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Hypertherm Updates ProNest CAD/CAM Nesting Software

Hypertherm Updates ProNest CAD/CAM Nesting Software

Hypertherm has announced a minor version update to ProNest 2019, its advanced CAD/CAM nesting software for automated cutting. This new release contains targeted features and enhancements designed to make customers more efficient and profitable. New features include:

  • PDF import so programmers and operators can directly import vector-based PDF files such as engineering drawings or specification sheets, eliminating the need for separate .dxf and .dwg files to make the importing of parts and job quoting easier and faster.
  • Scribe text additions that make it possible to automatically mark parts during import with unique identifying information such as a part name, customer name, or work order number.
  • Reposition work zones allows parts to span multiple work zones in a single nest as reposition machines can now cut parts in sections, beginning the cut in one work zone before repositioning and completing the cut in another zone.

“These feature additions incorporate feedback directly from our customer base, providing users with the specific tools they need to increase both productivity and profitability,” said Tom Stillwell, Marketing Project Manager for Hypertherm CAD/CAM software products. “At the same time, the software remains easy to use with a highly intuitive user interface that benefits both new and experienced users.”

In addition, Hypertherm is announcing several major improvements to its ProNest LT software, designed for light industrial cutting. New features being added to ProNest LT include:

  • Cutting techniques used to specify how parts should be cut based on sections of a part’s geometry. For example, automatically adjusting cut speeds for corners, leads, and arcs.
  • Automatic height control can be automatically disabled based on certain parameters such as interior profile size, crop cuts, skeleton cuts, or lead-outs.
  • PDF import will also be included at the LT level.

 

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OMAX And Hypertherm Form Leading Waterjet Offering In The Industry

OMAX And Hypertherm Form Leading Waterjet Offering In The Industry

OMAX Corporation, a manufacturer of abrasive waterjet systems, and Hypertherm, a U.S. based manufacturer of industrial cutting systems and software, has announced the successful closing of a previously announced agreement to establish OMAX as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hypertherm.

The agreement, first announced on March 20, formally combines OMAX’s industry leading direct drive pumps, software, and applications technologies with Hypertherm’s complementary portfolio of intensifier-based pumps and abrasive recycling systems to form the industry’s leading waterjet technology offering.

“As one of the world’s top waterjet manufacturers, we are excited to officially join forces with a company that shares our values and vision to deliver the industry’s broadest and most technologically advanced line-up of waterjet products,” said OMAX co-founder and CEO John Cheung. “The Hypertherm culture and business philosophy is remarkably similar and complementary to OMAX, and I have no doubt, the company I founded will keep a keen focus on the needs of our valued customers, as we have done for the past 25 years. The OMAX Corporation, and all it stands for, is in great hands with a very bright future ahead of it.”

“We are confident the combination of OMAX and Hypertherm will advance our strategy of delivering diverse, technology-driven cutting solutions focused on dramatic improvements in customer outcomes. In uniting with OMAX, Hypertherm can combine the strengths of two highly talented engineering groups — OMAX engineers in Washington state with our waterjet group in Minnesota — to accelerate new waterjet technologies to market,” said Hypertherm president and CEO Evan Smith. “We have great respect for OMAX and its products and look forward to working closely with the OMAX team to build upon its founding legacy.”

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Moving Towards A Smart Machinery Eco-System

Moving Towards A Smart Machinery Eco-System

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Wagner Turri, Sales Leader Southeast Asia & Taiwan at Hypertherm, regarding current trends in the metal cutting industry.

  1. Could you provide us with an overview of the trends that are shaping industrial cutting in the metalworking industry?

Initial industrial trends could foresee more challenging times for the regional metalworking industry, in which competitiveness will be driven by customer’s needs and prompt feedback for opportunities and improvements. In this scenario, industrial automation and digitalisation will be the key drivers of change, and it would be more demanding in Asia Pacific due to the future economic growth and competitive landscape. It will push the metalworking industry to new arenas, where product quality is considered a ‘standard’ feature and customers’ requests are influenced by positive experiences in their interaction with these products, services, or solutions.

In this full perspective, industrial automation and digitalisation will help the metalworking industry understand and improve the performance of any equipment throughout its life cycle. This includes production effectiveness leverage based on new sets of equipment and technologies—which can provide real-time feedback on performance and propose necessary adjustments.

Over the last few years, we have seen a growing number of solutions that encourage the introduction of automation and digitalisation to the metalworking industry. Technologies that are related to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are enabling companies to build up smarter job shops, and allowing the industry to establish a smart machinery eco-system.

