Curiosity Will be the Driving Force of Manufacturing Innovation


Shop Talk

Capturing this week's zeitgeist

From Greg Hyslop, Chief Engineer at Boeing, in “The Path Forward: Aerospace must be sustainable, autonomous, producible and digital

Last year in IQ, I named the four greatest developments I’ve seen during my career: the advent of GPS, the first steps of autonomous flight, the rapid increase in computing power and the widespread use of carbon-fiber composites.

While significant, these comprise only the first chapter in the future of aerospace. Capabilities in sustainability, autonomy, producibility and the digital transformation will continue to advance. Our curiosity — inspired by our social responsibility — will be the driving force in our industry.

From “The 10 most innovative companies in manufacturing of 2023”, many of which reside prominently in our Exponential Industry Canvas:

Everything from beer to rockets to the walls in a house start as raw materials, and because most people see only the finished product, it can be easy to forget about the widely unseen work that the manufacturing industry does every day—whether devising an efficient way to frame houses, bringing flexible scheduling to their workforce, or even doing the necessary, if not flashy, work of rolling out new HVAC systems.

Assembly Line

This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media

⛏️ Inside Albemarle’s Kings Mountain North Carolina lithium mine

📅 Date:

✍️ Author: Grace Donnelly

🏭 Vertical: Mining

🏢 Organizations: Albemarle

Albemarle Corporation, which supplies lithium to Tesla and other automakers and operates the only active lithium mine in the US at the Silver Peak mine in Nevada, owns the ~1,100-acre site that includes the former mine in Kings Mountain, along with a lithium hydroxide plant and R&D facility. The Charlotte-based specialty chemicals company doubled its lithium conversion capacity in 2022, and over the next few years it plans to build a facility capable of processing 100,000 tonnes of lithium and other battery materials somewhere in the Southeast.

But even with skyrocketing demand from the influential US auto industry, federal support, and a site that previously provided lithium for decades, Albemarle could still be five to 10 years away from production in North Carolina—and that’s if things go smoothly for the company

Read more at Emerging Tech Brew

Transforming industrial crane system automation at Schneider Electric with 5G

🖨️🚙 How to Build a 3D Printing Setup in Automotive Industry

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: 3D Printing

🏭 Vertical: Automotive

🏢 Organizations: Zortax

Depending on the performed task, whether it is developing an entirely new vehicle, making custom parts on demand, or renewing classic cars, 3D printing is a reliable solution in several ways. First, it facilitates the prototyping stages where each iteration can be flexibly redesigned when required and 3D printed for pre-production evaluation. This can relate to a variety of car components in the chassis, interior, or engine. Also, 3D printing is a cost-effective method employed when restoring or personalizing vehicles to specific needs. In car-tuning projects, 3D prints can substitute damaged and worn parts, as well as components which are too expensive or no longer available on the market. Therefore, 3D printed parts can be found in cars’ interior, dashboard, bodywork, and even under the hood.

Read more at Zortrax Blog

AI Driven Vision Inspection Automation for Bevel Gears

🚙 Application of optimized convolutional neural network to fixture layout in automotive parts

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Javier Villena Toro, Anton Wiberg, Mehdi Tarkian

🔖 Topics: Convolutional Neural Network, Computer-aided Design

🏢 Organizations: Linköping University

Fixture layout is a complex task that significantly impacts manufacturing costs and requires the expertise of well-trained engineers. While most research approaches to automating the fixture layout process use optimization or rule-based frameworks, this paper presents a novel approach using supervised learning. The proposed framework replicates the 3-2-1 locating principle to layout fixtures for sheet metal designs. This principle ensures the correct fixing of an object by restricting its degrees of freedom. One main novelty of the proposed framework is the use of topographic maps generated from sheet metal design data as input for a convolutional neural network (CNN). These maps are created by projecting the geometry onto a plane and converting the Z coordinate into gray-scale pixel values. The framework is also novel in its ability to reuse knowledge about fixturing to lay out new workpieces and in its integration with a CAD environment as an add-in. The results of the hyperparameter-tuned CNN for regression show high accuracy and fast convergence, demonstrating the usability of the model for industrial applications. The framework was first tested using automotive b-pillar designs and was found to have high accuracy (≈ 100%) in classifying these designs. The proposed framework offers a promising approach for automating the complex task of fixture layout in sheet metal design.

