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Hexagon And Plex Systems Announce Partnership To Deliver Smart Manufacturing Solutions

Hexagon And Plex Systems Announce Partnership To Deliver Smart Manufacturing Solutions

Hexagon, a global leader in sensor, software, and autonomous technologies, and Plex Systems, the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, has announced a new strategic partnership.  The global partnership will enable Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and Plex to co-sell Plex MES to Hexagon manufacturing customers, helping them to take control of the plant floor through full visibility and connectivity and realise the promise of Industry 4.0.

“There’s no question that more connected, data-driven approaches to manufacturing are central to bringing better products to market faster and more cost-effectively with confidence.” said Paolo Guglielmini, president of the Manufacturing Intelligence division at Hexagon.

“Plex brings valuable experience to our customers, and its impressive open MES solution augments our technologies offering a path to ramp up shop floor efficiency by bringing together data from siloed processes to solve manufacturing problems faster and more collaboratively.”

Hexagon and Plex share a common vision for smart manufacturing, offering manufacturers an incremental path to achieve greater automation and Industry 4.0 adoption. Using Plex’s robust Manufacturing Execution System (MES) with integrated quality control, Hexagon customers will be able to augment their workflows by streaming quality measurements, engineering data and other manufacturing information into Plex’s MES creating a digital system of record in real-time.  Manufacturers will benefit from enhanced visibility and control over their inventory and manufacturing processes, while gaining deeper insight, traceability and opportunities for continuous innovation by combining Plex and Hexagon’s digital solutions.

“We are thrilled to partner with Hexagon, an organisation that is just as dedicated to delivering smart manufacturing solutions as we are and with a global scale,” said Bill Berutti, CEO at Plex. “Smart manufacturing isn’t something that will happen years down the road … it’s real, it’s imperative and it’s happening now.”

Hexagon and Plex will partner in opportunities, initially in Europe and India, where Hexagon prospects and customers have MES needs. The combination of Hexagon and Plex for these manufacturers provides a fully digitalised solution from plant measurement and metrology to managing end-to-end production.

“Smart manufacturers are seeking continuous product and process improvements to ensure that quality is measured, enforced and managed in a closed-loop across design, production and inspection,” said Reid Paquin, research director, at IDC. “This new partnership will enable manufacturers to do just that and on a global level.”

 

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Addressing CMM Challenges With Automated Quality Control

Addressing CMM Challenges With Automated Quality Control

Creaform introduces a different approach to quality control—automated 3D scanning solutions, which eliminates the limitations of traditional CMM. 

In today’s hypercompetitive market, manufacturing companies face a multitude of challenges on their production lines. Many of those are connected to the quality control process, which aims to ensure the quality of the products being manufactured and sent out to the clients. 

A solution often brought forward to tackle this task is the use of a coordinate measurement machine (CMM). However, traditional CMMs come with their own set of issues such as delays in productivity, difficulties in recruitment and challenges in measuring complex parts, to name a few. And in such a high-speed environment, the smallest productivity slowdowns, added expenses or simple mistakes can take its financial toll on a business, and can translate into loss of contracts and customers’ trust. 

How to Detect Assembly Problems Earlier, Reduce Scrap and Down Time

While traditional CMM can be very precise, its complexity of use and limited speed can delay important information-based decisions. As only a few experts and professionals can execute these tasks and the measurements are taken outside the production line, it can create significant delays in applying corrective measures, which can generate scraps and down time. 

A different approach to quality control aims at addressing these specific challenges—automated 3D scanning solutions. 

Is Automation an Option to Increase Productivity?

Over the past few years, global manufacturing industries have come up with increasingly complex parts and assembly designs to address hypercompetitive markets. However, the diversity of such intricate components requires more advanced quality control processes.

What causes bottlenecks?

Too often, quality control inspections are performed in a room isolated from the production floor where temperature and humidity variations and vibrations are limited. Quality control experts must take samples from the production floor to the quality control lab to perform dimensional inspection with a traditional CMM. These part movements have several major negative impacts. For one, it requires a considerable amount of time and effort to move the parts back and forth from the production line to the lab, often creating unmanageable bottlenecks at the various measurement stations and extended delays in decision-making.

Inspection on the production line

To mitigate these issues and along with the increasing implementation of Industry 4.0, manufacturers are requiring that quality control inspections be conducted right on, or very near the production line to maximise efficiency and streamline communication throughout their entire manufacturing processes. 

