What role will robotics and 3D printing play in the future…

What role will robotics and 3D printing play in the future…

Jun 15, 2017

“What role will robotics and 3D printing play in the future of manufacturing?” By Nell Walker, Manufacturing Global Digitalisation is taking over the manufacturing world, forcing traditional fossil-fuelled methods out of the way and improving the flexibility of processes globally. IIoT and Industry 4.0 are a looming presence spurring businesses to adopt advanced automation solutions in order to hasten production, lower manufacturing costs, and remain competitive. Top Technologies in Advanced Manufacturing and Automation, 2017 is part of business consultancy Frost & Sullivan’s TechVision Growth Partnership Service program. The study covers the technologies of robotic exoskeletons, metal 3D printing, computer integrated manufacturing, nano 3D printing, collaborative industrial robots, friction stir welding/solid state joining, magnetic levitation (Maglev), composite 3D printing, roll-to-roll manufacturing and agile robots. These are expected to have the most impact across a variety of market segments, including automotive, healthcare, consumer electronics, aerospace and transportation. “Developments in 3D printing materials, metal inks, printing techniques and equipment design are driving the global uptake of metal 3D printing,” said Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Ranjana Lakshmi Venkatesh Kumar. “R&D can enhance metal 3D printers’ ability to print high-strength, lightweight prototypes and parts at low costs, making these printers highly relevant in the aerospace and automotive sectors.” The robotics market has also experienced huge advancements recently, and collaborative robots have the highest impact. “Collaborative robots are gaining traction due to their ability to work alongside humans, ensure worker safety and integrate with existing environments,” noted Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Varun Babu. “R&D efforts to improve the level of interactivity and customization will bolster the adoption rates of collaborative robots, particularly in automotive, aerospace, logistics and warehousing, healthcare, and consumer electronics industries.” Robotic exoskeletons and agile robots are also important developments of note. The former is a wearable device that can increase strength and mobility of the wearer, and the latter are small robots which offer superior agility, efficiency, and uptime. Overall, with greater government support and deeper convergence, advanced manufacturing and automation solutions will surely be the cornerstones of Industry...

Your Shoes Will Be Printed Shortly

Your Shoes Will Be Printed Shortly

May 16, 2017

By Christopher Mims, Wall Street Journal Innovative techniques in 3-D printing mean some previously impossible design will start showing up in consumer products This may be the year you get 3-D-printed shoes. By the end of 2017, the transformation of manufacturing will hit a milestone: mass-produced printed parts. Until now, that concept was an oxymoron, since 3-D printing has been used mainly for prototyping and customized parts. But the radical innovation of 3-D printing techniques means we are finally going to see some previously impossible designs creep into our consumer goods. In the long term, it also means new products that previously would have been impractical to produce, and a geographical shift of some manufacturing closer to customers. I have two very different examples of this milestone, one plastic, the other steel. There’s a running shoe from Adidas AG, with a 3-D-printed latticed sole that looks almost organic, like the exposed roots of a plant. Then there’s a steel hinge, indistinguishable from any other metal part except for incredibly fine striations in its surface, as if it had been deposited like sandstone rather than forged. In a feat impossible with conventional manufacturing, all three moving pieces of the hinge were crafted together. 3-D printing is more than two decades old, but to date the process has been limited to making novelties, prototypes, bits of machines for factories, or expensive specialized parts, like fittings for prosthetic limbs or fuel nozzles in jet engines. After years of searching for a 3-D printing tech that is up to the challenge of sneakers, Adidas came upon a startup called Carbon Inc., which has raised $222 million to date. Instead of the plodding process of depositing plastic one layer at a time from a nozzle, Carbon’s “digital light synthesis” printers transform a liquid plastic into a solid using UV light and oxygen. This yields products comparable in quality to molded plastics at a competitive speed and cost, at least when making tens of thousands of a given object. Why Now? Because traditional manufacturing requires molds, casts and machining, it has high upfront costs. It’s great if you want to make a million of something, but not so great if you...

