Suppliers of additive fabrication systems have been touting the potential for direct digital manufacturing for years. Now more of them are starting to walk that walk–by using their own additive machines to make parts for their new machines. The latest example comes from Stratasys, which this week revealed that 32 of the parts on its latest large-format fused deposition modeling (FDM) system were produced via FDM. This machine, the FDM 900mc, features a big 3×2x3-ft build envelope and has been designed from the ground up to support direct digital manufacturing. Among the FDM parts on the new machine is a touch-screen bezel. With direct digital manufacturing, Stratasys can create this low-volume part on demand, saving an estimated $100,000 of tooling costs and at least six weeks of tooling lead time. Stratasys isn’t alone in using its own technology to procure parts for its machines. EOS GmbH has employed a similar strategy on its Formiga P100 system. Read about it in this earlier post. For a more comprehensive look at direct digital manufacturing news and some how-to tips, go to Design News’ Factory of the Future page.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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