Biggest Challenges Of Mass Customization And Tips For Addressing These Challenges

Everything from web design to order management to shipping - not to mention the actual manufacturing process - has to change to accommodate a market of one.

Inside the Gigafactory That Will Decide Tesla's Fate

From Bloomberg: To get to Tesla’s Gigafactory, you drive east from Reno, Nevada, turn into a sprawling industrial center, and make a left on Electric Avenue. The high desert landscape dwarfs everything, even the vast white building with the red stripe along the top. As you reach the gate with the security guard, the breadth of Tesla’s ambitions becomes clear. Even the name itself suggests more to come: Gigafactory 1... ...The $5 billion Gigafactory was born of necessity. Tesla needs a hell of a lot of batteries, for both the forthcoming mass-market Model 3 sedan and the Tesla Energy product line. The timeline for getting those batteries made just became much shorter, too. On Wednesday, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk stunned investors by announcing a sped-up production schedule that calls for a half-million electric vehicles per year by 2018, not the previously stated goal of 2020. For a company that delivered just 50,658 vehicles in 2015, the ramp looks like a hockey stick... (full story)

A New Breed of Speed Reducer

Basically the drive works like a harmonic gear, the most distinctive difference is the flexible spline is now replaced by rollers to generate needed wave motion.

Three ways to leverage IIoT

Scott Stone for Plant Engineering:  The Internet of Things (IoT) will significantly alter manufacturing, transportation, distribution and other industrial sectors over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum. We've only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ways Internet-connected devices will transform these industrial sectors. To put a number on the anticipated growth of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) over the next few years, Accenture places conservative spending estimates at $500 billion worldwide by 2020. Forward-thinking businesses are already leveraging the power of the IIoT and reaping the benefits. When used effectively, it allows companies to better manage their operation, increase production and transform business for the better. Let's take a look at how industrial organizations should be harnessing IIoT to set their businesses up for future growth.   Cont'd...

The MakerBot Obituary

From Brian Benchoff at Hackaday:   MakerBot is not dead, but it is connected to life support waiting for a merciful soul to pull the plug.  This week, MakerBot announced it would lay off its entire manufacturing force, outsourcing the manufacturing of all MakerBot printers to China. A few weeks ago, Stratasys, MakerBot’s parent company, released their 2015 financial reports, noting MakerBot sales revenues have fallen precipitously. The MakerBot brand is now worth far less than the $400 Million Stratasys spent to acquire it. MakerBot is a dead company walking, and it is very doubtful MakerBot will ever be held in the same regard as the heady days of 2010. How did this happen? The most common explanation of MakerBot’s fall from grace is that Stratasys gutted the engineering and goodwill of the company after acquiring it. While it is true MakerBot saw its biggest problems after the acquisition from Stratasys, the problems started much earlier... (full article) (fist hand account from Isaac Anderson)

Why an Open "Plug-and-Play" Platform is The Answer for Industrial Automation

These days almost all industrial automation engineers fall victim to three toolset options to build their applications

Disney files patent for near instantaneous 3D printing

Lucas Mearian for ComputerWorld:  Disney Research has filed a patent for a 3D printing technology that uses high-intensity light to harden photo-sensitive resin in a single process, removing the need for layer-by-layer printing. The patent describes a machine for printing in "a nearly instantaneous manner." "Presently, 3D printing is extremely slow and time consuming. For example, it may take several hours to print a single 3D object even if the 3D object is relatively small (e.g., several inches in diameter and four to 12 inches tall)," Disney stated in its patent filing. "The 3D printing process that uses conventional 3D printers ... is limited in its speed by the speed of the mechanism moving the print head to each new position on a print layer."   Cont'd...

Full 5-axis or 3 + 2 Machining: Which is Right for You?

Both 5-axis and 3 + 2 machining have advantages and can help make you more profitable by improving efficiency on your current production jobs.

Examining 'Industry 4.0′ opportunities in Japan

MINORU MATSUTANI for Japan Times:   “Industry 4.0,” or the fourth industrial revolution, can offer both opportunities and risks for the Japanese economy. It is a term to describe the future state of the economy, particularly manufacturing, based on the connectivity of everything, or the “Internet of Things” (IoT). This connectivity includes not only PCs and mobile phones, but also cars, manufacturing equipment and other devices. Although Japan is said to lag behind other developed nations, a recent gathering discussed whether the country could thrive in this new economy. A consultant, an IT service company president, an employee of the same company and a university professor, all of whom are Japanese, delivered presentations and discussed related issues at a symposium organized by the Keizai Koho Center, titled “The Future of Industry (Industry 4.0) and Japan’s Economic Growth,” in Tokyo on March 18.   Full Article:

