Capturing this week's zeitgeist
Watch Elon’s SpaceX launch the Starship and Super Heavy launch then sit back and enjoy a five-minute collage of techno beats that were created using samples from real sounds across Tesla’s shopfloors.
This week's most influential Industry 4.0 media.
This 3D printer can watch itself fabricate objects
Researchers from MIT, the MIT spinout Inkbit, and ETH Zurich have developed a new 3D inkjet printing system that works with a much wider range of materials. Their printer utilizes computer vision to automatically scan the 3D printing surface and adjust the amount of resin each nozzle deposits in real-time to ensure no areas have too much or too little material.
Since it does not require mechanical parts to smooth the resin, this contactless system works with materials that cure more slowly than the acrylates which are traditionally used in 3D printing. Some slower-curing material chemistries can offer improved performance over acrylates, such as greater elasticity, durability, or longevity.
In addition, the automatic system makes adjustments without stopping or slowing the printing process, making this production-grade printer about 660 times faster than a comparable 3D inkjet printing system.
Optimizing factory planning in the automotive industry
Factory planning in the automotive industry presents a multifaceted endeavor with numerous complexities. Some of the most prominent factors that demand careful attention are factory layout optimization, space constraints, and adapting to the paradigm shift toward Electric Vehicles (EVs).
Efficient factory layout design is crucial for enhancing production efficiency, reducing material movement, and ensuring a safe, ergonomic work environment. Achieving this optimization can be intricate, demanding careful consideration of equipment placement and manufacturing process.
Ascon Systems & BMW - From Production to Revolution
URLLC Enables 5G to be Embedded into Industrial Production Processes
Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and advanced industrial robotics have been broadly deployed in today’s flexible manufacturing systems, often requiring very low communication latency and high reliability, such as 5 milliseconds (ms) end-to-end latency and 99.99% reliability for the operation of AGVs. The “augmented worker” is emerging in modern industrial processes, which entails a remote task expert providing guidance and support for field workers through augmented reality (AR) devices. The use case usually requires 10ms end-to-end latency and 99.99% reliability. However, wireline solutions will not be applicable for these use cases because mobility is also a critical requirement of each scenario.
The first mobile communications system natively designed with URLLC features is 5G. A flexible frame structure was specified in 3GPP Release 15 to enable low-latency communications. The transmission time interval (TTI) can scale from 1ms down to ~140 microseconds (a microsecond is equal to one millionth of a second) for URLLC cases. The maximum number of retransmissions can be adjusted from four to two to meet the latency requirement. The 5G standard also allows the creation of a “mini-slot” with the minimum set to only two symbols (against 14 symbols for a full slot in the usual case), which can provide fine scheduling granularity to reduce transmission latency.
This TRANSPARENT ENGINE is Fascinating (How Engines Work)
IFS Cloud for Manufacturing: Unlocking the Power of AI for Intelligent Automation
The IFS Cloud for Manufacturing uses AI technologies to drive Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Manufacturing Scheduling & Optimization, ultimately enhancing the efficiency and agility of manufacturing operations.
Exploring Manufacturing Databases with James Sewell
Canoo takes it one vehicle at a time
The first vehicles assembled at Canoo’s manufacturing facility were on display Wednesday inside its 630,000-square-foot plant as part of a batch in an agreement for up to 1,000 vehicles with the state of Oklahoma. In August 2022, Canoo announced an agreement with Walmart for 4,500 vehicles. Also last year, the U.S. Army awarded Canoo a contract to test its pickup truck.
In August, the company announced it signed agreements on incentives with the state for its vehicle assembly facility in Oklahoma City and a battery module manufacturing plant in Pryor with a combined value of up to $113 million for 10 years. The agreement has multiple benchmarks Canoo must meet to receive the funds. The battery plant and the assembly facility will bring more 1,300 jobs, according to a release.
How governments are shaping the future industrial landscape.
