Changing Metal’s Properties with Heat

It’s possible to change most of metal’s properties through heat. Electrical conductivity, magnetic charge, and even the physical structure of metal itself can be altered by controlled heating and cooling. This allows metal to be tailored to diverse, specific industry uses. Examples include heating metals to increase their electrical resistance, heating and cooling alloys in specific ways to increase or decrease the hardness, and bringing magnetic metals to the Curie temperature to eradicate their magnetism. Heat treatments fall into four separate categories: Annealing to soften metals and increase conductivity; Normalizing to create uniform composition; Hardening to improve durability; and Tempering to reduce the brittleness caused by hardening.

 

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New Year Brings Substantial Improvements to 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing

3D printing and Additive Manufacturing (AM) will benefit from finer-tuned, higher-quality parts in 2017, thanks to increased efforts to define standards and guidelines combined with advancements in the plastics and metals used for fabrication.

A 3D-printed fuel intake runner fabricated from Solvay's KetaSpire PEEK instead of the typical aluminum uses 10% glass fill. (Source: Solvay)

A 3D-printed fuel intake runner fabricated from Solvay’s KetaSpire PEEK instead of the typical aluminum uses 10% glass fill. Source: Solvay

On the standards front, Senvol is has started to maintain and offer the public a database of indexes for AM material characterization which is supplier-independent. This will eliminate the need for smaller manufacturers to duplicate existing research of materials conducted by other industries and make it easier for companies to enter AM production.

Metals printer and printing material sales are increasing at a robust rate as the production of end-production parts grows. Alcoa is among the manufacturers who have increased capacity to produce powdered metals for 3D printing at their tech center in Pittsburgh, PA. Carnegie Mellon’s NextManufacturing Center for Additive Manufacturing is now employing synchrotron-based x-ray microtomography to better inspect and improve 3d printed titanium components.

The most used materials for AM in 2015 were photopolymers and photoplastics, but this number is declining as ceramics, metals and other materials increase in popularity. Evonik and BASF are leveraging HP’s Open Platform program, to create new 3D printed parts and products, while Solvay is developing polymer-based materials to replace metal parts.

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IoT Technology and Connected Cars

All of the complex technologies being put to use to automate and coordinate sophisticated manufacturing processes are providing the groundwork for developing autonomous cars. CEO of Real-Time Innovations, Stan Schneider, posits that the combination of these systems create “An autonomous car [that] is more a robot on wheels than it is a car.”

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YuMi Collaborative Robot

Zürich-based ABB Ltd. has developed a what it calls the first inherently safe, collaborative industrial robot, dubbed YuMi. The dual arm design concept employs integrated motion control software, speed-limited hardware, 14-axis mobility, in a small light package. It’s intended for small parts assembly and designed to eliminate the need for physical barriers and software safety zones. The design has been classified as a global certification by UL.

YuMi Collaborative Robot. Photo courtesy ABB“Put simply, in the unlikely event of a safety failure, the physical robot including its grippers is incapable of causing harm,” according to Nicolas De Keijser, Assembly and Test Business Line Manager for the Robotics Business Unit at ABB Inc. “Moderate robot speeds also allow time for human reaction to avoid collision.”

YuMi is designed to be flexible and rapidly deployed for small parts assembly and other applications requiring dexterity and repetitive tasks. Advancements in sensors, AI and computer vision help the robots to collaborate directly in proximity with human workers.

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Dileep George, Cofounder of Vicarious

Vicarious is  building a unified algorithmic architecture to achieve human-level intelligence in vision, language, and motor control. Currently, they are focused on visual perception problems, like recognition, segmentation, and scene parsing. Vicarious is interested in general solutions that work well across multiple sensory domains and tasks.

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Cofounder Dileep George spoke at MIT Technology Review’s Emtech conference on October 18,2016.