3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small…

3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small…

Mar 30, 2017

“3D printing could usher in a revolution, but small, local businesses unlikely to benefit” By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune Large manufacturers benefitting from advances in 3D printing and other technology are saving time and money, but the speed of change will likely leave small and mid-sized companies behind. Gregg Profozich, director of advanced manufacturing technologies for California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) in Torrance, said nearly 99 percent of U.S. manufacturing businesses are considered small, with many employing 20 or fewer workers. And integrating the latest technology — regardless of its efficiency — is often not a priority for these businesses. For many, it’s not even possible. “The problem is that most small manufacturers are so busy working in the business that they can’t work on the business,” he said. “When Joe doesn’t show up they have to go run the press mill, or the injection molding machine or they have to do the billing. They are in the business but they are not stepping back. They don’t have a department for stepping back and thinking about the future, and that’s where we try to come in. That’s what my role is about, to think about new technologies that we might be able to use to help them adopt.” Profozich was a featured speaker at Tuesday’s “Exploring the Next Generation of the Technology Revolution” forum at Caltech’s Athenaeum. The event was sponsored by Technolink Association, a coalition of leaders in aerospace, academia, innovation and other fields who are seeking to develop a virtual high-tech corridor in Southern California. Profozich displayed a pair of slides that clearly illustrate how manufacturing processes have become more efficient. The first showed a circular metal piece that had been machined out of a large metal block by a CNC (computer numerical control) cutting tool. The piece was surrounded by piles of metal shavings that had been carved away to create the part. “It’s like the old sculptor who starts with a block and keeps chiseling away until you end up with the art you want,” he said. “That’s the mentality we had the past. But now we have technologies that allow this.” At that point he displayed another slide that showed...

HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive…

HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive…

Mar 27, 2017

“HP reveals next move in making 3D printing competitive with injection molding” By Norbert Sparrow, Plastics Today HP (Palo Alto, CA) has a storied past, but it may have an even more glorious future if it is able to deliver on its vision of industrial-scale 3D printing that can rival injection molding. Its opening salvo in achieving this long-term ambition came just about one year ago, when it unveiled the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, which prints quality parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D printers, according to HP. The newest milestone came last week, when it launched its 3D Open Materials and Application Lab at its sprawling facility in Corvallis, OR. HP invited several journalists, myself included, and analysts to tour the lab and to lay out its strategy for embedding 3D printing within the $12 trillion manufacturing sector. The Corvallis facility, a stone’s throw from Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium, was the birthplace of thermal inkjet technology some 30 years ago, and remains a hotbed of innovation, where material scientists and engineers design, test and build printheads, silicon wafers and thermal inkjet printer heads. Right now, all eyes are on the capabilities of its additive manufacturing system and the development of compatible materials. Multi Jet Fusion is the culmination of decades of research, Timothy Weber, PhD, Vice President and General Manager of 3D Materials and Advanced Applications, told journalists during the site visit. “The total market for 3D printing is around $5 to $6 billion,” said Weber. “The market wasn’t big enough to interest a $50+ billion company like HP, and we didn’t have a technological differentiator,” he added to explain why the company waited as long as it did before dipping its toe in the additive manufacturing pond. That changed with the development of Multi Jet Fusion technology, which has the potential to compete with conventional plastics processing techniques, and the ability to engineer materials at the voxel level. The mighty voxel HP describes the voxel as a volumetric pixel. With Multi Jet Fusion, HP can manipulate materials at the voxel level by dosing liquid functional agents in the powder bed as the parts are...

AI-Based Software Aimed at Simplifying 3D Printing of Metals

AI-Based Software Aimed at Simplifying 3D Printing of Metals

Feb 17, 2017

By Elizabeth Montalbano, DesignNews A new toolkit that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help advance the 3D printing of metals by managing and simplifying steps of what is currently a complex process.  Sculpteo Software , a French software provider, recently unveiled Agile Metal Technology (AMT) at the CES show in Las Vegas. The suite of six tools aim to help take the complexity out of 3D metal printing by adding automation, management, and optimization to the 3D metal printing process.  Using metals in an additive manufacturing process allows for the creation of fully functioning parts with high mechanical properties that may otherwise be impossible to develop with traditional manufacturing techniques, said Sculpteo Marketing Content Manager Hannah Bensoussan in a blog post . To be sure, while 3D printing of metals is currently possible, it’s not easy, and it’s still fairly expensive due to the necessary use of complex procedures, she said. One of those procedures often includes the need to make multiple versions of single parts before coming up with a final product, which is time consuming and expensive.  Making it easier to use 3D printing to fabricate in materials beyond plastic is the next milestone for this type of manufacturing to make it more widely accessible. That’s in part the reasoning behind the development of the AMT suite, said Sculpteo CEO Clement Moreau.  “Metal 3D printing offers the possibility of building new parts with complex geometries that are not possible with traditional methods; however getting metal additive manufacturing right is a serious challenge,” he said. “As the complexity of additive manufacturing grows, it is difficult to get the necessary information to make the project go smoothly. Experts and specific software exist, but they are extremely expensive, and add to production time.”  Sculpteo already has made the first tool in the online suite—Business Case—available, with the others currently in development and will follow later. Business Case is a “self-learning artificial intelligence” that can analyze the feasibility of a metal additive manufacturing project, calculate risks and opportunities, and provide advice in the case that there is a better material or technique to fit the project’s needs, according to Bensoussan’s post. The tool is available online.  Forthcoming tools in...