. To date, the lack of a common language has hindered the smooth international coordination of manufacturing, logistics, and building and energy management. “As we head towards connected industry, two worlds are now coming together. This is a major advance. A combination of these two standards paves the way for numerous new cross-border business opportunities for Industry 4.0 solutions, both for Bosch and for other international companies,” Struth said.   Full Press Release:

Plattform Industrie 4.0 and Industrial Internet Consortium Agree on Cooperation

Representatives of Plattform Industrie 4.0 and the Industrial Internet Consortium met in Zurich, Switzerland to explore the potential alignment of their two architecture efforts - respectively, the Reference Architecture Model for Industrie 4.0 (RAMI4.0) and the Industrial Internet Reference Architecture (IIRA). The meeting was a success, with a common recognition of the complementary nature of the two models, an initial draft mapping showing the direct relationships between elements of the models, and a clear roadmap to ensure future interoperability. Additional possible topics included collaboration in the areas of IIC Testbeds and I4.0 Test Facility Infrastructures, as well as standardization, architectures & business outcomes in the Industrial Internet. State Secretary, Matthias Machnig, Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy: “We welcome the cooperation of both initiatives as an important milestone in the cooperation of companies internationally. The combined strengths of both IIC and Plattform Industrie 4.0 will substantially help to pave the way for a mutually beneficial development of a digitized economy for our international businesses.” Prof. Dr. Siegfried Russwurm, Technical Director of Plattform Industrie 4.0, CTO and Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, said„Collaborating with other initiatives is important, especially for Germany’s export-oriented economy. We are highly interested to cooperate intensively with others in order to pave the way for global standards. Cooperating with IIC – and with other consortia – is an important step in the right direction.”   Full Press Release:

Automotive Industry 4.0 - Disrupting the Industry?

Pascal Drescher  for The Market Mogul:  We all know what happened to Nokia and Motorola around a decade ago – are BMW, GM and Toyota the next to get disrupted? The automotive industry developed on an evolutionary path after Henry Ford’s game-changing introduction moving assembly line over a century ago, but the industry might soon get disrupted once more. There are currently several catalysts, rooted in technological advancements as well as in changes in consumer behaviours such as more and more powerful batteries and growing interest in environmentally friendly fuels, or self-driving vehicles. Furthermore, the sharing economy has reached the automotive industry with different services such as BMW’s DriveNow or autolib in Paris. Tesla is so far the most successful new entrant that took advantage of some those developments, but other companies from the Silicon Valley might put an even higher threat to established manufacturers such as BMW, Toyota or GM. What is likely to be the next big thing is the move towards automotive industry 4.0, that is marked by the convergence of automotive, technology and telecommunication industry, according to a Roland Berger study. The automotive industry is not the first to face such disruption, thinking about how iTunes revolutionised the music industry, or how Apple and Samsung with their Smartphones remodelled the telecom industry while previously leading companies such as Nokia had to face bankruptcy. And when thinking of technology and telecommunication, it is clear that it will be once more tech giants Apple and Google who are only waiting to jump into the market, leveraging their massive technological knowledge and financial base. As it is known, both already highly invested in developing self-driving vehicles, Apple under its “Project Titan” and Google’s autonomous vehicles are already driving through California.   Cont'd...

A New Boeing Patent Describes Levitating 3D Printing

By Lindsey Kratochwill for Popular Science:  Watching a 3D printer work can sometimes seem like magic--thin filaments slowly build up on top of a platform, turning into parts and figurines. Now, apatent published by aerospace company Boeing introduces an even more futuristic element: levitation. With this method, the object prints while floating in midair thanks to magnets or acoustic waves. A "nugget" or base gets printed first out into space, and then a cadre of 3D printers add more and more of the printing material. But why? Levitation is cool, yes, but it turns out there is also a practical purpose for a floating 3D printed object, at least according to Boeing's patent. The levitating object can be manipulated and turned more so than an object stuck to a platform can be, and using many printheads at the same time would ostensibly speed up the process.   Cont'd...

