Innovation 101 for Manufacturers…

Innovation 101 for Manufacturers…

Aug 22, 2017

“Innovation 101 for Manufacturers: Harnessing the Power of New Business Models, Technologies, and Ecosystems to Bring Value to the Marketplace” By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine Going out and seeing what your customers are up against on a daily basis is essential to solving their unmet needs, a pre-requisite for innovation. But manufacturers can also plant the seeds of innovation by establishing a culture that encourages collaboration, play, and experimentation. A new digital age is dawning in manufacturing, steadily making its mark from product design to factory floor operations, and even to finished products that convey data back to the manufacturer. Fueling this transformation are a host of powerful tools—data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and dynamic software algorithms—that quicken product development cycles and expand the functionality of products in areas like new materials, 3D printing, electronics manufacturing, automobile manufacturing, and mobile autonomous robots. Using an approach called generative design, engineers today can solve part design problems with the aid of algorithms that enable them to explore a greater range of solutions, including some that are counter-intuitive to traditional thinking. Algorithms are also employed to make mobile, autonomous robots smarter and more adaptive to changing environments in a manufacturing facility (see “Mobile Autonomous Robots Are Built for the Long Haul”). And digital manufacturing apps are now available for shop floor personnel. “We have a set of digital technologies that are exponentially advancing in terms of price / performance, and that is creating increasing opportunity for manufacturing firms to harness some of that capability and potential to deliver more value to the marketplace,” said John Hagel, co-chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge, in an interview at the Exponential Manufacturing Summit in Boston in May. “At one level, the potential is exponentially increasing. So far, the actual capability is, at best, linearly increasing. So there’s a widening opportunity gap there.” Generative Design Gives Engineers More Solutions to Explore  For the last three years, Autodesk, Inc. has been incubating a technology that takes a different approach to computer-aided design (CAD). Instead of specifying points and lines in a CAD tool, engineers who are using Autodesk’s generative design tool can rely on artificial intelligence to solve for them. “Traditionally, a designer or an engineer...

Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some…

Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some…

Jul 31, 2017

“Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some Suggestions” By Ian Wright, Engineering.com Revitalizing American manufacturing has been a hot topic for some time, gaining prominence as a talking point in last year’s election. Donald Trump’s victory led many to speculate about the future of manufacturing in the U.S., particularly whether it’s possible to bring manufacturing back to America. The latest piece of advice on this topic comes from a rather surprising source: Walmart. The retail giant recently convened a meeting of representatives from governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to present a Policy Roadmap to Renew U.S. Manufacturing. “As we’ve worked over the last four years alongside our suppliers toward our goal to source an additional $250 billion [USD] in products that support American jobs, we’ve learned a great deal about the challenges our suppliers face in domestic manufacturing,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president for U.S. Sourcing and Manufacturing. “The good news is we’ve also learned how to overcome the challenges and, because of our experience, Walmart is uniquely positioned to help facilitate broad engagement in accelerating the expansion of U.S. manufacturing.” Before proceeding to the specifics of Walmart’s roadmap, it should be noted that a 2015 study by the Economic Policy Institute estimated that Walmart displaced over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013 as a result of Chinese imports. The majority of these jobs were in manufacturing. In 2013 alone, the value of Walmart’s imports from China amounted to approximately $45 billion; this is the same year Walmart committed to sourcing an additional $250 billion over the next decade on products that support American jobs. Irony aside, Walmart’s policy roadmap cites four major barriers to U.S. manufacturing growth: Lack of an available, qualified workforce. Lack of coordination and financing in supply chains. Complexity and costs of local, state and federal regulations. Outdated tax system and trade agreements. According to an analysis conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), addressing these policy barriers to domestic manufacturing creates an opportunity to recapture approximately $300 billion in consumer goods that are currently imported, including furniture, cookware and sporting goods, potentially resulting in the creation of an estimated 1.5 million American jobs. Walmart’s roadmap includes ten “policy levers” to address the major...

