The Questions Executives Should Ask About 3D Printing

Channing Flynn for Harvard Business Review:  Most hearing aids in the U.S. are now custom-made on 3D printers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first 3D-printed pills. Carmakers have started using 3D technology to produce parts. And last year saw the first demonstration of a digital printer producing multilayer, standards-based circuit boards. Imagine the changes afoot in the pharmaceutical, medical device, automotive, and consumer electronics industries. 3D printing is poised to redefine global manufacturing and distribution. It could upend supply chains, business models, customer relationships, and even entrepreneurship itself. It may do to physical goods what cloud computing is now doing to digital services; what the PC, internet, and smart mobility have done to personal computing; and what outsourcing did to software development and business processing — take mass distribution and innovation to the next level while realigning the very geography of work and trade.   Cont'd...

Swagway Teardown: What Makes a Safe Hoverboard?

From Andrew Goldberg at The board is also smart enough to not drive around without you. Riders need both feet firmly planted on the board or it won’t be going anywhere. Just how does the board know you’re properly mounted? Each foot pad has two infrared sensors—one at the toe, one at the heel. Stepping down on the pad pushes a peg between emitter and receiver. Only when all four sensors are blocked are you ready to roll... ...Those sensor switches live on the backs of the two gyro boards—one for each wheel. These boards are largely responsible for the “smart” part of smartboard. Each board is home to an Invensense MPU6050 6-axis gyroscope+accelerometer, and a GigaDeviceGD32F130 ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit microcontroller (thanks, Ken!). The ARM chips are responsible for reading the infrared switches, controlling the sweet underglow headlights and top-mounted indicator LEDs, and collating and sending data from the MPU6050 to the main board (more on that later)... ( full article )  

How Microfactories Can Bring Iterative Manufacturing to the Masses

ANDREW O'KEEFE and JASON DORRIER for Singularity Hub:  Humans manufacture a mind-numbing amount of stuff each year—ever wonder how we do it? In the past 100 or more years, it’s been all about economies of scale. This means you should make a lot of a thing because the more you make, the more your fixed expenses get spread out. This reduces the cost of each unit, from light bulbs to iPhones. Here’s the problem. It’s expensive to do a big manufacturing run. So, how do you know what to make in the first place? Often, it’s an educated guess based on prototypes and limited feedback, but you don’t really know until you try to sell a product—and by then, you’re fully committed, succeed or fail. Jay Rogers of Local Motors wants to upend common wisdom. Manufacturers should run through tons ofpotentially good ideas and then test them out to see if people actually want what they’re making before going full scale. And Rogers thinks microfactories are the way to do it.   Cont'd...

This 3D printer can rival standard manufacturing on the factory floor

Lucas Mearian for ComputerWorld:  Start-up Carbon began shipping its industrial-grade 3D printer with the expectation that big-name companies will soon be using it to replace traditional forms of manufacturing. Last year, the Silicon Valley company emerged from quiet mode to announce its technology: a machine that can create objects 25 to 100 times faster than other 3D printers. Carbon is not selling its M1 3D printer outright, but instead is offering it through a subscription price of $40,000 per year, which includes a service and maintenance plan. The three-year-old company based in Redwood City, Calif. said its Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) printing process can create objects in minutes compared to the hours a typical 3D printer requires.   Cont'd...

With this new 3D printing technique, robots can "practically walk right out of the printer"

Katherine Noyes for Digital Arts:  Imagine you could use a standard 3D printer to create your next robotic assistant. Just snap in a motor and battery, and it's ready to go. That's precisely the scenario made possible by a new 3D printing technique developed at MIT. Liquids have long been a challenge for 3D printing, and they're necessary for hydraulic devices like moving robots. On Wednesday, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) announced what they call the first-ever technique for 3D printing robots that can print solid and liquid materials at the same time.   Cont'd...

Industry 4.0 in Hannover Messe 2016 leads manufacturers to cross-industry innovations

Back in Hannover Messe 2011, Germany announced the Industry 4.0 concept and initiated the world's fourth industrial revolution. Since then, Hannover Messe has become a focal point for Industry 4.0 innovations. As Hannover Messe 2016 closes in, the exhibition will once again be surrounded by various Industry 4.0-related hot topics such as integrated industry, smart manufacturing and more. Coming soon on April 25 to 29, Hannover Messe 2016 will be based on the theme "Integrated Industry – Discover Solutions", which aims to provide an interpretation of the smart manufacturing model of Industry 4.0. As a Taiwanese company with deep expertise in IoT automation, NEXCOM has planned four themed demonstrations that map out a complete solution blueprint for industry 4.0 in the upcoming event. Joe Lin, General Manager of NEXCOM's IoT Automation Solutions Business Group, states, "Early Industry 4.0 solutions focused on the lower layers of factory communication where IoT gateways were used to integrate different industrial protocols, bridging the Industry 4.0 last mile connection to fulfill the 'connected' concept. Now in 2016, NEXCOM will extend the pathway to the cloud through NEXCOM IoT Studio configuration tool and IoT gateways, which consolidate the management and connection of factory field devices onto a unified control interface, accelerating data aggregation. This will enable a two-way field-to-cloud connection for big data analytics, promoting development for more Industry 4.0 applications."   Cont'd...