Republican-Leaning Cities Are At Greater Risk Of Job Automation

​ By Jed Kolko for Five Thirty Eight:   More and more work activities and even entire jobs are at risk of beingautomated by algorithms, computers and robots, raising concerns that more and more humans will be put out of work. The fear of automation is widespread — President Obama cited it as the No. 1 reason Americans feel anxious about the economy in his State of the Union address last month — but its effects are not equally distributed, creating challenges for workers and policymakers. An analysis of where jobs are most likely to face automation shows that areas that voted Republican in the last presidential election are more at risk, suggesting that automation could become a partisan issue. So-called “routine” jobs — those that “can be accomplished by following explicit rules” — are most at risk of automation. These include both “manual” routine occupations, such as metalworkers and truck drivers, and “cognitive” routine occupations, such as cashiers and customer service reps.1 Whereas many routine jobs tend to be middle-wage, non-routine jobs include both higher-wage managerial and professional occupations and lower-wage service jobs.   Cont'd...

Industrial IoT Market Nears $132 Billion in 2020: Technavio

Pedro Hernandez for Datamation:  The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to have a major, efficiency- and productivity-enhancing impact on how manufacturers and other companies in industrial settings conduct businesses. A new forecast from market research firm Technavio paints a rosy picture for IT vendors that specialize in industrial IoT. According to the analyst group, the market for industrial IoT software and services will reach nearly $132 in 2020. Between now and then, the market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent. In terms of demand, Technavio has identified the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region as the largest market for industrial IoT. Last year, the industrial IoT market generated $38 billion in sales in the region, a number that will reach $54 billion in 2020. APAC countries are investing heavily, including South Korea, which plans to pour over $3.6 billion into the IoT by 2020.   Cont'd...

Industry 4.0: What businesses need to know

By Barclay Ballard for ITProPortal:  In order for businesses to prepare for Industry 4.0, they first need to understand the technological driving forces behind it, including the Internet of Things. Although mainstream examples of IoT devices are relatively limited at the moment, in the future connected objects are expected to revolutionise a whole host of business sectors. In the same way that new manufacturing processes brought about huge upheaval during the Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things is also predicted to bring wholesale changes to industry. “The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been described as a crucial step in the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0,” explains Martyn Williams, managing director of industrial automation software expert, COPA-DATA UK. “Using IoT technology, organisations are developing smarter infrastructures and building connected networks across entire manufacturing processes.” Some of the key changes predicted to emerge as the Internet of Things is adopted by industrial firms include the following:   Cont'd... 

UK 'risks losing out in Industry 4.0 race'

By PRW:  A leading trade body has warned that a lack of government planning was threatening the UK’s position at the forefront of Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution. A number of plastics companies in the UK and on the Continent have begun to develop products and processes that take into account developments in and around Industry 4.0 – also known as the ‘Internet of Things’. However research conducted by manufacturers’ organisation the EEF found that while 91% of companies surveyed believed that internet access was as important to their business as electricity and water supplies more than half reckoned connectivity was inadequate for the future. While the awareness of how important the internet was to a company’s operation was seen as a positive, the EEF highlighted that poor digital connectivity may prove to become a drag on future growth. Many companies were already having to pay a premium to ensure they had high-speed access, the trade body said.   Cont'd...

Boy, do Fanuc and Cisco have a deal for your factory

Fanuc and Cisco Systems are set to commercialize a technology this summer that promises glitch- and disruption-free factory operations. The Internet of Things-based system monitors machinery and spots signs of possible abnormalities so that parts can be replaced more smoothly and without affecting operations.          A one-minute suspension at a car factory generally costs around 2 million yen ($16,900). If, for example, a gear breaks and operations are halted for 60 minutes to replace it, the costs would be 120 million yen. Frequent line stoppages could also affect product quality.      The Fanuc-Cisco system uses sensors attached to each robot carrying or welding parts to monitor temperatures, vibration and other conditions. Data streams are sent via the Internet. A computer analyzes the data and decides which parts will likely need fixing and when. The system also places orders for replacements. The accuracy of the system's prediction and analysis functions will increase as data accumulates, representatives from the companies said.   Cont'd...