  1. What are the latest technologies developed by Hypertherm to keep up with these trends?

Automation and digitalisation embedded on the IIoT platform have given manufacturers enhanced equipment and process capabilities, while staff aim to improve production effectiveness with additional cost management. In the last three years, Hypertherm has been addressing these industrial demands and trends with the development of a new set of plasma source and controllers, and by improving on-time operations support to customers. Our new solution — the X-Definition plasma source and NC industrial controller—provides real-time feedback on performance to job shops via a WiFi connection. This WiFi connectivity enables metalworking job shops to connect to these machines with a single device (e.g. smart phone or computer) to collect data on machine performance and maintenance. In addition, our new set of NC industrial controllers can receive cutting nesting jobs through WiFi. Furthermore, Hypertherm employs the most advanced communication protocol (i.e. EtherCAT) to provide faster information flow when our products are integrated with an automated solution, such as a NC plasma machine, for straight or bevel cutting, or a plasma robotic arm for 3D cutting or pipe cutting.

These continual technological advances elevated Hypertherm’s plasma cutting capabilities. Furthermore, our wide range of solutions for automation and portability include new sets of our robotic cutting tools and applications, delivered by our new rotary sleeve mechanical solution and the introduction of our off-line robotic software. It is relevant to highlight that all these new technologies rely on plasma source architecture. In this way, Hypertherm offers unmatched cut quality and precision (up to ISO 9013 Range 2) through our latest X-Definition class plasma system. This solution offers users reduced operation costs with its new electronic feature that extends consumable life, avoiding premature damage or misuse. With its new process technologies that deliver high cutting performance at optimal costs, the X-Definition plasma system is a stellar example of how we are able to address the changes ahead for manufacturers.

  1. What are some challenges faced by this industry?

The traditional metalworking industry is in the throes of digital transformation, which is accelerated by exponentially growing technologies on a smarter machinery eco-system. These new eco-systems are covered by offerings or needs such as smarter robots, predictive analytics, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, predictive maintenance feedback, and collaborative manufacturing. These companies and their industrial processes must adapt to this rapid consolidation that has been happening the last few years. The industry needs to unleash new possibilities offered by the IIoT platform. This usage will transform operations and processes into new ways of conducting business, such that it becomes more scalable, profitable, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly.

The rising expectations and demand for better customer experience is also another challenge that the metal cutting industry must face. More and more, product quality is becoming a given, or a ‘standard’ feature. Customers’ expectations are shifting and they are beginning to value the experience delivered over their project life cycle.  Soon enough, this will become a crucial priority and businesses will redirect their focus from merely selling products and services to creating an exceptional overall customer experience.

  1. How can they be overcome?

To achieve their growth targets in a more complex and competitive environment, the metalworking industry will increasingly see the need to prioritise their capital expenditures, to spend on technology that will enable their businesses to be more agile — by increasing productivity, speed, responsiveness, and connectivity.

These capital expenditures must be followed-up with a compelling analysis of operational expenditures, which needs to bring operational costs reduction to justify investments on automation and digitalisation. In this perspective, Hypertherm is totally aligned to metalworking industry trends. We are a company focused on helping our customers reduce operating costs with additional cutting performance improvements. That way, they can enhance their profitability and business sustainability. Our continued investment in research and development is part of our mission to bring more breakthrough technologies to the market, so that we will keep delivering with new launches in coming years.

  1. Moving forward, what do you think is the outlook of the metal cutting industry in the next five to 10 years?

Automation and digitalisation will definitely still play a big part in bringing the metal cutting industry to new heights. An increasing number of manufacturers will develop, adopt, and implement technologies in their industrial processes, where their equipment can effectively interact in a collaborative and smart eco-system. Customers will see more usage of software solutions in order to keep their hardware in a high-performance state. To achieve growth, manufacturers need to become digitally savvy and develop new, successful innovations in the ever-changing landscape of the metal cutting industry.

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OMAX Join Forces With Hypertherm To Strengthen Its Waterjet Industry Leadership Position

OMAX Join Forces With Hypertherm To Strengthen Its Waterjet Industry Leadership Position

OMAX Corporation, a manufacturer of abrasive waterjet systems, plans to join forces with Hypertherm, a U.S. based manufacturer of industrial cutting systems and software, following the signing of a definitive merger agreement that establishes OMAX as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hypertherm. Upon the closing of the transaction, expected on or around 9 April 2019, OMAX’s industry leading direct drive pumps, software, and applications technologies will combine with Hypertherm’s complementary portfolio of intensifier-based pumps and abrasive recycling systems, to form the industry’s leading waterjet technology offering.

“When the late Dr. Olsen and I founded OMAX 25 years ago, our goal was to combine new motion control technology with software to create an abrasive waterjet system unlike anything else on the market. We more than succeeded, creating one of the world’s top waterjet manufacturers,” said John Cheung, co-founder and CEO of OMAX. “Together, we have been planning for the future of OMAX for some time. In planning for this future, we wanted to partner with a company that shared our values and vision. We wanted a company that would protect our culture, provide stability for our employees, and give our customers products and services consistent with our mission statement. Though Dr. Olsen is sadly not here for today’s announcement, I am comforted knowing he completely supported and wanted this for OMAX.”

