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...

Collaborative Robots Working In Manufacturing

Because cobots are affordable, highly adaptable, and almost plug-and-play, small and medium-sized manufacturers are eager to take on this technology, and some analysts expect that this segment of robotics will see substantial growth.

Three-Step Verification for Lean Product Labeling

How to Reduce Waste While Ensuring Product Data Compliance

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...

Becoming the Factory of the Future: How to Prepare Now for the Industrial Internet of Things

The Internet is not going to hit the factory all at once; the transition to global connectivity will be gradual. In the meantime, businesses have a chance to prepare their operations to integrate seamlessly with this new era of industry by taking steps now to implement digital, automated, connected devices and services.

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... 

Four Points You Need to Consider when Thinking About Automating or Robotizing Your Operations

If your products have regular and stable characteristics, hard automation makes sense. If however each product is different, flexible automation or robotics should be favored.

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...

Three Things to Do Before Operating Your New Automated Equipment

Youre getting impatient to turn the main switch "on" to benefit from the enhanced productivity that it will give you. Before doing that, we recommend a few actions that should be completed before running at full production speed.

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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Engineering - Featured Product

Innovative SWIR camera for UAV based spectral remote sensing

Innovative SWIR camera for UAV based spectral remote sensing

Allied Vision's compact and light weight Alvium SWIR (short wave infrared) cameras are the ideal choice to build cost-effective OEM systems used in embedded and machine vision applications. The cameras support a spectral range from 400 nm to 1700 nm at high quantum efficiencies. This allows to capture images in both the visible and SWIR spectra with a single camera and enables users to reduce overall system costs! Equipped with Sony's IMX990 and IMX991 SenSWIR InGaAs sensors, Alvium SWIR cameras deliver high image quality and frame rates. This makes them well suited for drones or handheld devices used in various industries such as, agriculture, mining, solar cell inspection or medical.