Robotics, 3D Printing, Lifetime Achievements: 12 of the Best from Pacific Design & Manufacturing

From ping-pong robots to 3D-printed vehicles to world-changing innovators and more, here’s a peek at 12 of the best sights from the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing show.
  • Pacific Design & Manufacturing, held February 6-8, 2018, in Anaheim, Calif., delivered on its promise to serve as a venue for the latest design engineering innovations. The expo attracted approximately 2,000 exhibitors and 20,000-plus attendees, while the technical conference drew more than 150 speakers.

    On the show floor, the recurring themes were robotics and 3D printing. Exhibitors showed off dozens of different kinds of manufacturing robots, including those that could pick, grip, work with humans, and even play ping-pong. Makers of 3D printers, meanwhile, displayed a broad array of complicated parts built by the latest breed of additive manufacturing machines.

    Here, we offer a peek at a few of the many sights on the show floor and in the conference. From IIoT technologies to 3D printers and pancake-making bots, following is a smattering of the best sights of Pacific Design & Manufacturing.


  • THK showed off a prototype robot that demonstrated the capabilities of its actuators and bearings. The robot, known as SEED-Noid R7, used THK ball screws in its arms and torso, cross roller rings in its shoulders, and THK TRX grippers for its hands.

    The robot was built by the company’s Mechatronics Group in Japan.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • Fanuc America displayed a collaborative robot that’s built on the same technical foundation as its other industrial robots. As a result, the CR-4iA can offer the longevity and reliability of its traditional industrial robots, while safely serving in the same work envelope as humans.

    Fanuc representatives at the company’s booth said it has a mean time between failure (MTBF) of 120,000 hours. “There are a lot of collaborative robots that have a life span of a year,” the company said. “But this robot can go for more than 100,000 hours – that’s 13 years of 24/7 daily use.”

    (Image source: Design News)

  • Dr. John Goodenough of the University of Texas at Austin received the Design News 2018 Golden Mousetrap Lifetime Achievement Award at the show. Goodenough is credited with having co-invented a succession of battery technologies that may turn out to be the most important of the past hundred years.

    His lithium cobalt oxide chemistries are used in millions of cell phones and laptops; his manganese spinel lithium batteries are employed in hundreds of thousands of electric cars and hybrids; and his iron phosphate chemistries serve in products ranging from handheld power tools to grid storage systems.

    At the show, however, the 95-year-old inventor did more than accept the award – he also told engineers about the solid state lithium chemistry he hopes to bring to the auto industry in the next five years.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • On the show floor, Hawk Ridge Systems put a new twist on toy manufacturing, showing a modified Hogwarts Castle built in a 3D printer. The complicated 12-inch-high castle was built, layer by layer, in about 10 hours for a material cost of $100 on a HP Multi Jet Fusion 4210 printer.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • At the technical conference, Proto Labs engineer Jeff Schipper told attendees that 3D printing is a viable solution for metal parts where the geometries, production volumes, and end goals are well suited to the process. In particular, he said, direct metal laser sintering is especially appropriate for complicated parts with intricate features, and for parts where lightweighting is key.

    “Direct metal laser sintering has some huge advantages when the geometry is appropriate,” he said.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • Bosch Rexroth demonstrated a software and consulting service called Improvidus that promises to help manufacturers decide if Industry 4.0 is right for their factory. Combined with the expertise of Bosch engineers, Improvidus enables manufacturers to turn data into information, and then see more clearly into the processes that determine efficiency.

    “This is not subjective,” Andy Hassold, connected industry consultant for Bosch Rexroth, told Design News. “It’s not about gut feelings. We’re talking data.”

    (Image source: Design News)

  • Expo attendees were invited to play a fast-paced game of ping-pong with the Forpheus robot, Omron’s latest technology that embodies “a future of integration between people and machines.”

    Forpheus was able to serve the ball and maneuver to return even the hardest-hit volleys from attendees.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • On the show floor, Scicon Technologies Corp. showed off a scale-model of a military vehicle built in a 3D printer. The vehicle, measuring 3-x-2.5-x-1.5-feet, was mostly built using a sterolithography technique. It also included cast-rubber tires, stainless steel-cast antennas, and a model machine gun cast in zinc.

    Scicon’s one-stop shop built the vehicle, front to back, in less than two weeks.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • System integrator TSS Technologies demonstrated a high-speed custom automation system designed for blood sample processing in medical laboratories.

    The system reads a bar code, opens a module, removes a blood sample, divides it into eight equal parts, and then places the samples on a plate – all in about 7.5 seconds.

    TSS built the automation system using a Scara pick-and-place robot from Denso Corp.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • Zimmer Group showcased its new GEP2000 electric grippers, designed for use on industrial. The grippers, which cost roughly $1,000, are said to cost as little as a half to a quarter of competing robotic grippers.

    Zimmer demoed the grippers on a Universal UR10 collaborative industrial robot.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • Rethink Robotics, famous for its human-like robots, showed how easy it is to program a collaborative robot at Pacific Design & Manufacturing.

    Using its Sawyer robot as a demonstrator, the manufacturer allowed showgoers to program the system to pick up parts that are flat or have holes in them. A navigation bezel with buttons on the robot’s arms served as the programming mechanism.

    Attendees could view the programming process on a nearby laptop, then see the results as Sawyer picked items from a table and dropped them in a box.

    (Image source: Design News)

  • Hungry show attendees were treated to free 3D-printed pancakes from a robot called PancakeBot.

    PancakeBot is said to be the world’s first food printer capable of printing pancakes by dispensing batter directly onto a hot griddle. Its designs can be loaded via USB or SD card.

    Now sold on Amazon, PancakeBot was originally the creation of an engineer who built the robot for his kids using Lego parts.

    (Image source: Design News



Read More Articles on Pacific Design & Manufacturing

3D Printing of Metal Parts Is on the Rise, Expert Says

Software Helps Answer the Question: Is Industry 4.0 Right for You?

Robots Are Displacing Manual Labor Jobs

How Desktop 3D Printing Is Moving from Makers to Pros

Design News Honors Winning Companies at 2018 Golden Mousetrap Awards

Manufacturers: Invest in Training for Digital Manufacturing Jobs

At 95, John Goodenough Is Still Searching for Next Big Battery Breakthrough


Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.


ESC, Embedded Systems ConferenceAttend America’s largest embedded systems conference, Embedded Systems Conference Boston 2018 (April 18-19). ESC Boston delivers two days of expert-led education you can’t find anywhere else in the nation. With industry-leading speakers and a range of engaging formats, its unmatched educational programs will give engineers a deep-dive technical education that will inspire breakthroughs.

Register to attend the event here!


Comments (0)

Please log in or to post comments.
  • Oldest First
  • Newest First
Loading Comments...