Exponential manufacturing 2016

The emergence of distributed manufacturing, fueled by the spread of ever more capable 3D printers, is central to our future, but at the same time, its potentials are kind of hard to understand—where we’re headed won’t look much like what we’ve come to know as “manufacturing.”  Put this promising ambiguity alongside the continued maturation of robotics, especially when networked (and so able to share new training instantly), and we’re looking at a level of autonomy that also challenges many of our familiar ways of thinking about machines, from assembly lines to rush hour traffic.

The good folks at Singularity University are, as ever, out there at the forefront of these innovations, casting a bit of light into topics that most of us can barely grasp the implications of.  This week, they’re hosting the first Exponential Manufacturing conference; sessions are being broadcast live, and with any luck will be archived for future reference.  They’ve also put together an excellent collection of recent posts, billed as a “crash course in a few of the latest developments in manufacturing,” that’s well worth a perusal.  Here’s a taste of what you’ll learn about:

What Happens to Factories If You Can Manufacture in Your Home?
“Biohackers are home-brewing insulin, and now, low-cost 3D printers and CNC (computer numerical control) machines are allowing people with little training to create circuit boards and fabricate basic mechanical parts in the comfort of their homes.” An interview with the CEO of Other Machine Co, one of the speakers at Exponential Manufacturing.

Meet Your New Industrial Robot Coworkers
“I am a big believer in supervised automation,” Jaroslav Tyman general manager at Automation IG says. “Robots will function autonomously until they encounter a situation, problem or task that they are unfamiliar with. They will then contact a human supervisor who can instruct the robot what to do. The great thing about cloud computing and robotics is that as soon as you have shown one robot what to do, your entire fleet of robots will all instantly know how to do the new task.”

How Microfactories Can Bring Iterative Manufacturing to the Masses
“A giant manufacturer like GE, Rogers says, is brilliant at making one of something, or a million of something—but they can’t make 1,000 of something. This is the scale at which microfactories can answer the question, “Should we make this product?” The hope is that more great ideas get the backing they deserve, and fewer ill-advised ideas make it to full-scale production.”

6 Reasons Why Industry Needs to Be Agile as Software to Survive
“Most manufacturers are aware it’s time to adopt a more agile approach—no wonder so many are eager to adopt Industry 4.0. Whether it’s customers, the environment, suppliers, or the market—leaders are hearing they have to turn their large, slow moving ships into nimble jets. Here are six reasons why physical product companies need that agility to survive.”

How the Next Wonders of the World Will Be Built in Space
“Made In Space is taking the first steps towards manufacturing satellites in space by using the company’s 3D printer on the International Space Station to make small customized satellites (called CubeSats) on-demand. Making satellites in space unlocks fundamentally new design possibilities. Today’s satellites are designed for launch, but when they are manufactured in space, we will be able to let the conditions of space alone drive the design of our satellites.”

Get all the details here in Singularity’s crash course post!


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