MIT Builds Invisible Fish Grabbing Robot

Matthew Humphries for PCMag:  Catching a fish can be tough, even if you are just trying to net a goldfish in a small tank. That's because the fish spots the danger and makes a swim for it. But what if you didn't need a net because you're controlling an invisible grabbing robot? That's what Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT succeeded in creating, but its applications go way beyond catching and releasing fish unharmed. The robot is constructed of a transparent hydrogel, which is strong and durable but mostly made of water. As the video below explains, each arm of the robot is constructed from 3D-printed hollow cubes of hydrogel, which are then linked together. By injecting water using a syringe it's possible to make the arms curl and uncurl quickly in a grabbing motion.   Cont'd...

Why 2017 is the year integration enables Industry 4.0 growth

Louis Columbus for CloudTech:  Having attained initial results from Industry 4.0 initiatives, many manufacturers are moving forward with the advanced analytics and Big Data-related projects that are based on real-time integration between CRM, ERP, 3rd party and legacy systems. A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) study of Industry 4.0 adoption, Industry 4.0: Building The Digital Enterprise (PDF, no opt-in, 36 pp.) found that 72% of manufacturing enterprises predict their use of data analytics will substantially improve customer relationships and customer intelligence along the product life cycle. Real-time integration enables manufacturers to more effectively serve their customers, communicate with suppliers, and manage distribution channels. Of the many innovative start-ups taking on the complex challenges of integrating cloud and on-premise systems to streamline revenue-generating business processes, enosiX shows potential to bridge legacy ERP and cloud-based CRM systems quickly and deliver results. There are many more potential benefits to adopting Industry 4.0 for those enterprises who choose to create and continually strengthen real-time integration links across the global operations.  Cont'd...

The 9 unit Winbo 3D printer is an all-in-one micro factory

Beau Jackson for 3D Printing Industry:  Winbo smart manufacturing company is determined to provide a 3D printer for everyone’s needs, and with the Vertical 9 units 3D Printer, the Chinese company may have an all-in-one answer for small businesses. FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) with the power of 9 units gets the job done faster, but without compromises to quality. Each unit is loaded separately and managed individually so 3D prints can be timed perfectly without interfering with each other. Such integrated productivity is ideal for businesses who need to perform rapid prototyping or, for example, in a 3D printing bureau with a stack of orders to produce. It could even be installed within a specially made makerspace in schools or colleges to keep on top of student demand for 3D printed projects.    Cont'd...

The Road To IIoT: What Can We Learn From Other Industries?

John Fryer for MBTmag.com: Â Many manufacturers are viewing the emerging Industrial "Internet of Things" (IIoT) as a way to provide their businesses with a new and powerful competitive advantage. They recognize the potential in harnessing and analyzing data from across the plant to drive greater efficiency and create the foundation for new business models. But how can manufacturers navigate from the automation infrastructures of today to the intelligent IIoT enterprises they envision? To help answer that question, manufacturers stand to learn much from looking at other industries and how they have addressed the challenges of moving to the IIoT. Companies in a number of industries - from energy to financial services to telecom and building security - have successfully made the transition from the inflexible, limited proprietary technologies of the past to the agile, intelligent open technologies of today. As manufacturers chart their course, there are insights they can glean from other industries that are successfully achieving the advantages of next-generation IIoT automation. Â Cont'd...

U.S. investors see more automation, not jobs, under Trump administration

David Randall for Reuters:   When U.S. President-elect Donald Trump criticized United Technologies Corp's (UTX.N) Carrier unit in November for its plan to move some 800 jobs to Mexico, the parent-company made a swift decision to keep the factory in Indiana. Yet, the move did not translate into saving jobs. Instead, the company decided it would move toward automation as a way to cut costs. "We're going to make up [the] $16 million investment in that factory in Indianapolis to automate, to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive," chief executive Greg Hayes said on CNBC last month. "What that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs." Swapping robots and software for human labor has underpinned much of the productivity gains in the United States over the last 25 years. Now, with a greater political push to keep factories at home, investors are betting that automation will gain speed in industries ranging from auto manufacturing to chicken processing to craft beer breweries.   Cont'd...

