Reimagining Composite Materials from Lay-up to Additive

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Assembly Line

Capturing this week's trending industry 4.0 and emerging industrial technology media

Mitsubishi Automates Boeing 777 Fuselage Production

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Author: Austin Weber

Vertical: Aerospace

Organizations: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Boeing, Broetje-Automation

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) assembles 777 fuselage panels in Hiroshima, Japan, and ships them to Boeing’s wide-body aircraft factory in Everett, WA. To improve productivity and boost quality, the airframer recently installed an automated fastening system supplied by Broetje-Automation GmbH.

Two state-of-the-art production lines include nine major fastening systems that improve flexibility and throughput. The goal of the multi year project was to create an automated assembly system that can quickly adapt to production fluctuations and cost reductions. A flow line concept enables MHI to assemble multiple types of panels in different sizes and shapes on the same line, while significantly improving throughput and quality.

Traditionally, the aerospace industry has been slow to automate. “[That’s because manufacturers demand extremely accurate levels] of precision and quality,” says Wermter. “Commercial aircraft are large, complex products. “The total number of planes produced annually is also significantly low compared to other manufacturing sectors, such as automotive or consumer goods,” explains Wermter. “Only a small part of the entire production process is automated. “Due to complex processes [and tight tolerances], it’s often necessary to combine automatic and manual work in one workstation,” says Wermter. “Automation of entire lines is [rare] in the aerospace sector. However, new digital technologies, human-machine collaboration and Industry 4.0 [tools] are changing that scenario.”

Read more at Assembly Magazine

How Fives Group is Changing Composite Lay-Up with RoboDK

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Author: Alex Owen-Hill

Topics: Composite lay-up

Vertical: Aerospace

Organizations: RoboDK, Fives Group

Composite lay-up (a core step in the process of making a composite part) is traditionally a labor-intensive process. The process requires skilled technicians to create the parts needed using specialized tools and equipment. This is often slow and expensive, which limits the quantity of parts that composite manufacturers can make.

The Composites & Automated Solutions group at Fives has developed a technology that allows their customers to create composite parts using a robotic fiber placement head. This technology provides a lower-cost entry point into the composite lay-up process, making it easier for manufacturers to create the parts they need.

Read more at RoboDK Blog

The art of effective factory data visualization

How to supercharge manufacturing yield and efficiency

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Topics: Product Nesting

Organizations: Plataine

Traditional nesting software has reached the limits of the efficiencies it can deliver at the product level. Manufacturers focused on continuous improvement of their production processes are now turning to more accurate metrics and a holistic approach to reduce additional waste in the nesting and cutting process.

The problem with focusing only on product level nesting yield (the total area of the parts in a product divided by the area of the material used for the nest) is that it can give an illusion of a higher yield in production. Whereas by measuring overall manufacturing yield, manufacturing companies can improve their actual overall material utilization, especially in manufacturing sites that produce multiple parts and quantities for their customers. Identifying inefficiencies in production, such as piling up and eventually discarding material remnants and short rolls, allows manufacturers to employ production optimization software to address previously hidden problems and create dynamic nests on the fly.

Read more at Plataine Blog

Machine-Learning-Enhanced Simulation Could Reduce Energy Costs in Materials Production

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Topics: Sustainability, Machine Learning

Organizations: Argonne National Laboratory, 3M

Thanks to a new computational effort being pioneered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory in conjunction with 3M and supported by the DOE’S High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) program, researchers are finding new ways to dramatically reduce the amount of energy required for melt blowing the materials needed in N95 masks and other applications.

Currently, the process used to create a nozzle to spin nonwoven materials produces a very high-quality product, but it is quite energy intensive. Approximately 300,000 tons of melt-blown materials are produced annually worldwide, requiring roughly 245 gigawatt-hours per year of energy, approximately the amount generated by a large solar farm. By using Argonne supercomputing resources to pair computational fluid dynamics simulations and machine-learning techniques, the Argonne and 3M collaboration sought to reduce energy consumption by 20% without compromising material quality.

