Closing tech gaps can fortify advanced manufacturing, save $100 billion

FRAN WEBBER FOR NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST):  To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, as well as save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and "proof-of-concept" demonstrations of emerging technologies. This is the overall conclusion reached by economic studies funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of four advanced manufacturing areas used to create everything from automobile composites to zero-noise headsets. "Gaps in the technology infrastructure--including the lack of reliable measurement and test methods, scientifically based standards, and other formal knowledge and tools--limit advanced manufacturing's further development and adoption," said NIST economist Gary Anderson, coordinator of the economic studies prepared by RTI International (link is external), an independent nonprofit research institute.  Cont'd...

Hospital to get first dedicated 3D tissue-printing facility

Steve Dent for enGadget:  You still can't get a 3D-printed liver transplant made from your own cells, but an Australian hospital is trying to push the tech into the mainstream. The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane is building a dedicated "biofabrication" space where doctors and researchers can develop tech to model and print cartilage, bone and other human tissue. "It will be the first time a biomanufacturing institute will be co-located with a high-level hospital," said Australian Minister of Health Cameron Dick. The facility will occupy two floors of the hospital and use state of the art tissue manufacturing tech in surgery procedures. "Our vision for healthcare is that the biofabrication institute will pave the way for 3D printers to sit in operating theaters, ready to print tissue as needed, in our hospitals of the future," Dick said.   Cont'd...

The Audi smart factory of the future

Jason Siu AutoGuide.com:  Audi is developing a “Smart Factory” where robots will work together with humans to build cars. The German automaker first talked about its Smart Factory last year, envisioning a plant with human-robot collaboration, 3D printed parts, drone material transport and piloted cars that drive themselves off the production lines. A new video has been released that gives us a glimpse into that factory, proving that it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. In fact, Audi appears to be making great progress with drones transporting steering wheels, although it may not seem very effective in the video.   Cont'd...

Samsung SDS releases AI-based smart factory system

Yoon Sung-won for KoreaTimes:  Samsung SDS has launched its artificial intelligence (AI)-based smart factory system service Nexplant, the company said Wednesday. The system integration service affiliate of Samsung Group highlighted that the new service will help clients maximize production efficiency as the AI system analyzes manufacturing problems in real time. "Before the domestic release of the service, we have already drawn high interest from manufacturing businesses in overseas countries including the United States and India," Lee Jae-cheol, smart factory business director and senior vice president of Samsung SDS, said in a statement. "We will expedite business expansion on the global stage." In developing the Nexplant system, Samsung SDS said it has tapped into its expertise in manufacturing process optimization systems that it has accumulated during the last three decades while providing them to plants run by other Samsung affiliates.   Cont'd...

Tesla is buying a German engineering company to automate factories

Matthew DeBord for Business Insider:  On Tuesday, Tesla announced that it will acquire Grohmann Engineering, a German automated manufacturing company. The terms of the deal, which is subject to German regulatory approval, weren't disclosed. In a statement, Tesla described Grohmann as a "world-renowned engineering company in Prüm, Germany, which will become Tesla Grohmann Automation."   Cont'd...

Manufacturing's Productivity Myth

Justin Fox for Bloomberg:  The U.S. manufacturing sector is far from the basket case it is sometimes made out to be on the campaign trail. But it's important to realize that it isn't exactly going gangbusters, either. The everything's-OK line about U.S. manufacturing goes something like this: Yes, lots of manufacturing jobs (7.3 million, to be precise-ish) have been lost since employment in the sector peaked in 1978, but real manufacturing output is at an all-time high. So the manufacturing sector is doing fine -- it's just that thanks to automation and other technological advances it has gotten much more productive and thus doesn't need as many workers.   Cont'd...

Local Motors: Driving Innovation with Micro-Manufacturing

NewCo Shift:  Local Motors was founded in 2007 by John “Jay” Rogers, an Ivy league-educated ex-Marine who wanted to marry his lifelong interest in vehicles with new economic models. The result: Local Motors, a company that, after eight years in business, now produces a series of vehicles built locally in a handful of facilities, but designed by a global community of enthusiasts. Local Motors’ business model is built around its microfactories. The four now in existence — and the dozens more that the company plans to open over the next 10 years — each focus on a few vehicle types. Each looks to source components locally to the greatest extent possible. And each features a modular factory floor that can be configured and reconfigured as needed to accommodate the demand for individual vehicles.   Cont'd...

MIT's Foundry software is the 'Photoshop of 3D printing'

Andrew Dalton for enGadget:  Because the materials from a 3D printer aren't the most functional, their output has largely been limited to prototyping in the past. That should change in the near future with devices like MIT's own MultiFab, which can print up to 10 different materials at a time, but it still doesn't solve the problem of how to design such complex objects. That's where the new program called Foundry, created by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory comes in. According to MIT CSAIL, Foundry can import objects designed with traditional CAD programs like SolidWorks and then assign specific materials or properties to different parts of the object. While creating a multi-material object in the past might have required days of work and multiple 3D printers to create (assuming it was possible with existing technology at all), CSAIL says these sorts of designs can now be created in mere minutes. Rather than manufacturing a separate piece for each material in the finished product, the entire object can now be printed in one fell swoop.   Cont'd...

