3D printing was developed back in the early 80s but it has seen much growth since the past 10 years. It has now become one of the biggest growth areas in the tech industry and is revolutionising manufacturing covering every industry possible. The 3D printing business is now multi-billion dollar industry and is likely to continue growing at an exponential rate.
3D printing is quite a simple process conceptually, the printers work by printing the chosen material in layers on top of each other, with each layer setting prior to the next pass of the printer.
3D printers have been used to print all sorts of materials from cheap and normal materials to things you would expect to read in a sci-fi book.
For the consumer market, plastics are used exclusively as the materials are cheap to buy, but more importantly, the technology required to print plastic is relatively simple and low cost.
Low-cost 3D printers using plastic tend to use Fused filament fabrication (FFF). This is basically a process where a cord of plastic is heated up to become pliable then fed through the machine layering the plastic. The machines generally use one of the following plastics
PLA (Polylactic Acid) – PLA is probably the easiest material to work with when you first start 3D printing. It is an environmentally friendly material that is very safe to use, as it is a biodegradable thermoplastic that has been derived from renewable resources such as corn starch and sugar canes. This is a similar plastic that is used in compostable bags which safely bio degrade compared to more traditional plastics used in Poly Bags.
ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) – ABS is considered to be the second easiest material to work with when you start 3D printing. It’s very safe and strong and widely used for things like car bumpers, and Lego (the kid’s toy).
PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol Plastic) – PVA plastic which is quite different to PVA Glue (please don’t try putting PVA Glue into your 3D Printer, it definitely won’t work). The popular MakerBot Replicator 2 printers use PVA plastic.
Plastics are used extensively on all levels from consumer to businesses prototyping new products. However, in the business market, there is a huge demand for metal 3D printing. Some printers can use powdered material that is then heated to create a solid. This method is typically Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and this particular technique is why we don’t see consumer metal 3D printing. DMLS requires a huge amount of heat and giant expensive printers to sinter the material together, and while 3D printing a metal object might be expensive compared to mass production, it is incredibly cost efficient for complex and expensive projects. A good example of DMLS based 3D printing is GE Aviation using it to produce 35,000 fuel injectors for its LEAP jet engine.
Using boring materials such as metal is almost archaic in the world of 3D printing now; some companies now do 3D bioprinting which is the process of creating cell patterns in a confined space using 3D printing technologies, where cell function and viability are preserved within the printed construct. These 3D bioprinters have the capacity to print skin tissue, heart tissue, and blood vessels among other basic tissues that could be suitable for surgical therapy and transplantation.
Working in any industry, fine margins are what makes and breaks your product and, often, humidity control products are what defines those margins. Whether you’re operating an office in a warm climate, shepherding drugs through manufacturing or packing meat for sale, effective humidity control is absolutely essential.
Investing in high quality commercial dehumidifier is one thing, but it’s equally as important to conduct regular maintenance to ensure that your dehumidifiers are working at peak capacity. Any drop off in dehumidification can prove incredibly damaging, especially in manufacturing.
Whilst we’d always recommend hiring professional dehumidification maintenance teams to handle such jobs, there are a few quick things you can do to ensure that your commercial dehumidifier keeps humming along between scheduled maintenance checks. Join us as we share them below:
#1 – Inspect the filter
The filter is one of the most important aspects of any dehumidifier, and prolonged use inevitably means build-ups of dirt and dusk which can constrain the flow of air through your dehumidifier. This, in turn, can affect the efficacy of your system.
Luckily, you can vacuum many commercial systems’ filters to remove the debris, but every three or so times you should fully replace the filter.
#2 – Clean the coils
Much like your filter, the coils in your unit can become dirty, reducing the ability of your system to stay cool, and therefore lowering performance. Simply vacuum out the coils monthly to clear away dust, but be careful to ensure the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner doesn’t come into contact with the sensitive fins.
#3 – Inspect the power cable
In commercial and industrial environments, the chances of damaging wiring and cabling goes up dramatically, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that you’ve damaged the power cable leading to your unit.
