3-D-printed robots with shock-absorbing skins

Adam Conner-Simons for MIT News:  Anyone who’s watched drone videos or an episode of “BattleBots” knows that robots can break — and often it’s because they don’t have the proper padding to protect themselves. But this week researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory(CSAIL) will present a new method for 3-D printing soft materials that make robots safer and more precise in their movements — and that could be used to improve the durability of drones, phones, shoes, helmets, and more. The team’s “programmable viscoelastic material” (PVM) technique allows users to program every single part of a 3D-printed object to the exact levels of stiffness and elasticity they want, depending on the task they need for it.   Cont'd...

Fujitsu to sell 'smart' factory systems in China

Nikkei Asian Review:  Japan's Fujitsu will partner with Chinese group Shanghai Yidian to sell factory management systems in China, where the government is promoting such technology as a way to cope with a shrinking labor force and improve manufacturing quality. These systems fall into the realm of "internet of things" -- networks of machines, such as factory robots or appliances, that can collect and share data. The municipal-government-run Shanghai Yidian group comprises nearly 150 companies making electronic components, lighting and other products. Some of the group's factories have already adopted Fujitsu software that allows managers to monitor equipment in real time. These systems track energy usage as well as any problems the machines encounter.   Cont'd...

OMRON to Introduce 15,583 Models in 7 Categories to World, Second Wave of FA Devices Built on Common Design Platform

OMRON Corp., based in Kyoto City, will introduce to the world on October 3, 2016, a total of 15,583 models, in 7 categories, as the second wave of factory automation (FA) control devices built on a common design platform for unified product specifications.  Based on a wide range of products, OMRON has been continuing to work for the innovation of making control panels which house and control FA devices on the production front line. OMRON unified the design and size of FA devices, and introduced products in April 2016 which are built with the company's proprietary wiring technology "Push-In Plus Terminal Block" for device and control panel makers in need of "downsizing and space-saving" of FA devices and control panels, "expedited delivery," and "response to globalization."   Full Press Release:  

Metamaterial Mechanisms

From the Hasso Plattner Institute: Recently, researchers started to engineer not only the outer shape of objects, but also their internal microstructure. Such objects, typically based on 3D cell grids, are also known as metamaterials. Metamaterials have been used, for example, to create materials with soft and hard regions.  So far, metamaterials were understood as materials—we want to think of them as machines. We demonstrate metamaterial objects that perform a mechanical function. Such metamaterial mechanisms consist of a single block of material the cells of which play together in a well-defined way in order to achieve macroscopic movement. Our metamaterial door latch, for example, transforms the rotary movement of its handle into a linear motion of the latch. Our metamaterial Jansen walker consists of a single block of cells—that can walk. The key element behind our metamaterial mechanisms is a specialized type of cell, the only ability of which is to shear.  In order to allow users to create metamaterial mechanisms efficiently we implemented a specialized 3D editor. It allows users to place different types of cells, including the shear cell, thereby allowing users to add mechanical functionality to their objects. To help users verify their designs during editing, our editor allows users to apply forces and simulates how the object deforms in response... (project homepage)

Adidas Shows Off First Shoe Made In Its German Smart Factory

Designed to provide the ultimate fit, the adidas Futurecraft M.F.G. shoe represents the first high performance footwear to come out of the adidas SPEEDFACTORY in Germany, heralding a new era in footwear crafting while providing greater precision, unique design opportunities and high performance. Welcome to the future.  Adidas, meanwhile, plans to open its second Speedfactory next year in the Atlanta area.

How to Attract Millennials to Advanced Manufacturing Jobs

Tony Oran for Quality Digest:  In an age where popular technology careers are only seen as attractive if they are based in Silicon Valley or offered by the latest and greatest startup companies, the manufacturing industry must make changes to attract bright and talented Millennials. The numbers clearly illustrate this need. Baby Boomers currently make up a large part of the manufacturing workforce. With many workers expected to retire in the coming decade, there will be nearly 3.5 million jobs to fill, according to Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. Millennials have now overtaken Baby Boomers as the most populous generation, making them one of the largest pools of talent for employers. Quantity, however, does not always translate to quality. Employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill available openings, and it’s a trend companies are seeing regardless of sector.   Cont'd...

Home 3D Printing 'Just Not There Yet' Admits MakerBot

Alex Cranz for Gizmodo:  MakerBot was going to change the world. It was going to bring 3D-printing, long a product limited to designer offices and workshops, into the home (or at least the garage). But earlier today, under a veil of marketing speak and glitzy videos, the company announced a new focus on commercial—not consumer—products, and in so doing, finally admitted what we’ve all known for a while. No one really wants a 3D printer in their house. CEO Jonathan Jaglom called MakerBot’s event an “an overall repositioning” for the brand. That’s a market savvy way of saying MakerBot is abandoning the home and hobbyist and embracing offices and schools. Later, when I asked about MakerBot’s former dream of getting 3D printers into people’s homes Jaglom’s answer seemed to come easily, the consumer market’s “just not there yet.”   Cont'd...

Bosch, SAP team up for Industry 4.0

Peter Gutierrez for IoT Hub:  Bosch and SAP will combine their expertise on cloud technologies and software solutions to make inroads into the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 markets. Customers will be able to use SAP’s HANA database platform within Bosch’s IoT Cloud, which the companies hope will enable large-scale data processing for IoT applications in real-time. Bosch’s IoT microservices will also be made available in SAP’s HANA cloud platform, providing multiple device and component connectivity.   Cont'd...

