Taking a Peep at America’s Factory Boom
Capturing this week's zeitgeist
CEO’s talked about Economic uncertainty, layoffs, and the rise of ChatGPT
This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media
🏭🏗️ America Is Back in the Factory Business
New factories are rising in urban cores and rural fields, desert flats and surf towns. Much of the growth is coming in the high-tech fields of electric-vehicle batteries and semiconductors, national priorities backed by billions of dollars in government incentives. Other companies that once relied exclusively on lower-cost countries to manufacture eyeglasses and bicycles and bodybuilding supplements have found reasons to come home. Richard Branch, chief economist of the Dodge Construction Network, which tracks building projects, said that industry, along with EV battery companies, accounted for nearly half of all U.S. manufacturing construction starts in 2022, as measured in square footage.
Stanley Black and Decker Inc.’s chief executive, Donald Allan Jr., has also lauded the benefits of automation in U.S. plants. “You’ve gone from a situation where if you did a power tool assembly in China or Mexico, you might have 50 to 75 people on a line,” he said during a September investors event. “The automated solution that we’ve created in North Carolina, current version, has about 10 to 12 people on that line because of the high level of automation, and the 2.0 version looks like it’s going to get down to two to three people on the line.”
🚙 Mexico’s $100-billion auto parts industry is reinventing itself for the EV era
Tecnoformas, for instance, may eventually have to phase out its current production line. “Those will eventually disappear,” said Trinidad. The company has been on the lookout for the new materials, technologies, and processes that EVs will require. It already supplies Tesla the piping that holds the array of cables connecting to the dashboard. Trinidad is hopeful he’ll see a boost in sales once the Tesla gigafactory is up and running in northern Mexico. That won’t, however, fill the gap left by the lost sales of engine components for Tecnoformas. Trinidad said the effects of electrification will remain an unknown challenge. “We are aware that electric motors are not our expertise,” he said.
Aida Mercado Salazar, sales and business developer at IEMSA, a Mexican stamping and plastic-mold injection company, told Rest of World car makers are seeking more aluminum and resins, following the trend of using materials that are lighter, cheaper, and more efficient. “We’ve seen a tendency in the auto part industry of changing the engineering of certain heavy materials for plastic,” Villarreal said, noting that the trend is particularly evident in the EV sector, where the cars can be hundreds of pounds heavier than internal combustion vehicles. The batteries powering an EV can weigh an average of about 1,000 pounds, while the average eight-cylinder engine weighs between 400 and 700 pounds. “The technology [behind electrification] is all so new that first-generation suppliers like us are acting as guinea pigs,” she said.
Inside Zetwerk's ambition of becoming a global manufacturer
There are thousands of SMEs in the manufacturing sector in India operating at about 40 to 50 percent capacity. Zetwerk aims to help provide additional revenue to these SMEs by connecting them with vendors and suppliers for specific equipment, industrial components, and customised products. This helps them push capacity utilisation levels from, say, 40 to 60 percent. Also, Zetwerk seeks to partner with these entrepreneurs by providing end-to-end manufacturing solutions.
Acharya wants to drive the Make in India story. He notes India is benefitting from orders flowing in from global markets, and its underlying robust domestic demand. “When we see the larger horizon, we realise that India is going to be a manufacturing superpower and we see a lot of potential in the market currently, and we see ourselves playing a small role in the larger picture,” he adds.
Vitriform3D’s Story: How Glass–an Infinitely Recyclable Material–is Fueling a Startup
Pulled from the Latin word vitri for glass, Vitriform3D is forming new products through 3D printing. With their patent-pending technology, they plan to make coasters, tiles, countertops, even architectural accent walls by embedding recycled glass into 3D printing. It’s a small start-up for now of only Alex Stiles and Dustin Gilmer, who may have never met without IACMI – The Composites Institute. We joke, “All roads lead to Uday Vaidya,” and in this case, it’s true. Dr. Vaidya, Chief Technology Officer for IACMI, was Alex’s advisor during his PhD program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT). In one of Uday’s many collaborations with outside research groups, Dustin and Alex first worked together on novel methods for 3D printing washout mandrels for composites
So, what gives them hope their startup will succeed? Dustin and Alex have discovered that by reducing glass to a powder, their 3D printed product is more predictable than conventional thermoplastic printed parts. Low expansion and contraction during heating makes it an excellent potential material for autoclave tooling. The binder jetting process can maintain high resolution at large scale, requiring less post-production than a typical large scale thermoplastic 3D print. The finishing process is often what adds considerable time and therefore costs to additive manufacturing. Not here. All that’s left is proving they can scale up for commercialization, which admittedly takes time and money..
Edge Learning Classify Tutorial - In-Sight 3800 Vision System
Using Carbon Capture and Storage Digital Twins for Net Zero Strategies
One of the key challenges for keeping CCS solutions economical is the cost of proving duration and reliability of storage using numerical modeling. Traditional simulators for carbon sequestration are time-consuming and computationally expensive. Machine learning models provide similar accuracy levels while dramatically shrinking the time and costs required.