Because the process of making a new nozzle is very expensive, the information gained from the machine-learning model can equip material manufacturers with a way to narrow down to a set of optimal designs. ​”Machine-learning-enhanced simulation is the best way of cheaply getting at the right combination of parameters like temperatures, material composition, and pressures for creating these materials at high quality with less energy,” Blaiszik said.

Read more at AZO Materials

How Markforged Continuous Fiber Reinforcement Works

300 Small Manufacturers In Michigan Got Free 3D Printers. What They Did With Them Might Surprise You.

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Author: Carolyn Schwaar

Topics: Additive Manufacturing

Organizations: Markforged, Automation Alley

Called Project DIAMOnD for Distributed, Independent, Agile, Manufacturing On-Demand, it is poised to become the world’s largest emergency-response network for 3D printing physical objects on demand. Locally, over the past two years, the program has helped small manufacturers realize cost savings and flexibility they didn’t know was possible with 3D printing. They’ve printed parts to keep their lines operational and versatile in the face of disruption and uncovered new business opportunities.

Read more at Forbes

BMW tests 5G positioning with Vodafone and Nokia at Leipzig factory

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Topics: 5G

Organizations: BMW, Vodafone, Nokia

Vodafone Germany has been busy with private networks for Industry 4.0. A new announcement, with Nokia, says the pair are testing high-accuracy indoor positioning (HAIP) services over a 5G ‘campus network’ (‘campus-netz’) at BMW’s factory in Leipzig, the car maker’s premier site for testing new edge 5G and AI capabilities. The technology is being used to locate machines, tools, cars, and spare parts at the site – with centimetre-level accuracy, in theory.

The new HAIP test project with BMW is intended to increase automation and quality of production at the German car maker’s Leipzig plant. It is focused specifically on two areas, measuring around 4,500 square metres, in the assembly hall and in the logistics centre, said Vodafone. BMW’s Leipzig plant is home to 5,300 employees and produces around 1,000 vehicles per day.

Read more at Enterprise IoT Insights

Industry 4.0 at Risk: Can CNC Machines Hold Fast Against Cyberattacks?

Capital Expenditure

Tracking this week's major mergers, partnerships, and funding events in manufacturing and supply chain

Solugen raises over $200 million Series D to reimagine the chemistry of everyday life

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Topics: Funding Event

Organizations: Solugen, Kennivik, Lowercarbon Capital, Refactor Capital

Solugen is reimagining the chemistry of everyday life with enzymes found in nature. We make chemicals better, faster, cheaper, and without fossil fuels from right here in Houston, Texas. Whether you care about the climate, local competitiveness, or just plain old profits, we have good news: it’s working!

Our first Bioforge has been operating for a year and Solugen is running a nearly nine figure business with high margins selling commodity and specialty chemicals. We have established ourselves with top tier customers for our existing solutions and fortune 100 technology partners to build a robust pipeline of future molecules that will help us achieve our goal of 10 mil tons of CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

Last year we raised over $300m to fund our first Bioforge. Now, we’ve raised over $200m, which increases our valuation above $2b. This capital allows us to break ground on our next Bioforge and start working on 3, 4 and 5, both in the US and abroad. We will significantly grow and advance our new molecule pipeline to enable an even wider range of carbon negative and low carbon solutions for our customers and for end consumers.

Read more at Solugen Blog

Bright Machines Raises $132M in New Funding to Expand Intelligent Automation in Manufacturing

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Topics: Funding Event

Organizations: Bright Machines, Eclipse Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank

Bright Machines, an innovator in software-defined manufacturing, announced today $132M in debt and Series B equity funding. The equity portion of the funding, worth $100M, was led by Eclipse Ventures. The debt portion of the funding, worth $32M, was led by Silicon Valley Bank (NASDAQ: SIVB) and Hercules Capital, Inc. (NYSE: HTGC). Bright Machines intends to use the funds to accelerate the company’s growth, which includes continued expansion into high-demand industry verticals, and the development of new software and service offerings to complement its existing portfolio of products. This round of funding brings the total raised by Bright Machines to $330M since the company’s founding in 2018.