As a result, there has never been a greater need to perform dimensional inspections within the production cycle using automated near-line or in-line metrology solutions. 

However, if inspections are carried out on production lines, the inspection pace must follow the production pace to avoid affecting productivity. A stop of production due to inspection bottlenecks cost a lot of money. Therefore, the return on investment of an automated quality control solution is very high.

Solution: Automated 3D scanning

Thanks to new technology and advances in science, manufacturers are using next-generation 3D scanning solutions with unprecedented data acquisition speeds of up to 1.5M measurements/second and faster mesh generations. A mix of high-performance cameras and computer components helps to increase data acquisition and processing speeds. In other words, 3D scanning measuring machines provide a solution that can scan parts continuously, faster than ever. Scanners can even adjust their settings during the scan process to optimise surface acquisition according to different textures and colors. This is a major enhancement since we can scan shiny black and matte white surfaces on the same part.

Increasing Automated Inspection Productivity

By using automated 3D scanners, quality control teams can perform more inspections per hour. Problems, defects, and irregularities can be detected earlier for immediate or future actions. In addition, equipment maintenance and corrective measures in the manufacturing process can be identified and planned ahead. With the possibility to be connected directly with production databases, the information can be automatically synchronised to save even more time.

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Global 3D Scanning Market Outlook

BMW And Ford Lead $130 million Investment In Start-Up For Solid-State Batteries

 

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Powering Industry 4.0 With Factory Automation

Powering Industry 4.0 With Factory Automation

Using automation, businesses can perform processes with limited or no human intervention. By Dario Mulazzani, DAVI Product Manager Automation.

Using automation, Corporations can perform processes with limited or no human intervention. Automation is able to power a range of equipment, which is then able to fulfil a variety of objectives in a wide array of manufacturing environments.

It is so effective because it increases quality, repeatability, output and efficiency by reducing human assistance, thereby dramatically slashing the risk of error and scraps.

What is Factory Automation

Automation in industrial settings uses a centralised control system (typically referred to as Manufacturing Execution System or MES), and vast quantities of data to manage equipment and processes within a manufacturing environment. Businesses are always striving to increase output, productivity and efficiency; automation keeps machinery in a specific measurable and, thus, optimisable state.

Automated production lines consist of workstations and a transfer system that moves an item through numerous production phases, using a variety of different tools to manufacture the intended product. A logic controller (typically referred to as Computer Numerical Controller or CNC) oversees this process by managing the sequence in which the machinery is used and the how long each machine must work on the product. Businesses may use automation infrastructures for manufacturing, refining and the production of individual parts, as well as the assembly of the final product, where necessary.

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Hyundai Motor And Singtel Collaborate To Advance Singapore’s Smart Mobility Ecosystem And Industry 4.0 Journey

 

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Hyundai Motor And Singtel Collaborate To Advance Singapore’s Smart Mobility Ecosystem And Industry 4.0 Journey

Hyundai Motor And Singtel Collaborate To Advance Singapore’s Smart Mobility Ecosystem And Industry 4.0 Journey

Hyundai Motor Company and Singtel has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on a range of ventures to support smart manufacturing, connectivity for electric vehicle battery subscription service. The MOU follows Hyundai Motor Group’s announcement in October 2020 that it is setting up a new state-of-the-art Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre Singapore (HMGICS) to conduct studies on future mobility and explore innovative solutions, services and disruptive technologies to revolutionise commuters’ transport experience.

Hyundai Motor will combine its expertise in developing innovative automotive and manufacturing solutions with Singtel’s capabilities in 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and next generation info-communications technologies and solutions to develop Industry 4.0 advanced digital solutions to   transform the way vehicles are currently manufactured. The parties will develop and pilot a 5G-enabled smart factory use case for HMGICS’ intelligent manufacturing platform, and potentially scaling it up for deployment across Hyundai’s manufacturing plants globally.

“Hyundai is delighted to work with Singtel, implementing next-generation communication solutions that will enhance mobility experiences for our customers,” said Hong Bum Jung, Senior Vice President of HMGICS at Hyundai Motor Company. “We also hope to explore future innovative solutions and business opportunities with Singtel to help realise Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.”