“Hypertherm is excited to welcome OMAX to our family and to bring together the leading waterjet R&D and engineering team in the world with our hardworking and talented waterjet team in Minnesota,” said Hypertherm president and CEO Evan Smith. “We are confident the combination of OMAX’s cutting-edge technology and solutions, innovation focus, strong brand name, commitment to customers, and excellent culture is a perfect complement to Hypertherm’s waterjet offerings and plasma cutting industry leadership position. It enhances our strategy of delivering cutting solutions that put customer needs first.”

Hypertherm does not plan to make significant changes to OMAX’s operations, management structure, or distribution channels. The company’s current offices and manufacturing operations in Kent, Washington, where the majority of its 367 associates are located, will remain intact, with no consolidations or reductions planned, in keeping with Hypertherm’s no-layoff philosophy. Hypertherm also anticipates continuing both the Hypertherm and OMAX waterjet product offerings and brands, as the companies’ technologies and business models balance each other.

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Hypertherm Introduces New Consumable Kits For XPR Cutting Systems

Hypertherm Introduces New Consumable Kits For XPR Cutting Systems

Hypertherm is shipping consumable kits for its XPR X-Definition Plasma systems. These new consumable starter kits are available with or without a torch for mild steel and non-ferrous cutting applications. The kits include a variety of consumables to allow for cutting at different amperages, using all of the gas process types supported by the XPR170 and XPR300 systems.

The consumables contain several patent pending technologies to improve consumable life and cut quality. Examples include Cool nozzle and Arc response technology, the latter of which protects consumables from the negative impact of ramp down errors, a regular occurrence in real-life cutting. By reducing the impact of ramp down errors, XPR consumables can last up to three times longer than those on older generation systems.

In addition, XPR consumables are designed with ease of use in mind. An EasyConnect feature allows operators to quickly plug the torch lead into the torch connect console without the use of tools, while a patent pending QuickLock electrode delivers easy quarter turn tightening to further reduce setup time. Another new design feature is a quick-change torch that enables an operator to rapidly change torches with just one hand.

“Whether you are cutting mild steel, stainless steel, or aluminum, these new starter kits will make it easy for XPR customers to get all of the consumables they need in one convenient kit,” said Martin Geheran, product manager for plasma torches and consumables. “We think customers will also enjoy the convenience of the kits that come with a torch as it will give them the option of having a second torch, or even multiple torches, pre-loaded with consumables for even faster change-outs.”

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MASI Soars With Hypertherm’s X-Definition Plasma System

MASI Soars With Hypertherm’s X-Definition Plasma System

Air travel has come a long way since the days of the Wright Brothers. Raising standards for aviation safety is a paramount concern globally with more than 100,000 flights taking to the sky daily, and proper servicing and maintenance play a critical role in ensuring the safety of crew and passengers. One such company that makes certain proper servicing equipment and maintenance facility on aircrafts can be carried out smoothly is Muhibbah Airline Support Industries Sdn. Bhd. (MASI).

Headquartered in Selangor, Malaysia, MASI manufactures a variety of products for the aviation services sector, including maintenance docking systems, aerobridges, and aircraft parking guidance systems. A subsidiary of Muhibbah Engineering (M) Bhd., the first company in Malaysia to achieve ISO 9002 certification in the construction sector, MASI places strong emphasis on quality and safety in every aspect of its operations.

A Versatile And Efficient Solution For Quality Production

MASI’s strength lies in the design and construction of a full range of aircraft maintenance docking systems. These systems are specialised platforms positioned around the aircraft to allow maintenance personnel to access all areas of an aircraft, providing an efficient and safe working environment. An effective aircraft maintenance docking system enables the maintenance team to perform their jobs better, which then assures people of aircraft functions and safety.

The team at MASI had a good grasp of the aviation industry’s needs, and its innovative systems featured state-of-the art functions. To bring them to fruition, the company found the need to invest in a cutting technology that is capable of producing high-quality cut parts at fast speeds, yet require little or no post-production processes. The company decided on Hypertherm’s X-definition plasma cutting system, the XPR300, which would allow them to boost production processes significantly without compromising on quality.

The XPR300 features the latest X-Definition plasma technology which improves its ability to tackle high-precision applications, surpassing the expectations of modern plasma cutting systems to produce high-quality cuts in the most cost-efficient manner on a myriad of metal types and thicknesses. In addition, the system boasts of Hypertherm’s True Hole technology that provides MASI with the ability to easily fabricate bolt ready holes down to a diameter-to-thickness ratio of 1:1. These advanced features of the XPR300 system addressed MASI’s requirements of a cutting solution that could handle a variety of plate thickness (ranging from 4 mm to 40 mm) and various types of shape and hole cutting, leading to improved consumable life, and reduction in production times and wastage in materials. This has allowed MASI to register between 10 to 20 percent in cost-savings – depending on material thickness.