Is Velo3D Plotting a 3-D Printed Robot Revolution?

Tekla S. Perry for IEEE Spectrum:   Velo3D, based in Santa Clara, Calif., has $22.1 million in venture investment to do something in 3-D printing: That makes it fourth among 2015’s best-funded stealth-mode tech companies in the United States, according to CB Insights. This dollar number is about all the hard news that has come out of this startup, founded in 2014 by Benyamin Butler and Erel Milshtein. But job postings, talks at conferences, and other breadcrumbs left along Velo3D's development trail—has created a sketchy outline of this company’s plans. Consider which 3-D printing technology is ready for disruption: metal. 3-D printing of plastics took off after 2009, when a key patent that covered the deposition technology expired; we now have desktop printers for 3-D plastic objects as cheap as $350. Printing of metal objects—done regularly in industry, particularly aerospace—uses a different, and, to date, far more expensive technology: selective laser sintering. This technology melts metal powders into solid shapes; it requires high temperatures, and far more complicated equipment than what’s found in the layering sort of printers used for plastic. The patent for this technology expired in early 2014—just before the formation of Velo3D. At the time, industry experts indicated that there wouldn’t be cheap metal printers coming anytime soon, but rather, would only come after “a significant breakthrough on the materials side,” OpenSLS’s Andreas Bastian told GigaOm in 2014. Could Velo3D’s founders have that breakthrough figured out?   Cont'd...

Building the Steam Controller

From Valve: When we first started designing hardware at Valve, we decided we wanted to try and do the manufacturing as well. To achieve our goal of a flexible controller, we felt it was important to have a similar amount of flexibility in our manufacturing process, and that meant looking into automated assembly lines. It turns out that most consumer hardware of this kind still has humans involved in stages throughout manufacturing, but we kind of went overboard, and built one of the largest fully automated assembly lines in the US. Our film crew recently put together a video of that assembly line, showcasing exactly why robots are awesome.

Drake: Robotics Planning, Control And Analysis Toolbox

From MIT: Drake ("dragon" in Middle English) is a toolbox maintained by the  Robot Locomotion Group  at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). It is a collection of tools for analyzing the dynamics of our robots and building control systems for them in MATLAB and C++, with a heavy emphasis on optimization-based design/analysis. Here is a quick summary of capabilities: Simulation Rigid-body dynamics including contact/collisions (hybrid+LCP) and kinematic loops Basic aerodynamics/fluid dynamics Sensor models (lidar, depth camera, imu, contact force/torque; cameras coming soon) Hand-derived models for many canonical control dynamical systems Easily add your own models/components Some support for stochastic models For all of the above we aim to expose sparsity and provide analytical gradients / symbolic analysis Primary limitations: code is optimized for analysis / planning / control design (as opposed to speed, generality)... ​... Most of these models/tools are described in  the companion textbook from an MIT course/MOOC . We've also recently started populating the  Drake Gallery  (contributions welcome!)... ( git repo )

Toyota Invests $1 Billion in AI and Robots, Will Open R&D Lab in Silicon Valley

By Erico Guizzo and Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum:  Today in Tokyo, Toyota announced that it is investing US $1 billion over the next five years to establish a new R&D arm headquartered in Silicon Valley and focused on artificial intelligence and robotics. The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) plans to hire hundreds of engineers to staff a main facility in Palo Alto, Calif., near Stanford University, and a second facility located near MIT in Cambridge, Mass. Former DARPA program manager Dr. Gill Pratt, an executive technical advisor at Toyota, was named CEO of TRI, which will begin operations in January. Toyota president Akio Toyoda said in a press conference that the company pursues innovation and new technologies “to make life better for our customers and society as a whole,” adding that he wanted to “work with Gill not just because he’s an amazing researcher and engineer, but because I believe his goals and motivations are the same as ours.”   Cont'd...

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