Ever since the first applications in the Ford automotive pipeline, industrial automation has taken giant steps in assuring a both voluminous and efficient production process. Nonetheless, the centralized framework on which it has thrived does no longer provide an optimal economy for today’s hyper-connected society and infrastructure. Highly automated systems are being put in place to intelligently tackle manufacturing issues, capable of addressing objectives in a decentralized manner. IIoT is a prime example of this, where edge computing combines data collection, analysis and action outside the realm of influence of a central authority. An open source framework, coupled with a mix of microservices is a sound answer to what the future of industrial automation might be. Similarly, AM’s flexible nature is making it possible to rethink manufacturing operations. Small, low-cost machines can work autonomously and in parallel in order to manage various production orders intelligently. Even more farsightedly, Siemens envisions swarms of 3D printing robots capable of subdividing bigger prints into smaller units, working in-situ.
The Move to a Common Open IoT Framework
Loosely-Coupled Microservice Platform Architecture. Source: EdgeX Foundry
In order for the [IIoT] to truly take off, connecting devices to the cloud—or on the edge of the network— needs to be fast, easy and affordable. It is also important that the suppliers of automation technology embrace open standards so that these “things” are interoperable. […] This week, Opto 22 takes its commitment to open standards a step further with the announcement that it has joined The Linux Foundation as a silver level member. According to Opto 22, this strategic move is the company doing its part to “spearhead the adoption of open-source technology in the industrial automation and process control industries, and accelerate the rollout of Industrial Internet of Things application.”
Read more at Automation World.
Markforged plans large-scale digital metal manufacturing with 3D print farms
Sintering multiple 17-4 Stainless Steel Sprockets. Image via Markforged.
The future of metal 3D printing is in print farms says Markforged CEO, Greg Mark. While a number of companies are attempting to create machinery capable of industrial metal 3D printing, Greg Mark believes these “large-format metal printers will be replaced by smaller, low-cost machines working in parallel – print-farms.”
3D metal print-farms will shorten development time, closing the gap between prototyping and production.
Markforged intends to develop a system that allows for rapid production of strong metal parts. For Markforged, farming is the solution for large scale metal 3D printing production. Currently, 3D printing farms are mainly working with plastics.
Read more of their AM farm plans here.
Siemens Contemplating “Swarm” 3D Printing?
Siemens’ experimental production robot.
A report on Forbes details work undertaken by Siemens to develop a “mobile robotic 3D printer” concept. The curious-looking small robot was developed last year and since then has served as an experimental platform for developing software for future production use.
[…] some day, the same software that is helping the robotic spiders crawl the floor while avoiding obstacles and keeping their printing parts in balance could enable whole new systems of factory work – on tasks much more complex than assembling handheld toys.
For example, a team of robots could work together on a new kind of fuselage cylinder for airplanes. If each robot could attack the job from a different angle, they might build complex shapes together that no single printer could create by itself.
Read more about Siemens undertaking here.
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