Hyundai and Singtel will also work together on an IoT communications solution for the batteries powering Hyundai’s electric vehicles (EVs) in Singapore. The IoT system enables Hyundai to monitor the telemetry, or automatic data transmission, of the batteries’ real-time status and performance. The data-driven insights can enhance the EVs’ reliability, advancing Singapore’s EV ecosystem and Smart Nation vision of connected and sustainable mobility solutions.

Andrew Lim, Managing Director, Government and Large Enterprise, Group Enterprise at Singtel said, “Our collaboration with Hyundai Motor is timely given the Singapore Government’s decision to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040 and the recent Budget announcement on new policies to encourage more Singaporeans to switch to driving electric vehicles. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible with 5G, IoT and other advanced technologies, we also want to build up Singapore’s smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0 capabilities and strengthen its innovation ecosystem.”

 

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Choose Digital, Choose The Right Drill

Choose Digital, Choose the Right Drill

James Thorpe of Sandvik Coromant explains how, by combining advanced software with the correct machine tools, manufacturers can digitalise profitably, and on their own terms.

The Industry 4.0 & Smart Manufacturing Adoption Report by IoT Analytics suggests that Industry 4.0 technology uptake is still low among manufacturers. Given that the advantages of Industry 4.0 are now so well-understood, why aren’t more manufacturers digitalising their processes? 

One perception is that applying Industry 4.0 to existing production setups is expensive when, actually, it doesn’t have to be. Another reason for the slow uptake is that manufacturers see no reason to upgrade their existing tooling set-up and processes. If it isn’t broke, why change it? Manufacturers in this category may be unsure how Industry 4.0 fits into their established way of doing things. 

The truth is, automated Industry 4.0 technologies can greatly benefit manufacturers’ bottom lines. For instance, Sandvik Coromant has found that a 20 percent increase in machine utilisation can provide a 10 percent higher gross profit margin and automated systems can massively increase machine uptime. 

Automated equipment can also support the growing trend for machining with limited, or no, human supervision — particularly amid the pandemic. As stated in a recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) report, COVID-19: What It Means for Industrial Manufacturers, “For companies vulnerable to a viral outbreak within their ranks, this would be a critical time to explore a proactive deployment of automation technologies.” 

Today’s Industry 4.0 technologies, including sensors and machine learning can also be beneficial in minimising the number of production stops. Again, increasing profit. This includes stops needed to replace worn tooling, like drills. 

Previously, operators had to rely on manual monitoring to detect wear in machine tools. PwC’s report points towards the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as an alternative. An example of this is Sandvik Coromant’s latest CoroPlus Machining Insights platform, an expansion of the company’s CoroPlus suite of connectivity software.

Using Machining Insights, CNC machines can connect through Ethernet and transmit information at higher volume than they can currently. This includes manufacturing data to improve workshop efficiency and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). And this isn’t limited to new machinery.

Most machines are connectible to the network, and there are adapters for older machines to make them compatible. In other words, Industry 4.0 can be integrated easily, even with legacy hardware.

Predictable Wear

Machining Insights is designed to give manufacturers greater visibility of machining processes and provide information to identify and eliminate downtime and inefficiency. This includes during periods of largely or fully-automated processes. 

Let’s face it, one of the biggest threats to production is unpredictable tool life. For a tool to properly support automated production, limiting continuous, controllable wear and eliminating discontinuous, uncontrollable wear are the keys to success. 

Sandvik Coromant’s specialists had this in mind when developing the CoroDrill 860 with enhanced -GM geometry, a new design solid carbide drill that’s optimised for a wide range of materials and applications, across all industry sectors. 

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Top 5 Articles In 2020: Industry 4.0, Metal Cutting & Metrology

Top 5 Articles In 2020: Industry 4.0, Metal Cutting & Metrology

As we move into 2021, lets take a look back at the most popular Industry 4.0, Metal Cutting and Metrology articles in 2020:

Industry 4.0/Automation

  1. Empowering Manufacturing Transformation

Through its suite of advanced and leading-edge technologies, Siemens not only helps companies digitalise to meet the needs of the new economy, but also empowers them to carry out smart innovations to succeed in the Industry 4.0 era.

  1. Industrial Robots VS Cobots—Which Is Right For You?

Industrial robots have offered benefits to many organisations ever since it was first introduced, but collaborative robots (cobots) have been a game-changing force recently. Article by Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots.

