MiQ Partners is proud to be an exhibitor at the upcoming AACC Annual Meeting. We look forward to participating and reaffirming our commitment to advancing automation and manufacturing in the life sciences and medical devices industries. We’ll be at booth #3569 and look forward to learning about your organization and sharing what we’ve been working on.
What is industrial automation? Well, you can ask 10 different experts on the term and probably come up with 10 different answers. A smart road to take in defining the term is by referring to the use of control systems, such as AI and robots that monitor the information technologies that handle a wide variety of processes.
OMRON Corp. has replaced the Lynx line of industrial robots with the new Mobile Robot LD Series, a year after acquiring Adept Technology Inc. The combined Japanese-American company, OMRON Adept Technologies (OAT), is leveraging their combined skills to focus on integrating manufacturing floor automation solutions with human workers in a harmonious way. The new LD Series of Autonomous Intelligent vehicles (AIVs), released on January 20 in 33 countries, aims to achieve this by improving on many aspects of the previous line of mobile robots, with better usability, reliability, quality control and support.
The mobile robots navigate around factory floors using the physical features of the facility, and do not require additional guidance tracks or installations for regular use. Up to 100 robots can be managed via a single controller. The onboard AI can sense and navigate around people, vehicles and other obstacles, and through doors, using a built-in laser scanner. Additionally, an optional High Accuracy Positioning System allows for well-defined repeatability, using magnetic tape and a sensor. The robots’ physical capacity stays the same, with different models supporting maximum loads of 60 – 130kg (132 – 287 lbs.) and a maximum speed of 1.8 m/s (4 mph).
Technologies once only found in the realm of science fiction are now a reality. Inspired by comic-book hero, Wolverine, a team of scientists has developed the first ionic conductor: a material which allows ions to flow through which is also self-healing, physically elastic and transparent. There are many potential uses, including self-healing robots, artificial muscles, improved batteries and biosensors and even transparent loudspeakers.
“Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years,” said Chao Wang, an adjunct assistant professor of chemistry at University of California, Riverside, who is one of the authors of the paper. “We did that and now are just beginning to explore the applications.”
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
Cofounder Dileep George spoke at MIT Technology Review’s Emtech conference on October 18,2016.
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.