Inspect the cable closely and look for cuts, fraying or any other type of wear or damage and replace the cord if needed.
#4 – Check for obstructions in the drain hose and blower wheel
Check these components for any debris which might be blocking flow. You’ll find that the drain hose is easily detached, and can be cleaned simply too, with a comprehensive scrub recommended. Complete this task once a month to ensure your dehumidifier is working at optimal performance.
Of course, whilst these are some of the major issues that dehumidifiers encounter, such large and complex machines can sometimes break down for other reasons. As is always the case, regular maintenance results in lower running costs than repair or replacement, so don’t let your maintenance slip.
When it comes to industrial environments, there’s no doubt within the industry that maintaining effective control of humidity is essential. It’s a key part of the operation of countless factories across the globe and can make the difference between success and failure in many areas of industrial production.
But why is that the case? After all, humidity has been a constant for as long as there’s been air and plenty of things have been produced in that time, right?
That may be true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story – a story of increasingly complex manufacturing and industrial processes that benefit greatly from tight humidity control. Here’s three huge reasons why industrial environments now live or die by their humidity control.
Staff health and wellbeing
You only need to spend a day outside on a humid day to know that high levels of RH (relative humidity) can have a debilitating effect on your ability to function properly. However, it’s low RH which industrial businesses are keen to avoid.
Low RH can lead to dry and itchy eyes and cause the respiratory system to dry out, leading to dehydration in staff. Additionally, it causes a dramatically increased spread rate of pathogens like the influenza virus, which survives best in low RH environments.
On top of these issues, low RH has been linked to conditions like Sick Building Syndrome and the intensity of chemical pollution, caused by gases from materials used inside industrial buildings.
Taken together, these issues lead to a poor working environment for staff, and can even violate health and safety guidelines within certain nations.
When water in the air interacts with cold surfaces, it creates condensation. Within industrial premises, which typically feature large amounts of exposed metalwork and very little by way of traditional insulation, this water can have a devastating effect on the health of your building.
By allowing condensation to develop, you encourage the build-up of both rust and mildew on surfaces which can in turn affect both the structural integrity and air quality of your building.
Industrial manufacturing businesses survive by what they output. Whether that’s car parts of pre-fab buildings, what a business outputs determines its success.
Humidity plays a crucial role in ensuring that products are manufactured to the highest possible standards by eliminating the role that high RH plays in spoilage. Consider, for a moment, that cardboard remains by far the most common material for packaging products of all kinds.
Cardboard, however, is extremely susceptible to high RH environments, absorbing the moisture in the air freely. That damp cardboard is extremely prone to failure and can develop mildew and become structurally weakened, causing damage and spoilage to products.
As such, it’s essential that not only do industrial businesses utilise dehumidification solutions, but that they utilise dehumidifier maintenance services too.
From smart phones to sophisticated machineries that manufacture them, you can find an electrical connector in many forms. If you are an electrical industrialist or purchase engineer, it is essential to have some key factors in mind before making your final choice.
Here are a few essential aspects to check while choosing a connector:
Power of the connector is a determining factor. The market offers a wide range of connectors with different power-ratings. Identify your requirement and choose the one that meets the purpose.
A low power variant may not give you the expected efficiency and on the other hand, a high power connector can even damage the entire system.
The density of a connector is yet another influential factor in the present day. The higher the connector density, the more compact your machine design will be. This is especially important in case of complex machineries. In order to keep it solid at the same time give exceptional performances, it is essential to choose a high-density connector.
Another important feature that adds to the quality of a connector is its capacity to withstand high temperatures. Most of these connectors are used in intricate machineries and they undergo immense heat exposure during their functioning. High-end connectors are often passed through multiple levels of testing to ensure its temperature resistance.
The transmission speeds of connectors are quite significant for their overall performance. Many of the latest connectors ensure to meet high transmission speeds. ExaMAX High Speed Backplane Connectors are one of the best you can get in the market these days.
