When we refer to Advanced Manufacturing we are describing a wide range of technologies and digital infrastructure.
Industry 4.0 refers to technologies applicable to help manufacturing across a variety of industries. The first industrial revolution was using steam and water to power machines. The 2nd was a technological revolution involving the electrification of machinery and Henry Ford’s assembly line. The 3rd was the digital revolution that happened after WWII with the use of computers and programming of machines. The 4th industrial revolution involves advanced manufacturing and digital technologies connecting parts of manufacturing to form a system.
Examples of advanced manufacturing include:
- Additive Manufacturing (or what’s commonly referred to as 3D Printing)
- Metal and plastics products built by layering a series of thin material or materials
- In the case of metals, the layers are built by depositing and fusing metal power to form the part
- Contrast with traditional – subtractive process where parts are manufactured by removing material from blocks or cylinders
- Collaborative robotics (or Cobots) – Where robotics take the place of boring, repetitive or dangerous work and work collaboratively with people. An example is where a Cobot lifts heavy parts and positions them for the operator to make their job better, faster and safer.
- Augmented Reality – We see augmented reality in video gaming and wearable technology in real life. We are now using this technology for facility virtual tours, machine interfaces for equipment operation training and use, and equipment maintenance instruction.
- Wearable sensors, Data analytics, IoT Devices – Tracking and using data to inform business decisions
- Cybersecurity – Whether it’s CAD, Computer Aided Design files or data streaming from a machine to the cloud, there’s a lot of data flowing and we need to protect its integrity and access
Why Use Additive Manufacturing?
Key Advantages to Additive Manufacturing:
- Weight reduction of parts (light weighting)
- “Free Complexity” – Part complexity is not a cost or manufacturing constraint
- Structure change though generative or optimized design
- Typically, no tooling or fixtures needed to make the part
- Minimize waste
- Variety of additive polymers and metals are available
- Prototyping – rapid design and iteration
- Manufacturing of production fixtures or gages
- Increase speed of your design process
- Test parts before investing in tooling (casting, molding)
- Verify design with minimal investment