When I graduated with an engineering degree some decades ago, I learned that the organizations I was going to work for had internal communication problems. This was especially true for those that designed and manufactured complex machinery such as engines, aircraft, or automobiles.
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To stay current with technology and peer into the future of manufacturing, take a look at our preview of IMTS—The International Manufacturing Technology Show, to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago from Sept. 10 through Sept. 15. In the following pages, ME provides in-depth examinations of each pavilion at IMTS, as well as previews of the products you will be able to see displayed at exhibitors’ booths.
Additive manufacturing (AM) pioneer Charles Hull introduced the first commercial 3D printer, the SLA-1, in 1987. Jaws dropped, machinists wondered about their next career, pundits said it spelled the death of traditional manufacturing. None of that happened, thankfully; in fact, some said 3D printing was a bunch of hype, good for little more than investment casting patterns and proof of concept prototypes.
Most anyone attending IMTS 2018 is well aware that machine tools are the lifeblood of virtually any manufacturing company. Without lathes and machining centers, parts don’t get made, barstock collects dust on the shelf, and machinists…they’d have nothing to do.
The world of quality measurement devices and software continues to expand, and IMTS years are especially exciting times. If there is a theme in the many offerings—new devices, new software—it might be how quality devices are continuing to burrow their way into the heart of manufacturing on the shop floor.
Flexibility has come to automation, perhaps as never before. And for industries that require precision machining, assembly, and measurement, automation technologies have never been more available.
Constant refinement of medical machining from tooling design to finished product requires not only the ability to handle a broad range of plastic and metal materials but also to achieve predictable results—particularly in the face of strict regulations.
When making over-the-counter and prescription soft-gel products, the dosage that fills each gel cap must be precise. It follows, then, that the system for metering the amount of formulation demands the same exacting level of precision. Such is the requirement at leading contract manufacturers of nutritional and pharmaceutical soft-gel products. To keep their metering pumps and production equipment accurate and reliable, they look to Progressive Tool & Manufacturing Inc. (Greensboro, NC).
Basic trends in modern manufacturing are driving growth in 3D optical metrology. “One is the highly complex and high-tech material that manufacturers are using today. For example, in the aerospace turbine blade market, they simply cannot touch the part like they used to—the surface finish of the material is too readily affected by any kind of contact metrology."
My instincts tell me we need a sense of urgency around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing. The urgency is driven by how quickly technology can move today, and how an unexpected breakthrough can quickly dominate.