In addition to refining and extending the capabilities of its flagship product, the Bright Machines Microfactory, the company plans to use the funds to accelerate its Brightware software roadmap, expand its service offerings, strengthen its partner network, and grow its installed base of customers. It will also unveil an Integration Hub in Guadalajara, Mexico, later this year and a U.S. based Customer Experience Center in San Francisco in early 2023.

Read more at Businesswire

AMP Robotics Raises $91 Million in Series C Financing

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Topics: Funding Event

Organizations: AMP Robotics, Congruent Ventures, Wellington Management

AMP Robotics Corp. (“AMP”), a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and infrastructure for the waste and recycling industry, has raised $91 million in corporate equity in a Series C financing, led by Congruent Ventures and Wellington Management as well as new and existing investors including Blue Earth Capital, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP), Tao Capital Partners, XN, Sequoia Capital, GV, Range Ventures, and Valor Equity Partners. This new round of funding follows a $55 million Series B financing led by XN in January 2021.

AMP will use the latest funding to scale its business operations while continuing its international expansion. Demand for robotics to retrofit existing recycling infrastructure continues to thrive; among historic demand for recycled commodities of all types, the industry needs capacity to meet the 2025 goals of consumer packaged goods companies that have committed to the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content. The company’s core technology business has grown accordingly; the new capital will enhance manufacturing capacity to support a fleet of approximately 275 robots around the world and further AMP’s ongoing development of AI-enabled automation applications for recycling, like AMP Vortex™, the company’s latest innovation for recovery of film and flexible packaging. AMP also has three production facilities in the Denver, Atlanta, and Cleveland metropolitan areas; the funding will help drive further growth of the company’s secondary sortation business in the United States.

Read more at Businesswire

Samsara Eco raises $54M AUD for its ‘infinite plastic recycling’ tech

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Topics: Funding Event

Organizations: Samsara Eco, Breakthrough Victoria, Temasek

Samsara Eco, an Australian startup that uses enzyme-based technology to break down plastic into its core molecules, announced today it has raised $54 million AUD (about $34.7 million USD) in Series A funding. The company is planning to build its first plastic recycling facility in Melbourne later this year, with the target of full-scale production by 2023.

Samsara’s new funding will be used for expansion, building its library of plastic-eating enzymes and funding its first commercial facility, which it says will be able to infinitely recycle 20,000 tons of plastic starting in 2024. It will also grow its engineering team and expand operations into Europe and North America.

Read more at TechCrunch

Software Defined Automation Fuels Growth Through $10M Seed Round Led by Insight Partners

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Topics: Funding Event

Organizations: Software Defined Automation, Insight Partners

Software Defined Automation, a leading innovator turning factories into software systems, announced it has raised $10 million in a seed round led by global software investor Insight Partners, with additional investment from Baukunst VC, Fly Ventures, and First Momentum. The funds will be used to scale customer adoption and extend its solution portfolio.

Software Defined Automation revolutionizes factory automation with an Industrial-Control-as-a-Service offering. Industrial-Control-as-a-Service (ICaaS) is centered around cloud-based management of existing PLCs (TechOps), Git-enabled PLC code versioning and collaboration (DevOps), as well as virtualization of PLCs on edge servers (Virtual PLC). In combination, these technologies have the power to break down proprietary silos in control technology stacks and enable API-based modern microservices architecture. This new paradigm transforms the daily lives of automation professionals by bringing remote work, cloud security, resilience, collaboration tools and independence from proprietary automation vendor hardware to the modern factory.

Read more at Software Defined Automation Blog

Blackstone, Emerson Electric Strike $14 Billion Buyout Deal

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Topics: Acquisition

Organizations: Emerson Electric, Blackstone

Emerson Electric Co. is selling a majority stake in its climate-technologies business to Blackstone Inc. in a transformational deal for the industrial company that would value the unit at $14 billion including debt and mark the biggest private-equity buyout in months at a time when such activity has been choked off by market volatility.

The deal, announced Monday, would give Blackstone a 55% stake in the unit, which sells compressors and other HVAC products and services used in commercial and residential heating and cooling as well as cold storage. Emerson would retain a 45% stake.

Read more at Wall Street Journal (Paid)