4D-Printed Concept Car Will Predict Your Wishes

Viknesh Vijayenthiran for Discovery News:  New materials will also play a significant role in the further evolution of the car, according to BMW. This has already started with the increasing use of carbon fiber and other composites instead of conventional steel. Looking further forward, technologies such as rapid manufacturing and 4-D printing (3D-printed materials that change depending on conditions) will open up new possibilities. One of the more interesting aspects of the concept is a technology called Alive Geometry which consists of 4D-printed components that can change their shape and interact with the driver.   Full Article:

Mobile Robotic Fabrication System for Filament Structures

The project Mobile Robotic Fabrication System for Filament Structures, developed by ITECH graduate Maria Yablonina, demonstrates a new production process for filament structures. It proposes multiple semi-autonomous wall climbing robots to distribute fiber filament, using any horizontal or vertical surface, or even existing architecture, to support the new structures. Compared to larger scale industrial robots that are limited by position and reach, these robots are enabled with movement systems and a collection of sensors that allow them to travel and interact accurately along typical ground, walls, roofs, and ceilings. One can imagine a fabrication process where an operator arrives to the scene with a suitcase housing all the necessary robots and materials to create a large structure. These agile mobile robotic systems move robotic fabrication processes beyond the constraints of the production hall, exposing vast urban and interior environments as potential fabrication sites.

New Materials for Manufacturing: The Economist's Overview For 2015

From The Economist's Technology Quarterly: This is what some scientists describe as a “golden age” for materials. New, high-performing substances such as exotic alloys and superstrong composites are emerging; “smart” materials can remember their shape, repair themselves or assemble themselves into components. Little structures that change the way something responds to light or sound can be used to turn a material into a “metamaterial” with very different properties... ...When it comes to making chemical bonds, one element, carbon, is in a league of its own; a more or less infinite number of distinct molecules can be made from it. Chemists call these carbon-based molecules organic, and have devoted a whole branch of their subject—inorganic chemistry—to ignoring them. Mr Ceder’s Materials Project sits in that inorganic domain. It has simulated some 60,000 materials, and five years from now should reach 100,000. This will provide what the people working on the project call the “materials genome”: a list of the basic properties—conductivity, hardness, elasticity, ability to absorb other chemicals and so on—of all the compounds anyone might think of. “In ten years someone doing materials design will have all these numbers available to them, and information about how materials will interact,” says Mr Ceder. “Before, none of this really existed. It was all trial and error... ( full article )

Nobilia uses IoT to create smart factory

Kitchen maker Nobilia has rolled out IoT and automation systems in its German factories to enable real-time tracking of furniture as it progresses through the manufacturing process. The company, which has distribution in Australia, is using Beckhoff automation technology that is powered by Intel processors. A barcode that is attached to furniture is encoded with details including processing steps, components required to be added to complete it, and logistics information such as where the finished product is to be delivered. “Each processing machine scans the barcode and retrieves the associated machining data from a central database. Data connecting the whole factory together makes it possible to produce 2700 kitchens daily,” Intel said in a blog post. “Through real-time tracking enabled by Intel IoT technologies, Nobilia knows exactly where each part is in the production process at any time. “If one of the manufacturing lines shuts down, parts are automatically rerouted to another line.”

Riddle of Cement's Structure is Finally Solved

From MIT News: Concrete is the world’s most widely used construction material, so abundant that its production is one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet answers to some fundamental questions about the microscopic structure and behavior of this ubiquitous material have remained elusive.   Concrete forms through the solidification of a mixture of water, gravel, sand, and cement powder. Is the resulting glue material (known as cement hydrate, CSH) a continuous solid, like metal or stone, or is it an aggregate of small particles... ... Roland Pellenq, a senior research scientist in MIT’s department of civil and environmental engineering, director of the MIT-CNRS lab 2 hosted by the MIT Energy Initiative, and a co-author of the new paper, says the work builds on previous research he conducted with others at the Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) through a collaboration between MIT and the CNRS. “We did the first atomic-scale model” of the structure of concrete, he says, but questions still remained about the larger, mesoscale structure, on scales of a few hundred nanometers. The new work addresses some of those remaining uncertainties, he says. ( full article )

3D printing software, sensors, and carbon nanotubes among top Advanced Materials trends of 2016

By Kira for 3ders.org:  The first month of 2016 is now behind us, and the year is shaping up to be particularly interesting in terms of 3D printing trends. In the advanced materials sector specifically, emerging technologies firmLux Research has predicted that the top three ‘undercover’ advanced materials trends of 2016 include improved 3D printing software and formats, Carbon nanotube products, and IoT devices embedded with sensing materials.   Cont'd...

