Have we solved the nanomaterials problem?

Nick Hall for 3D Printing Industry:   Researchers at Virginia Tech have potentially cracked a conundrum that has tormented the scientific community and created a viable method to produce usable metallic nanomaterials. Of course, 3D printing provided the answer and this really could change the world we live in. Nanostructures have the capacity to disrupt a number of industries and they can revolutionize material science, medicine and battery technology to name just a few. If we can truly harness nanomaterials then almost every facet of modern life will change, from the clothes we wear to our water filtration system. It’s one of those breakthroughs that really could change everything. So the potential is immense, but nanostructures are complex to produce in usable form. Scaling them up to a workable size has caused issues with the structural integrity, performance and consistency. Outside of the theoretical setting, they have largely frustrated us.   Cont'd...

Where do you get the I/O for the IIoT?

Nick Butler, National Instruments for ControlDesign:  Data is the heart of all Internet of Things systems, including systems deployed into industrial environments. When we talk about making the aging electrical grid smarter or the factory of the future more efficient, what we’re really after are insights that can make our equipment and infrastructure smarter and more efficient. And to deliver these incredibly valuable insights, which will result in millions of dollars in savings, uptime or operational efficiency, we need data. Lots of it. We also need complex, computationally intensive algorithms that scour the data to find trends, patterns and anomalies (Figure 1). While these algorithms and analysis routines are a very important piece of the IIoT puzzle, the best data scientists in the world cannot predict equipment failures without enormous amounts of data.   Cont'd...

Norsk setting up industrial scale additive manufacturing plant in New York

Aerospace Manufacturing & Design:  Norsk Titanium U.S. is building the world’s first industrial-scale metal additive manufacturing plant by 2017 in Plattsburgh, New York. Officials at the aerospace structural company say the state of New York and the State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institutehave place an order for 20 Norsk MERKE IV Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) machines. “We are proud to be a part of the unwavering vision and leadership of Governor Cuomo and are moving forward in support of his efforts to revitalize upstate New York with jobs, technology and community pride,” says Norsk Titanium Chairman of the Board John Andersen Jr. “Our researchers have spent ten years pioneering the Rapid Plasma Deposition process that is now ready to cut millions of dollars in cost from the world’s premier commercial and military aircraft, and with the foresight displayed in other sectors, the State of New York is the ideal place to launch this manufacturing revolution.” Norsk Titanium President and CEO Warren M. Boley Jr. adds, “Today marks the beginning of a new erain the way aircraft, marine vessels, automobiles, spacecraft, and many industrial products are designed and built. Not only are we creating jobs, huge economic impact and great visibility for the wider Plattsburgh community, we are also making history by kicking off a new phase of on-demand, near-net-shape manufacturing that sets a new benchmark of efficiency and customer responsiveness.”   Cont'd...

Atomic-scale additive manufacturing techniques could create stronger, lighter, smarter materials

Benedict for 3Ders.org:  Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have predicted that atomic-scale 3D printing techniques could be used to create stronger, lighter, and smarter materials. Focused electron- and ion-based methods could be used to develop quantum computers, efficient solar cells, and other technology. In a paper published in the journal ACS Nano, ORNL researchers have reviewed several methods of atomic-scale 3D nanofabrication, suggesting ways in which the processes could be refined in order to perfect the art of creating material at the atomic scale. While traditional 3D printers deal with shapes divided into layers which are then turned into physical objects, the process known as “directed matter” involves fabricating structures atom by atom. Scientists believe that this form of additive manufacturing could allow manufacturers of the future to create near-perfect materials with incredibly precise structures.   Cont'd...

Hitachi Begins Development of Factory Automation Platform as a Service Testbed

Kagan Pittman for Engineering.com:  Will the Internet of Things be the future of manufacturing? Global conglomerate Hitachi Group seems to think so. Hitachi recently partnered with Mitsubishi Electric and Intel to receive approval for their Factory Automation Platform as a Service (FA PaaS) Testbed at the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), a global non-profit organization. The testbed will operate as a testing platform based on the reference model of IIC to test solutions in controlled scenarios that match real-world conditions, for the ultimate purpose of connecting manufacturing sites with head offices in order to streamline their operations. Hitachi hopes to use the FA PaaS to respond to what they see as a market rapidly growing and demanding faster product development, market introduction, quality improvements and shorter lead times.   Cont'd...