The mating features of any connector play an important role in determining its performance, quality and durability. Before you choose your connector, ensure that you scout through specifications to analyze its mating features. The angle of mating, the number of mating cycles, etc. will be clearly mentioned in the specifications, which help to find the one matching your requirements. Mating cycles are especially important for connectors that are mated and unmated frequently. For a USB connector the mating cycles will be in thousands where as for a board to board connector will have a lesser mating cycle.
The easiest way to decide on a connector is often to choose the best brands. The connectors manufactured by prominent brands will have all major certifications, which makes it trustworthy. In that case, you will not have to compromise in terms of quality and safety.
Any electrical equipment will have different types of electrical connectors within. Each connector comes in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Function is another key factor that classifies the connectors.
From connecting a wire to a board to joining key elements on a PCB, connectors play diverse roles and serve many applications. Despite their simple design, they connect and bring power/signals to the system. Key factors that determine the quality of a good connector is its reliability, signal integrity, speed performance, power rating durability, and ease of assembly.
Connector manufacturers offer an extensive array of tried and tested product solutions.
There a few common connectors which are worth the mention:
8P8C connector, where 8P8C stands for “eight positions, eight conductors” have eight positions, with corresponding conductors in the mating socket assigned to each. It is basically a modular connector and was primarily used in telephone wire applications. Today, they serve many applications and functions like being used to interface Ethernet jacks.
The 8P8C connectors have a male plug and a corresponding female socket connection. It carries eight contacts and when they get aligned with the corresponding eight conductors within the sockets, electrical signals get transmitted. Apart from Ethernet and telephone wires, they are also used in computer applications and other communication cables.
Generally, most modular connectors are technically named after the number of positions and conductors. They include sizes like -4-,-6-, 8-, and -10-. For instance, a 10P8C will have ten positions with eight conductors.
D-subminiature is much similar to 8P8C, as they are used in computer and play a critical function on modems. Though the name states “subminiature”, these are larger than most modern computer connectors. The connector has a D-shaped metal component that defines its shape and protects it. It also consists of two or more rows of pins with varying numbers in the male connector and a similar set of receiving ends in the female part. The male connector with a pin is called a plug whereas the receiving part that houses the contacts that connect these pins is called a socket. This connection is established to transmit electrical signals. This variant has the capability to provide protection against electromagnetic interference, commonly known as EMI.
USB or Universal Serial Bus is a very common type of connector. They are small interfaces used to attach multiple devices to a computer. You can see at least two USB ports in any standard laptop that support external USB connectors and cables, while desktops have up to 4 USB ports in general. USB connectors gained much popularity and recognition, as it can be connected and disconnected easily while the device is still working. This contributed to its widespread use in computer applications that constantly require plugging and unplugging external devices, especially for transferring data.
There are many variants for USB connectors that suit both high-speed and low-speed connections like USB 1.0, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0. While USB 1.0 models generally connect keyboards and mice, USB 2.0 offer higher speed connections for these devices.
Technology has been playing an incredible role in transforming the way industrial processes are performed. Whether it is a machine-to-machine communication or augmented reality, technology has been helping industries in every possible way to streamline and automate their work. Emerging technologies, like 3D printing, robots, algorithms, etc., have the power to completely transform the existing manufacturing processes. Or, in other words, modern technology has the potential to make our lives better. A rapid increase in the level of sophistication in technology has a strong impact on the workforce.
Robots are being increasingly used to perform all sorts of industrial tasks. The developed parts of the world have witnessed a sharp rise in the demand for automated machines and equipment. Approximately, there are more than 2 million robots in use and the number is expected to rise quickly in coming years. Japan is leading the list of countries with the most number of robots. Recent years have witnessed a major decrease in the costs of automation and robotics.
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is an emerging technology that enables industries to manufacture three-dimensional objects. It is a process of building complex products by adding ultrathin layers of materials one by one. Currently, only selected items are being created out of a single material, for instance, medical implants and plastic prototypes. Comparing 3D industrial technology with that of traditional, additive manufacturing enables industries to manufacture new shapes without worrying about manufacturing limitations.
