Thoughts turn to revolution in Davos

By Matthew Allen for SWI:  Intelligent robots and drones, 3D printers, self-driving vehicles, data mountains, smart production lines, fintech and blockchain – the fourth industrial revolution is here. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual Davos meeting will ponder the potential, limitations and societal impacts of “Industry 4.0”. Will the transformation of the workplace create jobs or unemployment? Will it close the gap between industrialised and developing economies, rich and poor - or widen it? For Swiss firms, can the new technological revolution ease the pressures of the strong franc? Speaking ahead of the annual meeting in Davos, WEF founder Klaus Schwab called on world leaders to revise policies to accommodate the coming changes. “We are not yet sufficiently prepared for this fourth industrial revolution that will come over us like a tsunami and will change whole systems,” he said. “My fear is that if we are not prepared we will create a world where particularly the middle class is frozen out. That would lead to a new problem of social exclusion that we absolutely have to avoid.”  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.. .

Factory Automation Will Speed Forward with A.I., Says Bernstein

By Tiernan Ray for Barron's:   Bernstein Research’s Alberto Moel, who follows tech-industrial companies such as Corning(GLW) and AU Optronics (AUO), this afternoon offered up a thinks piece on robotics andfactory automation, arguing that some of the costs of automation beyond the basic cost of the robot are about to get dramatically cheaper, thanks in large part to artificial intelligence akin to what Alphabet (GOOGL) and others are doing. Moel notes that the basic components of factory robots are only falling by perhaps 6% per year, their cost reduction bounded by things such as casings and servomotors and reduction gears that don’t rapidly fall in cost. But, writes Moel, the cost to install and adjust these machines on a factory floor is ten times their component cost and that stuff can be reduced more dramatically: How much this integration costs varies widely. An often-cited rule of thumb is that a $50,000 robot will need $500,000 of integration costs before it is all said and done. Of course, these integration costs can be amortized over many robots, so perhaps a better estimate would be 3-5x the robot cost [...] But I do believe we are at an inflection pointthat will materially increase the capability of automation systems and substantially reduce programming, setup, and fixturing costs which are the largest cost element in most automation efforts. So instead of a measly 6% YoY cost reduction , we get 25-30% YoY declines, and automation Nirvana.   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)

Getting Started with Collaborative Robots - Part 4 - Assess Your Potential Applications

Documenting the actual process will allow you to evaluate if the process can be automated. This will also give you a starting point on cell performance and improvement opportunities.

For Advanced Manufacturing, Success Demands Innovation, Education and Public-Private Partnership

MICHAEL D. WHEELER for Photonics.com:  Global manufacturing has undergone enormous changes in the past decade as many developing countries have joined the club of tier-one manufacturing nations, a recession stalled demand, and employment fell precipitously in leading economies. Yet manufacturing remains critical to the future of both developing and advanced worlds, driving innovation, productivity and competitiveness, and offering a pathway out of poverty. Recent attention has focused on “advanced manufacturing,” which replaces traditional labor-intensive processes with ones based on the newest technologies. It encompasses a family of activities that depends on information, computation, software, sensing and networking, while making use of cutting-edge materials and emerging capabilities such as nanotechnology. Advanced manufacturing is an especially potent propellant of future economic growth, distinguished by continual process improvement and rapid new product introduction. These critical features will lead to the building of lighter, more fuel-efficient automobiles, the creation of “needleless” tests for medical conditions like diabetes, and the fabrication of semiconductors with 10 times the current processing power.   Cont'd...

Special Tradeshow Coverage for Advanced Manufacturing Conference & Expo 2016

Advanced Manufacturing Conference & Expo 2016 will be held from February 9th - 11th in Anaheim, California. This ManufacturingTomorrow.com Special Tradeshow report aims to bring you news, articles and products from this years event.

Robotics 2016: Doubling Throughput in Distribution and Factory Operations

Two existing bakery facilities were successfully integrated into one and finished goods capacity nearly doubled from 6,500 lbs. /hour to 12,000 lbs. /hour.

What Robots and AI Learned in 2015

By Will Knight for MIT Technology Review:  The  robots didn’t really take over in 2015, but at times it felt as if that might be where we’re headed. There were signs that machines will soon take over manual work that currently requires human skill. Early in the year details emerged of a contest organized by Amazon to help robots do more work inside its vast product fulfillment centers. The Amazon Picking challenge, as the event was called, was held at a prominent robotics conference later in the year. Teams competed for a $25,000 prize by designing a robot to identify and grasp items from one of Amazon’s storage shelves as quickly as possible (the winner picked and packed 10 items in 20 minutes). This might seem a trivial task for human workers, but figuring out how to grasp different objects arranged haphazardly on shelves in a real warehouse is still a formidable challenge for robot-kind.   Cont'd...

Google to incubate its robotics and drone divisions under Google X

By Mike Wheatley for SiliconAngle:  Google is planning an organizational reshuffle that will see its secretive robotics department and drone business folded into its Google X labs. Google’s robotics division, and the drone group it created when it acquired Titan Aerospace in 2014, will both fall under the Google X umbrella when the reshuffle takes place some time next year, Re/Code reported. Google X is the secretive part of Google that develops some of its most futuristic, bleeding edge technologies. These include its famous self-driving cars, Project Loon (Wi-Fi hot air balloons), and its airborne wind turbines. Google X operates as a standalone company under Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., which was created following Google’s corporate restructuring earlier this year. Google X’s projects are largely experimental and extremely uncertain in terms of a business model. Nevertheless, Google obviously deems it the best place to be for its robotics division, which has been left leaderless ever since Andy Rubin quit the Web giant last year. Previously, there was speculation that the robotics division may become a standalone company under Alphabet, but today’s news would indicate that’s not going to happen any time soon.   Cont'd...

Automating the Chemo Compounding Process

RIVA uses automation of sterile manipulations and isolation of the compounding area to solve major safety issues with manual compounding, which are accuracy of every dose measurements and assuring sterility of every finished compound.

Getting Started with Collaborative Robots - Part 3 - Get the team on board with robots

In this section, well discuss how to present the idea of automating your production with your workforce, and how to help diminish fears of working with robots.

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.

Getting Started with Collaborative Robots - Part 2 - How to Identify Potential Processes for Automation

At this point, we need to discuss the strengths and limitations of process automation with collaborative robots.

Getting Started with Collaborative Robots? Part 1 - What can collaborative robots do?

This is the first in a series of articles about Collaborative Robots

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