Tech is Changing Manufacturing. Can Businesses Keep Up?


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From “Tech is changing Connecticut manufacturing. Can businesses keep up?

Manufacturing is merging with modern technology. Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, sensors and robotics will soon become ubiquitous on many factory floors.

But within Connecticut’s vaunted advanced manufacturing sector — which for decades has churned out jet engines, precision aircraft components, medical devices and semiconductor parts — adjusting to this “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is overextending small- and medium-sized businesses. It’s also creating growing needs for high-tech training and postsecondary certifications and degree programs at colleges and universities around the state.

From “Automotive parts manufacturer upcycles waste into sustainable art

By repurposing unused metal from its manufacturing process, the firm makes and sells handcrafted designs using recycled 304 aircraft grade stainless steel which otherwise would have gone to waste. From garden products including planters, pots and furniture to bespoke sculptures and decorative items for the home, all items are weather-proof and created by the business’ in-house custom design team.

Birchills’ Stag sculpture made from repurposed unused metals

Assembly Line

This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media

ChatGPT for Robotics: Design Principles and Model Abilities

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Sai Vemprala, Rogerio Bonatti, Arthur Bucker, Ashish Kapoor

🔖 Topics: ChatGPT, Industrial Robot, Large Language Model

🏢 Organizations: Microsoft

ChatGPT unlocks a new robotics paradigm, and allows a (potentially non-technical) user to sit on the loop, providing high-level feedback to the large language model (LLM) while monitoring the robot’s performance. By following our set of design principles, ChatGPT can generate code for robotics scenarios. Without any fine-tuning we leverage the LLM’s knowledge to control different robots form factors for a variety of tasks. In our work we show multiple examples of ChatGPT solving robotics puzzles, along with complex robot deployments in the manipulation, aerial, and navigation domains.

Read more at Microsoft Research

Injection Molding Machine Unloading with a ROKAE Robot

CAD-based data augmentation and transfer learning empowers part classification in manufacturing

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Patrick Ruediger-Flore, Moritz Glatt, Marco Hussong, Jan C. Aurich

🔖 Topics: Computer-aided Design, Machine Learning, Transfer Learning

🏢 Organizations: Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Production Systems

Especially in manufacturing systems with small batches or customized products, as well as in remanufacturing and recycling facilities, there is a wide variety of part types that may be previously unseen. It is crucial to accurately identify these parts based on their type for traceability or sorting purposes. One approach that has shown promising results for this task is deep learning–based image classification, which can classify a part based on its visual appearance in camera images. However, this approach relies on large labeled datasets of real-world images, which can be challenging to obtain, especially for parts manufactured for the first time or whose appearance is unknown. To overcome this challenge, we propose generating highly realistic synthetic images based on photo-realistically rendered computer-aided design (CAD) data. Using this commonly available source, we aim to reduce the manual effort required for data generation and preparation and improve the classification performance of deep learning models using transfer learning. In this approach, we demonstrate the creation of a parametric rendering pipeline and show how it can be used to train models for a 30-class classification problem with typical engineering parts in an industrial use case. We also demonstrate how our method’s entropy gain improves the classification performance in various deep image classification models.

Read more at The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology

Lights-Out 3D Printing

With Human Metalworkers Hard to Come By, Robotic Blacksmiths Step Up

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✍️ Author: Ashlee Vance

🏢 Organizations: Machina Labs

It takes master craftspeople years to learn how to create strong, polished final products from metal sheets. The difficulty is largely a result of the way atoms inside the metal move around as the material is shaped, causing bulges and other deformations to appear in odd places. Machina’s technology feeds the properties of metal into computer vision and artificial intelligence systems that monitor the shaping process as the robots go to work. Such techniques have been the subject of academic research for decades; Machina has distinguished itself through its ability to refine and commercialize the technology.

Read more at Bloomberg

See How Whirlpool Maximizes Its Stratasys 3D Printing Technologies

Capital Expenditure

Weekly mergers, partnerships, and funding events across industrial value chains

When Will the Mobile Robot Vendor Base Consolidate?

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Ash Sharma

🔖 Topics: Autonomous Mobile Robot

Despite numerous acquisitions the mobile robot market is in fact not consolidating. More vendors emerge each year and more industrial companies are launching AMRs. The combined market share of the top 10 and top 20 leading vendors barely changed between 2018 and 2020 and indeed dropped in 2021. Over the past six years of researching this industry, we consistently identify new players (both start-ups and existing companies from adjacent markets that now offer AMRs).

Many of the AMR start-ups from yester-year are now generating significant revenues (>$20m) having successfully expanded on pilots conducted in previous years. US-based Locus Robotics became the industry’s first “unicorn” being valued at over $1bn following its $150m fund-raising round close to two years ago. Chinese rival, Geek+ has long been rumored to be planning its IPO (perhaps when industry and macro conditions improve), further highlighting how far these once-start-ups have come.

Read more at Robotics Tomorrow

Memfault Raises $24 Million in Series B Funding to Supercharge its IoT Reliability Platform

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Memfault, Stripes

Memfault, the provider of the first IoT reliability platform, announced today a $24M series B funding round. The round was led by Stripes with additional participation from existing investors Partech Partners and Uncork Capital as well as the 5G Open Innovation Lab. The funding will support the company’s product roadmap and partner development, and grow the Memfault team across all areas to address rising enterprise demand.

Read more at Memfault News

AeroCloud raises $12.6 million Series A

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: AeroCloud, Stage 2 Capital

AeroCloud has raised $12.6 million in Series A funding led by US fund Stage 2 Capital. I2BF Global Ventures, Triple Point Ventures, Praetura Ventures and Starburst Ventures also joined in the round along with existing investors Playfair Capital and Haatch. The Praetura commitment to the round was supported with additional investment through the Regional Angel Programme by British Business Investments. AeroCloud has now raised $16m in total, and this new round of investment will support a doubling down on the airport management software revolution.

Read more at AeroCloud Blog

Xolo’s Volumetric 3D Printing Gets €8M Boost

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Xolo, HZG Group, Onsight Ventures

Xolo, the developer of the first commercial volumetric 3D printer, announced that it has successfully closed its latest Series A funding round, raising a total of €8 million ($8.6 million). This comes on the heels of a successful €2.5 million ($2.7 million) seed round in 2021 and follows the unveiling of its proprietary printers called Xube and xolography technology, a revolutionary new method to print any design in seconds. The funds will support xolo’s vision to “transform the 3D printing industry through the use of its revolutionary new xolography process.” The money will also ensure that the startup is well-equipped to expand and serve more cutting-edge academic and industrial research and development groups, as well as enter its first industrial market in the not-too-distant future.

Read more at 3DPrint

Microsoft and Rockwell Automation collaborate on digital solutions for manufacturers

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: Microsoft, Rockwell Automation

Microsoft and Rockwell Automation believe well-designed digital solutions can address operational, system, workforce, and scale needs at the same time. That’s why we have partnered to build digital solutions that deliver transformational outcomes with immediate value and long-term scale, resilience, and agility. By working together, we can leverage our respective strengths and expertise to develop solutions that meet the needs of manufacturers.

Microsoft and Rockwell Automation are jointly delivering edge-to-cloud products that help you manage and make sense of the data in your factory. The result is actionable insights that can improve your business operations.

Read more at Microsoft Blog