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PTC Product Lifecycle Stories eMagazine - Spring 2014


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features in-depth reporting and expert commentary on the issues impacting manufacturing, engineering, and product development today. This issue features stories on the Internet of Things, Robots at the World Cup in Brazil, 3D Printing in the Aerospace Industry, Speed Dating Approach to Collaboration, Surgical Robotics, Builder Bots, Consumer Adoption of 3D Printing, and Supply Chain Visibility.

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PTC Product Lifecycle Stories eMagazine - Spring 2014

  1. 1. PRODUCT LIFECYCLE STORIESINSIGHT ON PRODUCTS, MANUFACTURING, AND SERVICE INTERNET OF THINGS: ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Robots Keep Tabs on Fans at Brazil World Cup 3D Printing Makes Headway in Aerospace Speed Dating Offers New Ways to Collaborate Surgical Robotics Expected to Quadruple Spring 2014 The Next Manufacturing Boon
  2. 2. Spring 2014 – Table of Contents Feature Article The Next Manufacturing Boon Billions of devices will soon be connected in the manufacturing matrix of the Internet of Things, allowing them to be monitored and controlled remotely. For manufacturers, this can change almost everything in terms of how products are created, operated, and serviced. INTERNET OF THINGS: 08 Robots Keep Tabs on Fans at Brazil World Cup Brazil, the site of this year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup, isn’t taking safety and security threats lightly. Anyone planning on disrupting the event will face an unusual foe: the PackBot. 3D Printing Makes Headway in Aerospace With major players GE Aviation and Airbus investing in new additive manufacturing techniques, the aerospace sector is poised to become one of the biggest players in the 3D-printing arena. 12 Speed Dating Offers New Ways to Collaborate A speed-dating approach to collaboration is taking off at universities where scientists believe working with counterparts from different fields on the same or nearby campuses will help them develop practical applications for their work. 16 Termites are Inspiration for Builder Bots Inspired by the architectural genius of termites, Harvard University researchers create a team of small autonomous robots that can collectively surmise how to build a structure from blocks. 20 Why Consumers Still Aren’t Sold on 3D Printing While 3D printing is taking off in large-scale manufacturing and President Obama pushes to open more advanced manufacturing facilities in the United States, individ- ual consumers are just not buying in. At least not yet. 22 What’s in Your Product? Six Reasons You Should Know. There are many regulatory, humanitarian, and even hard-dollar advantages to knowing what’s in your product, and manufacturers worldwide are recognizing the benefits of supply-chain visibility. 26 Surgical Robotics Industry Expected to Quadruple Contemporary robotic systems have come a long way, and some of the most compelling advances can be seen in the surgical field. That industry is expected to grow from $4.9 billion in 2014 to $19.9 billion in 2019. 18
  3. 3. Spring 2014 – Letter from the Editor The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart, connect products are transforming the way manufacturers create, operate, and service just about everything. In the next decade it’s estimated that 80 to 100 percent of all manufacturers will be using IoT applications, leading to a potential economic impact of $2.3 trillion for the global manufacturing industry. Whether it’s industrial equipment that can be monitored in real-time or a medical device that allows a manufacturer to analyze each patient need against every patient outcome, the IoT is already driving better service, improved next- generation products, and a stronger competitive advantage. This new era—where software, the cloud, and service are king—will mark a shift in value and differentiation for manufactures, requiring a radically different way of thinking, a new infrastructure, and a fresh set of skills. Our spring cover story takes a closer look at how the IoT is impacting manufacturing today, as well as what the future might look like in a smart, connected world. Robotics is also a huge theme in this edition. Newcomer Michelle Reis investigates how iRobot will help keep football hooligans at bay at this year’s World Cup in Brazil, and former Wall Street Journal reporter Bill Bulkeley visits Harvard University to find out why termites are inspiration for a new builder bot. Plus, we explore how 3D printing with titanium is opening up new possibilities for the aerospace industry, and why speed dating on college campus and in the workplace could spark collaboration and innovation among scien- tists and engineers. Sincerely, Nancy Pardo Editor in Chief PRODUCT LIFECYCLE STORIES LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: NANCY PARDO