Apart from the cutting-edge features on the XPR300, MASI was also won over by Hypertherm’s high level of service standards. From the early stages of decision-making through to after-sales assistance, the Hypertherm team offered timely response and their full support to address MASI’s every concern. Edward Wong, Technical Manager at MASI, shared, “The XPR300 system has proven to be stable and reliable so far – allowing us to improve our productivity and quality, and we expect that it will also eventually help us to reduce the manpower required in the production of parts for the various systems and equipment.”

The Future Of MASI And Hypertherm

On MASI’s plans to further improve their processes, Mr. Wong added that the company is looking to purchase more cutting machines, and also plans to explore more advanced solutions such as robotic plasma beam cutting lines. “Judging from the results we’ve seen so far, we’re optimistic that Hypertherm’s advanced cutting solutions will support our endeavour to improve the agility and profitability of our business. We also look forward to satisfying our customers with consistent and quality products that will allow their maintenance teams to perform their tasks well and ensure safe functioning of aircrafts,” added Mr. Wong.

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Hypertherm Introduces XPR Rotational Torch Sleeves For Bevel And Robotic Cutting Applications

Hypertherm Introduces XPR Rotational Torch Sleeves For Bevel and Robotic Cutting Applications

Hypertherm, a U.S. based manufacturer of industrial cutting systems and software, is introducing three new torch sleeves for XPR plasma cutting torches and lead sets. The sleeves allow the torch and lead sets to remain axially fixed while the torch holding device rotates 360 degrees in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. This capability greatly enhances torch lead life in high-flex applications.

The new sleeves—available in short, medium, and extended lengths—are ideal for bevel or 3D/robotic cutting applications when using either an XPR170 or XPR300 X-Definition Plasma system. The sleeves include several engineering advances. An outside diameter of 76 mm (3”), allows for an increased wall thickness and eliminates compression caused by clamping. Pre-sealed, high precision bearings reduce axial play by 90 percent and radial play by 81 percent. This keeps out dirt and other particulates associated with plasma cutting and greatly extends the life of the sleeve and lead system.

When used with Hypertherm’s specialised robotic/bevel lead sets, the rotational sleeve will afford customers an especially robust industrial solution in applications requiring frequent rotational flexing when cutting with an XPR170 and XPR300, the only two X-Definition capable systems in the world. A combination of engineering advances and refined high definition plasma processes help X-Definition class plasma deliver unmatched plasma cut quality on mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Laboratory testing shows ISO-9013 Range 2 cut quality on thin mild steel and extended ISO Range 3 cuts on thicker metals.

Both X-Definition systems contain patent-pending processes like Vented Water Injection (VWI), plasma dampening, and Cool Nozzle technologies for squarer cut edges, markedly less angularity, and excellent surface finish on non-ferrous metals like aluminum and stainless steel. At the same time, the systems cut faster and use power more efficiently than earlier Hypertherm systems like the HyPerformance HPR260XD.

“Hypertherm is constantly working to advance the capability of our products by devoting extensive resources to research and development. By listening and incorporating feedback from our partners and customers, we are able to deliver products like our X-Definition Plasma and these new torch sleeves that help customers increase the efficiency of their cutting operation,” said Phil Parker, product manager for Hypertherm’s heavy industrial plasma products.

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Market Outlook 2019: An Insight Into This Year’s Industry Megatrends

Market Outlook 2019: An Insight Into This Year’s Industry Megatrends

In 2018, we witnessed the rise of Southeast Asia’s manufacturing industry as the Trade War pressured manufacturers into shifting production from China to Southeast Asia. A trend that is expected to continue on in 2019 as Southeast Asia continues to develop its manufacturing capabilities and uncertainties over a US-China truce continue to loom. Through this market outlook series, eight industry leaders share their thoughts on how the regional market will grow and develop in 2019 amidst the changing economic background and the increased presence of disruptive and intelligent technologies. 

  

Armin Kasper

Vice President, Asia-Pacific Area, MAPAL

2018 was a successful year for MAPAL and the company grew once again although growth in the Chinese market, which had previously been strong, flattened somewhat in the last quarter of 2018 due to factors such as punitive tariffs. For 2019, we have set a goal of generating a turnover of €650 million, and this will be achieved through free trade, the development of country specific expansions, the enhancement of digital capabilities and electric mobility machining capabilities.

