Category Archives: Manufacturing

3D printing startup Desktop Metal raises another $115 million in funding

desktop metal 6 DM Studio System-2

Additive manufacturing startup Desktop Metal has raised another $115 million in funding, bringing the total amount of financing to more than $200 million.

The company’s backers include Google, General Electric, and Techtronic Industries, the holding company for vacuum cleaner brands Hoover and Dirt Devil.

Desktop Metal was founded by four MIT professors, according to TechCrunch.com, which says its metal 3D process is “probably the most efficient” on the market. 

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Hirotec on long journey towards lights-out manufacturing with robots from Otto and Yaskawa

“Lights-out manufacturing” is a term to mean the method of making things in a way that’s entirely automated and does not need humans to be involved in the process. 

Of course, humans initially set up the process, build the factory and so on, but the factory which outputs the final product only requires robotics and automation technology.

It’s an idea that has probably been explored in science fiction many times, but in reality, a fully automated factory that needs no human intervention at all is still a distant dream. 

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Foxconn to manufacture ‘95 per cent’ of new Apple iPhone 8

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Foxconn is to produce 95 per cent of the new Apple iPhone, the eighth incarnation of the device, according to a report on PatentlyApple.com

It’s not clear from the story whether any of the production will take place in the US, although that’s unlikely given that Foxconn hasn’t even chosen where in the US to expand its manufacturing operations.

The Taiwanese manufacturer has been considering its options, and Michigan is said to be one of the locations being scouted. 

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Americans positive about future of manufacturing but wouldn’t want to work in it

manufacturing usa deloitte report

Americans are optimistic about the future of manufacturing despite saying they wouldn’t want to work in the sector. 

The US manufacturing industry suffers from an important image problem that undermines its competitiveness, says a new opinion survey by Deloitte and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Only 50 per cent of Americans think manufacturing jobs are interesting and less than 30 per cent are likely to encourage their children to pursue a career. 

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Electric cars will change the way industrial robots are used in manufacturing, says Fanuc boss

fanuc flow drilling robot

With Volvo’s decision to go all electric in its future vehicles, combined with the French government’s decision to ban sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and similar moves in Germany, the automotive industry is preparing for a tectonic shift in the manufacturing landscape. 

The way electric cars are made already differ considerably now, and new techniques will take the production of the new vehicles further away from traditional methods.

An interesting insight into the future was offered by a senior executive at the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturer, who suggested that electric cars are highly likely to fundamentally change the way industrial robots are used. 

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BMW and General Electric invest in Xometry manufacturing marketplace

 

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An online marketplace which offers custom-manufactured parts using 3D printing and machine learning to generate instant price quotes has raised $15 million in its latest funding round. 

Relatively new startup company Xometry – which rhymes with geometry and is pronounced zometry – has raised a total of $38 million since it was established in 2013.

The company already generates approximately $20 million in annual revenue and has hundreds of providers and more than 5,000 customers. 

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US manufacturing sector is seeing ‘record investment’, says Pence

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US Vice President Mike Pence on a visit to Tendon Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector is experiencing a dramatic turnaround in business, according to figures released by the White House. 

President Donald Trump has consistently said he wants the manufacturing sector to grow and has personally intervened to persuade many large manufacturing companies to consider relocating or expanding their operations in the US.

However, the vast majority of manufacturing companies in the US are small businesses, of less than 100 people. 

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US manufacturing faces possible pitfalls and severe declines, says report

U.S.-manufacturing flags

Picture credit: LeHighValley.com via GlobalTradeMag.com

The US manufacturing sector faces numerous possible pitfalls and some risk of severe declines, according to a new report by Creditsafe USA.

The in-depth analysis of the US manufacturing industry says that, despite recent overall consistent performance, there are “several areas of concern” across the entire sector. In particular, the rate of bankruptcy signaling the possibility of an industry slowdown.

With the manufacturing industry being the largest area of employment in the US, any decline could have a “catastrophic effect” on the overall US economy, says Creditsafe. 

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Foxconn evaluating US locations for $10 billion expansion plans

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A Foxconn production line with workers making iPhones. Picture: Flickr

Foxconn, the main manufacturer for Apple’s smartphones and tablet computers, is looking for locations in the US to invest $10 billion into setting up factories, according to a variety of reports in the media. 

