Designing for the digital world

Tim Fryer for Eureka:  Head in sand time is over – Industry 4.0 is happening and is here to stay. In this article, the first in a series, Tim Fryer spoke to some of the leading automation companies about what Industry 4.0 means to design engineers. The elevator pitch for Industry 4.0 would be something like ‘it is the digitisation of manufacturing and the supply chain’. The three previous industrial revolutions started with steam and mechanisation, progressed onto automated assembly lines at the start of the 20th century, and then the introduction of computers to the work place in the 1970s was the third.   Cont'd...

Japan worker shortage has only one winner so far: robots

Leo Lewis for Financial Times:  Earlier this week, Japanese TV audiences glimpsed a potentially revolutionary contraption from the Matsue College of Technology that rapidly separates closed shijimi clamshells into those with a live mollusc inside and those without. Cut to footage of a human sorter, expertly performing the same function at a rate of just 90 kgs of shijimi per day and whose job this machine seems destined to replace. In other parts of the world, the juxtaposition could seem cruel or politically charged; in Japan, it is almost celebratory.  The great conundrum for investors — and increasing preoccupation of sellside analysts attempting to talk clients out of underweight Japan positions — is whether the equity market provides a neat play on Japan’s deepening worker shortage and the promised surge in wages that has to date been all gong and no dinner.   Cont'd...

A 10K tiny house 3D-printed in 24 hours

Lacy Cooke for Inhabitat:  Building a house typically takes months, exacerbating the housing crisis so many people face worldwide. Apis Cor, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in 3D-printing, decided to tackle that crisis with a groundbreaking mobile 3D-printer that can print an entire 400-square-foot tiny home in just 24 hours. What’s more, doing so costs just over $10,000 – a steal compared to most modern homes. On their website, Apis Cor says the construction industry may be sluggish now, but they will persevere in disrupting that industry “until everyone is able to afford a place to live.” Their revolutionary mobile 3D-printer is small enough to be transported, so assembly and transportation costs can be slashed. Although their mobile printer only needs a day to print a home from a concrete mixture, the company says their buildings will last up to 175 years. Not only is their process speedy, but environmentally friendly and affordable too.   Cont'd...

BeeHex Raises $1 Million For Fresh Food Robots

BeeHex, Inc., the 3D food printing company that "promises to change the way food is made", completed its $1,000,000 seed round led by Grote Company founder, Jim Grote.  BeeHex, with its flagship product Chef 3D, builds 3D food printing systems that assemble and deliver fresh foods. Best known for printing pizza, in 2016 BeeHex teamed up with Michelin bib gourmand-rated Italian chef Pasquale Cozzolino to create gluten-free and savory pizza crust options using an 80-year-old mother yeast. BeeHex's Chef 3D systems began 2016 with a "print time" of six minutes to create a 12" pizza and exited 2016 with a print time at around the one-minute mark. BeeHex systems will allow for personalized food orders from an app and also with the push of a button, fit for commercial kitchen use.   Full Press Release:

How Industry 4.0 and BIM are Shaping the Future of the Construction Environment

By Mark King, EMEA BIM Solutions Manager, Leica Geosystems via GIM International:  The construction industry is on the cusp of a new industrial age. The fourth industrial revolution, or ‘Industry 4.0’, will see construction coming in line with more digitally developed industries, which will revolutionise not only how physical structures are designed, built and maintained, but also how they are subsequently used. What it means in reality is open to interpretation and the ability to future-gaze. Some anticipate it will mean the use of smart materials and technologies to make our buildings intelligent. Others envisage that it will come to mean autonomous machinery carrying out aspects of production, with minimal human input. But what is commonly agreed is that it represents the use of technology to fundamentally improve the way we design and construct the world around us.   Cont'd...

Dubai company ready to 3D print your house, says 19-year-old founder

Michael Fahy for The National:  A teenager who has relocated his start-up business in 3D printing technology from Silicon Valley to Dubai has said that it is ready to begin offering 3D printed houses and buildings. Chris Kelsey, 19, the co-founder and chief executive of Cazza Construction Technologies, has said that its mobile printing robots are capable of printing a 200 square metre house in a single day using just two workers – one to monitor the machine and another to add elements such as steel rebar and electricity cables within pre-determined sections. "If someone wants to build a house, we design and engineer according to 3D standards. From there we bring the machine on site and set up the position where it is meant to print. Once it is in position, the machine 3D prints according to the software design," he said. Mr Kelsey, who was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in California, began to seriously look at the market for 3D printing in construction early last year, using the proceeds generated from the sale of an earlier company – an app and website development business known as Appsitude.   Cont'd...

Ericsson and China Mobile jointly demo the 5G-enabled Smart Factory at MWC 2017

Ericsson and China Mobile have jointly developed a 5G-enabled Smart Factory prototype using key 5G Core Network technology - Network Slicing. The prototype will be on display at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. The demo will simulate the assembly line in the Smart Factory environment, enabled by the 5G connected industry standard PLC connections.  Triggered by Made-in-China 2025 and Industry 4.0, the manufacturing sector has changed profoundly in China during recent years. Industries have engaged in a steady re-industrialization relying on ICT enhancements.  At the root of industrial revolution is the implementation of a reliable and flexible communication layer, capable of dealing with increasingly higher capacity allocations of on-demand manufacturing and adjustments.   View Video here:  

3D Printing: Should You Go Open Source?