Development Of Country Specific Expansions

For the companies under MAPAL Group in Southeast Asia, two new regional branches will be established in Indonesia where we are seeking to build a regional presence. While in the case of Malaysia, the country recently became our Southeast Asia production hub and has been equipped with a dedicated manufacturing facility. Additionally, we are actively investing in Malaysia and expansion is set to continue in Thailand too, where a new facility was established in 2017.

Enhancement Of Digital Capabilities

Digitalisation is a pressing issue globally, and in the face of increasing demands for efficient data management systems, we have identified this trend as a potential growth area. That was why we will be using 2019 to make further refinements to c-Com and to showcase the SaaS solution to interested parties as an open cloud platform for efficient data management.

MAPAL’s new tool management 4.0 is also based on c-Com. The interconnectivity that tool management 4.0 offers means that data can be provided consistently to all those involved – manufacturing, procurement, planning, tool managers and suppliers. That makes the overall process more efficient and digitalises tool management.

We also see great potential in our re-tooling service. Customers use this when they are setting up a new manufacturing facility for a part or re-tooling existing machinery to manufacture a new part, or when optimisations need to be made while production is running.

Electric Mobility Machining Capabilities

Alongside digitalisation, another significant trend at the moment is electric mobility and we have a diverse array of innovative machining solutions available for manufacturing the various parts within the different electric drives. The importance of the automotive industry is growing all the time, as is the number of vehicles being produced with electric drives.

 

Carsten Haecker

Head of igus Asia Pacific, igus Singapore Pte Ltd

The Asia Pacific region will remain as the growth driver for us in 2019 but we may see regional differences in development. This is due to uncertainties related to tariffs and trade, Brexit discussions and regional tensions may cause some interruption on a global scale. However, in terms of long term sustainability, the opportunities in Asia far outweigh the challenges and we will continue to invest into new markets or expand existing manufacturing facilities.

Combining Digitalisation With Industrial Development

The world is changing faster than ever before, new trends are coming up and past solutions may disappear. Artificial intelligence, complete process automation, remote monitoring of machine performance, intelligent robotics and driverless vehicles are some of the trends in which we see a potential in. The clear objective for us moving forward is to concretely implement automated processes that range from online configuration to digitally supported manufacturing for all product categories. This is a difficult path to take because ready-made solutions usually cannot be bought but have to be developed individually.

Additionally, IoT continues to drive development. And igus as an early adopter, has developed the intelligent cable, energy chain and linear guide which are able to monitor their own condition during use and open up new possibilities of predictive maintenance.

Additive Manufacturing And Low Cost Robotics

Additive manufacturing would be another key trend to mention, with 3D or SLS printing being good examples of the technology. Also, low cost robotics are another trend to watch out for in 2019 and the igus robolink modular robotic system is an example of this.

 

Israel Gonzalez

Asia Pacific Regional Director, Hypertherm

2018 marked Hypertherm’s 50th year and we have grown from a manufacturer of plasma systems to a global provider of cutting solutions. Moving forward, our continued investment in research and development is part of our efforts to bring more breakthrough technologies to the market, such as the recently released X-definition class plasma system.

In 2019, Asia Pacific will continue to be a promising region for the industry due to rapid population and economic growth, industrialization and business-friendly measures introduced by governments. Besides the major markets in Oceania and Japan, the rapidly growing industrial manufacturing sector in India and Southeast Asia are also expected to contribute significantly to the region’s economic growth.

Change In Business Models In The Metal Cutting Industry

The metal cutting industry will shift from a demand driven model to a more competition driven model, where the key driver is automation and customers are increasingly looking to reduce reliance on labour. In fact, automation will continue to be the biggest development in the metal cutting industry as manufacturers in the region continue to balance technology with capacity and competitive demands.

Industry 4.0 Innovations

IIoT will continue to shape the manufacturing industry in 2019. Rising technologies such as machines, robots and other equipment on a production floor will be able to communicate with each other and gather data in the cloud for analysis. And with the data, a manufacturer will have greater insights which allows for predictive analysis to occur. This aligns to the shift in the industry from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.

In the future, fluctuating raw material prices will also impact the industry and transformations within the manufacturing sector will also be further propelled by the rapid evolution of technology. To achieve growth targets in the coming year, manufacturers will increasingly see the need to prioritize investments in technology that will enable them to improve their business agility.

 

Terence Oh

Senior Vice President. EOS, Singapore

The additive manufacturing (AM) market is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 27 percent between 2018 (USD 1.73 billion) and 2023 (USD 5.66 billion). In fact, AM in Asia Pacific is expected to have the highest CAGR due to the region having the fastest growth for the automotive and printed electronics sectors. This offers more opportunities for AM adoption in the manufacturing industry.

