Learning Labs Focus on Robotics & Manufacturing

Ann R. Thryft

January 30, 2014

4 Min Read
Learning Labs Focus on Robotics & Manufacturing

At the Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show next month in Anaheim, Calif., UBM Canon is introducing Learning Labs. These two-hour sessions will be aimed at attendees of that show, as well as those attending co-located events: MD&M West, ATX West, PLASTEC West, AeroCon, Electronics West, and WestPack.

The 30 Learning Labs include a variety of subjects during the show's three days. You can download the detailed schedule here. In an earlier blog, I described sessions on materials and 3D printing. Today I'm going to tell you a bit about the labs focusing on manufacturing and robotics.

On Tuesday, February 11, there's an afternoon session on Injection Molding: Waste & Cost Reduction, with three different speakers. Plastics manufacturing and engineering specialist, Timothy E. Worthington, will talk about a method for troubleshooting injection molded defects, including separating tooling and process issues. Steve Erickson, a manufacturing engineer with Edwards Lifesciences, will give an overview of what to expect from the OEM regarding medical molding. Technoject Machinery's owner, Paul Boettger, will conclude the session with a discussion of energy savings that can be produced with hot runner systems.

On Wednesday, February 12, a Learning Lab on Design for Manufacturability begins with a talk by Jim Howes, director of engineering for Kaleidoscope, on how to develop strategies for scaling up from R&D to manufacturing. This includes overcoming design transfer challenges and identifying new approaches to driving manufacturing capacity, speed, and reproducibility. The other presentation in this session will be given by Tom Kramer, president of Kablooe. He will discuss implementing improved reliability and consistency in the process from design through manufacturing.

Another Wednesday Learning Lab focuses on An Unconventional Approach to Design: Challenging Your Creativity With Biomimicry. This isn't about robotics or manufacturing, but it's a subject we've discussed frequently in Design News, often in the context of how new materials and robots are designed. In this session, biomimicry professor Karen Frasier-Scott of the University of Houston gives an overview of scientists, designers, and business professionals that mimic nature's survival strategies for solving routine problems. They then apply those strategies to come up with novel solutions to human problems. The session includes a one-hour introduction to biomimicry, followed by a one-hour interactive exercise.

A Wednesday workshop session on The Robot & Human Workforce is designed to help attendees plan their future workforces using new robotic applications, while considering all the changes this will imply, from clean rooms to heavy-material handling. Joey Forrest, senior manager of plant engineering for Volkswagen, will team up with Jacob Rosen, director of the bionics lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. They will cover topics such as reviewing where robots can replace humans in the production line for productivity; exploring opportunities in cleanrooms, dangerous situations, and heavy material handling; understanding how humans can enable robots to undertake tasks in dangerous or compromising situations; how to balance costs, safety, and efficiency; and real-life examples of how robotics have changed and increased productivity.

On the last day of the Learning Labs, Thursday, February 13, there's a session on Practical Applications of Lightweight Robotics. Matt Bolton, director of production for SparkFun, will examine what's enabling lightweight robotics and how they are transforming the future of manufacturing. This talk will include an exploration of flexibility and productivity benefits, reducing short-term and long-term costs of robot installation, and battling common maintenance and safety concerns. Scott Melton, Fanuc America West's regional sales manager, will then moderate a panel discussion that covers robotic technology developments that will impact manufacturing, how to make more informed buying decisions when purchasing robotics equipment, strategies for reducing time to market during the implementation phase, and which global manufacturing industries are seeing the greatest success. Panelists will include Melton and Frank Langro, director of marketing & product management for Festo.

You can register for any of these Learning Labs, or others on the schedule, here.

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About the Author(s)

Ann R. Thryft

Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).

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