Autonomous technology, such as unmanned cars, is stretching the possibility of producing highly sophisticated industrial machines capable of performing the unthinkable. It has a great potential in making industrial processes seamlessly smooth with hardly any human intervention. Autonomous robots have already been deployed by a number of industries worldwide to perform quality control and inspection related tasks.
Augmented reality is about the augmentation of the elements of physical world. By using handheld sensors, people can simulate various situations or, in other words, augmented reality enables us to create an illusion of reality. This technology can help engineers build incredible industrial solutions. One of the practical applications of this technology is the training of military recruits where they are tested with various virtual situations.
Conclusively speaking, new technologies are enabling engineers to develop intelligent machines that can perform multiple industrial tasks with great precision and speed. Companies need to invest in automation technology in order to maintain competitiveness and meet growing demand for innovation and modernity.
The quick pace of technological advancements explains clearly why manufacturers focus on getting innovative products to market. An insatiable drive for innovation creates a strain on companies and make them look constantly for new techniques to manufacture products. Taking this into account, how can you profitably satisfy your customers and grow your business? The following discussion will help you understand how you can achieve profitable growth when incorporating new technologies into your new and existing products.
Your customers always want to gain an edge from the latest technological updates no matter your customers are individuals or businesses. As a manufacturer, the only solution you have is to add new methods of production as efficiently and as quickly as possible and ensure on-time delivery. Innovative and modern manufacturing techniques can be associated with lighter materials, energy-efficient designs, faster processors, more efficient software or hardware features, etc.
A robust product lifecycle management system will enable you to integrate manufacturing processes, supply chain, and procurement. It will eventually lead to an increase in the efficiency of your business. Fundamentally, innovation means implementing something new to your business. It could be associated with:
- Adding value to existing products and services in order to gain a competitive edge
- Developing improved products and services to meet emerging consumer needs and requirements
- Improving or replacing traditional business processes to materialize higher productivity and efficiency
- Extending the functionality and quality of existing products
Before you invest in any technology, carry out a careful assessment to determine which industry-specific solutions are best suited to your business. From accounting and supply chain management to human resource and enterprise resource planning, you can find readily available and affordable manufacturing solutions. Every business has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. You need custom engineering and management solutions to meet your unique requirements.In order to achieve sustainable growth, a business must carefully examine its sense of purpose and make sure the organization serves it well. An inspiring purpose is all about:
- A strong engagement within a company and its stakeholders
- Non-stop, pragmatic innovation
- A consistent and constant sense of focus
Automation is the single most significant factor that can help manufacturers meet their production and growth objectives. Automated machines, industrial robots, intelligent sensors and control systems, advanced quality control (QC) systems are few examples of innovative manufacturing techniques.If you want to build a scalable business, you have to understand how critical it is to build and implement efficient machines capable of operating intelligently and independently. The right technology can dramatically improve how you manage your business. Consult a reputable manufacturing and engineering solution provider in order to eliminate complexities and inefficiencies from your production system and achieve profitable growth.
What is CFRP?
CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) is an advanced light weight composite material made up of carbon fiber and thermosetting resins.
Machining Carbon Fiber for Post Processing
Machining carbon fiber – post processing is the final phase and once complete, the CFRP part is ready to be put into assembly. In post processing, carbon fiber trimming removes excess material if needed and cutting carbon fiber is used to machine part features into CFRP. Using a robotic waterjet or robotic router- unrivaled accuracy and speed using robotics for CFRP post process trimming, and laser software and router software technology can make all the difference.
Robotic carbon fiber trimming systems are easy to use, easy to maintain and easy to recover. Learning Path Control (LPC), and Learning Vibration Control (LVC) combined with Adaptive Process Control (APC) technologies supercharge the speed of the robotic trimming up to 60% beyond what is possible out of the box. Accufind and iRCalibration are technologies that use IR and CCD vision technology to keep pinpoint path accuracy while maintaining high speed cutting of the CFRP.
