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AMT Tech Report: Issue #170

Converting waste heat to electricity on the cheap! Automating the assembly of carbon fiber aircraft fuselages. Additive is getting too accessible to not consider. 25 years of Italian additive. 5 key factors affecting CNC part quality.
Aug 06, 2021

“Back before Napster and Spotify, we toured to promote record sales. Now we make records to promote tour dates.”

James McMurtry

1. Converting Waste Heat to Electricity on the Cheap!

The latest in material science shows the potential to create affordable thermoelectric generators – which has sent the technology all over manufacturing news and brought it closer to reality than ever before! The best part is it doesn't rely on some exotic specialty alloy that manufacturers won’t be able to figure out how to effectively work with for the next 60 years. Yeah, the automakers may be turning to electric motors, but thermoelectric generators just might replace the conventional automobile alternator! Maybe.

Read more here.

2. Automating the Assembly of Carbon Fiber Aircraft Fuselages

Ever wonder why there aren’t more robots in aircraft factories? They’re all over car assembly lines; why not planes too? Well, as it turns out, there’s quite a bit that goes into it! “Traditionally, aircraft manufacturers have been reluctant to adopt robots and other types of automation. One of the main challenges is that large plane parts come with relatively high geometry deviations, so robots need sensor guidance.” This is all new to me, and that’s just a start!

Read more here.

3. Additive is Getting Too Accessible to Not Consider

“For small- and medium-sized manufacturers who need innovative ways to improve processes, reduce costs and improve product quality, 3D printing may now be within reach. The primary use of 3D printing remains in prototyping and product development, but the technology is clearly maturing into a production solution to improve operations, especially for high-margin, specialty work.” And here I thought robots were getting affordable! Soon, in-house prototyping will be commonplace!

Read more here.

4. 25 Years of Italian Additive

Honestly, the pandemic really opened my eyes to not only how much Italy has embraced but has, in fact, been ahead of the additive boom! And I don’t just mean starting in the past few years – but by decades! To think that the Lamborghini Diablo – the poster of which I had pinned on my childhood bedroom wall – had some additive-produced parts on it blows my mind. Here’s one Italian MT company celebrating the country’s transformative pedigree.

Read more here.

5. 5 Key Factors Affecting CNC Part Quality

This is not “news” per se, but these are certainly some things worth thinking about with respect to subtractive, especially with finish quality from newer tech on the up and up. It’s also worth looking to these factors when asking, “Why hasn’t anybody just put a cutting tool on the end of a robot arm yet?” In due time, I say! Alas, here are five potential roadblocks.

Read more here.

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Stephen LaMarca
Manufacturing Technology Analyst
Recent technology News
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“Robotics and automation have become foundational to the evolution of the manufacturing industry, and now cobots have emerged as the newest area of innovation and productivity,” said Stephen LaMarca, technology analyst, AMT.
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