Decentralised, Distributed And Domestic Manufacturing Models

Rising protectionism and trade conflicts will increasingly push global supply chains towards decentralization and regionalization when it comes to manufacturing. And this, coupled with the digitalization of manufacturing and AM will serve as an enabler for distributed manufacturing. Businesses that adopt smart technologies like AM to 3D print parts and components will also be able to reduce production costs, processes, and time through part redesign and integration. This makes domestic manufacturing more practical than importing from abroad.

Continued Innovation And Adoption Of AM Across Industries

AM is reported to have a global economic impact of USD 250 billion by 2025 and the aerospace and defense industry is expected to continue leading AM adoption. Moreover, the global aerospace AM market is reportedly expected to register a CAGR close to 22.3 percent during the forecast period of 2018 to 2023.

In terms of the healthcare industry, AM adoption is expected to increase and with the aging population expected to rise, this trend is set to continue due to an expected increase in demand for personalized healthcare and treatments, as well as customized 3D-printed medical devices. For the automotive industry, AM’s ability to decrease production lead time, increase efficiency in logistics management, and ensure effective use of components/materials will result in its increased adoption. This trend is set to continue and the global automotive 3D printing market is predicted to be valued at over USD 8 billion by 2024. On the other hand, tooling and robotics are also expected to drive AM’s market share in APAC from 2018 to 2023.

 

Douglas Foo

President, Singapore Manufacturing Federation

The manufacturing industry in Asia is polarised into three categories – the “factories of the world”, the factories supplying to “factories of the world”, and the “middleman”, where most manufacturers in Asia are a part of. In Singapore, the industry is undergoing a two-part transformation – digitalisation and servitisation.

Due to Singapore’s relatively high labour cost compared to the region and talent shortage, the industry is also moving up the value chain and exploring the use of AI, IoT, robotics, automation and other digital tools to keep costs low and to increase productivity. Digitalisation itself is expected to quite significantly alter and remake the landscape of the industry.

Digitalisation Of Manufacturing And Supply Chains

To be digitalised is to implement these few technologies – additive manufacturing, AI, advanced manufacturing, blockchain, cloud computing, big data, e-commerce and future technologies (robotics, advanced automation, etc.).

Therefore, as manufacturing becomes increasingly digitalised, supply chain models must also become increasingly digitalised by implementing the above technologies. And this will lead to end-to-end integration. Furthermore, with this evolution of the supply chain model, shorter lead times, increased flexibility through real-time optimisation, increased efficiency and increased transparency and personalisation of services will be observed. A digitalised supply chain model is one in which processes are connected through a sensor network and managed through a central data hub and analytics engine.

Adopting The Right Technologies Amidst Economic Uncertainty

Due to the ongoing trade war, there is a fear that demand and investments will shrink. Protectionist attitude and interest rates are also on the rise. Thus, manufacturers can make use of technologies and innovate their business models to improve their productivity, efficiency and competency in order to overcome the adversities ahead. With the right technologies, the industry may even disrupt and affect other sectors, causing a ripple effect that could accelerate the advancement of businesses embracing Industry 4.0 sooner rather than later.

 

David Chia

Automation Charter Chair, The Singapore Industrial Automation Association Managing Director, Beckhoff

In 2019, at the mass market stage, enterprise digitisation will penetrate deeper into the manufacturing floor. This will cause enterprises to look towards obtaining data from as many machines and sensors as possible, which is a trend that has continued on from past years.

Overcoming The Barriers To Digitalisation

In order to digitalise more effectively, companies have more to gain from standardisation than competition. Currently, Germany is leading the effort to create common industry wide standards and they have done quite well as the VDMA is leading the machine standardisation for Germany. Countries in the ASEAN region may need to follow on their footsteps. Next, governments across the region should also help in funding digitisation initiatives and this is especially important for SMEs.

Finally, re-training and upskilling the workforce is needed. We are facing shortages in data engineers, data scientists, data analysts in the region and re-training and upskilling is especially important as older manufacturing jobs disappear and newer ones are created in their place.

The Importance Of Data Collection, ML And AR Technologies

On top of sending data over standardised communication protocol, companies will increasingly look towards getting standardised information from each machine type. This so called “information modelling” and is relevant to a production line today as there is hardly a “homogenous” production line containing the same machine model from the same manufacturer.

Another focus for the metalworking and CNC world will be the use of AR technologies. While still a cutting edge technology today, this technology holds a lot of promise from speeding up operators to training, to advancing maintenance work. At the bleeding edge, we are seeing an increasing trend of ML implementation directly on a premise or machine. While this is on early stages, we feel that this would be the internal focus of many bleeding edge suppliers moving forward.

 

Alex Teo

Managing Director and Vice President, Southeast Asia, Siemens PLM Software

The outlook in Asia Pacific continues to be favourable in 2019. With a dynamic economy and an extremely fast-growing internet population, Southeast Asian markets are good options for companies looking to diversify and add to their operations in China. Especially as rising labour costs and increasingly volatile market conditions in China cause more firms to relocate their production in order to spread out risk and gain access to new markets.