Watch his talk about “Artificial Intelligence at Work” at this link: http://events.technologyreview.com/video/watch/dileep-george-vicarious-ai-work/

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Reebok Introduces Additive Manufacturing Technology

Reebok’s newest shoes incorporate an additive manufacturing process known as “Liquid Factory.” Using techniques similar to traditional 3D printing techniques, Reebok is employing an approach called 3D Drawing, which extrudes liquid polymers on a flat surface. These polymers, developed by BASF, are formed into the shoe’s sole and attach to the sides of the shoe. The benefits include greater feel transmitted through the sole to the wearer, and eliminating the use of molds to form the parts.

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AmCon Novi 2016

Come see us November 1-2 at the AmCon Novi Show.

About the Show:

AmConAmerican Contract Manufacturers Show Detroit/Novi (AmCon Novi) is the premier venue to learn about the latest in cutting edge manufacturing technologies & innovations, meet face-to-face with the experts of suppliers of hundreds of custom parts and components all in one day, find multiple sources to take your project from concept to finished product. AmCon Novi 2016 will showcase a wide range of products and services related to contract manufacturing industry from the leading exhibitors such as 3D printing, forming, fabricating, machining, engineering, prototyping, finishing, fasteners, assembly, electronic manufacturing, design, castings. Exhibitor profile of this event includes all job shops and contract manufacturers that provide custom metal, plastic, rubber and electronic parts and finishing services to OEMs.

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Contract Manufacturing Grows in Food and Beverage Industry

A recent Rabobank report details the growth of contract manufacturing in the Food and Beverage industry. Currently, 10 – 20 percent of total food production is via contract manufacturing, but this share is rapidly expanding. The primary trends driving growth are: time constraints, the need for greater variety of products, startups lacking their own production capabilities and desire to improve return on investment.

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Rabobank’s Senior Analyst for Consumer Foods, Paula Savanti, explains that food companies, “Need manufacturing partners with a certain scale and sophistication. This is where we see growth and consolidation opportunities.”

For more details and to obtain a full copy of the May, 2016 report, please visit Rabobank.com

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DoE Invests in Lowering Solar Costs

Over the next five years, the US Department of Energy is investing up to $30 million on developing new modules and materials to lower the cost of solar power via their SunShot Initiative. The new partnership between the DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is called the Durable Module Materials (DuraMat) National Lab Consortium. It is the latest consortium created as part of the DoE’s Energy Materials Network, providing support to US clean energy manufacturers and entrepreneurs.

solar technologyThe primary goal of DuraMat is to reduce the cost of solar energy. The consortium proposes to achieve this goal by developing new module technologies to make producing solar energy more cost-effective, fostering collaboration among professionals, academics and US labs to create and test the modules, and bringing the most promising materials and technologies to market without delay. It will provide the solar industry access to national DoE labs’ knowledge and research.

“DuraMat provides easily accessible capabilities that bring the national lab and university research infrastructure together with the PV (photovoltaic) and supply-chain industries,” Teresa Barnes, director for DuraMat, said of the consortium.

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The Importance of RoHS Compliance

What is RoHS Compliance?

rohsRoHS is the acronym for Restriction of Hazardous Substances. RoHS, also known as Directive 2002/95/EC, originated in the European Union and restricts the use of specific hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products. All applicable products in the EU market after July 1, 2006 must pass RoHS compliance.

Any business that sells applicable electronic products, sub-assemblies or components directly to EU countries, or sells to resellers, distributors or integrators that in turn sell products to EU countries, is impacted if they utilize any of the restricted materials.

The proposed changes to the original RoHS Directive in RoHS2 are minor. No additional substances have been added to the six currently restricted. Inclusion of RoHS categories 8 (medical devices) and 9 (control and monitoring instruments) products in RoHS is now proposed, with the proposed dates for inclusion being 2016 or later.

What materials are restricted?

The substances banned under RoHS are lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (CrVI), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), and four different phthalates (DEHP, BBP, BBP, DIBP).

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