Schneider Electric's three steps for implementing Industry 4.0

Eric Emin Wood for IT World Canada:  Manufacturing companies with visions of incorporating the latest automated, cloud-based, analytical tech into their production process need to recognize the value of a measured approach, an original equipment manufacturing (OEM) veteran says. Martin Stephenson, vice president of process automation for OEM Schneider Electric Canada, which specializes in power management, building management, datacentres, and process and automation control, says that while some firms are equipped to embrace the change right away, others might find that implementing what he calls “Industry 4.0” isn’t a good fit for them at all. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” he says. “Customers need to have a truthful conversation with themselves and say, ‘How do we manage what we do now? Are we ready for this step? … Do we have the right infrastructure? Do we have the right cybersecurity in place?’ There are a lot of discussions to be had before this leap of faith happens.”   Cont'd...

Rise in Robotics Requires New Tax Approach, EU Report Warns

Linda A. Thompson for Bloomberg:  European lawmakers warn that the growing use of robots and artificial intelligence may cause job losses across the continent, threatening to result in plummeting tax revenues if current tax frameworks aren't revised to account for the rise of the robotic workforce. Practitioners told Bloomberg BNA that taxing robots as “electronic persons,” as the EU contemplates in a recent report, would hinder innovation and that other ways of taxing the value that robotics create should be explored. The recent European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs draft reportrecommends the European Commission adopt a resolution to require companies to report on “the extent and proportion of the contribution of robotics and AI to the economic results of a company for the purpose of taxation and social security contributions.” Its first paragraph references Frankenstein, and comes amid mounting concerns that the rise in automation and artificial intelligence in the workplace will fundamentally alter economies, destroy jobs and jeopardize social welfare programs such as social security.   Cont'd...

China's Midea buys nearly half of German robotics firm Kuka

The Star:  Chinese appliances giant Midea moved a step closer to fulfilling its ambition to acquire German industrial robotics firm Kuka with two weekend deals raising its stake to nearly a majority.  Two of Kuka’s biggest German shareholders – technology company Voith and entrepreneur Friedhelm Loh – said they had decided to take up Midea’s offer of €115 (RM512) per share and sell their stakes.  German news agency DPA reported that Voith had agreed to sell its stake of 25.1% for €1.2bil (RM5.34bil).  And Loh told the business daily Handelsblatt he had decided to sell his stake of 10% for nearly €500mil (RM2.22bil).  Combined with its existing holding of 13.5% in Kuka, the two purchases mean Midea now holds 48.5%, or not far from the outright majority, in the Augsburg-based robot builder.   Cont'd.. .

10 Ways Machine Learning Is Revolutionizing Manufacturing

Louis Columbus for Forbes:  Every manufacturer has the potential to integrate machine learning into their operations and become more competitive by gaining predictive insights into production. Machine learning’s core technologies align well with the complex problems manufacturers face daily. From striving to keep supply chains operating efficiently to producing customized, built- to-order products on time, machine learning algorithms have the potential to bring greater predictive accuracy to every phase of production. Many of the algorithms being developed are iterative, designed to learn continually and seek optimized outcomes. These algorithms iterate in milliseconds, enabling manufacturers to seek optimized outcomes in minutes versus months. The ten ways machine learning is revolutionizing manufacturing include the following:

Industry 4.0 breathes new life into cybersecurity

Dave Sutton for IT Pro Portal:  A technical evolution has taken place, which has made cyberthreats more potent than at any other time in our history. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, over half of British businesses will suffer cyberattacks by 2018. As businesses seek to embrace Industry 4.0, cybersecurity protection must be a top priority for Industrial Control Systems (ICS). These attacks are financially crippling, reduce production and business innovation, and cost lives. In years gone by, legacy ICS were developed with proprietary technology and were isolated from the outside world, so physical perimeter security was deemed adequate and cybersecurity was not relevant. However, today the rise of digital manufacturing means many control systems use open or standardised technologies to both reduce costs and improve performance, employing direct communications between control and business systems. Companies must now be proactive to secure their systems online as well as offline.   Cont'd...