The Growth Of Mass Customisation Focused Technologies

The shift towards a knowledge-intensive economy in Southeast Asia is a by-product of the global movement towards a more individualized and personalized consumption economy. Therefore, the region is expected to transit from the age of mass-production, to one of mass-customisation which is a trend that has been highlighted at the ASEAN Summit. Due to this, we are expecting manufacturers to adopt and implement technologies such as cloud-based product lifecycle management solutions, as well as Digital Twin technologies, in order to be able to produce meet the level of rigour and scale that is required for mass-customisation.

The Development Of Disruptive And New Technologies

Disruptive technologies such as robotics, computer numerical control (CNC) machines, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, scanning technology and smart devices will persist and will be ubiquitous across the product value chain. In the case of additive manufacturing, markets such as Singapore, China and South Korea have already identified it as a growth potential and are actively investing in the technology to create high-end jobs and services.

Additionally, Dyson has also announced plans for its first electric car, to be built in a new automotive manufacturing facility in Singapore that is set for completion in 2020. The selection of Singapore as a site for this facility – which has not seen automotive manufacturing since Ford closed its factory 40 years ago – is a surprise for many. This investment which is part of Dyson’s USD 3.3 billion global investment drive in new technology, is a game changer for the electronics and heavy machinery industries in the region.

 

Ian Roberts

Regional Executive Director, UBM

In 2019, the ASEAN region will remain as an attractive area for investment. The ongoing trade war between China and the USA is creating problems and opportunities within the ASEAN region as although foreign investment companies are starting to relocate their manufacturing plants away from China, countries within ASEAN particularly Vietnam and Indonesia, are benefiting from the relocation of manufacturing plants into their countries.

The Rise Of Indonesia And Vietnam 

Most of UBM’s trade shows have continued to grow, particularly in Vietnam where there are numerous opportunities in both HCM and Hanoi. Currently, the biggest problem for the organisation of events in Vietnam is the size of the venues in both HCM and Hanoi which restricts UBM’s expansion plans. However, this also reinforces Vietnam’s position as UBM’s strongest market since 2018.

In Indonesia, the economic growth in the short term will be modest due to the Rupiah depreciation as we all as the impact of the upcoming presidential elections in April.  This will affect overseas investment as investors take a “wait and see” approach. Thus, investments will be halted for at least the first half of the year. For this reason, Indonesia is expected to rely on domestic consumption and household spending to drive the economy. However in the long term, Indonesia remains a strategic and lucrative market for investors as it continues to offer strong economic fundamentals to spur the growth of the middle class and fuel consumer spending which is a key driver of growth.

Growth Of Smart Factories And Smart Manufacturing In Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s main selling point can no longer be its low wages if it is to remain competitive. Implementation of new technologies are needed to help close the productivity gap. This means factories will need to integrate technologies such as robotics to maximise productivity, minimise human failure and prevent work-related accidents. Aside from that, companies could integrate AI and data analytics to make automation processes more intelligent and to improve efficiency.

A report by McKinsey & Company has highlighted that Southeast Asia needs to embrace Industry 4.0 to unlock its potential in manufacturing. Through this report, it is stated that disruptive technologies associated with Industry 4.0 would have an impact on productivity on a scale that is similar to the introduction of the steam engine had during the first Industrial Revolution. Globally, if the digital technologies of Industry 4.0 were to be embraced and integrated efficiently, it is forecasted that it could contribute between USD 1.2 trillion and USD 3.7 trillion in business profits. Meanwhile in ASEAN, the impact of Industry 4.0 could see productivity gains of between USD 216 billion to USD 627 billion.

 

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Norbert Seo

Senior Vice President, Market Division Asia & Australia, Bystronic Pte Ltd

2018 was one of the most successful years for Bystronic due to numerous product launches in the gold, silver and bronze segments of the market as well as international business expansions.

In 2019, the economy is uncertain because of market turmoil and currency slumps but sheet metal continues to have a wide application in industries that are set for growth such as the automotive, semiconductor and electronic industries. Additionally, governments across Asia are continuously building and developing infrastructure and new industrial areas which create indirect opportunities for the sheet metal fabrication market.

The Growth Of Automation

The industry is currently in the age of automation. This is because automation allows for shorter lead times, greater accuracy, higher quality and competitive pricing. In the field of laser cutting, automation makes it possible to process not only large series but also small batch sizes, while maintaining the flexibility that users require to always respond to changing order situations.

Implementation Of Networked Production

With automation drastically changing the outlook of the sheet metal industry, Bystronic is systematically driving forward the vision of “World Class Manufacturing”. This is based on a comprehensive range of new products and services with which Bystronic is gearing its users’ process landscape towards networked production. It features innovative solutions that go far beyond the conventional idea of a machine tool. It’s about fusing the individual processes relating to laser cutting and bending into a network of intelligent components.