Why Everyone Must Get Ready For 4th Industrial Revolution

Bernard Marr for Forbes:  First came steam and water power; then electricity and assembly lines; then computerization… So what comes next? Some call it the fourth industrial revolution, or industry 4.0, but whatever you call it, it represents the combination of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Systems. In short, it is the idea of smart factories in which machines are augmented with web connectivity and connected to a system that can visualize the entire production chain and make decisions on its own. And it’s well on its way and will change most of our jobs. Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, has published a book entitled The Fourth Industrial Revolution in which he describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterized mainly by advances in technology. In this fourth revolution, we are facing a range of new technologies that combine the physical, digital and biological worlds. These new technologies will impact all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenge our ideas about what it means to be human.   Cont'd...

Industry 4.0: When humans and robots go hand in hand

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:

LSIS offers glimpse into smart factory

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...

U.S. manufacturing isn't dead; factories are running at close to a record pace

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.. .

Greycork Challenges Ikea With A Flat-pack Living Room In A Box

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 )

How Innovators Overcome Smart Factory Challenges

Brad Done for  Smart factories are the manifestation of what's being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution — a concept that's been in the conceptual-buzz phase for years. While the last revolution saw the widespread digitization of manufacturing technology, allowing information to be produced, replicated and shared on an unprecedented scale, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, could take manufacturing to a place verging on self-awareness. What does this look like? Smart components will interact directly with other devices — independent of human micromanagement and oversight. It means our technologies will be capable of building and interpreting a more nuanced understanding of the manufacturing environment. People and machines will have access to real-time virtual representations of all manufacturing functions. It's a vision that's fast becoming a reality. Experts have expounded on the challenges, but this hasn't prevented early-adopters from making significant headways.   Full Article...

This Factory Robot Learns a New Job Overnight

MIT Technology Review:   Fanuc’s robot uses a technique known as deep reinforcement learning to train itself, over time, how to learn a new task. It tries picking up objects while capturing video footage of the process. Each time it succeeds or fails, it remembers how the object looked, knowledge that is used to refine a deep learning model, or a large neural network, that controls its action. Deep learning has proved to be a powerful approach in pattern recognition over the past few years. “After eight hours or so it gets to 90 percent accuracy or above, which is almost the same as if an expert were to program it,” explains Shohei Hido, chief research officer at Preferred Networks, a Tokyo-based company specializing in machine learning. “It works overnight; the next morning it is tuned.”... ( full story )

NASA is sending a 3D printer to space that you can use

Emily Calandrelli for TechCrunch:  NASA is preparing to send its first commercial manufacturing facility to the International Space Station (ISS). The 3D printing company Made in Space has partnered with NASA to send their Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) to the space station on a launch scheduled to take place next Tuesday. Users on Earth can pay to use AMF, a 3D printer specially designed to operate in a microgravity environment, to print products on the space station. Once it arrives, Made in Space will be able to command AMF remotely from their headquarters in the NASA Ames Research Park. Spencer Pitman, head of product strategy at Made in Space, told TechCrunch that the company has already secured 20 paying customers for AMF. Their customers include high schools that are hosting space-related design challenges, universities that will print medical research components, and companies that will print commercial parts for satellites and other spacecraft.   Cont'd...

3D Printing Reboot

Dana Blankenhorn for SeekingAlpha:  While many people consider 3D printing dead, given what has happened to the stocks of industry leaders such as 3D Systems, Stratasys, ExOne and voxeljet , it's more accurate to say the industry has rebooted and is preparing for another run. This means the industry's excitement is now coming from college campuses and startups. As an investor you want to keep an eye on this, but withhold your investment. Industry leader 3D Systems has been drawing a bid this year as it  undergoes a restructuring, bringing in more professional management, anddropping the Cube, its consumer printer, from the product line. For all of 2015 it reported a loss of $664 million, $5.85/share, on revenues of $666 million. The stock, which once traded as high as $96/share during the last boom, is now at around $13, but it had been as low as $6.42 in mid-January. Founder Charles Hull, 76, has been kicked upstairs to a Chief Technology Officer role.   Cont'd...

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