A Swarm Of 3D Printing Spiders Could Build Your Next Home

IDO LECHNER for PSFK:  Watching an object being 3D-printed is a spectacle to behold; the speed at which intricate geometries unfold before your eyes is enough for anyone to reckon that this is the future of manufacturing. While both consumer-grade models and more advanced versions are capable of whipping up objects made from different materials, each with their own aesthetic and subsequent properties, the scale of what can be fabricated is entirely based on the size of the printer at use. For this reason, a research team based out of Siemens’ Corporate Technology’s Princeton campus has developed mobile 3D printers in the shape of spiders, which are both autonomous and capable of working in sync to expedite the printing process. PSFK spoke with Siemens’ Director of R&D of Engineering Livio Dalloro on why the team decided to shape their printers like spiders, the implications such a technique might have on the industry, and how Siemens sees the device unfolding in the foreseeable future.   Cont'd...

Low Volume Production Using 3D Printing

If you are new to the 3D printing industry, don't rush to buy the least expensive printer. Some of these might be too simple for your manufacturing requirements and lack some important features like print bed auto-calibration or Wi-Fi connectivity.

Bring 3D printed robots to life with 'Ziro' hand-controlled robotics kit

Benedict for 3Ders.org:   Tech startup ZeroUI, based in San Jose, California, has launched an Indiegogo campaign for Ziro, the “world’s first hand-controlled robotics kit”. The modular kit has been designed to bring 3D printed creations to life, and has already surpassed its $30,000 campaign goal. It would be fair to say that the phenomenon of gesture recognition, throughout the wide variety of consumer electronics to which it has been introduced, has been a mixed success. The huge popularity of the Nintendo Wii showed that—for the right product—users were happy to use their hands and bodies as controllers, but for every Wii, there are a million useless webcam or smartphone functions, lying dormant, unused, and destined for the technology recycle bin.   Full Article:  

Obama and Merkel open HANNOVER MESSE

"We want to build on the spirit of innovation in the USA," said POTUS Barack Obama in his opening speech. This spirit has been driven by Germany and HANNOVER MESSE, especially over the past 70 years. Obama added that the USA has now created new production facilities, subsidy schemes and jobs in recent years to help reach this goal. In what is likely his last visit to Germany as President, Obama spoke in particular about the TTIP free trade agreement. He believes that there are too many obstacles restricting trade between the EU and the USA. Different regulations and standards lead to higher costs. Therefore, one of TTIP's aims is to establish harmonized high standards. Obama also promoted the USA as a production location for European companies. Angela Merkel gladly took the opportunity to respond:  "We love competition. But we also like to win,"  replied the German Chancellor. A challenge with a smile. In her speech, Merkel emphasized that cooperation is essential for the future of industrial production - in a transatlantic partnership. "We in the EU want to lead the way, together with the USA," said the Chancellor, referring above all to the development of global communication and IT standards for integrated industry. However, the opening ceremony at HANNOVER MESSE 2016 was more than a meeting of Heads of State. Amidst musical numbers and dance performances by humans and machines, German Minister for Education and Research, Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, presented the coveted HERMES AWARD for industrial innovation. This year's winner is the Harting Group with its intelligent communication module, MICA.   Cont'd...

46% of German companies use Industry 4.0 - survey

Almost one in two companies in the manufacturing sector (46%) use Industry 4.0 applications, while another 19 percent have specific plans to implement them, according to a recent Bitkom survey among 559 industrial companies with more than 100 employees. About 65 percent of the German industrial companies are already active in the Industry 4.0 sector. Around 23 percent of the companies asked have no concrete plans to use Industry 4.0 but will consider use for the future. Only 12 percent stated that this is not an issue currently. The study also showed that companies are still careful when it comes to investments: although 57 percent of the companies use or plan to use Industry 4.0, the budget for this is on average only 4 percent of the total revenue. Users and planners of Industry 4.0 primarily aim to optimise processes (69%) and to improve the capacity utilisation of their factories (57%). Half of the respondents expect a faster realisation of their customers’ individual wishes. 44 percent want to reduce their production costs with Industry 4.0 and 19 percent their personnel costs.   Cont'd...

Process Data Readouts on a Smartphone: Safety Through Transparency

Near-field communication (NFC) protocols allow data from intelligent vacuum components to be read directly from the processor of a device to a mobile end device, opening up totally new opportunities for optimizing production processes. This is what Industry 4.0 is all about.

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