Cheaper robots with more functions, along with more ﬂexible work cells and installations that facilitate robotics, are accelerating the growth of automated manufacturing facilities in the non-automotive sector. Ideas on whether robotics and automation lead to lights-out manufacturing on the shop floor, though, are mixed.
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The U.S. auto industry has been automated for decades. Production of cars and trucks is associated with large, hulking robots fenced off from human employees. Inside those fenced off areas, tasks such as welding are performed. The industry, though, is advancing on the automation front.
The growing skills gap is causing trepidation among manufacturers and the lack of millennials building careers within the industry is part of the concern.
The world of additive manufacturing (AM), commonly referred to as 3D printing, is quickly changing. The technology allows companies to manufacture products faster, with greater variation, and often with entirely new forms and functions.
The state of manufacturing is always a combination of tried and true methods; improvements (sometimes dramatic) in traditional processes; and brand new technology few people even conceived of a few years ago.
Most anyone who’s worked in a machine shop for any length of time has at some point attended a trade show or machine tool distributor’s open house. There they see canned demonstrations of CNC machines busily carving up chunks of brass, mild steel, or aluminum into business card holders and tic-tac-toe games.
My involvement in SME and its AeroDef event began in 2014, when I first presented an Adaptive Machining Overview at AeroDef 2014 in Long Beach, Calif. At the time, the conference was relatively small in terms of attendees and exhibitors in comparison to the explosion of other engineering conferences that began around that time.
In 2018, CNC Software Inc., Tolland, Conn., reached several milestones: its 35th anniversary as a company, 250,000th installation, a new user website and the introduction of Mastercam 2019.
Aerospace machining encompasses machines small and large. These range from the Tornos SwissNano to the Makino MAG3, as Rich Sullivan put it. He is the OEM manager for Iscar Metals Inc., Arlington, Texas.
Structured light systems measure surfaces by projecting a pattern of fringes, then using cameras and sophisticated software to convert them into point clouds of metrology data. Accuracy can reach the single-digit microns over millions of points.