New modular AM 'smart factory' from Concept Laser decouples pre-production and production

Benedict for 3Ders.org: ¬ German metal 3D printing specialist Concept Laser has unveiled its new "smart factory" approach to additive manufacturing. The idea behind the Industry 4.0 "smart factory" is to decouple process stages, allowing tasks to be carried out in parallel and physically separate from one another. The¬ AM Factory of Tomorrow, Concept Laser's modular additive manufacturing factory-building kit, has been designed to allow manufacturers to seamlessly incorporate additive manufacturing technologies into existing production lines or to develop new and efficient AM production spaces. The Lichtenfels-based company has now revealed new aspects of its advanced manufacturing concept, detailing how a move from the¬ sequential¬ to the¬ parallel¬ could maximize production speed, cost-efficiency, and scalability. ¬ Cont'd... ¬

Peugeot Teams Up With 3D Printing Startup for Parts and Possibly Full Cars

Daniel Bentley for Fortune:  French carmaker PSA said on Thursday a partnership with a U.S. 3D printing startup would lead to cheaper production of whole vehicle structures as well as parts for its models. The maker of Peugeot, Citroen and DS cars said it had agreed with Los Angeles-based Divergent 3D to develop metal printing processes for PSA production lines. Carlos Tavares, PSA’s chief executive, said this could “dramatically scale down the size and scope of our manufacturing footprint” and yield lighter, more profitable vehicles. The carmaker did not quantify any impact on production jobs. Industries from aerospace to healthcare use 3D printing for the production of metal and plastic components, while elaborate assemblies with moving parts often prove more difficult. Ford is among other carmakers exploring the technology.   Cont'd...

Industry 4.0: Cloud driving the rise of machines

From BizCommunity:   The technologies defining the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution', more commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, are being powered by cloud infrastructures. The Oracle Cloud: Opening up the Road to Industry 4.0 report has found that from robotics to artificial intelligence, businesses view the cloud as a blank canvas upon which to build their innovation strategies. [Industry 4.0: Cloud driving the rise of machines] The research investigated how companies in EMEA are managing the transition to Industry 4.0 and sheds light on which technologies they are investing in to continue succeeding in the data-driven age.  The majority of businesses are currently implementing, or plan to implement new innovation strategies: • 62% have or plan to implement robotics technology • 60% have or plan to work with artificial Intelligence Most companies also recognise a cloud infrastructure is required to bring these technologies to life – 60% believe an enterprise cloud platform provides the opportunity for organisations to capitalise on innovation such as robotics and artificial intelligence.   Cont'd...  

Safety solutions for intelligent human-robot collaboration

Fanny Platbrood for SafeToWork:   Human-robot collaboration (HRC) describes a work scenario in which humans and automated machines share and work in the same workspace at the same time. Driven by Industry 4.0, this model of collaboration promises highly flexible workflows, maximum system throughput and productivity, as well as economic efficiency. However, ensuring that HRC is actually able to live up to this promise requires exactly the right safety technology for the application in question. One of the major issues associated with Industry 4.0 is making work processes flexible. At the extreme end of the spectrum, this may involve manufacturing products in batch size 1 under industrial mass-production conditions – that is, manufacturing unique items on a conveyor belt.    Cont'd...

IIoT and Industry 4.0 to Create Growth in Telerobotics in Manufacturing

Kagan Pittman for Engineering.com:  By now, we’re all be familiar with industrial robotics—but you might not have heard of telerobotics.  Telerobotics is all about the control of semi-autonomous robots from a distance, hence the prefix “tele-,” meaning “to or at a distance.”  Telerobotics and teleoperation are playing an increasingly meaningful role in industrial automation and the rapidly evolving industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) arena, according to industry researchers at Mind Commerce Publishing.  It’s also worth noting that there are various other supporting technologies that promise to accelerate the adoption of industrial robotics and improve process controlling and monitoring in IIoT environments. These technologies include hardware, such as sensors, activators and dynamic control interfaces such as exoskeleton gloves, as well as software, such as Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).   Cont'd...

3D printed designs easily stolen by nearby smartphone

Jack Loughran for E&T:  3D printers have been shown to be vulnerable to attack by smartphones that can steal designs by being within close proximity during the printing process. A study from the University at Buffalo, USA explored security vulnerabilities in 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, which analysts say will become a multibillion-dollar industry employed to build everything from rocket engines to heart valves. "Many companies are betting on 3D printing to revolutionise their businesses, but there are still security unknowns associated with these machines that leave intellectual property vulnerable," said assistant professor Wenyao Xu, who worked on the project.   Cont'd...

GE speeds up 3D printing push with bids for SLM, Arcam

Johannes Hellstrom and Maria Sheahan  for Reuters:  General Electric launched bids on Tuesday to buy two of the world's top makers of machines for metal-based 3D printing - Sweden's Arcam and Germany's SLM Solutions - for a total $1.4 billion to bolster its position in the fast-growing technology. 3D printing has been used to build prototypes for decades but has become more widespread for industrial mass production in recent years, with uses including the production of dental crowns, medical implants and light aircraft parts. GE has long been one of the main proponents of industrial 3D printing, using it to make fuel nozzles for its new LEAP jet engine in what marked a big step in using the technology in mass production.   Cont'd...

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