How Factory Intelligence is Evolving

How Factory Intelligence is Evolving

May 23, 2018

By Larry Maggiano, Senior Systems Analyst, Mitutoyo America Corp. Featured on AdvancedManufacturing.org Intelligent factories have existed since manufacturing’s historical inception, but intelligence—defined as the acquisition and application of manufacturing knowledge—resided only with the factory’s staff. With the advent of numerical control (NC) and then computer numerical control (CNC) technologies, factory machines gained digital I/O capabilities but were still not smart. Digitally enabled machines, though increasingly productive, had no awareness of themselves, their environment, or the tasks being performed or to-be performed. In spite of these limitations, centralized factory intelligence has been achieved at modest scales through a deterministic low-level set of digital commands and responses. An experiment in large-scale centralized factory intelligence was General Motor’s 1982 Manufacturing Automation Protocol (MAP), operating over token bus network protocol (IEE 802.4). The MAP-enabled factory intelligence experiment ended in 2004 as it was difficult to maintain operational reliability. One of the most important reasons was a lack of system resiliency, a downside of required deterministic factory communication standards and protocols. Another reason was that the connected machines could not continue to operate at any level when instructions were not forthcoming from a central system. An analogy might be made to the mainframe-to-terminal infrastructure that became obsolete in the 1990s with the development of the PC and distributed computing. Several significant changes have enabled the development of smart machines for the intelligent factory. The first is the extension of IT’s ubiquitous Ethernet LAN infrastructure to the shop floor, enabling rapid 3D downloads of model-based definition (MBD), and uploads of process and product data. Secondly, today’s digital twins are smart in that they possess an awareness of not only their capabilities and operational status, but of work that can be performed on any particular MBD. In this manner, smart machines can bid on tasks, much like their human partners. A smart machine’s digital twin does not need deterministic low-level instructions, but instead responds to a submitted MBD, and, if selected, does real work with its physical counterpart. Lastly, three standardized core technologies–HTML, CSS and JavaScript—are recognized as enabling the widespread adoption of the Internet and the emergence of intelligent global systems. It is envisioned that similar standardized core technologies will enable...

A New Era of 3D Printing

A New Era of 3D Printing

May 16, 2018

By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine Adaptive Corporation, Inc. strives to enable innovation by applying technology to streamline business processes, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies throughout the product development lifecycle. Adaptive is a reseller of Markforged 3D Printers, like the Onyx Seriesand Metal X, which are used to make carbon fiber composite and metal printed parts, respectively. Frank Thomas, a metrology and additive manufacturing specialist for Adaptive, has worked with a variety of manufacturing companies in the areas of engineering, metrology, and additive manufacturing, as both an implementation consultant and product specialist. Over the past 10 years, he has focused on connecting engineering and manufacturing, specifically around quality, and now additive manufacturing.  His goal is to help companies better connect the “virtual” to the “physical,” thereby improving their time to market and reducing cost. Thomas said that until fairly recently, additive manufacturing was used most often as a tool to create parts that you could hand to somebody so that they could see it, touch it, and provide some input as to what might need to be changed or modified. But that’s changed in recent years as new materials have been developed that enable printers to make stronger, more durable parts. “Metal printing has always been there, but that has an economic value proposition that’s a bit challenging for it,” he said in an interview. “The ABS and nylon and other plastic 3D printers, up until the last couple of years, weren’t necessarily dimensionally accurate, and then they had challenges creating a part that’s functional. That’s what I think is different about the market today, compared to just, really, a couple of years ago.” Adaptive markets 3D printers that feature dimensional accuracy and the ability to yield a part that is functional, depending on the application. Thomas said that he’s also seeing a lot of interest in metal 3D printing. “Where metal 3D printing comes from is the argon laser based systems,” he told D2P. “The companies that have had applications or use cases for them have made the investments, and they’ve been huge investments. They probably start at half a million dollars and go up, and that doesn’t even count the facility that’s required to be able to...

Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater…

Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater…

Apr 19, 2018

“Butler Technologies Plays Key Role in Printed Heater Technology for U.S. Olympic Team” By Mark Shortt, Design-2-Part Magazine Butler Technologies, Inc., a specialist in user interface design and printed electronics, has made great strides during its 28-year history. Founded in 1990 by William Darney (now deceased), and Nadine Tripodi, Butler began as a brokerage firm that represented board manufacturers and screen printing companies, before venturing into manufacturing in 1993. Although the company has expanded and enhanced its offerings through the years, it never lost its original core manufacturing focus as a precision printer. “That’s what we started as, and that’s where our true passion lies, in printing, and especially in conductive inks,” said Butler Technologies President Nadine Tripodi, in a phone interview with D2P in February. “We are, in most cases, a contract printer, and on top of that, a solutions provider for those of our customers who aren’t really sure what they want or what the best approach to a print solution might be, especially in user interfaces and different types of graphic overlays.” Today, Butler is heavily focused on printed electronics, a growth market that has the company designing and manufacturing a range of wearable electronics, capacitive touch circuits, and flexible printed heaters, among other products. The company supports its customers’ product design and development goals through the efforts of an approximately 10-member engineering design team that continues to grow. “That’s one place that in the past couple of years, we’ve really added more people, and they’re good—they really are,” Tripodi said. She credited Butler’s head engineer, Mike Wagner, as being instrumental in the company’s ability to offer leading-edge printed electronics. “He is the one who really has a penchant for this and has helped tremendously in getting us more ingrained in the printed electronics world.” Butler’s engineering team offers expertise in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and project management. Its electrical engineers can work with customers to design and integrate custom printed electronics that meet specific size, shape, and functional requirements of a given project, the company said on its website. Sometimes, customers come to Butler with a drawing showing exactly what they need, and don’t make any modifications or alterations to it. But...

US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of…

US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of…

Apr 16, 2018

“US Cutting Tool Consumption Up 7.4% for First 2 Months of 2018” By USCTI, AMT – Press Release Featured on AdvancedManufacturing.org February US cutting tool consumption totaled $190.12 million according to the US Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. This total, as reported by companies participating in the Cutting Tool Market Report collaboration, was up 3.5% from January’s $183.61 million and up 8.7% when compared with the $174.98 million reported for February 2017. With a year-to-date total of $373.73 million, 2018 is up 7.4% when compared with 2017. These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals reported by the companies participating in the CTMR program. The totals here represent the majority of the US market for cutting tools. “February cutting tool sales show that business continues to grow, gaining 3.5% over January, a very solid start to 2018,” said Philip Kurtz, President of USCTI. “Year-over-year sales posted a 7.4% gain and it certainly looks like the trend will continue. News of tariffs and pressure on raw material prices could have an effect, but with strong market momentum it is certainly not a given that much will change. March may or may not bring winds of change, but it will for sure bring spring.” “Orders for cutting tools have benefitted in recent months from a faster rate of business investment spending, due to recent tax cuts and renewed strength in key markets such as metals, mining and machinery,” said Mark Killion, Director of US Industry at Oxford Economics. The Cutting Tool Market Report is jointly compiled by AMT and USCTI, two trade associations representing the development, production and distribution of cutting tool technology and products. It provides a monthly statement on US manufacturers’ consumption of the primary consumable in the manufacturing process -– the cutting tool. Analysis of cutting tool consumption is a leading indicator of both upturns and downturns in US manufacturing activity, as it is a true measure of actual production levels. Historical data for the Cutting Tool Market Report is available dating back to January 2012. This collaboration of AMT and USCTI is the first step in the two associations working together...

U.S. Reshoring: A Collaborative Challenge

U.S. Reshoring: A Collaborative Challenge

Mar 27, 2018

Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine Manufacturing Experts Answer 5 Questions on How to Turn the Tide FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio—North America’s $137 billion metalforming industry is driven by the production of myriad precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming, and roll forming technologies, as well as vital value-added processes. In recent decades, approximately 3-to-4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost to offshoring. The tide seems to be turning modestly in recent years as companies return U.S. production, or sourcing, from offshore. In comparison to 2000-2003, when the United States lost about 220,000 manufacturing jobs per year (net) to offshoring, 2016 achieved a net gain of 27,000. Progressively bridging this gap presents huge collaborative opportunities and challenges for all manufacturers, associations, employees, communities, and the U.S. government itself. The following Q&A explores factors that are key to the collective goal of gaining momentum in successfully returning the manufacturing of parts and products to the United States from offshore. Authors of the Q&A are two men with a vested interest in the subject of reshoring: John Stoneback, president of JM Performance Products, Inc., of Fairport Harbor, Ohio; and Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, based in Kildeer, Illinois. JM Performance Products, Inc. has been manufacturing CNC mill spindle optimization products since 2009. The company’s Patented High Torque Retention Knobs overcome a critical “loose-tool” design flaw inherent in CNC v-flange tooling that was responsible for costly, industry-wide issues with CNC milling and boring that negatively impacted production costs, cycle time, and tooling costs. An essential element of the patented design is a knob that is longer and reaches a little deeper into the holder’s threaded bore. As a result, all thread engagement occurs in a region of the tool holder where the diameter is large, and where there is correspondingly more material to resist deformation. The Reshoring Initiative, founded in early 2010, takes action by helping manufacturers realize that local production, in many cases, reduces their total cost of ownership of purchased parts and tooling. The Reshoring Initiative also trains suppliers in how to effectively meet the needs of their local customers, giving suppliers the tools to sell against lower priced offshore competitors. The Initiative is...