Waterjet, dry router and wet router technologies can all be suitable for carbon fiber trimming or cutting carbon fiber depending on the properties of the part and the production requirements. A variety of studies and tests are available to find the most optimal carbon fiber cutting solution for the specific CFRP part.
The Fiber in CFRP
CFRP starts as an acrylonitrile plastic powder which gets mixed with another plastic, like methyl acrylate or methyl methacrylate. Then, it is combined with a catalyst in a conventional suspension or solution polymerization reaction to form a polyacrylonitrile plastic.
The plastic is then spun into fibers using one of several different methods. In some methods, the plastic is mixed with certain chemicals and pumped through tiny jets into a chemical bath or quench chamber where the plastic coagulates and solidifies into fibers. This is similar to the process used to form polyacrylic textile fibers. In other methods, the plastic mixture is heated and pumped through tiny jets into a chamber where the solvents evaporate leaving a solid fiber. The spinning step is important because the internal atomic structure of the fiber is formed during this process.
Then the fibers are washed and stretched to the desired fiber diameter. The stretching helps align the molecules within the fiber and provide the basis for the formation of the tightly bonded carbon crystals after carbonization. Before the fibers can be carbonized they must be chemically altered to change their linear atomic bonding to more stable ladder bonding. To do this, the fibers need to be heated in air to around 380-600 F for an hour or so. This makes the fibers pick up oxygen molecules and rearrange the atomic bonding structure. Once this process is complete the fibers will be stabilized.
Once the fibers are stable, the carbonization process begins. The fibers are heated to 1800F to 5300F for a few minutes in a furnace filled with a gas mixture and no oxygen. A lack of oxygen prevents the fibers from catching fire at the high temperatures required for this step. The oxygen is kept out by an air seal where the fibers enter and exit the furnace and keeping the gas pressure inside the furnace higher than the outside air pressure. While the fibers are heated they start to lose their non-carbon atoms in the forms of gasses like water vapor, ammonia, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and carbon monoxide.
As the non-carbon atoms are removed, the remaining carbon atoms start to form tightly bonded carbon crystals that align parallel to the long side of the fiber. After this carbonization process is finished, the fibers will possess a surface that does not bond well. In order to give the fibers better bonding properties their surface needs to be oxidized, giving the fibers a rough texture and increasing their mechanical bonding ability.
Next is the sizing process. For this the fibers are coated with a material such as epoxy or urethane. This protects the fibers from damage in the winding and weaving phase. Once the fibers are coated they’re spun into cylinders called bobbins. The bobbins are then put in a machine that twists the fibers into yarns. Those yarns can then be used to weave a carbon fiber filament fabric.
In the next step a lightweight, strong durable skin is created using a process called overlay. In this process carbon fiber fabric is laid over a mold and combined with resin to create its final shape. There are two methods that can be used to for the overlay process. The first is called “wet carbon fiber layup”. For this process a dry carbon fiber sheet is laid over the mold and wet resin is applied to it. The resin gives the carbon fiber stiffness and acts as a bonding agent. The second process is called “pre-preg carbon fiber lay up”. This process uses fiber that is impregnated with resign. Pre-preg lay up provides much more uniform resin thickness than the wet lay up method due to superior resin penetration in the carbon fiber. There’s also Resin Transfer Molding (RTM)- which takes place in the next step but combines the molding step and preform carbon fiber resin transfer step into one process; more on RTM below.
Now that the CFRP prepared for forming, it’s time to mold it into a permanent shape. There are variety of techniques that can be used for the molding process. The most popular is compression molding. Compression molding involves two metal dies mounted in a hydraulic molding press. The CFRP material is taken out of the lay up and placed into the molding press. The dies are then heated and closed on the CFRP and up to 2000psi of pressure is applied. Cycle time can vary depending on part size and thickness.
