An introduction to product design and development for manufacturing

Many people have ideas, but actually producing something – sketch, prototype, then final product – from those ideas, and having it mass-manufactured, is a hugely complex, time-consuming and expensive process.

If that product is an electronic and semiconductor technology-based hardware-and-software product, which is increasingly in demand these days, then that’s an even higher level of complexity and stress.

This article tries to provide a starting point, or introduction, for those interested in industrial design or product development, and maybe have ideas for products and want to know how to start the process of getting them manufactured.  Continue reading An introduction to product design and development for manufacturing

Auto companies still moving to Mexico despite Nafta uncertainty

Mexico used to be an attractive place to invest in building manufacturing facilities. It still is. 

The country of 120 million people is still part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which makes importing and exporting to the US easier than it would otherwise be.

And even as US President Donald Trump pushes for a renegotiation of Nafta, manufacturing companies are continuing to choose Mexico as an investment location.  Continue reading Auto companies still moving to Mexico despite Nafta uncertainty

Additive manufacturing: It’s a matter of finding the right composition

The terms “additive manufacturing” and “3D printing” are used interchangeably, although it seems additive manufacturing suggests an industrial context whereas 3D printing has become so widespread that it could be considered a consumer technology now. 

The majority of those who use such processes are, however, makers or manufacturers, meaning they’re on the supply side of the economy rather than the demand side.

Perhaps the reason why 3D printers are not yet completely in the consumer domain is that they’re not totally perfect. The high-end machines can probably get close to perfection, but not at a price point which can unlock consumer markets.  Continue reading Additive manufacturing: It’s a matter of finding the right composition

Midea embarks on journey to transform itself into a ‘high-tech industry leader’

Chinese home appliances giant Midea says it has completed its acquisition of German company Kuka, one of the world’s largest industrial robot manufacturers. 

While the deal prompted some consternation among those who said the German government should stop the takeover, as well as with those people who subsequently demanded the European Union make it more difficult for Chinese companies to buy EU companies, the two companies are now part of the same group.

Technically, Kuka was acquired by Midea’s subsidiary company, Mecca International.  Continue reading Midea embarks on journey to transform itself into a ‘high-tech industry leader’

From two months to a few seconds: A brief overview of automotive robotic painting systems

Painting was one of the first applications for industrial robots, but it didn’t start well. 

When they were first introduced in the 1980s at General Motors’ Michigan plant, the robots initially painted each other, according to an article on industrial robot history, published on Robots.com.

The complexity of painting is probably under-estimated because humans can do such tasks with relative ease.  Continue reading From two months to a few seconds: A brief overview of automotive robotic painting systems

Terabit Ethernet: The global race towards superfast internet

 

The race towards Terabit Ethernet, or TbE, has apparently taken a great leap with the completion of what is claimed to be the world’s first test of a 400-gigabit ethernet network. 

The 400 GbE trial was conducted by Huawei with its partner, China Telecom, the state telecommunications infrastructure provider.

The companies say the results indicate their superfast 400 GbE network technology is ready for commercial utilisation.  Continue reading Terabit Ethernet: The global race towards superfast internet

Paperful office: An overview of the global forestry, pulp and paper industry

 

Back in the old days, everybody would buy newspapers and magazines. Some would buy dailies, others would buy weeklies, while millions more would buy monthlies. And no one would quibble about having to pay for them, probably because most people sense that a physical, tangible object has a greater intrinsic value than a digital one. 

That old print media reading culture has all but gone now, thanks largely to the internet and the worldwide web making all manner of information available largely free of charge. No one expects, or wants, to pay for news and content any more, probably because most people think digital media should be free because they know how easy it is to make copies of digital files.

There are still many printed publications doing very well and selling in large quantities, and a list of some of the top 10 is offered below, but even the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun – which holds the world record at 13 million copies sold in one day – has lost huge numbers of readers.  Continue reading Paperful office: An overview of the global forestry, pulp and paper industry

From the biggest to the smallest: Hitachi takes first nimble steps in robotics market

Exclusive interview with Dong Li, research engineer at Hitachi R&D Europe, about the company’s new humanoid robot, Emiew

At street level, the Barbican area of London, England has the strange quality of looking like a small underground city. But it’s actually not.

True, it has an Underground railway station, but the rest of the commercial and cultural district – with its museums and office blocks – is mostly above ground.