Read more at The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology

Delivering the Plant of the Future

A maturity model for the autonomy of manufacturing systems

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Fan Mo, Fabio Marco Monetti, Agajan Torayev, Hamood Ur Rehman, Jose A Mulet Alberola, Nathaly Rea Minango, Hien Ngoc Nguyen, Antonio Maffei, Jack C Chaplin

🔖 Topics: Autonomous Production

🏢 Organizations: University of Nottingham, KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Modern manufacturing has to cope with dynamic and changing circumstances. Market fluctuations, the effects caused by unpredictable material shortages, highly variable product demand, and worker availability all require system robustness, flexibility, and resilience. To adapt to these new requirements, manufacturers should consider investigating, investing in, and implementing system autonomy. Autonomy is being adopted in multiple industrial contexts, but divergences arise when formalizing the concept of autonomous systems. To develop an implementation of autonomous manufacturing systems, it is essential to specify what autonomy means, how autonomous manufacturing systems are different from other autonomous systems, and how autonomous manufacturing systems are identified and achieved through the main features and enabling technologies. With a comprehensive literature review, this paper provides a definition of autonomy in the manufacturing context, infers the features of autonomy from different engineering domains, and presents a five-level model of autonomy — associated with maturity levels for the features — to ensure the complete identification and evaluation of autonomous manufacturing systems. The paper also presents the evaluation of a real autonomous system that serves as a use-case and a validation of the model.

Read more at The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology

Circular manufacturing ecosystems: Automotive printed circuit boards recycling as an enabler of the economic development

📅 Date:

✍️ Authors: Giorgio Cozzaa, Idiano D’Adamo, Paolo Rosa

🔖 Topics: Circular Economy

🏢 Organizations: Sapienza University of Rome

The management of waste from electrical and electronic equipments (WEEEs) is a well-established topic in the extant literature. However, also the automotive sector is becoming a relevant source of WEEE, given the even more relevant presence of electronic components in cars. Due to new European environmental policies, end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) volumes are expected to grow in the next future, together with obsolete car electronics components. Hence, this work wants to assess the potential economic impact derived from car electronics recycling processes adopting the Net Present Value (NPV) as reference indicator. Through a detailed sensitivity and break-even point (BEP) analysis and a comparison of different cases, this work identifies a set of scenarios useful for industrial actors willing to enter the market of car electronics recycling. Results show an NPV varying from 136,570 to 607,621 €/t with a decisive role played by gold recovery.

Read more at Production & Manufacturing Research

Capital Expenditure

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

🛢️ Atlas Energy Solutions Inc. Launches Initial Public Offering

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Atlas Energy Solutions

Atlas Energy Solutions Inc. (NYSE: AESI) (“Atlas”) announced today that it has launched an initial public offering of 18,000,000 shares of its Class A common stock (“Common Stock”) at an anticipated initial offering price between $20.00 and $23.00 per share pursuant to a registration statement on Form S-1 previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). In addition, Atlas intends to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 2,700,000 shares of its Common Stock. The shares have been authorized for listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “AESI,” subject to official notice of issuance.

Read more at Business Wire

🔋 Sakuu to become publicly traded company via Business Combination with Plum Acquisition Corp. I

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Sakuu

Sakuu Corporation and Plum Acquisition Corp. I, have announced that they have entered into a definitive business combination agreement, providing for a merger that will result in Sakuu becoming a publicly traded company. Upon the closing of the proposed transaction, the combined company will be renamed Sakuu Holdings Inc. and is expected to be listed on a US national exchange under the ticker symbol “SAKU”. The transaction implies an enterprise value of approximately 705 million USD, according to Sakuu.

Read more at TCT Magazine

Skydio Soars Into 2023 as it Meets Critical Infrastructure Need

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Skydio, Linse Capital

Skydio, the leading U.S. drone manufacturer and world leader in autonomous flight, today announced it has raised $230 million in funding following a year that saw its enterprise customer base exceed 1,200 organizations, just three years after entering the enterprise and public sector market. The $230 million Series E round brings Skydio’s total funding raised to $562 million with a current valuation of over $2.2 billion.

