In decades past, the concepts of robotics and miniature technology we’re familiar with today fell outside the realm of what was possible, yet technological advances are catching up to and even surpassing these ideas. These new breakthroughs are having such an impact that manufacturing is experiencing what many consider to be a new industrial revolution. Here we’ll look at some of the innovations at the center of these developments and how they’re shattering the old standards of productivity and efficiency.
In any manufacturing process, being able to do something exactly right the first time is ideal. One can do all the research and preparation needed to create the best outcome, but there’s always the risk that something will be forgotten or miscalculated.
Knowing precisely what an outcome will be, based on the decisions, can eliminate any wasted time or resources, by being able to essentially manufacture something virtually. That is, a team can perform its manufacturing process digitally, with each step of the process done visually in a near-animated process. They can understand how the procedure will go before the actual physical manufacturing takes place. This process is already under way in many industries, including auto manufacturing, and it’s allowing companies to save money, simplify operations and get products to market much faster than ever before.
Whenever you use a GPS device while driving, undergo an examination at the doctor’s office with an endoscope, or read an email on a smartphone, you’ve got micro manufacturing to thank for it. Micro molding is used to create the tiny components in a variety of different devices, including cutting-edge medical equipment that allows doctors to treat patients without resorting to invasive surgery. With technology as mobile and lightweight as it is, the micro molding process is the essential method for creating the internal machinery that designers are dependent on to create these products.
We’re not at the stage where an R2-D2-like robot is handling routine tasks on a factory floor, but the roles that robotics are playing in manufacturing have improved in recent years. Simple jobs such as painting or welding were just the beginning and now more complicated tasks are being done beyond what robots were first doing in the early 1960s.These industrial robots are much more sophisticated with the ability to be easily programmed to handle more than just a single, repetitive job. In a press release from February of 2013, the International Federation or Robotics predicts that over 2 million jobs will be created as robots are adopted by different industries and these new advances may be the means for the U.S. to gain an edge in the manufacturing market.
Earlier the topic of virtual manufacturing was covered, and in the realm of 3D printing, there’s nothing virtual taking place at all. The “printing” that takes place here is actually the manufacturing of a tangible object based on a 3D image imported into the printing machine. As long as you have a compatible 3D image, you can soon have a physical version of the drawing in your hands, made from an alloy or plastic. This process is changing the importance of funding in manufacturing and in how long it takes to bring a product to market. In the years to come, the real impact of 3D printing will be revealed, as manufacturers and entrepreneurs around the world become acquainted with what it can achieve.
The strides being made in the manufacturing industry through new technologies are nothing short of fascinating and it’s certain that even more advancements will be made. As technologies become faster, smaller and more sophisticated, they’ll be originating in factories and shops where these new procedures are being used. Both businesses and consumers will be benefiting from these innovations, as people’s health and longevity are improved, communication becomes easier and manufacturing is simplified for a variety of companies.