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... Â

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...

This new 3D-printing pen draws with wood, copper, and bronze

James Vincent for The Verge:  3Doodler's 3D-printing pens have always had a lot of potential (who doesn't want a souped-up glue gun that can draw 3D structures in midair?), but in our hands-on with the pens, their rough build quality means they come across more as toys than serious design tools. The company's latest model, the 3Doodler Pro, wants to shake up this perception, offering professional users more control, faster-setting plastics, and a whole new range of materials to work with. Some of the new filaments on offer are pretty wild, too. 3Doodler says the Pro supports materials including wood, copper, bronze, nylon, and polycarbonate. Obviously, this doesn't mean you'll be sticking a length of dowel in the back of the Pro to draw tiny pieces of wooden furniture — instead, these new materials blend elements of their namesake into the plastic standard filament.   Cont'd...

Hirose, Harting Team Up on 10 Gbit Ethernet Connector Standard

Spencer Chin for Electronics360:  Interconnection component suppliers Hirose Electric Co., Ltd., based in Tokyo, and Harting Electronics GmbH, Espelkamp Germany, have reached an agreement on the joint development, product standardization and marketing of a miniaturized connection technology system for 10 Gbit ethernet. The technology will overcome the limitations of RJ45, which is not ideally suited for industrial environments and could only be deployed with certain modifications. In light of this situation, Harting developed reportedly the world’s first industry-compatible field attachable RJ45. The miniaturization of components and interfaces in connection technology has become a key factor in global digitalization through the Internet of Things and Services.   Cont'd...

Oak Ridge tool takes world record for largest 3D-printed object

Michael Irving for New Atlas:  Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is no stranger to impressive 3D printing feats, with a replica 1965 Shelby Cobra and a dwelling and vehicle which can power each other, already under its belt. Now a new plane wing trim-and-drill tool developed and 3D printed by ORNL has been certified by Guinness World Records as the largest solid 3D printed item. Made from carbon fiber and ABS thermoplastic composite materials, the new tool measures 17.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 ft (5.3 x 1.7 x 0.5 m) and weighs around 1,650 lb (748 kg). To meet the requirements of the record, the item needed to be one solid piece of 10.6 cubic ft (0.3 cubic m), which a Guinness World Records judge confirmed at a ceremony.   Cont'd...

Why manufacturing will make or break the future of energy

Lauren Hepler for GreenBiz:  From solar panels a decade ago to energy storage today, the history of clean tech is littered with capital-intensive concepts poised to radically alter the relationship between industrialized society and the environment. But why do these widely heralded breakthroughs always seem to limp along so slowly when it comes to actually hitting the market? The dreaded "valley of death" between conception and commercialization is one increasingly recognized explanation, dooming novel technologies to relegation in never-ending pilot projects as follow-on investment lags. For Mark Johnson, the Department of Energy's resident innovation expert, the real problem often boils down to production. That is, not just inventing a new energy-centric technologies, but making sure those new tools can be reliably made in a cost-effective manner.   Cont'd...

Going Beyond 3D Printing to Add a New Dimension for Additive Manufacturing

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:  A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers has demonstrated the 3D printing of shape-shifting structures that can fold or unfold to reshape themselves when exposed to heat or electricity. The micro-architected structures were fabricated from a conductive, environmentally responsive polymer ink developed at the Lab. In an article published recently by the journal Scientific Reports (link is external), lab scientists and engineers revealed a strategy for creating boxes, spirals and spheres from shape memory polymers (SMPs), bio-based "smart" materials that exhibit shape-changes when resistively heated or when exposed to the appropriate temperature. Lab researcher Jennifer Rodriguez examines a 3D printed box that was "programmed" to fold and unfold when heated While the approach of using responsive materials in 3D printing, often known as "4D printing," is not new, LLNL researchers are the first to combine the process of 3D printing and subsequent folding (via origami methods) with conductive smart materials to build complex structures.   Cont'd...

New technologies reshape production lines

LINSEY MILLER & CHRISTOF WEHNER OF ARTESYN EMBEDDED TECHNOLOGIES, originally Published on Embedded Computing Design:  Whether people call it Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), or networked production, they are all talking about coming changing paradigms in the industrial network. Today there are several single-task workstations, manned by humans or robots, which are connected to a higher-level enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. However, that hierarchy is on the cusp of changing massively in the near future to accommodate newer, more intelligent technologies spanning multiple segments of the production line.   Cont'd...

A New Effort to Teach Low-Income Students Marketable Skills

Mikahail Zinshteyn for The Atlantic:  The Obama administration is rolling out an experimental plan that will allow employers and training programs to partner with accredited universities to teach students work-related skills. This pilot will enable students to receive federal financial aid for programs that are typically ineligible for these funds, like coding boot camps. By pairing traditional universities with companies that train workers for in-demand fields like computer coding and advanced manufacturing, the U.S. Department of Education hopes to create a new model for delivering high-quality academic credentials to workers in a shorter period of time.  Cont'd...

How to prepare a business for an Industry 4.0 network

Joe Bombagi for Business Review Europe:  The first industrial revolution was based on the use of steam to power machines. The second centred on the use of electricity to supply energy to assembly lines. The third came about with the use of electronics and IT to further automate production. But all of that is in the past. We are now in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0, in which the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to overhaul not only business, but also every aspect of modern life. From cars, washing machines, and even clothing, to heart monitors and dams, anything and everything will soon be connected. As a result, the Industry 4.0 phenomenon is expected to revolutionise all areas within the manufacturing space, connecting all the elements that take part in the production process within the industrial environment: machines, products, systems, and people. The IoT will make today’s organisations more competitive by enabling them to further automate manufacturing processes, and collect and analyse data which they can then use to tailor their products to specific client needs.   Cont'd...

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