New Ultrasonic 3D Printing Process Can Create and Print High-Tech Composite Materials

Scott J Grunewald for 3DPrint.com:  A team of engineers from the University of Bristol — comprising Thomas M. Llewellyn-Jones, Bruce W. Drinkwater and Richard S. Trask — have developed a new hybrid type of 3D printing that can both assemble and print with composite materials using a combination of desktop 3D printer technology, light-curable resins and ultrasonic waves. This new process can allow super strong and lightweight composites like the variety used to produce tennis rackets, golf clubs, professional bicycles or even airplane parts to be used with additive manufacturing technology. Needless to say these new material options will offer entire new industries the ability to incorporate 3D printing into their manufacturing workflow. And the best part is that for the most part the process was made using existing 3D printing technology. Composite materials are made by combining micro-structures of glass or carbon fibers with a plastic material. The carefully arranged fibers lock together and give the new material its strength and durability, while the plastic ensures that the resulting material will be lightweight. Currently, composite materials are manufactured as thin sheets that are then layered and cut into the desired shape and thickness. The problem with using this as a 3D printing material is the small fibers in the composite materials. In order to produce the desired strength the fibers need to be aligned in a very precise structure, which is currently not possible to reproduce using a 3D printer.   Cont'd.. .

MesoGlue: Room Temperature Metallic Glue

From Hanchen Huang of Northeastern University: MesoGlue is our revolutionary joining solution that lets you attach items together with a metal bond, at room temperature. This is like welding or soldering, but without the heat! The patented process gives you the strength and thermal/electrical conductance of a metal bond, with the ease of attachment of glue or tape. Surfaces are merely pressed together to form a very strong connection. Our MesoGlue technology can be applied to nearly any flat surface. The surface can be rigid or flexible, and roll-to-roll processing is possible. We currently offer coating of two joining surfaces at our state of the art processing facility. Items of up to approximately 1 cubic foot can be accommodated. MesoGlue Silver: A pure silver bond offering the highest electrical and thermal conductivity. Formation of the bond requires moderate pressure. MesoGlue Eutectic: A bond made of primarily copper with other metals added to help the process. Formation of the bond requires only fingertip pressure. (MesoGlue Homepage)

Cisco Teams Up with Robotics Firm Fanuc for IoT

by Zacks Equity Research:  Technology giant and Dow component Cisco Systems, Inc. recently entered into a strategic alliance with a robotics company Fanuc America, thereby stepping up its efforts to make itself a key player in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.  Per the alliance, Fanuc and Cisco have built an IoT system that enables Fanuc to monitor every robot on the factory floor. This way it can be determined whether a robot is likely to fail, so that a service technician can fix the equipment before it stops working. This could save companies hundreds of dollars of fixing cost. Per Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, downtime for these robots can cost a business $16,000 per minute. Therefore, the new system that offers predictive maintenance can be a big thing for some operations. The companies are currently testing the system in a channel that comprises around 1,800 robots and includes Fanuc customer, GM. In this testing period, Fanuc says its customer has saved $38 million. Fanus has plans to expand the system to 2,500 robots by the end of the year. Cont'd...

Technology gap gives foreign firms the edge in China robot wars

BY GERRY SHIH for Reuters:  In a cavernous showroom on the outskirts of this port city in northeastern China, softly whirring lathes and svelte robot arms represent Dalian Machine Tools Group's (DMTG) vision of an automated future for Chinese manufacturing. On closer inspection, however, most of the machines' control panels bear the logos of Japan's FANUC Corp or the German conglomerate Siemens. The imported control systems in DMTG's products – used in the assembly of everything from smartphones to cement trucks – are symbolic of the technology gap between Chinese and foreign industrial automation firms, just one of several challenges facing China's ambition to nurture a national robotics industry. Chinese robotics firms are also grappling with a weakening economy and slumping automotive sector, and industry insiders already predict a market bubble just three years after the central government issued policies to spur robotics development. "Last year everybody thought they could produce a robot," said Alan Lee, director of Asia sales and business development at Boston-based Rethink Robotics. "When you have market saturation you'll have filtering and M&A. These guys will be the first layer to suffer."  It is a storyline familiar from other new industries such as solar panels: Beijing's policies and subsides trigger a wave of low-margin, low-cost contenders to rush into the market, where, with no meaningful technology of their own, they struggle to compete on price alone.   Cont'd...