Blockchain plus 3D printing equals 'smart manufacturing' and Ethereum you can touch

Ian Allison for International Business Times:  Genesis of Things is a new "smart manufacturing" company which leverages intellectual horsepower from members of the Ethereum community. This young company, established and launched just a few weeks before DevCon2 in Shanghai, has produced a tangible proof of concept in the form of a set of 3D printed titanium cufflinks inscribed with a QR code and bearing the insignia of the Ethereum logo. Genesis of Things combines 3D printing, blockchain and IoT in a virtuous, futuristic flow that re-imagines manufacturing processes. The company is in stealth right now and more details about how it operates and possible use cases will be released going forward. It should be repeated that the cufflinks pictured are a proof of concept; this is not a commercial product but rather a limited edition to show the potential of the technology.   Cont'd...

3-D-printed robots with shock-absorbing skins

Adam Conner-Simons for MIT News:  Anyone who’s watched drone videos or an episode of “BattleBots” knows that robots can break — and often it’s because they don’t have the proper padding to protect themselves. But this week researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory(CSAIL) will present a new method for 3-D printing soft materials that make robots safer and more precise in their movements — and that could be used to improve the durability of drones, phones, shoes, helmets, and more. The team’s “programmable viscoelastic material” (PVM) technique allows users to program every single part of a 3D-printed object to the exact levels of stiffness and elasticity they want, depending on the task they need for it.   Cont'd...

OMRON to Introduce 15,583 Models in 7 Categories to World, Second Wave of FA Devices Built on Common Design Platform

OMRON Corp., based in Kyoto City, will introduce to the world on October 3, 2016, a total of 15,583 models, in 7 categories, as the second wave of factory automation (FA) control devices built on a common design platform for unified product specifications.  Based on a wide range of products, OMRON has been continuing to work for the innovation of making control panels which house and control FA devices on the production front line. OMRON unified the design and size of FA devices, and introduced products in April 2016 which are built with the company's proprietary wiring technology "Push-In Plus Terminal Block" for device and control panel makers in need of "downsizing and space-saving" of FA devices and control panels, "expedited delivery," and "response to globalization."   Full Press Release:  

New modular AM 'smart factory' from Concept Laser decouples pre-production and production

Benedict for 3Ders.org: German metal 3D printing specialist Concept Laser has unveiled its new "smart factory" approach to additive manufacturing. The idea behind the Industry 4.0 "smart factory" is to decouple process stages, allowing tasks to be carried out in parallel and physically separate from one another. The AM Factory of Tomorrow, Concept Laser's modular additive manufacturing factory-building kit, has been designed to allow manufacturers to seamlessly incorporate additive manufacturing technologies into existing production lines or to develop new and efficient AM production spaces. The Lichtenfels-based company has now revealed new aspects of its advanced manufacturing concept, detailing how a move from the sequential to the parallel could maximize production speed, cost-efficiency, and scalability. Cont'd...

Peugeot Teams Up With 3D Printing Startup for Parts and Possibly Full Cars

Daniel Bentley for Fortune:  French carmaker PSA said on Thursday a partnership with a U.S. 3D printing startup would lead to cheaper production of whole vehicle structures as well as parts for its models. The maker of Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars said it had agreed with Los Angeles-based Divergent 3D to develop metal printing processes for PSA production lines. Carlos Tavares, PSA’s chief executive, said this could “dramatically scale down the size and scope of our manufacturing footprint” and yield lighter, more profitable vehicles. The carmaker did not quantify any impact on production jobs. Industries from aerospace to healthcare use 3D printing for the production of metal and plastic components, while elaborate assemblies with moving parts often prove more difficult. Ford is among other carmakers exploring the technology.   Cont'd...

Safety solutions for intelligent human-robot collaboration

Fanny Platbrood for SafeToWork:   Human-robot collaboration (HRC) describes a work scenario in which humans and automated machines share and work in the same workspace at the same time. Driven by Industry 4.0, this model of collaboration promises highly flexible workflows, maximum system throughput and productivity, as well as economic efficiency. However, ensuring that HRC is actually able to live up to this promise requires exactly the right safety technology for the application in question. One of the major issues associated with Industry 4.0 is making work processes flexible. At the extreme end of the spectrum, this may involve manufacturing products in batch size 1 under industrial mass-production conditions – that is, manufacturing unique items on a conveyor belt.    Cont'd...

IIoT and Industry 4.0 to Create Growth in Telerobotics in Manufacturing

Kagan Pittman for Engineering.com:  By now, we’re all be familiar with industrial robotics—but you might not have heard of telerobotics.  Telerobotics is all about the control of semi-autonomous robots from a distance, hence the prefix “tele-,” meaning “to or at a distance.”  Telerobotics and teleoperation are playing an increasingly meaningful role in industrial automation and the rapidly evolving industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) arena, according to industry researchers at Mind Commerce Publishing.  It’s also worth noting that there are various other supporting technologies that promise to accelerate the adoption of industrial robotics and improve process controlling and monitoring in IIoT environments. These technologies include hardware, such as sensors, activators and dynamic control interfaces such as exoskeleton gloves, as well as software, such as Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).   Cont'd...

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