Recent breakthroughs such as BMW’s “wet compression molding” process have dramatically decreased compression mold cycle time. Resin transfer molding or “RTM” is another commonly used molding technique. Like compression molding, it features dies mounted in a press that close on the preform CFRP. Unlike compression molding, resin and catalyst are pumped into the closed mold during the molding process through injection ports in the die. Both the mold and resin may be heated during RTM depending on the specific application. RTM can be preferable to other molding methods because it reduces the steps to create CFRP by combining some of the tradition preform phase steps into the molding phase.
Work order software (CMMS software) is a key part of a successful equipment maintenance program. Work orders are typically one or more tasks assigned to one or more maintenance personnel for the purpose of equipment item. These tasks are for preventive maintenance, projects, repair maintenance or other types of work. The maintenance staff enters, updates, assigns and closes work orders. This requires a certain level of commitment to the work order software and the expectation of benefits for the expended effort. As such, promoting the benefits of maintenance software is every bit as important and making the work order software easy to use.
- What are the benefits of work order software to your organization?
- How are the benefits of work order software promoted to maintenance employees?
Benefits of Work Order Software to Your Organization
The immediate and short-term benefits of using this software are as follows.
- Easier delivery and communication of work assignments.
- Balanced workload.
- Improved spares management.
- Better management and accountability of work assignments.
- Improved equipment reliability.
- Cost savings through analysis and resulting process improvement.
One of the main benefits this software is the ability to deliver the work assignments to personnel using a paperless system. Work orders are emailed in user-friendly formats such as Adobe Acrobat. This saves paper and consistently delivers the work assignments to the same place every time. Alternatively if a paper system is preferred, then automatic printing of assigned tasks is possible. Some more advanced software solutions provide scheduled automatic task assignments. This capability also frees up the maintenance manager as manual assignments ate reduced substantially with this automated system. Lastly, work orders are accessible directly from the software itself. This avoids email and paper use; however, access to a computer that either has the software loaded or has a web link to the CMMS system is required in this case.Balancing the workload over time and resources is possible with a scheduling tool such as work order software. Organizing tasks based upon available resources optimizes these resources and results in more work completed in the same amount of time. Spares linked to work templates results in automatic spares usage and allocation to the task. This feature of many CMMS solutions results is consistent use of the correct spare part for the job and better accounting of spares use. Some CMMS systems provide live links to equipment runtime components (such as hour meters) further automating the work assignment procedure.
In addition to immediate and short-term CMMS benefits long-term benefits may accrue in as little as six months depending upon level of use. The more the software is used the greater the benefits in general. Below is a listing of some of the long-term benefits of using work management software.
- Querying the work history database simplifies compliance reporting.
- Analysis of work history guides the maintenance manager in allocation of work.
- Reporting spares usage provides a guide for restocking.
- Reliability and overall equipment effectiveness KPIs optimize task assignments adding tasks in some cases and removing tasks in other cases.
Promoting the Benefits of Work Order Software to Employees
Choosing equipment maintenance software that is intuitive and accessible is a key factor in promoting the use of the software. Additionally, user screen customization is beneficial in that it gives the user a sense of personalization and control over the system. This user-level customization generally relates to screen colors, default screen, screen labels and other preferred settings. Configuring the software so that maintenance users are able to manage their own work has benefits as well. Studies have shown that a sense of accomplishment with work is a primary job satisfaction indicator. Use of work order software provides this satisfaction as maintenance employees see exactly what work is required and close out their own work orders. In many cases, this leads to improved morale and greater productivity. This is only possible if user level roles and permissions are available within the software.By adopting this management style, users feel empowered and feel a greater sense of ownership of the equipment they are working on. Once again, this leads to improved morale and productivity.
Another group of software user are the personnel that request work. Making it simple for an inexperienced worker to submit a repair ticket to the software encourages the use of the system. In many cases a web interface is best for this function as it is accessible from many locations and various devices.
Promoting the benefits of work order software benefits your organization with the ultimate result of improving equipment reliability and the reducing maintenance costs.