  1. Industry 5.0: The Future Of Manufacturing In 2035

The Factory of 2035 will look vastly different than the factory of today. Ever since the first Industrial Revolution when mechanisation, water, and steam power started to automate work previously carried out manually, more work has been taken on by machines. Each technological advancement – from computers and robotics to the Internet – has brought about additional automation. Advancement in technologies will remain significant, but the trend of “human touch” will also be in demand in Factory of 2035.

  1. Key Factors to Consider When Selecting the Proper Gripper

There are various operational characteristics that must be considered before an educated—and successful—gripper choice can be made. Article by Gary Labadie, Destaco.

  1. Airbus Commits To Continued Automation Of Its Manufacturing Line

Airbus has acquired industrial automation company, MTM Robotics which deepens Airbus’ commitment to expanding advanced robotics capabilities within its manufacturing processes.

 

Metal Cutting

  1. Adapting Cutting Tools To Changing Trends

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Jacob Harpaz, ISCAR CEO, IMC President and Chairman of the Board, discusses the current trends in the metalworking tool industry, and how the company is helping their customers address their manufacturing challenges.

  1. Increasing Automation, Connectivity And Energy Efficiency In Metal Cutting

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Armin Stolzer, Owner & CEO of KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG regarding current trends in the metal cutting industry.

  1. Efficient Machine Tooling

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Dr Christian Kober, Senior Vice President Asia at Hoffmann regarding current trends in machine tooling.

  1. Milling Cast and Steel Parts More Cost-Effectively

Dr. Wolfgang Baumann of Mapal explains the benefits of their latest radial insert milling range.

  1. ISCAR CTO Stresses On Productivity Improvement

Erich Timons, CTO of ISCAR Germany GmbH, speaks with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News about tooling trends and challenges, and how the industry should move forward by improving productivity. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

 

Metrology

  1. Ensuring High Precision

Ingun Prüfmittelbau GmbH relies on the high-precion SwissNano technology to ensure success in the world of test and measurement. Article by Tornos.

  1. Hexagon Discusses Opportunities For Growth In Philippine Metrology Market

Taveesak Srisuntisuk of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence speaks about the metalworking trends and opportunities for growth in the Philippines. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

  1. Importance Of Process Control

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr Lim Boon Choon, President of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, APAC, regarding current trends in metrology.

  1. E-mobility, Additive Manufacturing Driving Growth in Metrology Sector

Daesuk Chung of ZEISS sat down with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News to talk about the latest technology and manufacturing trends driving the metrology sector. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

  1. Renishaw Shares Outlook On Vietnam And Philippines

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore provides his insights into and outlook for the Vietnam and Philippine metalworking industry.

For other exclusive articles, visit www.equipment-news.com.

 

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Industrial And Manufacturing 2021: The Year For Additive, Digital Threads, And Industry 4.0

Industrial And Manufacturing 2021: The Year For Additive, Digital Threads, And Industry 4.0

In its new whitepaper, 68 Technology Trends That Will Shape 2021, ABI Research identify 37 trends that will shape the technology market and 31 others that, although attracting huge amounts of speculation and commentary, are less likely to move the needle over the next twelve months. “For success in 2021, especially after a very challenging 2020, one must understand fundamental trends early, and take a view on those trends that are buoyed by hyperbole and those that are sure to be uncomfortable realities. Now is the time to double down on the right technology investment,” says Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer at ABI Research.

Additive Manufacturing Software Innovation Will Play Catch Up

“Additive Manufacturing (AM) is an ecosystem starting to open to third-party developers, and we will see this in 2021 with broader support for AM systems in IoT platforms, a much greater emphasis on simulation and integration of process parameters, and a market that will start to realise the disparity between hardware and software innovation and react with new solutions, and new programs that improve awareness, education, and integration. The reason these actions are inevitable is that production AM simply cannot happen without them,” says Ryan Martin, Industrial & Manufacturing Research Director at ABI Research.

Simulation Will be the Needle for Digital Threads

Manufacturers and industrial firms have been focusing efforts on creating a digital thread that keeps data flowing in a continuous loop between the engineering, manufacturing, and fulfillment teams. “However, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital threads failed to anticipate demand surges because machine learning was looking at historical patterns and did not provide firms with the ability to maintain production. In 2021, simulation will provide firms with an overview of their operations and stress test them to build resilience. Projects will look to simulate scenarios and run what-if analysis that covers both downstream events (in end markets or individual customers) and upstream events to simulate how to accommodate supply chain events in engineering and production departments,” explains Michael Larner, Industrial & Manufacturing Principal Analyst at ABI Research.

