Tag Archives: additive manufacturing

Robotics in Manufacturing Will Create New Opportunities

fanuc robot

Almost everyone knows that the future lies in automation. Industrial robotics leads the way for most manufacturing economies around the world. And now, the use of robotics in manufacturing is showing promise and growth in the United States as well.

Advanced and specialized manufacturing has become a necessary part of our industry’s expansion. The days of reserving robotics exclusively for the automotive industry are gone. We need them in every form of manufacturing, from precision defense-based manufacturing to small and medium sized enterprises. Robotics are continuously changing and revolutionizing the industry by becoming smarter, more efficient, and more cost-effective. Nevertheless, fears about the consistency of work and the need for human labor continue to rise in response to the presence of advanced manufacturing.

What can automation do and why so much popularity recently?

Imagine robots being trained by people to do tasks, adapting at whatever difficulty, and even creating new practical approaches towards outdated methods. This requires a huge investment in research in everything from sensor technologies to artificial intelligence. The old robot was unilateral, not adaptable, and could cause danger in human interaction. The industrial robot of tomorrow should think creatively alongside humans, to solve problems. It should also solve multiple tasks and could oversee everything from testing products to packaging.

What does Collaboration look like?

This integration of robots as a primary part of the manufacturing industry will also change how we see our employee and management roles in the workplace. While market moguls like Mark Cuban (who recently demanded that President Trump invests over $100 Billion in robotics research) require an increase in automation, Cuban and his contemporaries also see the role of the human laborer changing. STEM abilities come into play with design, engineering, and technology interaction based capacities for the future manufacturing worker. Soft skills also become desirable for future employees in the transition towards automation. Programming is necessary, but finding creative solutions to the problems that will arise in that future economy is more pivotal. Humans will work with automated robotics in the future mechanical manufacturing industry, and not only in repairs.

 Job Taker or Creator?

So, is the market going to be overtaken by “bot-sourcing?” The chances are that while you’ll see more robots on the manufacturing floor, you’ll also see humans at their side providing skills and abilities that robots may not have. The role of the human worker will not disappear, but change to fit with automation technologies. This means we need to train a future workforce to be adaptable and embrace the robotics revolution that is here.


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Additive Manufacturers Look to Integrate Old and New

additive manufacturing

Maintaining momentum can be a short-term method for survival, but if this impetus comes to a standstill it can be difficult to resuscitate. Each month, reports supplied by the Manufacturers Index keep many wondering if the modest gains achieved to date are enough to earn a spot above the magic 50 mark each month and keep the industry viable over the long-term. Depending on the source of reporting, the month’s number either receives positive praise or intonations that the industry is still not out of its slump. Rather than wait for signs of a potential slow in the action, a group of additive manufacturers is looking for ways to generate new industry applications for additive manufacturing in Northeast Ohio.

Making the Adjustment

In this case, the crucial pivot comes from local proponents of the additive manufacturing industry. These individuals are pooling their collective vision for the integration of the additive manufacturing supply in Northeast Ohio to a larger audience that encompasses the entire manufacturing industry. The recently released presentation comes in the form of an Asset Map of Manufacturing Opportunities for the state. The team behind the vision included MAGNET, Team NEO, America Makes and the Youngstown Business Incubator.

Advisory Council Provisions

Plan structure

Marketing and Technical guidance

Connections to market participants

Engagement throughout development

Review of outcomes and recommendations

Adding a Customer Voice

One thing that sets the Asset Map apart from previous endeavors to boost the industry is the inclusion of voice-of-the-customer interviews to determine opinions of key end users and identify the current and future opportunities. Another positive point is that rather than starting from scratch, the Asset Map collaborators look to capitalize on the industry’s robust manufacturing base in an effort to help the state’s 273,000-strong manufacturing workforce remain competitive. This includes looking for ways to insert additive manufacturing in gaps in the value chain for in-region companies and original equipment manufacturers, bringing collective benefits for material suppliers, fabricated metal products manufacturers and plastic product manufacturers.


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Ohio Continues Additive Manufacturing Expansion


A fad is often defined as something that comes and goes. Although its initial impact may be sizable, after the initial rush its effects are quickly forgotten. On the flip slide are products that almost need to earn the respect of users. Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, could probably fall into either of these categories depending on whom you ask. 3-D printing has long been on the radar of manufacturers but it was often in a “someday” capacity, in other words until others established its usefulness and the equipment came down in price it would remain a nice-to-have but not necessary piece of manufacturing equipment.

The Onward March

It’s clear this isn’t the viewpoint of everyone. This month, the University of Dayton Research (UDRI) institute and Youngstown State University announced it received an $8 million award in funding for additive manufacturing research. Awarded by The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, otherwise known as “America Makes,” UDRI and Youngstown State University will use additive manufacturing to assist the Air Force with sustaining aging aircraft by improving fleet readiness and reducing time for maintenance and repair.

Building New Partnerships

A 25-member program made up of members from the university, companies from the manufacturing industry and the Air Force will team up to design and develop new technologies using additive manufacturing and related manufacturing techniques. The group will apply the new technology discoveries to aircraft at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Generating a Spare       

Applications of additive manufacturing will help cut out the middle man and allow the Air Force to obtain out-of-production spare parts for older aircraft. 3-D printing will effectively reduce the need for low-volume production of new tooling and its associated costs by using a 3-D printer to create new parts through successive layers of polymer or through the productions of molds and larger tooling.

Paving the Way

It’s easy to see why awards such as this have the potential to get manufacturers excited for the future. Showing success in endeavors such as the partnership between UDRI, Youngstown State University and the Air Force is an important first step in showing other manufacturers how new technologies can streamline operations and curb costs, making it an exciting time to be involved in manufacturing in Ohio.

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