Ford, Ekso team up for ‘bionic’ auto workers

Ford, Ekso team up for ‘bionic’ auto workers

Nov 15, 2017

By Nick Carey, Rueters The U.S. automaker said on Thursday that workers at two U.S. factories are testing upper-body exoskeletons developed by Richmond, California-based Ekso Bionics Holdings Inc (EKSO.O), which are designed to reduce injuries and increase productivity. The four EksoVests were paid for by the United Auto Workers union, which represents hourly workers at Ford, and the automaker plans tests for the exoskeleton in other regions including Europe and South America. The cost of the exoskeletons, which were developed as part of a partnership between Ford and Ekso, was undisclosed. The lightweight vest supports workers while they perform overhead tasks, providing lift assistance of up to 15 pounds (6.8 kg) per arm through a mechanical actuator that uses torque to take the stress off a worker’s shoulders. If you try one on, if feels like an empty backpack, but it enables you to hold a weight such as a heavy wrench straight out in front of you indefinitely and without strain. Ekso began by developing exoskeletons for the military and medical fields, but branched out in manufacturing and construction in 2013. Paul “Woody” Collins, 51, a worker at Ford’s Wayne plant, has been at the automaker for 23 years and has worn an EksoVest since May. He attaches bolts and parts to the undersides of Ford Focus and C-Max models, raising his hands above his head around 1 million times a year. Since wearing the vest, he has stopped having to put ice and heat on his neck three or four days a week and finds he has energy after work instead of feeling exhausted. Russ Angold, Ekso’s chief technology officer, said the aim is to get workers used to the technology before moving eventually into “powered” exoskeletons that “will help with lift and carry” work. “The idea is to demonstrate this isn’t science fiction, it’s real and it has real value,” Angold said on Thursday. “As we prove its value, we will be able to expand into other tasks.” The No. 2 U.S. automaker has been studying for years how to lower its workers’ injury rates and the exoskeleton venture is the latest step in that process. From 2005 to 2016, Ford...

3D Print, Peel, & Place

3D Print, Peel, & Place

Nov 13, 2017

By Jeff Reinke, ThomasNet A team at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT was recently able to create a 3D-printed part that can fold up on itself – allowing for a greater number of applications in delicate electronic environments. A key component in the development of this technology was the accidental discovery of new material for printing. Printable electronics are nothing new, but to expand the use of these components, researchers have been trying to find materials that are less susceptible to heat and water. They were also looking to find ways in which they can create precise angles when folding these printed pieces to ensure optimum compatibility. The new material was inadvertently discovered while CSAIL researchers were trying to develop ink that yielded greater material flexibility. What they ended up finding was a material that let them build joints that would expand enough to fold a printed device in half when exposed to ultraviolet light. The new printing material or ink expands after it solidifies, whereas most comparable materials contract. This unusual property allows for the part to form joints or creases for changing its shape after it has been created. This material discovery offers opportunities in both the near and longer term.  First, this ability to construct 3D-printable electronics with foldable shapes could expand the production of customized sensors, displays, and transmission devices. Over the longer term, more complex electronics could become a reality, including electromechanical and power-assisted components, as well as end-products for industrial...

Insulated Connectors Excel in Harsh Climate Conditions…

Insulated Connectors Excel in Harsh Climate Conditions…

Nov 9, 2017

“Insulated Connectors Excel in Harsh Climate Conditions, Manufacturer Says” Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine BRADENTON, Fla.—ETCO Incorporated, a manufacturer of custom precision metal stampings, wire termination parts, and molded products, recently announced the performance results of its insulated connector line for wire termination connections. In a press release, ETCO said that the glass-reinforced insulated connectors provide improved performance over simple native polymer connectors. ETCO’s engineers tested the glass-reinforced insulated connectors against competitor offerings to evaluate the differences between the products. The competitor connectors use simple native polymers and lack glass reinforcement. In high humidity climate conditions, their native polymer connectors expand and weaken, resulting in hazardous conditions, ETCO said in the release. The glass-reinforced ETCO insulated connector is engineered to collapse on itself in a scenario where there’s a malfunction. This allows it to hold until an automatic shutdown cycle occurs within the operating equipment, the company said. ETCO’s insulated connectors are rated UL94V-0, RoHS compliant and are flame retardant. In 96 hours of testing in humid conditions, the connectors are reported to have required 3.5 times the separation force when compared to competitor offerings. “With 3.5 times the separation force compared to the nearest competitor, ETCO’s insulated connectors are second to none in the most rigorous conditions,” said ETCO Vice President of Sales John Stiness, in a statement. The insulated connectors, available in straight and flag styles, mate with 0.110 inch x 0.020/0.032 inch, 0.187 inch x 020/.032 inch, and 0.250 inch x 0.032 inch NEMA male tabs. The AWG wire range is 18-14 and 22-18. ETCO (https://www.etco.com) manufactures precision stampings, as well as rubber and plastic molded products used in a range of industrial manufacturing, including the automotive, appliance, aviation, medical, information technology hardware, and networking markets. The company has factories and a research complex in Bradenton, Florida, and a factory and engineering center in Warwick, Rhode...