Printed Perforated Lampshades for Continuous Projective Images

From Haisen Zhao, Lin Lu, Yuan Wei, Dani Lischinski, Andrei Sharf, Daniel Cohen-Or, Baoquan Chen: We present a technique for designing 3D-printed perforated lampshades, which project continuous grayscale images onto the surrounding walls. Given the geometry of the lampshade and a target grayscale image, our method computes a distribution of tiny holes over the shell, such that the combined footprints of the light emanating through the holes form the target image on a nearby diffuse surface. Our objective is to approximate the continuous tones and the spatial detail of the target image, to the extent possible within the constraints of the fabrication process.  To ensure structural integrity, there are lower bounds on the thickness of the shell, the radii of the holes, and the minimal distances between adjacent holes. Thus, the holes are realized as thin tubes distributed over the lampshade surface. The amount of light passing through a single tube may be controlled by the tube's radius and by its direction (tilt angle). The core of our technique thus consists of determining a suitable configuration of the tubes: their distribution across the relevant portion of the lampshade, as well as the parameters (radius, tilt angle) of each tube. This is achieved by computing a capacity-constrained Voronoi tessellation over a suitably defined density function, and embedding a tube inside the maximal inscribed circle of each tessellation cell. The density function for a particular target image is derived from a series of simulated images, each corresponding to a different uniform density tube pattern on the lampshade... (full paper)

Companies, employees not quite ready for cognitive technology wave of robotics, AI, machine learning

Larry Dignan for Between the Lines:  Robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other cognitive technologies will replace about 7 percent of U.S. jobs by 2025 with office and administrative staff taking the biggest hit, according to a Forrester Research forecast. The bad news is jobs will be lost. The good news is that new gigs will be created as cognitive technology takes hold. One reason the disruption won't be larger or happen sooner is that companies aren't ready for the change related to the new automated workforce, said Forrester. Among the key items: 16 percent of U.S. jobs will be replaced, but 9 percent of jobs will be created. That's how Forrester gets to the 7 percent job loss by 2025 figure. Emerging jobs will be robot monitoring pros, data scientists, automation specialists and content curators. 93 percent of automation technologists feel unprepared to take on smart machine technologies. 83 percent saw cognitive computing as critical to their companies' future. 32 percent of respondents said they are prepared for the cognitive technology changes ahead, but only 12 percent are prepared to deal with the human and organizational fallout. 46 percent say the number of jobs will remain about the same and 43 percent of respondents thought jobs would decline. Full Article:

'UK manufacturers fail to understand Industry 4.0'

Ian Vallely for Works Management:  There isn't enough understanding of Industry 4.0 by UK manufacturers, according to a report by BDO in partnership with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  It said just 8% of UK manufacturers have a significant understanding of Industry 4.0 processes despite 59% recognising that the fourth industrial revolution will have a big impact on the sector, according to the report . As the increasing use of automation, data exchange, technology and wider supply chain communications driven by Industry 4.0 provides both huge opportunities and threats to UK manufacturing, there remains a ‘gaping hole’ in the education and understanding of Industry 4.0. According to the BDO Industry 4 0 Report, increased productivity, better data analysis, increased competitiveness and lower manufacturing costs are the top ways in which Industry 4.0 will affect UK manufacturing.   Cont'd...

FIRST 3D TOOLS PRINTED ABOARD SPACE STATION

Evan Gough for UniverseToday:  Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have manufactured their first tool using the 3D printer on board the station. This is another step in the ongoing process of testing and using additive manufacturing in space. The ability to build tools and replacement parts at the station is something NASA has been pursuing keenly. The first tool printed was a simple wrench. This may not sound like ground-breaking stuff, unless you’ve ever been in the middle of a project only to find you’re missing a simple tool. A missing tool can stop any project in its tracks, and change everybody’s plans. The benefits of manufacturing needed items in space are obvious. Up until now, every single item needed on the ISS had to be sent up via re-supply ship. That’s not a quick turnaround. Now, if a tool is lost or destroyed during normal use, a replacement can be quickly manufactured on-site.   Cont'd...

Midea makes bid for robotics maker Kuka official

DW.com:  Chinese appliance firm Midea has announced it has launched a cash offer for a stake of 30 percent in German industrial robotics supplier Kuka. The takeover bid has stoked controversy in Germany and Europe. Midea said on Thursday it would offer 115 euros ($130) per share to Kuka owners under efforts to become the biggest single shareholder in one of the world's leading manufacturers of industrial robots. The Chinese appliance maker, which is so far only known to be producing washing machines and air conditioners, also said its offer would end July 15, with no ceiling on the percentage of shares it was aiming to buy.  Kuka shares closed at just above 106 euros in trading at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The stock gained about 26 percent since the deal was first proposed in May.   Cont'd...

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