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...

The Four Slide Metal Stamping Advantage

The Four Slide Metal Stamping Advantage

May 9, 2018

By ThomasNet.com  Metal stamping is used to turn cold sheet metal and other materials — such as copper and brass — into high-performing products and parts that can be used in various industrial and manufacturing processes. Traditionally, power press stamping machines are built to blank and stamp metal parts; these machines are ideal for simple, straightforward operations. Progressive die stamping improved on power press stamping machines by allowing for the completion of various operations, such as punching, coining, and bending. Multi-slide stamping machines then further improve the die stamping process by allowing for the production of highly complex shapes and bends. The four slide metal stamping machine is one such machine, although the terms “multi-slide” and “four slide” are often used interchangeably. How Does Four Slide Metal Stamping Work? Power press stamping and progressive die stamping both utilize an up-and-down, or vertical, motion when processing sheet metal and other materials. These stamping methods are geared toward the production of less complex parts. Multi-slide metal stamping, including four slide metal stamping, is different; these machines work in right angles, or horizontally. The slides, or rams, in the machines, strike the sheet material to produce the finished product. Multi-slide stamping machines may have more than four multiple moving slides, while four slide metal stamping machines have a fixed number. Servo motors or cams act on the slides, allowing the workpiece to be worked from four sides. The Benefits of Using a Four Slide Metal Stamping Machine Since different tools can be attached to the slides in a four slide metal stamping machine, it is much more versatile than a stamping press. Four slide equipment is also able to handle the manufacture of much more complicated parts, including parts with multiple, complex, or over 90° bends and twists. A huge range of parts can be produced using four slide metal stamping, including flat springs, clips, brackets, shunts, friction plates, terminals, and retainers. Both flat and round materials can be formed. Moreover, four slide metal stamping machines are much more cost-efficient than other stamping machines. The tools needed for four slide stamping are often cheaper than those required by other stamping methods, and die sets are not required....

Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

May 7, 2018

By The University of Minnesota Featured on Phys.org One of the key innovations of the new 3-D-printing technique on skin is that the printer uses computer vision to track and adjust to movements in real-time. Credit: McAlpine group, University of Minnesota In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at the University of Minnesota used a customized, low-cost 3D printer to print electronics on a real hand for the first time. The technology could be used by soldiers on the battlefield to print temporary sensors on their bodies to detect chemical or biological agents or solar cells to charge essential electronics. Researchers also successfully printed biological cells on the skin wound of a mouse. The technique could lead to new medical treatments for wound healing and direct printing of grafts for skin disorders. The research study was published today on the inside back cover of the academic journal Advanced Materials. “We are excited about the potential of this new 3D-printing technology using a portable, lightweight printer costing less than $400,” said Michael McAlpine, the study’s lead author and the University of Minnesota Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “We imagine that a soldier could pull this printer out of a backpack and print a chemical sensor or other electronics they need, directly on the skin. It would be like a ‘Swiss Army knife’ of the future with everything they need all in one portable 3D printing tool.” One of the key innovations of the new 3D-printing technique is that this printer can adjust to small movements of the body during printing. Temporary markers are placed on the skin and the skin is scanned. The printer uses computer vision to adjust to movements in real-time. “No matter how hard anyone would try to stay still when using the printer on the skin, a person moves slightly and every hand is different,” McAlpine said. “This printer can track the hand using the markers and adjust in real-time to the movements and contours of the hand, so printing of the electronics keeps its circuit shape.” Another unique feature of this 3D-printing technique is that it uses a specialized ink made of silver flakes that can cure and conduct at room temperature. This is different from...

What is PolyJet Technology?

What is PolyJet Technology?

May 2, 2018

By Stratasys PolyJet is a powerful 3D printing technology that produces smooth, accurate parts, prototypes and tooling. With microscopic layer resolution and accuracy down to 0.1 mm, it can produce thin walls and complex geometries using the widest range of materials available with any technology. Benefits of PolyJet: Create smooth, detailed prototypes that convey final-product aesthetics. Produce accurate molds, jigs, fixtures and other manufacturing tools. Achieve complex shapes, intricate details and delicate features. Incorporate the widest variety of colors and materials into a single model for unbeatable efficiency....

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...