OMRON to Acquire U.S. Based Adept Technology

OMRON plans to acquire 100% of the outstanding shares of Adept common stock through an all cash tender offer followed by a second-step merger. OMRON will offer Adept investors $13.00 per share of Adept common stock, which represents a 63% premium over the closing price for Adept's common stock on September 15, 2015. This values Adept at approximately $200 million. OMRON will fund the tender offer through cash on hand.  Commenting on the acquisition, Yutaka Miyanaga, OMRON Industrial Automation Business Company President, said, "We are delighted Adept Technology, a world leader in robotics, has agreed to join OMRON. This acquisition is part of our strategy to enhance our automation technology and position us for long term growth. Robotics will elevate our offering of advanced automation."  Rob Cain, President and Chief Executive Officer of Adept, added, "We are excited about the opportunity to join OMRON, a global leader in automation. Together, our products will offer new innovative solutions to customers all around the globe."  Full Press Release:

How Does the Accident in Germany Affect Industrial Robot Safety?

by Patrick Davison, Director of Standards Development, Robotic Industries Association:  Last week, an unfortunate fatality involving an industrial robot and a worker occurred at a Volkswagen plant in Baunatal, Germany.  The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) and its member companies express its deepest sympathies to the victim’s family, friends, and colleagues. According to news sources, the worker was part of a contracting crew responsible for setting up the robot, and was working inside the safeguarded space when the incident occurred.  A second member of the contracting crew was standing outside of the safeguarded space and was not harmed. The international media response to the incident was aggressive, swift, and expounded on topics that were not relevant to the incident.  AWashington Post article referenced the dangers of Artificial Intelligence and posed the question, “Should the world kill killer robots before it’s too late?”  In another story, a Financial Times journalist with a name similar to a popular character in The Terminator franchise started a social media frenzy with a tweet.  A video from Ireland expounds on random tweets regarding the incident with backdrop footage of the Honda ASIMO robot and manual automotive operations.  Also, according to this article on an automotive news and gossip site, a Times of India article posted a photo of a gun-wielding toy robot beside the story.   Cont'd...

Widespread backing for UK robotics network

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has announced the launch of a new robotics network that aims to foster academic and industry collaboration. The UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) will have a strong academic foundation, with a number of universities acting as founding members. According to the EPSRC, the network has already received strong support from major industrial partners, as well as from professional bodies such as Royal Academy of Engineering, IET, and The Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Globally, the market for service and industrial robots is estimated to reach $59.5 billion by 2020. A primary aim of the network will be to bring the UK’s academic capabilities under national coordination, fuelling innovation in the robotics sector and taking advantage of the growth in the industry.   Cont'd...  

CLEARPATH ROBOTICS ANNOUNCES MOBILITY SOLUTION FOR RETHINK ROBOTICS' BAXTER ROBOT

Clearpath Robotics announced the newest member of its robot fleet: an omnidirectional development platform called Ridgeback. The mobile robot is designed to carry heavy payloads and easily integrate with a variety of manipulators and sensors. Ridgeback was unveiled as a mobile base for Rethink Robotics' Baxter research platform at ICRA 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  "Many of our customers have approached us looking for a way to use Baxter for mobile manipulation research - these customers inspired the concept of Ridgeback. The platform is designed so that Baxter can plug into Ridgeback and go," said Julian Ware, General Manager for Research Products at Clearpath Robotics. "Ridgeback includes all the ROS, visualization and simulation support needed to start doing interesting research right out of the box."  Ridgeback's rugged drivetrain and chassis is designed to move manipulators and other heavy payloads with ease. Omnidirectional wheels provide precision control for forward, lateral or twisting movements in constrained environments. Following suit of other Clearpath robots, Ridgeback is ROS-ready and designed for rapid integration of sensors and payloads; specific consideration has been made for the integration of the Baxter research platform.

QinetiQ North America Introduces DriveRobotics

From QinetiQ North America: By transforming manned industrial vehicles into unmanned robots, DriveRobotics™ add-on applique kit lets building demolition and roadside construction companies convert to unmanned operations whenever operators face hazardous situations. This commercial robotic system, which can also be installed in new vehicles and existing fleets, eliminates need for spotter. Remote-control capabilities enable or facilitate machine use in demanding applications... ( full press release )

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Materials & Processes - Featured Product

Sierra Introduces One Complete Industrial Flow Energy Solution

Sierra Introduces One Complete Industrial Flow Energy Solution

Sierra Instruments announces the launch of its new flow energy solution for managing and optimizing flow measurement for industrial facilities of all sizes. It features Sierra's QuadraTherm 640i/780i thermal flow meters, their InnovaMass 240i/241i vortex flow meters, and their new InnovaSonic 207i ultrasonic flow meter. Designed, built, and calibrated in the USA by Sierra, the Big-3TM share the same revolutionary Raptor firmware and many of the same software apps. They are a complete flow energy solution for flows like compressed air, natural gas, steam, and hot and chilled water. Together, they set a new standard in ease-of-purchase, performance, accuracy, reliability, and ease of use.