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Mark Albert

Mark Albert is editor-in-chief of Modern Machine Shop Magazine, a position he has held since July 2000. He was associate editor and then executive editor of the magazine in prior years. Mark has been writing about metalworking for more than 30 years. Currently, his favorite topics are lean manufacturing and global competitiveness. Mark’s editorial activities have taken him to numerous countries in Europe and Asia as well as across the United States many times. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).

Posted by: Mark Albert 26. December 2014

Autodesk Creates 3D Printing Investment Program

The Ember 3D printer is intended to spark innovation in 3D printing among the startup/researcher community. 

The Spark Investment Fund, operated within Autodesk, will make as much as $100 million available to companies and individuals developing innovations in hardware, software, materials and other activities related to the promotion of 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology. The idea is to bring better ideas and approaches to the surface from the user/inventor/developer community rather than wait for a closed, top-down release of technology from corporations.

In making the announcement that it intends to invest substantially in 3D printing companies and users over the next several years, the company also made this unusual concept of technology development apparent. By funding entrepreneurs, startups and researchers, the company believes it can help them push the boundaries of 3D printing/additive manufacturing technology more effectively than other ways to encourage this development. This is based on the belief that the boldest and most brilliant innovations are likely to come from these often overlooked, unexpected or underfunded sources.

"The days of taking a closed, top-down approach to innovating for additive manufacturing are behind us. Numerous industries recognize the value of tapping into entrepreneurs or startups with better ideas and approaches, and 3D printing is no exception,” says Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Consumer Products and 3D Printing, at Autodesk. “The Spark Investment Fund will empower innovators to improve 3D printing, and to help us unlock the tremendous promise of this technology.”

The announcement of this fund is accompanied by two other significant Autodesk initiatives. One is the company introduction of Spark, an open and free software platform for 3D printing that will connect digital information to 3D printers in a new way. The company says that Spark will connect to any hardware and be materials agnostic to help the entire 3D printing community to collaborate, build and improve the platform.

The other is Autodesk's newly introduced Ember 3D printer. This 3D printer is designed to get additive manufacturing capability into the hands of designers, inventors and developers quickly and affordably to encourage experimentation, exploration of new applications and integration into the creative process. To this end, the company is making a limited number of "Explorer Edition" Ember 3D printers available to approved users early in 2015. To apply, click here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 19. December 2014

Get Smart about Manufacturing Intelligence

This white paper from Sandvik Coromant is a succinct, readable overview of the so-called fourth industrial revolution. The big message is: Get ready for it now because it is both a huge challenge and a fantastic opportunity.

The paper includes a timeline of the successive industrial revolutions and a discussion of the emerging Internet of Things. Finally, it recaps Sandvik Coromant’s substantial efforts to have products ready for its customers as they implement the manufacturing intelligence that participation in this new revolution demands.

Posted by: Mark Albert 12. December 2014

The Man behind the Strati 3D-Printed Car to Be Keynote Speaker

When industry innovators partnered to create the world’s first 3D-printed, electric car on-site during IMTS 2014, they made manufacturing history. Some say the remarkable collaborative process that created this car is the real history-maker in this scenario. Such collaboration may be the key to success in all manufacturing in the years ahead—and thus a most appropriate topic for the keynote address at The MFG Meeting (Manufacturing for Growth) March 4-7, 2015 at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida.

No one may know more about this collaborative process than Jay Rogers, CEO and co-founder of Local Motors, the man and the company behind the “Strati,” the name given to this revolutionary automobile. Rogers, in fact, will deliver this keynote address, which will introduce MFG attendees to the third industrial revolution and explain the implications of large-scale and subtractive manufacturing processes. He will detail the collaborative process—from conception to test drive—that made this innovative idea a reality.

Registration for The MFG Meeting will open soon, but booking a hotel room for the event is urgent—the cut-off date for the group discount is January 30, 2015.

Posted by: Mark Albert 5. December 2014

Video: Tailstock Fundamentals

Haas Automation has produced an excellent video on the fundamentals of tailstocks for lathes. Although the video depicts a Haas lathe, this video is 100-percent about tailstocks and is a valuable intro for trainees as well as a worthwhile refresher for veteran turning operators.

 

Posted by: Mark Albert 21. November 2014

A Vision of the Data-Driven Factory

Mazak’s implementation of the iSmart Factory concept in Florence. Kentucky, includes an MTConnect-enabled machine monitoring system on this Palletech flexible machining system.

Yamazaki Mazak headquarters in Aichi, Japan, has announced an all-encompassing manufacturing vision called the Mazak iSmart Factory concept. According to the company, it will eventually designate all ten of its manufacturing operations as iSmart Factories, the first being the Oguchi factory at Mazak’s headquarters in Japan and now the North American factory in Florence, Kentucky.

The concept calls for advanced manufacturing cells and systems together with full digital integration to achieve free-flow data sharing for process control and operation monitoring. Also announced is that the MTConnect open communications protocol is being used with process support software to provide connectivity and the capability to monitor, then harvest, data from different production-floor machines, cells, devices and processes.

Through PCs and portable electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, both management and manufacturing personnel will access the same real-time manufacturing data to improve overall productivity efficiency and responsiveness to customer/market changes, the company says.

Brian Papke, president of Mazak Corporation, explains that for Mazak, “iSmart Factory is a vision—the complete digital integration of the factory with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, automation and advanced manufacturing practices. The name establishes a philosophy—a credo of sorts for Mazak that is unique to our operations but symbolizes our commitment toward the ultimate smart factory.” He says that while the name is new, “our U.S. factory has long demonstrated a commitment to growth and technological advancement, with a critical part of that strategy being such factors as plant-wide connectivity, automation and optimized production flow.” Mr. Papke also says that benefits include significant increases in machine utilization, shorter throughput times, elimination of non-value added operations, production-on-demand capability and more efficient part machining.

Simultaneous five-axis capability, multitasking machining and advanced automation that integrates different machines within the same cell are highlights of Mazak’s North American iSmart Factory operations. Also under the iSmart Factory umbrella in Kentucky is a fully automated paint line that will be digitally monitored through the same technology. The systems utilize the MTConnect standard for factory floor data, which will be incorporated into Mazak’s ERP system as the next step in 2015.

For an earlier summary of Mazak’s progress in data-driven manufacturing, click here

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