Read more at Skydio Blog

Micro-fulfillment center automation startup Fulfil Solutions gains $60 million in funding

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Fulfil Solutions, Eclipse Ventures, Khosla Ventures, DCVC

Fulfil Solutions announced today that it has emerged from stealth, with a B funding round of $60 million, and touting its robotic solution for grocery micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs), which it adds can be implemented in way that makes MFCs profitable. The $60 million Series B round of funding led by Eclipse with participation from Khosla Ventures and DCVC.

Read more at Modern Materials Handling

⛏️ AI-Powered Mineral Discovery Technology Company VerAI Raises $12M

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: VerAI

VerAI Discoveries, an innovative, AI-based mineral asset generator that significantly improves the probability of finding vital metal deposits critical to the current and future economy, today announced it completed a $12M Series A funding round, including funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and other investors Orion Resource Partners, Chrysalix Venture Capital, and Blumberg Capital. This year, VerAI plans to bring to market new asset portfolios in Chile, Arizona, Nevada, Ontario, and Peru. These portfolios will include high-probability targets of lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, gold, silver, and molybdenum.

Read more at VerAI Press

⚗️ SepPure Technologies Closes Series-A Funding Round, Raises US$12M

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: SepPure

Industrial chemical membrane technology company SepPure Technologies announced today that it had closed a US$12M Series-A round led by SOSV with participation from Anji Microelectronics, RealTech Fund, Seeds Capital, EPS Ventures, and others. SepPure Technologies has developed a highly sustainable, chemical-resistant, nanofiltration solution that separates chemical mixtures at a molecular level with minimal energy usage.

Read more at PRNewswire

🧪 TeraPore Technologies Raises $10M to Bring Precision Nanofiltration Solutions to New Markets

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: TeraPore Technologies, Entegris, Anzu Partners

TeraPore Technologies, the developer of advanced nanofiltration membrane systems for biomanufacturing, today announced it has raised $10M in new financing. The round was led by existing investor Anzu Partners with participation from Entegris (NASDAQ: ENTG), a global leader in advanced materials science, and fellow existing investor, RA Capital Management. TeraPore will leverage the funding to launch its IsoBlock™ virus filter and expand the use of its core technology into new high value markets.

Read more at TeraPore News

🖨️ Caracol, large scale 3D printing scale up, closes its Series A round

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Caracol

Caracol, leader in industrial large format 3D printing, closes a €10.6 million Series A investment round, with CDP Venture Capital, Neva SGR, Venture Capital from Intesa Sanpaolo Group, and Primo Space Fund and EUREKA! Venture SGR – already investors in Caracol. The funds will propel Caracol towards a global future, supporting its ability to accomplish the demanding objectives set in its strategic plan.


✈️ PteroDynamics Raises $7.5 Million Seed Round to Expand Transwing Aircraft Platform

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: PteroDynamics

PteroDynamics, an aircraft design and manufacturing company that develops innovative vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, today announced the close of a $7.5 million Seed round. The round was co-led by existing investor Kairos Ventures and new investors Lavrock Ventures and CS Venture Opportunities Fund. The capital raised will support PteroDynamics’ plans to develop larger Transwing aircraft variants, attract world-class engineering talent, and execute on additional contracts. Further, the company is looking to adapt their aircraft for additional mission types and enter the commercial sector.

Read more at Business Wire

Introducing Crstl: No-code EDI for modern brands

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Funding Event

🏢 Organizations: Crstl, Mastry Ventures

As we continue to serve new customers and expand our integrations network and product offering, we have raised $4.4M in seed funding led by Mastry Ventures, with support from Village Global, Alumni Ventures, SuperAngel VC, On Deck, Mensch Capital Partners, Harizury, and founders and execs at Uber, Faire, Instagram, Stedi, ShipBob, OpenStore, Motive, and more. With the new funding, we are excited to announce the launch of our product & platform that has already powered millions of dollars in B2B commerce. We are already enabling brands to conduct business with their key trading partners, such as Target, Walmart, UNFI, and KeHE which are among the largest retailers and distributors anywhere in the world.

Read more at Crstl Blog

👷 3M and Guardhat announce collaboration on connected safety

📅 Date:

🔖 Topics: Partnership

🏢 Organizations: 3M, Guardhat

Guardhat will bring 3M’s Safety Inspection Manager (SIM) into its Industrial Internet of People (IIoP) platform to accelerate product development.

This collaboration is expected to accelerate SIM enhancements while also evaluating new connected safety personal protection equipment (PPE) that aims to keep more frontline workers safe.

Read more at Guardhat News