The company has already earmarked $7 billion for a display panel factory after buying the Sharp electronics company, although it’s not certain where it will be located.

The Taiwanese company’s newly found interest in the US comes after President Donald Trump made it clear that he prioritises the reinvigoration of the country’s manufacturing base. 

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Xiamen installs 64 Universal Robots machines on production line

One of the world’s largest manufacturers of bathroom accessories and auto parts, Xiamen Runner Industrial Corporation in China, has installed 64 Universal Robots arms to upgrade the efficiency of the production process by establishing a highly-efficient, flexible, and reliable production line.

The UR robots are installed in 10 different applications ranging from injection molding machine tending, gas testing and product assembly.

Before deploying UR robots, most operations at Runner Corporation were manual with operator fatigue posing risks on both safety and product yield. The company was devoted to developing a highly-efficient, flexible, and reliable production line. 

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Cyber-physical systems and manufacturing’s new frontier

The real world and its digital twin are collaborating to bring forth something called “mass customisation”, a new manufacturing culture which, as the term suggests, will be the basis for the most diverse ecosystem of engineered products ever seen. 

To understand and articulate some specifics about what’s being called “the new frontier of manufacturing”, one of the world’s largest management consultancy firms, Deloitte, partnered with the Singularity University, a forum for technology futurists co-founded by Ray Kurzweil, to organise a conference called Exponential Manufacturing, featuring many thought leaders working in the industrial sector. 

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Thailand prioritises robotics, aerospace, and auto industries as it looks to increase competitiveness

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Pictures from BMW’s factory in Thailand

Managing an economy today is not easy. But managing it for tomorrow? Now that’s a real challenge. It’s one that the government in Thailand is tackling head on, with a raft of new policies aimed at future-proofing its workforce and industry, particularly in the automotive, robotics, and aerospace sectors.

The measures, known collectively as Thailand 4.0, are centered on incentivizing foreign direct investment and nurturing innovation for 10 key future-focused industries.

The goal is to foster an ecosystem that promotes emerging technology, innovation, and creativity within each of these sectors. 

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Daimler lays foundation stone for $280 million Mercedes-Benz plant in Russia

Bense, von Fritsch, Schaefer, Manturov, Ruess and Vorobyov attend a new Mercedes-Benz plant's cornerstone laying ceremony in the town of Esipovo outside Moscow

Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Rus CEO Axel Bense, Germany’s Ambassador to Russia Ruediger von Fritsch, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars Markus Schaefer, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, head of production planning of Mercedes-Benz Cars Rainer Ruess and Moscow Regional Governor Andrei Vorobyov attend a new Mercedes-Benz plant’s cornerstone laying ceremony in the town of Esipovo outside Moscow, Russia earlier this week. Reuters / Tatyana Makeyeva

By Jack Stubbs, Reuters

Daimler began construction of a new Mercedes-Benz plant near Moscow this week, following through on the first new investment by a major foreign automaker in Russia since Western sanctions were imposed three years ago.

Daimler said in February that it will invest more than $280 million in the factory, contrasting with widespread wariness among international investors after a prolonged downturn brought on by sanctions and a collapse in global oil prices.

But Russia’s economy has recently shown signs of recovery, while its car market is returning to growth after four years of decline. 

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Bosch to build gigantic semiconductor production plant in Germany

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German industrial giant Bosch is building a massive semiconductor production plant which would represent the single largest investment in the company’s 130-year history. 

The high-tech facility, to be located in Dresden, would employ around 700 staff working on 300-millimeter semiconductor chips which Bosch says has growing applications in the automotive market, smart cities and on the industrial internet, all strong markets for Bosch.

The construction of the high-tech factory is to be completed by the end of 2019, says Bosch, and production is expected to begin at the end of 2021 after a start-up phase. Overall, the investment volume for the site is estimated to be around $1.1 billion. 

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Kuka to build personal assistance robot business with Midea

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Some of the products Midea manufactures

Kuka, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial robotic arms, is planning to expand into the area of personal assistance robotics. 

This is according to an article on FT.com, which quotes Kuka chief executive Till Reuter.

Reuter told the FT that he sees potential for using Midea’s reach into the household appliances market to develop more complex, intelligent machines which can help with household tasks. 

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