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Manufacturing

No good deed goes unpunished and that goes double for robots. They may improve manufacturing efficiency, but an improvement in one place often shows up a glaring inefficiency somewhere else. In an effort to help supply logistics keep up with robotic manufacturing, the EU's Pan-Robots project is working to create warehouse robots that are faster, more efficient, and safer than both manual operations or current robotic systems. Read More
We're used to 3D-printed objects being hard and unyielding, or perhaps a little rubbery. Thanks to work being done by scientists at Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University, however, we may soon be seeing things like soft and squishy 3D-printed teddy bears, made from layered pieces of fabric. What's more, those items could be electrically conductive. Read More
In various types of manufacturing, parts are robotically picked and placed using graspers or suction cups. The former can damage fragile items, however, while the latter won't work in vacuums or on rough surfaces. That's why scientists from Germany's Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) have developed – well, a new material. It utilizes the same principle as sticky gecko feet, but its gripping quality can be switched on and off as needed. Read More
It was three years ago that we first heard about Rethink Robotics' Baxter industrial robot. Priced at US$22,000 and requiring no programming expertise on the part of its users, it was intended to bring robotic automation to manufacturers who would otherwise not be able to afford it. Now, Rethink has announced the more compact and agile Sawyer robot. Read More
A new approach to 3D printing promises to drastically speed up the 3D manufacturing process by "growing" objects out of a pool of resin rather than printing them layer by layer. Carbon3D announced its Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP) on stage at the TED conference this week, claiming it can produce commercial-quality objects from a range of polymer-based material at speeds between 25 and 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing. Read More
The 2015 North American Handmade Bicycle Show may have just wrapped up, but that doesn't mean we're no longer hearing about interesting small-batch bikes. Belgian industrial designer Tobias Knockaert recently told us about his stainless steel Erembald bike, that he's producing along with partner Karel Vincke. In order to keep prices down, its frame is cut by lasers and put together like a puzzle. Read More
How would you like to get an industrial robot to build something that you designed, which you then get to keep? Well, you'll have your chance next month. That's when Germany's GFT Group will be presenting Robochop, an installation of four foam-carving robots that can be controlled by regular people via the internet. Read More
Turbine blades for use in jet engines need to be made of a hard, unyielding exotic material made to exact specifications, which means the drilling of tiny cooling holes in the blades runs the risk of ruining them. To prevent this from happening, GE is combining the heat of the laser beam with the cooling of the water jet to drill holes without weakening the blades. Read More
The robot revolution continues at NASA this month as its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia prepares to bring its Integrated Structural Assembly of Advanced Composites (ISAAC) robot online. One of only three robots like it in the world, it will be formally commissioned on January 26 before being put to work making lighter, stronger composite components for aerospace vehicles. Read More
Google Glass has had some bad press of late, with users called some very unkind names and some industry analysts calling it this decade's Segway, but BMW has some love for the wearable head-mounted display. At its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, BMW is running a pilot program to see how Google Glass can improve the quality control of its pre-series vehicles as they make the transition from prototype to full production. Read More
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