This post presents a new approach to carbon capture and storage that is substantially close to what is needed in industrial settings. It is readily available for real-world applications using NVIDIA Modulus and NVIDIA Omniverse. This CCS approach works on high-resolution, two-meter digital twin simulations over large spatial domains, handles a varying number of injection wells, and considers dipping and heterogeneous reservoirs. Most importantly, this new CCS method handles multiple wells and their interactions.
How Digital Twins are Shaping the Future of Defense System Design
The longer that military aircraft, combat tanks, and warships continue in service, the more difficult it becomes to manufacture or source their required parts. Maintaining a healthy supply chain and ensuring optimal performance can, therefore, become increasingly difficult. Since manufacturers can produce exact parts based on a digital model, the DoD is turning to digital twin technology to reduce lead time on part acquisition.
Another challenge is working with more sensitive IP, for example, in military system design and development as mentioned above. Having a fully functioning digital twin creates a serious cybersecurity threat since anyone gaining access to the digital twin could arguably recreate the product in the physical world. This potential threat requires putting limits in place regarding access to various aspects of the digital model, further complicating the idea of data creation, ownership, and access.
Weekly mergers, partnerships, and funding events across industrial value chains
Covariant raises $75M for its AI-powered warehouse robots
Covariant, a startup developing warehouse robots that can be deployed faster than traditional automation hardware, has raised $75 million in funding. The company disclosed the investment today. The capital was provided as an extension to a Series C round that it had originally announced in 2021. Radical Ventures and Index Ventures co-led the new investment, while five other institutional backers contributed as well.
Everstream Raises $50M in Series B Funding to Accelerate Global Supply Chain Sustainability
Everstream Analytics, the global supply chain insights and risk analytics company, today announced the close of a $50M Series B funding round co-led by Morgan Stanley Investment Management as part of its 1GT private equity platform and StepStone Group, with participation from existing investor Columbia Capital.
Everstream’s proprietary data fuels the World Economic Forum’s Value Chain Barometer to help manufacturing and supply chain companies and governments anticipate and navigate supply chain risk and disruption.
Vytelle Closes $20MM in Series B Funding to Accelerate Genetic Progress in Cattle
Vytelle, a precision livestock company, has raised $20MM in Series B funding to accelerate genetic progress in cattle. With this new investment, Vytelle will continue to expand its global operations, while delivering the most accessible, reliable, and predictable reproductive technology available to customers today. The investment was led by Forage Capital Partners, a Calgary based growth equity fund that invests across the entire food and agriculture value chain. New investor, Mountain Group Partners, joins current investors, Grosvenor Food and Ag Tech, Open Prairie, Fulcrum Global Capital, Serra Ventures, and KC Rise to complete the round.
MakerVerse raises €9.4 million to expand its on-demand manufacturing platform
Berlin-based MakerVerse has raised a €9.4 million Series A funding round to scale its AI-powered on-demand manufacturing supply chain platform. The round was led by 9.5 Ventures and all investors from the previous Seed round got involved again, including Siemens Energy and ZEISS.
MakerVerse will expand its “one-stop shop” concept for advanced manufacturing with more technologies and materials while advancing support to integrate the platform into customers’ existing systems.
Roboto AI Raises $4.8M to Build Copilot For Robotics
We’re excited to announce that Roboto AI has raised $4.8M in seed funding led by Unusual Ventures alongside the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) and FUSE Ventures. With this funding, our team is building a world-class data platform designed for modern robotics companies. We’re also excited to share that we’re partnering with leading researchers and professors at the ETH Zürich AI Center.
Robotics is hard, but it shouldn’t be this hard. We want to catalyze progress in the robotics industry and see robots get to production faster by getting AI to do the dirty work for us! We’re building Roboto to be an out-of-the-box solution to the data challenges engineers face daily and we’re excited to have the support of an incredible group of advisors and investors to make it happen. We’re building new AI-powered tools for anyone working with sensor or log data; think copilot for robotics.
Automation Alley Invests in U-M Spinoff Software Company Ulendo
Automation Alley’s Industry 4.0 Accelerator in Troy was part of a $1 million seed round investment in Ulendo, a University of Michigan spinoff software services company. Ulendo creates software tools that improve the productivity and quality of manufacturing machines at a low cost. The company’s advanced software helps companies monitor, control, and improve the performance of their manufacturing process.
Nexa3D acquires Addifab
Nexa3D, a specialist in ultrafast polymer 3D printing hardware, has completed the acquisition of Addifab, the originator of Freeform Injection Molding, a proprietary and patented digital tooling process that couples the design freedom of 3D printing with the mechanical performance of injection molding using thousands engineering materials.
Stratasys and CollPlant Unite Technologies to Transform Healthcare with Industrial-Scale Bioprinting of Tissues and Organs
Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq SSYS) and CollPlant Biotechnologies (Nasdaq CLGN) today announced a joint development and commercialization agreement to collaborate on the development of a solution to bio-fabricate human tissues and organs using Stratasys’ P3 technology-based bioprinter and CollPlant’s rh-Collagen-based bioinks. The first project focuses on the development of an industrial-scale solution for CollPlant’s regenerative breast implants program.