 

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Hypertherm Adds New Features To Rotary Tube Pro Software With Version Update

Hypertherm Adds New Features To Rotary Tube Pro Software With Version Update

Hypertherm has announced a minor version update of the Rotary Tube Pro software that makes it easier to design and cut tube and pipe parts with no 3D CAD experience required.

The new minor version update includes a number of new features designed to speed the programming process. For example, automatic nesting is now standard, allowing software users to nest multiple quantities of the same part or different parts on stock tube. Users can add parts to the part list and build a stock list for nesting, maintain the seam orientation during nesting, add part spacing, and choose how the software selects stock.

Other new features include the ability to store multiple parts and nests, plus an advanced edit feature that allows uses to manually adjust preferences like the lead size and position, along with cut sequence. The software also includes features that allow users to pin commonly used lead styles to the top of the list for quick access and offers more powerful reports to better track nests and stock usage.

“Instead of moving tube and undertaking multiple steps—measuring, sawing, drilling, etc.—Rotary Tube Pro really streamlines the production process,” explained Tom Stillwell, a project manager for Hypertherm’s CAD/CAM software team. “And though it is already easy to use, the enhancements introduced with this minor update of Rotary Tube Pro make the process of programming and completing jobs even easier than before, giving fabricators and manufacturers the ability to work more efficiently, boost productivity, and reduce operating costs even further.”

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Insights On Why Plasma Is A Potential Viable Alternative To Laser Technologies

Insights On Why Plasma Is A Potential Viable Alternative To Laser Technologies

Laser is renowned for delivering excellent fine feature and hole cutting thanks to its narrow kerf – roughly 0.2 mm to 0.4 mm (008″–.015″) on mild steel with oxygen and even narrower when using nitrogen to cut mild steel up to 25 mm (1″) in thickness. Fibre laser also produces excellent cut angularity and can cut to very tight tolerances, in the range of 0.007″ (0.2 mm).

HYPERTHERM’S invention of high definition class cutting, along with continued advances in torch and consumable technology and the introduction of XD technology in 2008 are responsible for markedly improving the cut capabilities of plasma over the past two decades. And now a new class of plasma cutting, called X-Definition, is further enhancing plasma’s ability to tackle high precision applications. When installed on a high quality cutting machine and equipped with linear ways and elliptical racks, Hypertherm’s new XPR300 plasma system, featuring X-Definition cutting, is capable of maintaining ISO 9013 Class 1 and 2 tolerances and ISO 9013 Range 2 and 3 cut quality.

Furthermore, an XPR300 plasma system can deliver an edge surface finish that is generally smoother than fibre laser in the thicker ranges and has extremely consistent edge quality over the full life of a consumable set.

As plasma kerfs can range from 1.5 mm (0.05″) thickness on very thin metal and up to about 5 mm (0.225″) on 25 mm (1″) thick material at 300 amps, a laser system can actually be the best option if extremely fine feature cutting or small holes (with a less than 1:1 thickness to diameter ratio) are required. But, if high quality perimeter cuts are called for, and tolerances in the range of 0.020″ are acceptable, the higher cut speeds associated with plasma, especially when cutting material thicker than 10 mm (3/8″), could make plasma a better option. At this thickness, for example, a 170-amp plasma X-Definition process would deliver high quality cuts at speeds two times faster than a 4kW fibre laser using oxygen.

In addition, Hypertherm’s invention of the True Hole process for mild steel in 2008 and further refined with the launch of the XPR300 provides users with the ability to easily fabricate bolt ready holes down to a diameter-to-thickness ratio of 1:1.

Another application which may favour plasma is bevel cutting. Especially with the advent of True Bevel technology, it has become much more feasible to cost-effectively bevel cut right on the cutting machine and eliminate secondary operations. And, because cutting bevel angles increases the effective thickness of the plate being cut, plasma can have a significant advantage.

In addition, it is important to consider the initial investment cost associated with an X-Definition plasma system as compared to laser. A complete XPR300 plasma system mounted on a high quality cutting machine and capable of cutting 25 mm (1″) at speeds of more than 1,900 mm/min (75 ipm) would likely cost somewhere between US$175,000 and US$225,000. A comparable laser system can easily cost three to four times more depending on the power level.

Beyond this, plasma is a much more forgiving process when it comes to cutting so called “dirty” steel such as plate with oxidation and other imperfections. It really makes no difference to the plasma arc. This is not true, however, with fibre laser. Lastly, while plasma does require personal safety devices for noise and glare protection, fibre laser systems require the construction of a safety enclosure around the entire system to protect from the potential harm of the fibre laser beam.

Article contributed by Hypertherm.

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