It may be because the buildings are so imposing that they overshadow the often narrow streets and block out the sun in some places. The bridges overhead connecting one set of buildings to another, or one side of the road to the other, and the tunnels that go underneath the building complexes themselves, exacerbate the feeling of being underground.  Continue reading From the biggest to the smallest: Hitachi takes first nimble steps in robotics market

Sintef develops drones and robotics technologies for unmanned surveillance and operation of salmon farms

 

A Norwegian technology research company called Sintef has been developing drones and other robotics technologies to help salmon and aquaculture farmers manage their operations. 

In one example, an underwater remotely operated underwater vehicle – often called an ROV – is being utilised to manage a farm which has 200,000 salmon fish.

Salmon and fish farming in general is a huge industry in Norway, which is said to be one of the largest – if not the largest – salmon suppliers in the world.  Continue reading Sintef develops drones and robotics technologies for unmanned surveillance and operation of salmon farms

Automated precision milling in the medical technology sector

 

Fetzer Medical employs tailored yet universally flexible Hermle machining centres in its role as an original equipment manufacturer, partner building a wide range of surgical instruments and medical technology components to customer specifications.

“From the idea to the finished product, or: All-in-one inclusive labelling” – is the mission statement of Fetzer Medical, a medium-sized company based in Tuttlingen, in Germany, established in 2008 by Peter Fetzer.

In order to build further on the family business’ long-standing tradition in the development and manufacture of surgical instruments and medical devices, Peter Fetzer took the decision.  Continue reading Automated precision milling in the medical technology sector

Bosch and Bayer working on precision agriculture systems

 

Industrial giant Bosch is teaming up with Bayer, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, to develop precision agriculture systems which they say could help improve harvests by 50 per cent. 

Precision agriculture is a term that refers to the increasing use of technologies such as drones, robots, computers and data analytics in farming. These technologies essentially help farmers micro-manage their farms. Other terms used include smart agriculture and even Agriculture 4.0, but they refer to the same thing.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that farmers around the world will need to increase yields – the volume of crops they harvests – by 50 per cent by 2050 in order to feed the increasing global population.  Continue reading Bosch and Bayer working on precision agriculture systems

Siemens to establish global robotics research and development centre in China

Engineering giant Siemens is establishing a robotics research and development centre in China. 

The company says the facility will be a global research centre in autonomous robotics, and is part of its innovation strategy to “master technology fields that are critical for future success”.

Worldwide, Siemens is planning to spend $6 billion this year on R&D, and China is likely to represent a significant portion of that budget.

Siemens says the global research community in its China R&D centre will comprise experienced experts from around the world will focus on:

  • the research and development of new mechatronics systems,
  • human-robot collaboration; and
  • the application of artificial intelligence in robotic controllers.

Continue reading Siemens to establish global robotics research and development centre in China

New aircraft manufacturer Boom Supersonic building superfast plane using Stratasys 3D printing systems

A new aircraft manufacturer called Boom Supersonic is developing aeroplanes which can fly at speeds of almost 1,500 miles per hour. 

The design of Boom’s planes are reminiscent of the Concorde, the world’s first supersonic commercial jet airliner, operational from 1969 to 2003.

But unlike the Concorde, Boom Supersonic’s planes are likely to feature numerous components produced using 3D printing, a technology which didn’t exist when Concorde was flying.  Continue reading New aircraft manufacturer Boom Supersonic building superfast plane using Stratasys 3D printing systems

How American machine builder JSI built a ‘truly connected’ machine using IIoT technology from HMS

Paper slitting machines from American machine builder JSI are well-connected indeed.

By using technology from HMS Industrial Networks, and system design by Millennium Controls, JSI can remotely access and control the machine via the internet and also enable wired and wireless communication between different parts of the machine.

All this allows JSI to offer an even more competitive and connected machine. Paper slitting machine from JSI with a robotic arm allowing blades to be changed automatically.  Continue reading How American machine builder JSI built a ‘truly connected’ machine using IIoT technology from HMS

Autonomous sea-going vessels likely to be launched before driverless cars

The vast majority of the world’s goods are shipped – quite literally – by sea. According to the International Maritime Organization, 90 per cent of the world’s trade is carried by ships and boats. 

The IMO adds that the sea “is, by far, the most cost-effective way to move en masse goods and raw materials around the world”.

So while we’re all waiting for drones and driverless vehicles to deliver our online shopping orders by road and by air, it seems the really big trends are all at sea.  Continue reading Autonomous sea-going vessels likely to be launched before driverless cars