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...

Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive…

Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive…

May 12, 2017

“Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive Lightweighting” By Charles Murray, Design News Hybrid approach enables engineers to cut weight in high-load, high-volume auto applications. In a new twist on automotive lightweighting, engineers from Eaton Corp. are combining steel with carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics to cut weight in high-load, high-volume powertrain applications, such as differential housings and transmission gear sets.   Eaton engineers say the new approach not only allows them to handle the high torque loads of those components, it enables them to do it in a way that’s economically palatable for automakers. “Typically, when we talk about metal replacement in vehicles, we’re looking at lower-load, thermoplastic parts, like under-hood parts that use nylon,” noted Kelly Williams, research and technology manager for polymers and nanocomposites at Eaton Corporate Research . “But higher-load, harsher-environment applications like this haven’t been done. This is a new approach, as far as we know.” Williams said that the automotive supplier is working with at least two automakers on replacement of cast iron differential housings with hybrid parts made from steel and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). The hybrid housing, which is subjected to torques as high as 4,000 lb-ft, uses a steel frame to carry the higher loads and employs the CFRP to carry medium-level loads. Even with its equivalent load-carrying capacity, it weighs about 40% less than the cast iron version, Williams said. “In terms of strength and stiffness, this approach can be comparable to cast iron,” Williams told Design News. “Carbon fiber alone is not as stiff as steel — its modulus is not as high as steel — so that’s why we use both materials.” Carbon fiber composites have a specific modulus of 14 GPa cc/g, versus 25 GPa cc/g for steel, she added. To be sure, CFRP has been used previously in vehicles and in aerospace applications, but generally not for high-load, high-volume parts, largely due to manufacturing cost constraints. Eaton was able to reduce costs, however, by combining the steel frame with the overmolded composite, enabling the creation of a quick, net-shape parts that need little secondary finishing. As a result, cycle times are shorter, making it less costly and more suitable for...

Massive Industrial Robots Vulnerable To Being Hacked

Massive Industrial Robots Vulnerable To Being Hacked

May 11, 2017

By Meagan Parrish, Manufacturing.net Imagine what you could do if you controlled the 220-pound arm of an industrial robot. That’s exactly what researchers set out to do in an experiment that revealed security vulnerabilities in robots that manufacture everything from phones to cars. Conducted by the security firm Trend Micro and Politecnico di Milano, an Italian technical university, the researchers spent over a year finding different ways to hack industrial robots connected to the internet. The robots in the study were made by five of the industry’s biggest manufacturers: ABB, Mitsubishi, Fanuc, Yaskawa and Kawasaki. Ultimately, the researchers found multiple inroads into the robots’ operating systems. In one case they were able to reconfigure a robot’s programming to make it draw a line two millimeters off from the intended target. That change might seem miniscule — unless you consider how it could dramatically alter the safety of a car or an airplane. “If these robots are welding a car chassis together or a wing on an airplane, two millimeters can be catastrophic,” Mark Nunnikhoven, the vice president of cloud research at Trend Micro, said. What’s more, if a hacker was able to physically access the robot or get onto the same local network, they could rewrite the device’s firmware. This would allow the hacker to wield the robot even though it would appear as though the operator was in control. Sound a little frightening? In the study, the hackers imagine a scenario where the robot arm bends backward and destroys itself. An even more gruesome possibility: a compromised robot that appears to be functioning normally could trick an employee into entering its cage and cause physical harm. “The operator thinks it is safe to walk or stand near the robot even if in that very moment, an attacker is controlling its movements,” the report read. After the researchers contacted ABB — the main subject of the study — about the security issues, the company responded by sending out fixes for all of the bugs. “Testing is a critical process to stay ahead of new cyber security threats,” the company said in a statement. “The results [of the Trend Micro tests] emphasize the importance of using...

Google Ventures, BMW, Lowe’s Invest in Desktop Metal

Google Ventures, BMW, Lowe’s Invest in Desktop Metal

May 9, 2017

Featured on D2Pmagazine.com BURLINGTON, Mass.—Desktop Metal, an emerging startup with a mission to bring metal 3D printing to all design and manufacturing teams, recently announced a Series C investment of $45 million, led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), BMW i Ventures, and Lowe’s Ventures. Desktop Metal will use the funding to continue to develop its technology and scale production as the company prepares for its product launch later this year. The company has raised a total of $97 million in equity funding since its founding in October 2015, according to a press release from Desktop Metal. Previous investors include NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lux Capital, GE Ventures, Saudi Aramco, and 3D printing company Stratasys. Driven by invention, Desktop Metal is committed to accelerating the adoption of metal 3D printing in design and manufacturing through the creation of innovative technology that produces complex parts. “Just as plastic 3D printing paved the way for rapid prototyping, metal 3D printing will make a profound impact on the way companies both prototype and mass produce parts across all major industries,” said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal, in the release. “We are fortunate to have the backing of a leading group of strategic investors who support both our vision and our technology, and who are pivotal in propelling our company forward as we prepare for our product introduction in 2017.” Desktop Metal has amassed a world-class team of experts in the fields of materials science, engineering, and software, including 75 engineers. Leading the company is Fulop, who was the co-founder of A123 Systems and a general partner at North Bridge, an early investor in leading CAD and 3D printing companies, including MarkForged, OnShape, Proto Labs, and SolidWorks. The leadership team also comprises several MIT professors including Ely Sachs, an early pioneer of 3D printing and the inventor of binder jetting; Chris Schuh, chairman of MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering Department; and professors Yet Ming Chiang, an expert in materials science, and John Hart, who leads the mechano-synthesis lab. Also on the leadership team are Jonah Myerberg, a leader in materials engineering; Rick Chin, one of the early team members of SolidWorks and previously founder...

America’s Manufacturing Renaissance

America’s Manufacturing Renaissance

May 8, 2017

By Craig Guillot, Global Trade Magazine Already On The Upswing Before The Election, American Industry Readies For A “Trump Bump” American manufacturing is in the midst of a renaissance. While the sector has been riding a wave of automation, increased efficiencies and changing macroeconomic forces, manufactures say the Trump administration could help fuel further growth with a reduction in regulations and new tax incentives. Economic development commissions (EDCs) across the country say manufacturing is thriving with new expansions and investments being driven by local tax incentives, access to quality talent, and a value proposition making it increasingly cost-effective to produce products in the United States. On a national scale, support for innovative technologies, workforce development, and a pro-business environment have the potential to drive American manufacturing to new levels. Growth in many subsectors and regions The manufacturing sector is experiencing robust growth across the country. Major manufacturers such as Ford, GM, and Carrier have announced new investments, while the Labor Department revealed the country added 28,000 manufacturing jobs in February. National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Thomas attributes the surge to a “Trump bump” of positive economic activity and says that “confidence is high, and business optimism continues to soar” due to a focus on pro-business policies. President Trump said in late -January that he wants to cut regulations by 75 percent and that there will “be advantages” for manufacturers to operate in the United States. American manufacturing has been growing on an impressive scale. NAM reports the top five states for manufacturing growth are Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Alabama. Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, says the sector remains a “core strength” of the state’s economy, generating 17 percent of state GDP ($35 billion) and 13 percent of the state’s jobs. Canfield notes that Alabama exported a new annual record of manufactured goods in 2016, totaling $10.7 billion in shipments. “Alabama’s manufacturing climate has been thriving in the past few years, with steady gains in employment, rising productivity, and increasing sophistication among manufacturers,” said Canfield. He adds that while there has been a sharp decline in apparel, textile and steel manufacturing due to offshoring and automation, automobile...