Robotics, 3D printing take center stage at IMTS

Day 2: precision an important factor, whether building a 3D model or programming a robot.


Day 2 of the 2014 IMTS Show in Chicago was, in many ways, a carbon copy of Day 1. Huge crowds continued to stream through Chicago's McCormick Place, reminding many of the heydays of IMTS in the 1990s. But this is a new IMTS, with an emphasis on automation, robotics and innovative products along with the strength of machining and CNC.

Building better robots

At IMTS 2014, the East building of McCormick Place, particularly the IANA section, feels like its wall-to-wall with robots just about everywhere you look. And the robots are designed for a variety of functions ranging from material handling to assembly to machine vision and just about everything in between.

The robots, particularly in sensitive or dangerous operations, need to be precise as well as efficient. Demonstrations up and down the IANA section showed robots lifting objects, puzzle pieces, and other objects. Courtesy: Chris Vavra, CFE MediaWhat is particularly for these companies is that the robots are precise in what they do. The robots, particularly in sensitive or dangerous operations, need to be precise as well as efficient. Demonstrations up and down the IANA section showed robots lifting objects, puzzle pieces, and other objects. The robots are programmed to operate and function in specific ways and they are designed to be able to repeat these simple, but important motions, over and over again without making a mistake.

When it works, the results bring out a dramatic improvement. "When we had a person working out the assembly, we were getting 400 parts inserted an hour," said Chris Zollinger, business development manager at Micromatic. "When we programmed the machine, we went up to 1100 an hour."

We need a more educated workforce for the future of manufacturing

Gregg Fleisher, chief academic officer of National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), talked to high school and college students on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2014. During his keynote, he encouraged students to pursue scieFor a smarter, complicated, and data-driven manufacturing industry today, we need a more educated and skilled workforce that has problem-solving and critical thinking ability, according to Gregg Fleisher the Chief Academic Officer of National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), speaking at IMTS Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2014.

Fleisher believes that the key to a better manufacturing future is to improve math and science education. In the past, anyone could find a satisfying job in manufacturing production sector. Today, students need more education in computer science, coding, design, trouble-shooting and critical thinking ability to land a career in manufacturing.

It is in our DNA to use STEM to invent and manufacture. It is impossible to think of one thing that is not related to manufacturing. The future is unimaginable, and we rely on people sitting in this room to show us the future. You can never exceed the limit, so set the limit high and don't be afraid to fail," said Fleisher.

3D printers help cultivate next-generation engineers

3D System showcased their educational 3D printing kit at IMTS 2014. Students interested in industrial design could try out interactive design on MAKE.DIGITAL platform at the Smartforce Student Summit. Courtesy: Joy Chang, CFE MediaPartnering with SME Education Foundation, 3D Systems' MAKE.DIGITAL education initiative focuses on promoting advanced digital literacy in K-12 and college STEM education. The company provided 3D printers to use in laboratories and classrooms to foster an interactive and inspiring learning environment. With the latest 3D educational printing kit, students and researchers can design, prototype, and test their innovations faster and with less limitations.

3D Systems showcased its educational 3D printing kit at IMTS 2014. Students could try out interactive design on MAKE.DIGITAL platform at the Smartforce Student Summit.

Joy Chang and Chris Vavra contributed to this story.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me