The Industrial Internet of Things has invaded the factory floor, requiring changes in how we communicate with machines. This 12th issue of DirectIndustry e-magazine explores some of the latest innovations designed to improve dialogue between worker and machine.
Our journalists also offer you a look at the latest 4D printing technology, a potential engineering breakthrough. And don’t miss our recommendations on how to get started with 3D manufacturing.
Enhancements in screen technology, connectivity and durability are helping Human Machine Interface (HMI) systems evolve. The prospect of an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) means tomorrow’s systems may require a new way of communicating with machines.
Connecting People With Machines
Things have come a long way...
What conditions require the implementation of an industrial additive manufacturing (AM) system? Which is the best 3D system? 3D printing specialist Andrew Wheeler explains for DirectIndustry e-magazine how companies can get started with 3D manufacturing.
According to the Wohlers Report 2015, the 3D printing industry is expected to grow 31% per year between 2014 and 2020, generating $21 billion in worldwide revenue. Wohlers notes that 2014 global revenue was $4.1 billion. Based on these figures, the forecast for 2016 is about $7.1 billion. Manufacturers are looking for new technology to give them an edge. Whether it’s more realistic prototypes to impress clients or a faster-paced prototyping process, highly customized, low-production-run parts, as well as tools, molds and fixtures are becoming staples in the evolving industrial landscape. All these aspects are driving interest in 3D printing.
But before choosing the right system, for many companies the first question is, How to get started?
1. Choosing The Right Scenario
Replacing traditional methods with 3D printing can quite literally be a game changer for expanding the lineup of products an industrial manufacturer can offer. Databases and consulting companies have made the incorporation of 3D printing at various points along the supply chain both streamlined and effective. A young startup founded by two Wharton School graduates created Senvol in 2014. The company’s database/search tool enables manufacturers to cut through the clutter of the industrial 3D printing sector. They’ve offered their work to the public at no cost, like a highly specialized Wikipedia.
Courtesy of General Electric
Senvol describes 7 scenarios in which 3D manufacturing can be beneficial enough to consider implementation:
♦ When specific parts are built in low volume or have high fixed costs associated with them;
♦ When special parts have long lead times, or manufacturers want to get new products into the marketplace more quickly;
♦ When high inventory storage costs favor smaller batches produced on demand;
♦ To reduce the leverage that suppliers hold over manufacturers by creating an alternative source for critical parts;
♦ When time-sensitive parts are needed in remote locations requiring expensive shipping costs;
♦ When high import and export costs eat into profits for simple parts;
♦ To boost performance.
2. Opting For an Industrial AM Database
Senvol’s searchable database has been widely copied since. The Senvol database is a free site with a customizable search tool created to help determine which parts could be replaced cost-effectivelywith 3D printed materials. Users can search everything from the type of material to size, tensile strength and price.For Zach Simkin, Co-President of Senvol:
The key is to find the intersection between what is mechanically viable (i.e., what can the technology do) and what is economically viable (i.e., what is cost-effective to implement). Only when both the mechanical and economic criteria are met should a company adopt additive manufacturing.
3. Following Training Programs
Numerous training programs also have popped up to educate clients about everything from process, implementation and benefits, to quality control, safety and design. The one offered by the Digital Fabrication branch of UL Industries stands out because of the company’s history of providing safety certification, which requires navigating through highly regulated industries. This means that the training they provide for 3D printing software, material, printers and process techniques for jewelry, plumbing and medical applications should be up to code regardless of facility.
Courtesy of DMG MORI
4. Do it In-House or Outsource?
Should you purchase a printer of your own or send out your designs for manufacture? Since a given machine is limited in what it can produce, the most important factor is what you will be printing. If it is metal, you’ll have to further narrow down what type of machine will work best—powder bed, blown powder, binder jetting or hybrid AM/CNC. If it is plastic, you must consider whether your prints will serve only as models and prototypes, or functional parts requiring standardized material properties. If your needs are simple and unlikely to change dramatically, then a printer of your own may be the best option.
Individual service providers like Stratasys Direct can help you explore industrial AM and get a sense of the fixed costs and additional risks that come with implementing an in-house system.