One Of Europe's Top Business Schools Is Helping Executives Navigate Industry 4.0

Seb Murray for BusinessBecause:  Industry 4.0 — a slew of technologies from robotics and 3D printing to virtual reality and data analytics — is rapidly reshaping the way we manufacture, distribute and consume products. The Executive Master in Manufacturing Automation & Digital Transformation at ESCP Europe, is equipping executives with the tools they need to navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Below, Giovanni Scarso Borioli, Assistant Professor of Operations Management, outlines how.  Cont'd...

Adidas reveals plans for 3D printing 'Speedfactory'

Corey Clarke for 3DPrintingIndustry:  Adidas is moving closer to a 3D printing shoe manufacturing revolution. As previously reported the sports shoe manufacturer used 3D printing to produce the Ultraboost Parley and 3D Runner releases in 2016. This year, Adidas are keen to up the tempo with their Speedfactory concept. Industrial factories where 3D printing and robotics manufacture sneakers on-demand are at the core of the plan. Manufacturing will also become localized, eliminating costs associated with logistics and supply chains. Large-scale production at German Speedfactory in Ansbach is set for mid-2017, with Adidas expecting to create 500,000 shoes a year in the future. While in the U.S, Adidas has announced plans to create a Speedfactory in Atlanta in late-2017.   Cont'd...

Chiefs hold back on smart factories after backlash

Peggy Hollinger for Financial Times:  General Electric, one of the world’s biggest industrial companies, estimates that digitising industrial machinery, networks and processes will not just bring down the costs of manufacturing. The data it generates will open new business opportunities, such as optimising maintenance schedules for customers or improving the design and quality of products. The resulting “industrial internet”, GE argues, has the potential to deliver global productivity improvements that could add $10tn-15tn to global GDP over 20 years. No manufacturer can ignore the coming revolution. Yet many, in developed economies at least, are wary. A backlash against globalisation, fuelled by decades of decline in America’s rust belt and the erosion of blue-collar jobs, has already upset the status quo in the US, where Donald Trump’s protectionist slogans helped him to win the White House. Almost half the 1,370 chief executives questioned in PwC’s annual Global CEO survey published this week fear that this latest industrial revolution will feed further distrust among their companies’ stakeholders — whether they be investors, employees or the wider public.   Cont'd...

Sharp Executive Says Plan for Foxconn LCD Plant in U.S. is Still 'On The Table'

Mitchel Broussard for MacRumors:  Foxconn and Sharp are looking closer than ever to building a manufacturing plant within the United States, according to one Sharp executive who said that the plan is still "on the table" (via Nikkei). The plant would mainly be focused on the manufacturing of LCD panels for TV sets and home appliances, but Foxconn is said to be considering moving iPhone production stateside as well.  The news continues a rumor from last year born out of President-elect Donald Trump's comments on wanting Apple to make its products stateside. Foxconn laid out plans for such a move in December, along with Japan-based SoftBank Group, with each company hoping to create a combined 100,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next four years.    Cont'd...

ASU site of largest academic additive manufacturing center in the southwest US

Gail Overton for LaserFocusWorld:  By forming a partnership with Concept Laser (Grapevine, TX), Honeywell Aerospace (Phoenix, AZ), and Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies (PADT; Tempe, AZ), the largest additive manufacturing (AM) research facility in the Southwest is now on the Polytechnic campus of the Polytechnic School at Arizona State University (ASU; Tempe, AZ). The 15,000 square foot center holds over $2 million of plastic, polymer, and 3D metal printing equipment and the Polytechnic School at ASU offers the only manufacturing engineering undergraduate degree in Arizona and is one of only 22 ABET accredited manufacturing engineering programs in the United States. The lab has a Concept Laser M2 cusing and Mlab cusing machine which are dedicated to 3D metal printing, also known as metal AM. Unlike conventional metal fabrication techniques, AM produces fully dense metal parts by melting layer upon layer of ultrafine metal powder. The Polytechnic School is using the machines for a wide range of research and development activities including materials development and prototyping complex mechanical and energy systems.   Cont'd...

