Robotic Industries Association (www.roboticsonline.com) has reported that robot sales in North America rose by 19 percent in 2003 from the prior year. A total of 12,367 robots valued at $876.5 million were ordered, the RIA says, and the value reaches $913 million when orders from outside North America are considered. According to the RIA, which now tracks orders by the end-user industries, the 2003 figures show that 68 percent of the North American robots went to automotive-related applications, while 32 percent went to non-automotive markets such as food and consumer goods, plastics and rubber, life sciences, and electronics. Meanwhile, material handling remained the largest application area for 2003 North American robot orders.
More and more robots are becoming more autonomous all the time. Now Lockheed Martin has completed a demo mission with two completely autonomous robotic vehicles performing resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.
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.
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