In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, exponentially increasing innovation has become the only constant. It is no surprise, then, that 3D printing has exceeded its dimensional limits, evolving into the newly developing realm of 4D printing.
The Embedded Transformation
This recent offshoot has grown out of the...
Andrea Sega is a 26-year-old engineer working for Northype Laboratories. With two colleagues, he built Adam, an all-in-one 3D printer. Adam combines in a single unit the functions of a 3D printer, a 3D scanner, a laser cutter/engraver and a CNC milling machine. DirectIndustry e-magazine talked to Sega about the invention.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Can you introduce us to Adam?
Andrea Sega: Adam is a printer that combines many machines—mechanical milling center, laser cutter, 3D printer—in a single unit. It consists of a modular platform including a sturdy Cartesian mechanism adaptable to any situation and a carriageholding the working tools. But the innovative parts are the working tools and the hardware and software control system. We offer a platform into whichyou can insert various additional modules. So everyone can customize the working head for their own use.
Our extrusion system can print all types of materials, from flexible ABS, TPU and TPE to harder filaments like carbon loaded materials, laywood or nylon.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Which materials can the modules handle?
Andrea Sega: There is no restriction. Our extrusion system can print all types of materials, from flexible ABS, TPU and TPE to harder and special filaments like carbon loaded materials, laywood or nylon. We optimized the additive technology function. The 3D printing module has a 0.4 mm nozzle and uses 1.75 mm filaments. And we provide a closed hot chamber to maintain a constant temperature inside, reducing printing errors. The laser module enables you to cut paper and cardboard, and also incise materials, such as polystyrene, MDF and leather.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Can Adam also machine?
Andrea Sega: This was a big challenge for us! We managed to integrate an end mill in our printer. This allows you to create low-cost printed circuit boards and to create 3D objects with materials unsuitable for extrusion, such as wood and polystyrene. The Adam build volume is 16 x 16 x 27.5 cm. Adam plus, the premium version, brings the biggest ideas to life: 30 x 30 x 47 cm.
Headtools, Courtesy of Northype
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Adam is also equipped with a 3D scanner, isn’t it?
Andrea Sega: One of the functionalities is the scanner. It can digitize real objects, which then can be replicated and modified thanks to very user-friendly modelling software. With our scanner, it is even possible to scan various fragments, put them together again and print the entire object!
DirectIndustry e-magazine: For which industries is it designed?
Andrea Sega: It is a very flexible machine, thanks to its endless functionalities, so it is perfect both for the artisan and the industrial-scale manufacturer. But also for those who don’t have the possibility of buying ten different industrial machines. They can get all of them just with a single machine.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What’s its price?
Andrea Sega: It starts from 899€, with the 3D printing head alone, to 1750€ with the full range of working tools.
Rockwell Automation’s MobileView Tethered Operator Interface is a mobile terminal offering HMI portability to factory personnel. Designed for applications where a static HMI system would be too restrictive, MobileView can be carried along by operators as they set up and operate their systems.
With a cable length of up to 49 ft (15 m), this tethered handheld HMI interface is part of Rockwell’s Allen‑Bradley line. It never needs to be charged and includes a hardwired E-Stop button for safety.
The company says MobileView is ideal for maintenance tasks, machine setup, calibration activities or any other HMI application that requires the operator to see the machine.
IP65 rated, the device uses Intel Atom processors, runs on Windows 7 Embedded and can be ordered with Rockwell’s FactoryTalk software pre-installed.
Everything has become smart: phones, tablets, GPS. Until today, batteries were missing from this list because of their lack of service life and false charging indications. But a team from NTU, Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, designed a smart chip for chargers that will optimize the charging process by controlling charge level. Instead of starting with constant current and then switching to constant voltage, the charger chooses the right thermocouple in order to protect the electrodes and avoid any risk of thermal runaway or explosion. According to Rachid Yazami, at the head of the team, the chip can charge a smartphone in less than 10 minutes. This chip could be embedded in almost all types of batteries and be used to charge electric cars.
Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…