The 3D Printers of CES

Brian Benchoff for HACKADAY:  CES is over, and now we can take a step back, distance ourselves from the trade show booths, and figure out where 3D printing will be going over the next year. The Hype Cycle is a great way to explain trends in fads and technological advances. VR and autonomous cars are very early on the Hype Cycle right now. Smartphones are on the plateau of productivity. 3D printing is head-down in the trough of disillusionment. For this year’s CES, 3D printing is not even a product category. In fact, the official documentation I found at Prusa’s booth listed their company in the ‘Assistive Technologies’ category. These are dark days for the public perception of 3D printing.  The perception of 3D printing has been tied inexorably to Makerbot. Makerbot presented the only 3D printer on The Colbert Report. Only Makerbot had their 3D printing storefronts featured on CNN. It’s been like this for half a decade, and hopefully things will get better.   Cont'd...

3D graphene: MIT scientists develop super-light, super-strong structure

Weston Williams for The Christian Science Monitor:  Many scientists consider graphene to be one of the most potentially useful materials ever created. The atom-thick chain of carbon atoms are strong, light, and promise many applications, from energy storage to pollution removal to waterproof coating. While graphene has been studied since the 1940s, scientists have had considerable trouble constructing it into a structurally useful form on a three-dimensional level. But now, scientists at MIT have figured out how to build up graphene into useful, 3-D shapes with the potential to be lighter and stronger than steel. The new research marks an important step forward for the material. The hexagonal structure is essentially an "unrolled" carbon nanotube only an atom thick, usually only functional on a two-dimensional level. Despite this limitation, graphene is more than 100 times stronger than steel, and converting that two-dimensional strength into a structure usable for three-dimensional building materials has for years been something of a holy grail for graphene researchers. And now, scientists may be one step closer to that conversion.   Cont'd...

CES 2017 - MarkForged 3D prints metal

From CES 2017: From the company that revolutionized 3D printing with composite carbon fiber, comes a breakthrough in metal. The Metal X greatly accelerates innovation, delivering metal parts overnight using a new technology at a fraction of the cost. Leave 20th century manufacturing in the dust and create anything from industrial replacement parts to injection molds to working prototypes.

3D printer builds a cube from a vat of goo … using a phone screen

Ed Oswald for DigitalTrends:  What if we told you that you could be holding in your hand a key piece to your next 3D printer? If Taiwan-based 3D-printing startup T3D has anything to do with it, your smartphone will have you creating 3D objects in no time. While the printing surface contains a mechanically operated plate that is dipped into a special resin, it’s your smartphone that tells it how to operate. From within the printer’s app, you select the shape you’d like to print. From there, the light from the screen moves through a series light patterns necessary to create the object in a special light sensitive resin. While it works a bit slow — as you can see, the cube structure in the video demo above takes over seven hours to print on an early prototype — it’s like nothing we’ve seen before.   Cont'd...

Manufacturers most upbeat in two years, ISM survey shows

Jeffrey Bartash for MarketWatch:  American manufacturers finished 2016 on a wave of optimism, as a survey of executives hit the highest level in two years.  The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index climbed to 54.7% in December from 53.2%, slightly higher than the MarketWatch forecast. Any number above 50% signals expansion. The index is compiled from a survey of executives who order raw materials and other supplies for their companies. The gauge tends to rise or fall in tandem with the health of the economy. New orders and production surged in the final month of the year and plans for employment also edged higher. Bradley Holcomb, chairman of the ISM survey committee, said comments from executives were largely positive.   Cont'd...

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