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Formlogic gets out in front of robotic blacksmithing

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing

Are you ready for metamorphic manufacturing, what some call the third wave of the industry’s digitization? If not, take in Contributing Editor Karen Haywood Queen’s expertly reported story.

In that piece, Ohio State University Professor Glenn Daehn asks us to imagine a machine acting “like a blacksmith does, squeezing and bending metal into shape and doing this at temperatures and with deformation that actually improve the materials’ properties.”

We are there. The scene can also be described as robotic blacksmithing.

We are all intimately familiar with the advances afforded by CNC machining and additive manufacturing—the first two waves of digital manufacturing.

Now, this third wave is poised to bring about faster time to market, less material waste, more available materials and more control—and reduce the energy used along the way. Good stuff.

Metamorphic manufacturing is not yet ready for primetime, Haywood Queen reports. But the tech-nique shows great promise.

Potential use cases include speeding up production of critical forgings that are at the heart of airplanes, ships, automobiles and power plant equipment.

The most compelling use cases are those in which small numbers of large parts are urgently needed, Daehn said.

He gave this example: “Often, a new component is needed in an airplane or ship because the old component failed due to fatigue or corrosion, and you don’t have the dies to make the part. One or two hard-to-source parts can keep a plane grounded for many months.”

At this stage, faster time to market is the most appealing feature of metamorphic manufacturing, Formlogic CEO Paul Sutter said.

His company, which makes precision parts, started with automating CNC machining. The company is now exploring adding robotic blacksmithing based on Daehn’s research.

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