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Experts at FABTECH talk VR, AM and, yes, ROI

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing

Foundry 45 is helping Delta Air Lines strategize on ways to keep maintenance workers safe in the “ingestion zone”—the dangerous environment underneath the airplane where people and equipment are moving around in close proximity to engines, Dave Beck, founder and managing partner said during a FABTECH conference panel talk on disruptive technology and the future of manufacturing.

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HP, VW and GKN are collaborating on the use of additive to build automotive parts, HP’s Tim Weber said at FABTECH 2019 in Chicago.

It normally takes months to train a worker to operate in the “ingestion zone.” Delta’s goals include less downtime, quicker time to mastery and better knowledge retention. And it is using virtual reality (VR) experiences built by Foundry 45 to achieve those goals. “There’s a very quick ROI on VR training,” Beck said. “And it’s not just on the cost of actually working; it’s on the human capital side as well.”

Beck’s was one of a few case study vignettes offered up during the panel talk. Two others:

  • HP is working with VW and GKN, which produces 15 million parts per day for the auto industry, HP’s Tim Weber said. He said the trio has in hand a three-year roadmap and will use additive manufacturing (AM) to first build “parts that are effectively cosmetic in the vehicle … and systematically work up to functional parts.”
  • Markforged is working with Stanley Black & Decker to implement an end-use part out of metal from a Metal X printer, Markforged’s Kevin Smith said. “That was a pretty big challenge—because right now, we’re looking at something that’s traditionally made: It’s a cast piece along with two screws and a laser-machined sheet metal piece that goes on there. There are four different pieces that come together to make this actuator housing. We were able to work with them to iterate on that design and create one piece that comes off the Metal X system and goes right onto their assembled part. We were able to reduce cost by quite a lot.

“We’re still talking,” Smith said. “We’re not talking thousands of parts. But we’re talking enough volume that it mattered to them.”

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