Smart Manufacturing Builds Momentum

“Smart manufacturing will continue to build on its momentum in 2021, but not until factory owners embrace 5G for their smart factory connectivity layer will they reap the operational benefits. Factory owners have been deploying industry 4.0 tools, such as condition-based monitoring, inventory management, and building automation using ethernet cable, but deploying wireless-enabled Industry 4.0 tools will bring smart manufacturing to its full potential. Applications like wearables (health and location/safety trackers) and AR are only possible with wireless connectivity,” states Jake Saunders, Vice President at ABI Research.

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Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project futureAM Gets Metallic 3D Printing In Shape For Industrial Use

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Review: The Future Of Additive Manufacturing In Southeast Asia

 

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Machines That See More

Machines that See More

When asked which of the traditional five senses they would most regret not having, human beings generally choose sight. Is the same true for industrial equipment? In this article, John Young of EU Automation looks at some of the latest trends in machine vision in metalworking.

The global machine vision market is worth approximately $9.6 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 percent over the next five years, according to research by MarketsandMarkets. In the APAC region, demand is being boosted by manufacturers turning to artificial intelligence (AI), Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), all of which benefit from machine vision capabilities.

Definitions of machine vision vary, but most involve the idea of using technology to extract information from images on an automated basis. Machine vision does not refer to a single piece of technology, but rather to multiple technologies, hardware, software and integrated systems.

Deployed in the right way, machine vision can help automate the repetitive and dull tasks traditionally carried out by human workers. For example, sorting parts on a conveyor by colour. Machine vision allows these jobs to be performed at higher speed and with greater consistency, resulting in more efficient quality control, reduced waste and higher yields for manufacturers.

Machine vision technology has been used in manufacturing applications since the 1980s, but there have been barriers to more widespread adoption. Traditionally, perhaps the two key difficulties for manufacturers contemplating adopting machine vision have been cost and the difficulty of installation. As well as being prohibitively expensive in many instances, the equipment often needed a trained and specialized system integrator to set it up.

The latest generation of machine vision technology has gone a long way towards solving these dilemmas by providing systems that are vastly less expensive and much quicker and easier to install. Furthermore, while some machine vision systems might have required hours of ‘training’, which involves feeding images of defective and non-defective parts to the system to allow it to improve its identification capacity, modern technology incorporates machine learning algorithms. This introduces a substantial level of automation into the process.

Another traditional hurdle for the adoption of machine vision in quality control has been the complexity of identifying defects. Take aluminium as an example. Distinguishing between genuine defect and an appropriate level of variation in this alloy is more difficult because of variations in colour and other properties of the material. Many manufacturers would persist with manual inspection, even when inspection errors were made in a quarter of all cases.

Today, machine vision technology is sophisticated enough to make it a commercially viable alternative to human inspection even in more difficult scenarios such as these. Although well-suited to inspection and quality control, modern machine vision systems are multi-purpose and multifunctional. Machine vision can simultaneously offer other benefits like checking OCR codes or monitoring factory equipment as part of a predictive maintenance program.

Enter Cobots

Automation in metalworking is growing and this growth is strongest in the APAC region. Cobots, or collaborative robots that can work safely alongside human workers, are a good example of this. Cobots are a key area of development in metalworking and are finding new uses in applications like welding, assembly and sorting.

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‘Silver’ Welders To Surf The Industrial 4.0 Wave With Collaborative Robots

‘Silver’ Welders to Surf the Industrial 4.0 Wave with Collaborative Robots

In industries facing a grave shortfall of skilled welders, collaborative robots, or cobots, can provide the much needed relief to keep up productivity and production, while retaining existing human workforce as well. By Darrell Adams, Universal Robots

There is a global labour shortage in the welding scene today. Business leaders are struggling to find skilled welders, while traditional industrial welding robots are expensive and challenging to adapt to transient and iterative production runs.

The average age of a welder in the United States today is about 55 years old, with fewer than 20 percent under the age of 35, and is slated to run into a deficit of 400,000 welders by 2024, according to a study by the American Welding Society.

