Kristie Thong for Eco-Business: Amid concerns that the rise of industrial robots may soon render humans obsolete, Swiss automation giant ABB’s latest innovation may help shine a new light on what the future will look like when humans and robots can work together as partners. Full Article:
Lee Min-hyung for Korea Times: LSIS, the nation's top electric equipment maker, aims to apply integrated automation systems into all of its manufacturing facilities as a core strategy to slash operating costs and dominate the nation's energy efficiency market. The so-called "smart factory" initiative comes amid growing popularity for efficient management systems in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT). Global equipment manufacturers are jumping on the "smart" bandwagon for management efficiency, but only a few companies here have achieved significant feats on the area. LSIS's manufacturing facility, however, offers a glimpse of what automated factory is all about, ranging from assembling parts to packaging. In particular, the company's G production line is equipped with fully-automated production system operated by its programmable logic controller (PLC). The PLC is interconnected with the manufacturing execution system (MES), serving as a network hub to manage every level of manufacturing processes within the factory. Cont'd...
Rex Nutting for MarketWatch: U.S. manufacturing sector doesn’t get any respect. Ask a random sample of people on the street and you’re likely to hear that America doesn’t make anything anymore, that China, Mexico and Vietnam took all of our factories, and that the only jobs left in America are flipping burgers and cleaning hotel rooms. “Throughout history, at the center of any thriving country has been a thriving manufacturing sector,” says presidential candidate Donald Trump. “But under decades of failed leadership, the United States has gone from being the globe’s manufacturing powerhouse — the envy of the world — through a rapid deindustrialization.” Cont'd.. .
From Dezeen: Rhode Island furniture company Greycork has created a collection of quick-assembly, flat-pack pieces that are intended "to be a better alternative to Ikea"... ...Each piece is shipped for free in a thin, flat box and is designed to be assembled by the customer in under four minutes... ...The company's first line, the Brooks Collection, featured a folding dining table, coffee table and bench – all made of wood and priced from $500 to $950... ( full story ) ( Greycork site )
From Nature.com: Ultimately, Goh, a PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore, hopes that the method will help her to find blood vessels that are leaking owing to inflammation, perhaps helping to detect malaria or predict strokes. Crucial to her technique are the virus-sized particles that give the solution its colour. Just a few tens of nanometres across, they are among a growing array of 'nanolights' that researchers are tailoring to specific types of fluorescence: the ability to absorb light at one wavelength and re-emit it at another. Many naturally occurring compounds can do this, from jellyfish proteins to some rare-earth compounds. But nanolights tend to be much more stable, versatile and easier to prepare — which makes them attractive for users in both industry and academia. The best-established examples are quantum dots: tiny flecks of semiconductor that are prized for their beautiful, crisp colours. Now, however, other types of nanolight are on the rise. Some have a rare ability to absorb lots of low-energy photons and combine the energy into a handful of high-energy photons — a trick that opens up opportunities such as producing multiple colours at once. Others are made from polymers or small organic molecules. These are less toxic than quantum dots and often outshine them — much to the amazement of chemists, who are used to carbon-based compounds simply degrading in the presence of ultraviolet light... ( full article )
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:
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.
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 )
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.”
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 )
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...
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.. .
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)
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...
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...
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