Michael Molitch-Hou for Engineering.com:  Although it’s possible that patents have existed since the time of the Ancient Greeks, the Venetian Patent Statute is more widely recognized as the first official patent system. Established in 1474, the statute declared that 10-year patents could be granted to "any new and ingenious device, not previously made.” Along with all of society’s rules and mores, patent law and intellectual property (IP) have changed over time. We are now living in the post-Internet era, in which ideas and files are exchanged all around the world on a regular basis. It is now possible to download Phil Collins’ entire discography, whether it’s legal or not. It’s also possible to download 3D printable guns, legal or not.   Full article:

Race For 3D Printing Capacity Could Revive M&A

Harry Brumpton for Forbes:  It’s an industrial breakthrough destined to transform manufacturing, from the production of entire space shuttle rockets right down to dental implants. It’s only a matter of time before the technology will make it to homes too, experts say, giving you access to on-demand, customizable basketball shoes, toys, housewares and more. 3D printing builds solid objects of almost any design by zapping out tiny melded layers of plastic, metal or whatever else, much like a drip in freezing weather incrementally forms an icicle. This simplifies the complex assembly of heavy objects and intricate designs, in essence reinventing the traditional economics of production. One darling stock of the 3D printing world is 3D Systems, which has posted a whopping return since the start of the new year of 27.54%. But its three-year record is even more eye popping: Minus 77%.   Cont'd.. .

This 3D-Printer Uses Holograms for Super-Fast Printing

Patrick Lynch for Arch Daily:  One established 3D-printing technique is using laser to cure light-activated plastic, building up layers one at a time in a time-consuming process. But now tech start-up Daqri has discovered a way of speeding up that process: by using a 3-dimensional hologram.  The printer works by projecting a 3D light field into a dish of the light sensitive monomer “goo.” The plastic quickly hardens, allowing it to be extracted using a screen. The whole process takes just 5 seconds, compared to the several minutes than would be required by an ordinary 3D printer. In addition to its increased speed, the printer also creates monocoque objects that don’t suffer from the weaknesses found in the “grain” between layers of 3-D objects. The process would also eliminate the need for supporting structures currently required to create some 3D objects.   Cont'd...

Campofrio Food Group Leads the Way in Digitization with Cisco Connected Factory Solution

Marketwired:  Campofrío Food Group, the leading international producer of branded processed meats, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, has cut the ribbon on a brand-new plant that boasts the latest in digital technology. With a gross surface area expanding 99,000 square meters and an estimated production of 101,400 tons a year, the 'New Bureba' plant is located in Burgos, in Northern Spain. It replaces the previous facilities, destroyed by a fire in November 2014, but is far from a standard rebuild, incorporating the industrial sector's very latest innovations. From the beginning of the design process, Campofrío seized the opportunity to create a 'smart' factory that connects machines, devices, sensors and people in real-time. The company selected Cisco Connected Factory solution to create a 'Factory 4.0' that would enable to manage and optimize its business processes and make well-informed decisions.   Cont'd...

MakerBot is laying off a third of its staff, narrowing focus under Stratasys

Shawn Knight for TechSpot:  3D printing ordinary household goods may be able to save users a bit of coin but consumers aren’t buying it – literally – and that’s forcing one company to downsize its workforce. In what is becoming a common occurrence, MakerBot recently announced additional restructuring that’ll see the company shed 30 percent of its staff. CEO Nadav Goshen said greater focus on long-term goals is key to their success and to get there, they must reduce the “pressure and distraction” of chasing short-term market trends and focus on their core products. The executive didn’t say which divisions would be hit hardest, nor do we know exactly how many employees are being let go although TechCrunch estimates the figure is probably between 80 and 100. Specifically, MakerBot will be integrating hardware and software product development under one team that’ll be led by VP of Engineering Dave Veisz. Current Director of Digital Products, Lucas Levin, is also being promoted to VP of Product, we’re told, and will lead product management across hardware and software.   Cont'd...

Vaquform: The World's First Digital Desktop Vacuum Former

The Vaquform is a Kickstarter project that hopes to add some digital technology to vacuum forming and also  bring an industrial level of quality to your desktop.   It goes far beyond the LCD interface. Vaquform brings high-end process control to desktop vacuum forming, turning it into a smart appliance fit for a modern engineering lab, design office, or artist studio.   Kickstarter page:

Beyond the Hype: What's Next for Industrial 3D Printing

Vicki Holt of Proto Labs via The Huffington Post:  It wasn’t long ago that 3D printing was one of the buzziest technologies around.  We watched as a 3D printer recreated a bust of Stephen Colbert on TV. We heard from industry analysts who were bullish on adoption of the technology. We imagined a future with a 3D printer in every home when major retailers began selling them online and in stores. Fast forward to today. The potential of 3D printing remains enormous. Global spend on the technology is expected to climb from $11 billion in 2015 to nearly $27 billion in 2019. But with all of the early excitement now behind us, where does 3D printing stand today? And where will it go in the future?  It can be summed up in three key developments.   Cont'd... 

Closing US Manufacturing Trade Deficit Would Create 1.3M Jobs, Says Tech Think Tank

The prevailing narrative says automation was the main culprit behind U.S. manufacturing job losses in the early 2000s, and that automation is now powering an unprecedented manufacturing technology revolution that will continue to displace jobs. But a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) finds that both of these claims are false.  ITIF, a leading tech-policy think tank, finds that trade pressure and faltering U.S. competitiveness were responsible for more than two-thirds of the 5.7 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2010. And rather than entering a "fourth industrial revolution," U.S. manufacturing productivity growth is actually near an all-time low. In light of these facts, ITIF concludes that U.S. policymakers should aim to close the country's trade deficit in manufactured goods by fighting foreign mercantilism and pursuing a national competitiveness agenda that hinges in part on boosting manufacturing productivity rates. The report estimates that successfully closing the manufacturing goods trade deficit this way would create 1.3 million jobs.     Full Press Release:

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