Michelin’s concept tire comes wrapped in “rechargeable”…

Michelin’s concept tire comes wrapped in “rechargeable”…

Jun 16, 2017

“Michelin’s concept tire comes wrapped in “rechargeable” 3D-printed treads” By  Aaron Heinrich, New Atlas Aside from trotting out a new tread pattern every year or so, you might think there’s not a lot manufacturers could do to improve the humble car tire. But advances in materials, sensors and manufacturing techniques are opening up new possibilities. Michelin is exploring this potential with its Vision concept tire that is airless, 3D printed, equipped with sensors, biodegradable, and not just a tire, but a tire and wheel in one.   Unveiled at a global symposium on urban mobility challenges it hosted this week in Montreal, Canada, Michelin’s Vision tire is constructed using 3D printing technology. This enables an airless interior architecture that mimics alveolar structures (such as the air sacs of the lungs) that is solid in the center and more flexible on the outside, resulting in a tire that is immune to blowouts or going flat. The core of the tire, which also functions as a wheel and can be reused, would be made from organic materials that are bio-sourced and biodegradable. 3D printing allows the amount of rubber tread applied on the outside of the tire to be optimized to meet the specific needs of the driver while keeping the amount of rubber required to a minimum – and the tread can even be topped up, or “recharged,” when it wears down or the driver is headed for different road conditions. Although the Vision’s tread would still be made mostly of rubber, Michelin is envisioning the day when materials such as straw or wood chips could be used to make butadiene, a key ingredient in making synthetic rubber today. The condition of the tires would also be monitored in real time using embedded sensors. The owner would receive information about the tire’s condition and possibly use an accompanying app to make an appointment to change the tread for a particular use, like going skiing. Michelin isn’t saying when any of these innovations will be implemented, let alone when the Vision might be available for purchase, but Mostapha El-Oulhani, the designer who headed the Vision Project, said the promise of the concept tire is within reach....

Manufacturing Jobs Outsourced to Space

Manufacturing Jobs Outsourced to Space

Jun 8, 2017

By Industrial Equipment News How it’s becoming cheaper and more efficient to manufacture 250 miles above the earth. Although it’s somewhat open for debate, the International Space Station is currently scheduled for retirement somewhere between 2024 and 2028. Shortly thereafter, Houston-based Axiom has big plans for the real estate it currently occupies. The firm’s overall plans for space are pretty aggressive, including an extension for the Space Station to accommodate tourists as soon as 2020. When the ISS runs its course, this module would be self-sufficient and open to expanded use for research and manufacturing. The company feels that by 2027 the ability to offer contract manufacturing, or at least lease the available space at their new outpost for production, will be a leading revenue source for the company. Axiom feels this will be made possible by advancements in 3D printing that would allow for manufacturing products like jet turbines, solar panels, satellites and optical fiber. There are two primary reasons for Axiom’s enthusiasm. First, costs for producing space station-like hubs are down nearly 90 percent since the ISS was made in 1998. This makes manufacturing in the microgravity environment of space, which is ideal for maintaining cleanroom-like conditions, more affordable to more countries and more companies. Lower-cost real estate in space also means specialized operations like repairing and deploying small satellites will be subject to greater competition because it could be done at a fraction of the current cost. Additionally, Axiom is looking to partner with California-based Made In Space, which built the 3D printers currently onboard the Space Station. Made In Space also developed the Archinaut – an advanced 3D printer with robotic assembly arms. Archinaut would allow for manufacturing larger pieces of equipment, as well as integrating electrical components. Combining these capabilities means supports for large telescopes, parts for spacecraft and other larger and more complex equipment could be made in space, instead of relying on spacecraft transport. This type of space-based manufacturing tech removes additional cost and takes the size of the spacecraft and its payload limitations completely out of the equation. There would essentially be no size limits when looking at what can be built in...

Robots & Us: The Future of Work in the Age of AI

Robots & Us: The Future of Work in the Age of AI

May 30, 2017

By Wired Robot co-workers and artificial intelligence assistants are becoming more common in the workplace. Could they edge human employees out? What then? Check out video: https://www.wired.com/video/2017/05/robots-us-the-future-of-work-in-the-age-of-ai/ ...