Design-2-Part Shows Announce 2018 Schedule

Design-2-Part Shows Announce 2018 Schedule

Nov 8, 2017

November 7, 2017 – Design-2-Part (D2P) Shows, America’s largest design and contract manufacturing tradeshows, is pleased to announce their 2018 show schedule. The eleven event slate includes six spring shows and five fall shows. The schedule is anchored by six annual shows. D2P will hold these events in Grapevine (Dallas), TX; Atlanta, GA; Schaumburg (Chicago), IL; Santa Clara, CA; Long Beach, CA; and Marlborough (Boston), MA. The Long Beach show will rotate between Long Beach and San Diego giving Southern California manufacturers two convenient, every-other-year options. The D2P schedule is rounded out with five events that alternate every two to three years. Design-2-Part Shows provide design engineers, manufacturing engineers, managers, and purchasers an excellent opportunity to meet local and national job shops and contract manufacturers face-to-face to source custom parts, components, services, and design. Exhibiting companies will be showcasing their design-through-manufacturing services featuring more than 300 product categories for the metal, plastics, rubber and electronics industries. The shows are working shows and visitors are encouraged to bring sample parts and drawings. D2P Shows exclusively feature exhibiting job shops and contract manufacturers with manufacturing operations in the United States. Companies that do not have facilities in the U.S. are not permitted to exhibit. The 2018 D2P Show Schedule: Texas Design-2-Part Show, March 14 & 15, 2018 Gaylord Texan Convention Center, Grapevine, TX Southeast Design-2-Part Show, March 28 & 29, 2018 Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, GA Greater New York Design-2-Part Show, April 18 & 19, 2018 Meadowlands Exposition Center, Secaucus, NJ Greater Chicago Design-2-Part Show, May 9 & 10, 2018 Schaumburg Convention Center, Schaumburg, IL Northern California Design-2-Part Show, May 23 & 24, 2018 Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA Upper Midwest Design-2-Part Show, June 6 & 7, 2018 Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN Southern California Design-2-Part Show, September 12 & 13, 2018 Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA New England Design-2-Part Show, September 26 & 27, 2018 Royal Plaza Trade Center, Marlborough, MA Southeast Design-2-Part Show, October 10 & 11, 2018 Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, NC Greater Ohio Design-2-Part Show, October 24 & 25, 2018 John S. Knight Center, Akron, OH Midwest Design-2-Part Show, November 14 & 15, 2018 St. Charles Convention Center,...

Q&A: What The GOP Tax Plan Means For Distributors…

Q&A: What The GOP Tax Plan Means For Distributors…

Nov 6, 2017

“Q&A: What The GOP Tax Plan Means For Distributors & Manufacturers” By Mike Hockett, Manufacturing.net In late September, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans unveiled an outline of a proposed tax plan that Trump has boasted as the largest in U.S. history. On Sept. 29, Trump provided the broad strokes of that plan in a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington D.C., with the $6 trillion plan including significant tax cuts for corporations, simplified tax brackets and nearly double the standard deduction used by most tax filers. However, the finer details of the plan are still largely unknown by the general public. Aside from a 2015-2016 industrial recession, industrial distributors and suppliers have often cited tax burdens and regulations as hurdles to business growth, so those companies would be wise to keep tabs on what a new tax plan would involve for them. ID recently spoke with Jim Brandenburg, Tax Partner at Sikich LLP, about what Trump’s tax plan means for manufacturing, especially for distributors. Brandenburg’s extensive knowledge of tax legislation and experience working with distributors and manufacturers give him a unique perspective discussing current tax impacts and what future implications could be of the proposed tax plan. ID: From what you’re hearing, what are distributors and manufacturers’ biggest criticisms/pain points with the current tax structure/regulations? Jim Brandenburg: High tax rates and uncertainty regarding tax policy and various tax provisions are ongoing pain points for manufacturers and distributors. Uncertainty stems from the fact that many benefits that enable a company to reduce their annual tax burden are not permanent, which hinders a company’s ability to plan too far into the future. For example, under current law, bonus depreciation, which allows companies to immediately deduct the cost of newly purchased assets (e.g., machinery and equipment), is set to be reduced in 2018, reduced again in 2019 and then expire in 2020.  The tax reform debate creates additional uncertainty and leaves companies in a holding pattern as they wait and see whether any legislation will pass at all and, if so, what form the final legislation will take. However, manufacturers and distributors have long sought lower tax rates and would welcome the decrease in the corporate and small business pass-through...