And North America is not even the dominant market for welding. That crown goes to Asia Pacific, with a market size of US$7.04B in 2019, according to Fortune Business Insights, with a sizable demand from construction, automotive steel, and marine industries. Asia Pacific is likely to run into a deficit for skilled welders like America, with declining birth rates as the key culprit.

Already, countries such as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are facing this problem. For example, by 2060, 40 percent of Japanese population will be over the age of 65, according to a report by The Guardian, and their workforce will be unable to handle the nation’s industrial and economic demands. And that is where automation comes in, including welding.

Embracing Cobots to Retain Staff

Traditionally, robots and automation may be perceived to be a bane to human livelihoods. However, there is a class of robots, known as collaborative robots (cobots), that work nicely alongside humans.

In industries facing a grave shortfall of skilled welders, cobots can provide the much needed relief to keep up productivity and production, while retaining existing human workforce as well.

Unlike larger industrial robots, cobots are nimble and small, much more affordable compared to large industrial robots, and are easy to set up and operate. In the case of Universal Robots’ cobots, they are quick and easy to commission in-house for simple tasks without any expertise in robotics or programming. For more complex applications, Univeral Robots has a comprehensive network of Certified Systems Integrators and Authorised Training Centres that will help businesses get started so that human operators without prior programming experience or knowledge can handle day-to-day operations after the initial installation.

For example, the Vectis Cobot Welding Tool powered by Universal Robots’ UR10e cobot allows human operators to easily and safely design and deploy automated welding jobs. Welders can transition rather easily to become cobot-based welding operators.

“We wanted to build our cobot-based welder on this platform, providing a human-centric and welder-friendly operating ethos, that manufacturers in many other industry verticals enjoy,” says Josh Pawley, director of business development and co-founder of Vectis Automation.

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Additive Manufacturing Meets Industry 4.0: Igus Makes 3D Printed Tribo-Components Intelligent

Additive Manufacturing Meets Industry 4.0: igus Makes 3D Printed Tribo-Components Intelligent

Even today, 3D printed wear-resistant parts from igus often have the same service life as original parts. Now igus goes one step further and makes the printed components intelligent. Manufactured in filament printing, they warn against overload and report their maintenance requirements.

The special feature: for the first time, the sensors are directly “printed into” the parts. As a result, they not only have extremely short delivery times and low costs but also feature useful Industry 4.0 options.

Additive Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 – two themes that are changing the industry forever. igus engineers have now succeeded in combining both in a single production step: for the first time, sensors are printed into the additively manufactured tribo-component using multi-material printing.

“We have now achieved a real breakthrough with the smart 3D printed bearing”, says Tom Krause, Head of Additive Production at igus. “In this way, predictive maintenance is also possible for special parts in a cost-saving manner.” Long before the failure, the intelligent 3D printed component signals that a replacement is imminent. It can also detect overload in order to stop the application immediately and prevent further damage to the bearing position and the entire system.

Wear or load are monitored

igus has been producing intelligent wear-resistant parts for energy chains, plain bearings and linear guides since 2016. At the start, plain bearings were manufactured from iglidur I3 in laser sintering and the intelligence was subsequently introduced in a second processing step. In this case, however, the production of intelligent special parts in small quantities is complex and expensive, as the downstream work steps are very specifically designed for the respective component.

Using a new process, igus developers are now able to produce such intelligent wear-resistant parts in just a single work step. No further processing steps are necessary and intelligent special wear parts can be produced cost-effectively from five working days. The sensor layer is applied to those parts of the component that will be subjected to load. Wear-resistant components with integrated sensors are created using multi-material printing. The components are manufactured from iglidur I150 or iglidur I180 filaments and a specially developed electrically conductive 3D printing material that bonds well with the tribo-filament.

Currently, two areas of application are possible: if the electrically conductive material is located between the layers subject to wear, it can warn against overloading. Because if the load changes, the electrical resistance also changes. The machine can be stopped and further damage can be prevented. To determine the load limits, the bearing must be calibrated accordingly. If, on the other hand, the conductor track is embedded in the sliding surface, the wear can be measured via the change in resistance. Predictive maintenance is possible with the 3D printed component. The lubrication-free and maintenance-free tribo-component announces when it needs to be replaced, avoiding system downtime and enabling maintenance to be planned in advance. If the 3D printed components are also used in the pre-series stage, the collected wear or load data provide additional information about the service life of the individual component or the planned application in the series. This makes it easier to adapt and optimise the development process.

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