🇺🇸 Chips Act Success Rests on Materials It Excludes
President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan Chips and Science Act into law in August 2022 with a goal of rebalancing a semiconductor supply chain that had become woefully and dangerously overdependent on Asian manufacturing. The law includes two key tenets meant to encourage companies to build a chip ecosystem in the US: $39 billion in direct manufacturing incentives overseen by the Commerce Department and a 25% tax credit for capital expenses linked to producing chips. Semiconductor materials producers are eligible to apply for the grants, which are expected to cover between 5% and 15% of a project’s capital expenses. The Internal Revenue Service’s proposed rules for Chips Act tax breaks, however, state that a plant that manufactures, grows or extracts materials and chemicals supplied to an advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility “does not meet the primary purpose requirement.”
🇬🇧 A flexible alternative: the UK manufacturer at the forefront of a technology shift in semiconductors
One trend that is common to all parts of the sector however, and driven by the fact that the industry has been built around a very concentrated supply, is the move towards localisation. Economies of scale in conventional semiconductor manufacturing mean that the most efficient method of production is in very large fabs. That leads to very high geographic concentration of supply, and due primarily to historic government incentives, most of that manufacturing takes place in the Far East, particularly in Taiwan and China. Therefore, a key driver for many governments around the world is how to redress the balance and have a supply chain that has less geopolitical exposure.
Because of the disruptive nature of the sector, the UK’s National Semiconductor Strategy was established to focus on areas where the country has distinct competitive strengths which can be sustained over time; namely the type of technology developed by Pragmatic. “Within that, there is an understanding that there needs to be support for semiconductor manufacturing,” he added. An example of this is the Semiconductor Advisory Panel, of which Scott is a member. Established by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the panel’s aim is to enable the government to work closely with industry to grow the UK sector, ensuring a stable supply of chips and protecting the UK from national security risks associated with semiconductor technology.
🇨🇳 China’s Pursuit of Autonomous Machine Computing Self-Sufficiency
The development of computing chips for autonomous machines, dubbed autonomous machine computing (AMC), is China’s only missing link in completing its self-reliant autonomous machine ecosystem. A 2022 strategic document published by the Chinese Academy of Engineering provides key insights into China’s strategy for breaking that pattern. The document focuses on achieving self-sufficiency in AMC solutions in order to sustain China’s continuous technological transition to the autonomy economy. The plan has four parts: First, elevate AMC to national strategic importance and establish a central government leadership group dedicated to steering the development of AMC. Second, leverage national laboratories, engineering research centers, and other platforms to pool resources and expertise for effective research and development. Third, implement talent plans to attract and develop AMC talents. Fourth, prioritize and incentivize the commercial development of key areas such as chip design, processing, industrial integration, and application.
This week's top funding events, acquisitions, and partnerships across industrial value chains
Divergent Technologies, Inc. Announces Closing of Upsized $230 Million Series D Capital Raise
Divergent Technologies, the company that has invented, developed, and commercialized the world’s first end-to-end digital industrial manufacturing system, announced today that it has completed a Series D equity financing totaling $230 million. The round was led by a $100 million investment from Hexagon AB and included participation from new and existing institutional and family office investors.
Divergent has developed the Divergent Adaptive Production System (“DAPS™”), an end-to-end system-level replacement for traditional design, manufacturing, and assembly solutions. DAPS is a complete software-hardware production system that leverages in-house developed AI-driven generative design software to computationally engineer structures, novel materials and additive manufacturing to materialize structures, and automated fixtureless assembly to create large multi-part assemblies. Products created using DAPS are superior in performance, lower in cost, rapidly customizable to meet mission and customer-specific requirements, faster to market, and scalable on demand to high volume production.
Divergent uses this revolutionary system to supply the automotive, aerospace and defense industries with next generation products as a certified Tier 1 supplier. It has seven blue-chip automotive customers, including Aston Martin and Mercedes-AMG. Within the aerospace and defense industry, Divergent is actively working with six U.S. government contractors across a diverse range of applications.
