Siemens Automation & Drives took a huge leap into the future with an idea machine builders and systems integrators have dreamed about—and until now, believed it to be another 20 years away. The software concept, called "Automation Designer," aims to do no less than design a complete automation scenario, such as an automobile manufacturing line, from basic data about what the car manufacturer wants to do. It collects data from a variety of sources, such as parts lists, PLC programs, and HMI visualization, and puts these into templates, which are combined to form libraries. It then links the templates with CAD drawings of the automation line to configure the complete production line—including all the details from material flow to emergency stop circuits. Siemens' Rita Schultz, director of product & systems management, says it can reduce ramp up times for the automobile industry by 40 percent.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Engineers at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have designed biobatteries on commercial tattoo paper, with an anode and cathode screen-printed on and modified to harvest energy from lactate in a person’s sweat.
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