Vincent Darley, a research scientist with BiosGroup (Santa Fe, NM) who also studies ants, says that "swarm intelligence" of ants makes sense for scheduling problems in manufacturing settings. Ants lay down a chemical called pheromone, creating a trail between food sources and their nests. The trails become the system of routing for the ants. Darley uses small pieces of software that travel through a network and deposit an artificial pheromone as they seek optimal routes through networks. Because the Internet uses packet switching—breaking down of e-mails and other data into small bundles taking different routes before reassembling at their destination—better routing is necessary, according to Darley. His approach relies on virtual ants that wander large databases, pick up pieces of information, and deposit them according to various criteria that he sets up. The result is a cluster of clients with common attributes—similar to the way ants collect seeds for their pantries. For more information, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, call (505) 992-6700, or send snail mail to: BiosGroup, 317 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.