Element Energy raises US$111 million
Element Energy, a Menlo Park-based Battery Management Technology company, announced the close of $111 million in capital comprised of a $73 million Series B equity investment and a $38 million debt facility provided by Keyframe Capital Partners, L.P. The Series B round is co-led by one of the largest clean energy generation companies in the U.S. and Cohort Ventures.
Founded in 2019, Element has developed proprietary hardware and software algorithms applicable to both first and second life batteries to improve visualization, battery safety, and efficiency. Element’s technology is being validated on a large scale with a 50 MWh pilot project in the United States, which is expected to be completed in early 2024. Element will collect necessary data through its pilot project, obtain UL certification, and proceed to commercialize the product.
Augmentus Raises Oversubscribed USD 5M Series-A Round to Bring No-Code Robotics to the World
Augmentus, a leader in no-code robotics software, has successfully raised USD 5M in Series-A funding. The round was led by Sierra Ventures, along with Cocoon Capital. The funds will be used to scale operations in the US, Europe, and Asia, meeting increasing customer demand of various industries and sizes. As part of its expansion plans, Augmentus will leverage its Augmentus System Partner (ASP) program to onboard system integrators and channel partners, focusing on high-mix and complex manufacturing. A portion of the investment will also be allocated to intensify research. Augmentus has supplied to more than 30 manufacturers worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies. The platform is compatible with over ten major robot OEMs, including ABB, Kawasaki, and Kuka.
Launchpad.build Secures Strategic Investment From Lockheed Martin Ventures
Launchpad.build, a cutting edge U.S.-based technology company using AI to deliver next-generation capabilities in robotics and automation, has closed a strategic funding round with an investment from Lockheed Martin Ventures, the venture arm of Lockheed Martin.
Launchpad.build is a developer of AI-powered assembly planning software and autonomous assembly systems. Typical assembly methods require a high labor component or expensive, rigid automation infrastructure that requires high-rate, repeatable production to justify financially. Launchpad.build offers a “one-manufacturing-line-for-all” future with low-cost, small-batch systems that are assembled on demand. Agile and adaptive manufacturing processes and equipment that allow for design agility and economic efficiency will be critical for U.S.-based manufacturing to stay competitive in the global market.
Ambyint Secures Capital to Accelerate Sustained Customer Growth
Ambyint, the leading provider of AI-powered production and artificial lift optimization software for the energy industry, is pleased to announce the successful closure of its latest capital round and relocation of its head office to Calgary, Alberta. The round was led by existing investors Mercury and Montrose Lane, plus new investors BDC Capital and Accelerate Fund III. This capital will be focused on accelerating customer growth, increasing our sophisticated energy and tech talent, and optimizing product enhancements including expansion of the company’s proven emissions mitigation capabilities.
Material Impact's $352M Fund III
We are excited to announce that we have raised Material Impact Fund III, an oversubscribed $352M fund that will allow us to continue building deep tech companies powered by material science innovation. These will be the companies and ideas behind the next world-changing products.
GM snatches key Tesla gigacasting supplier TEI
For years, a little-known company called Tooling & Equipment International (TEI) has helped Tesla push back the frontiers of “gigacasting”, the process it pioneered to cast large body parts for cars in one piece to save time and money. Until 2023, that is. TEI is now part of General Motors after agreeing a deal that may have flown under the radar but is a key part of the U.S. automaker’s strategy to make up ground on Tesla, four people familiar with the transaction said.
By snapping up a specialist in sand casting techniques that accelerated the development of Tesla’s gigacasting molds and allowed it to cast more complex components, GM has jump-started its own push to make cars more cheaply and efficiently at a time when Tesla is racing to roll out a $25,000 EV, the people said.
With TEI gone, Tesla is leaning more heavily on three other casting specialists it has used in Britain, Germany and Japan to develop the huge molds needed for the millions of cheaper EVs it plans to make in the coming decade, the four people said.