  4. 4. It’s planting season and a farmer in the Midwest is busy at work, but he’s not in the field—he’s working from a digital operations center on his tablet com- puter. Meanwhile, one of his tractors is running low on diesel. No problem. The tank has already notified the supplier it needs a refill. In another location, a farm-equipment manufacturer is monitoring a dashboard, tracking its entire fleet of vehicles and evaluating the performance of the equipment in real-time. Diagnostic data flows wire- lessly to a technician who shows up onsite to replace a part before it fails. BY JON MARCUS INTERNET OF THINGS: The Next Manufacturing Boon This is the reality of the fast-emerging Internet of Things, the network of smart, connected products whose breakneck development has been the subject of starry-eyed popular attention, but whose potential application in manufacturing is far less understood and even more vast. Refrigerators may be able to reorder milk, and tooth- brushes could tell you if your kid is really brushing. But the big money is in linking industrial equipment, aircraft, cars, medical equipment—and the list goes on—to the IoT.
  5. 5. That could have as much as a $2.3 trillion global economic impact by 2025, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, including through efficiencies that could trim operating costs by 5 percent. Eighty to 100 percent of manufacturers will be on the IoT by then, McKinsey estimates, while Cisco Systems predicts that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Inter- net, up from the current nine billion. “This changes just about everything in terms of the way products are created, operated, and serviced,” says Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO of PTC, which in December acquired ThingWorx, a platform designed to build and run the applications of the connected world. In the manufacturing matrix of the IoT, smart products, imbued with software, sensors, and processors, allow for condition monitoring, while connection via wireless or wired networks will allow manufacturers to monitor and control those same products remotely. Based on this, operators will be able to figure out more efficient ways to use those proucts, or predict when they might fail and dispatch preventive main- tenance. Suppliers could learn how their products are being used, not used, or misused by virtually “asking” them, and apply that knowledge to next- generation versions. This concept, in manufacturing, is not entirely new. Logistics companies have long applied similar tech- nology to control raw materials and inventories and track shipments, for example. But as the price of sensors plummets, they can now be used to under- stand not only the location of an object, but its condi- tion, environment, and operation, in robust detail. “The general concept of instrumenting and collecting information off machines has been around for a while,” says Don DeLoach, CEO of Infobright, which specializes in technology that allows the speedy analysis of machine-generated data. “But it’s been limited by the cost and accessibility and practicality of this technology.”
  6. 6. Now that the price is falling, DeLoach says, “The implications from a manufacturing standpoint are everything from extending capital equipment life to energy management and supply chain logistics. That in and of itself is very cool. It’s going to change life as we know it, and I see this manifesting itself everywhere.” The cost of microeletromechanical systems sensors has dropped 90 percent in just the last five years, McKinsey reports, driving a 300 percent increase in the number of devices connected over that same period. Thanks to this, “We’re coming up on a big inflection point in terms of the connectivity,” says Sherri Daniels, president of ATEK Access Technologies, one of whose subsidiaries is behind the sensor in that farmer’s diesel tank. ATEK doesn’t only monitor when a farmer needs a refill. By collecting data about such things, it helps its customers find new and more efficient ways to run their businesses—like rescheduling and rerouting diesel tanker trucks, for instance. “We can tell them, ‘In January, this is how many trucks you’re going to need on the road,’” Daniels says. “It creates a kind of stickiness, as we call it, between the manufacturer and the customer, and you can continue to build on that. It’s also a revenue stream, where you get a customer who is ingrained with you and your system, and they see that value.” That opens up all sorts of new possibilities for manu- facturers in after-the-sale support. There are potential pitfalls to the IoT. Collecting infor- mation on a product’s use and environment may, in some circumstances, have privacy implications, while using the Internet to control machinery remotely can tempt hackers to interfere with it. And products made by different manufacturers also have to be able to communicate. “You’ve had smart sensors around forever, but they’ve been very siloed,” says Eddie Amos, chief technology officer at Meridium, which helps industri- al customers predict and prevent equipment failures by monitoring their plants. “If you have one particular vendor, such as GE, they can tell you how their equipment is doing. But most people use equipment from hundreds of different manufacturers.” That’s the rationale behind the new Industrial Internet Consortium. Announced in March, it’s an open membership group begun by AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM, and Intel to standardize sensor technology. And all that data can’t take the place of the people who interpret it, DeLoach says. That’s like determin- ing the reliability of an airplane solely on a vibration report transmitted by a sensor to the manufacturer. “Now we can do that analysis across an entire fleet of planes,” he says. “And the inclination might be to
  7. 7. say, ‘We don’t really need to hear from the pilot. We have all the information we need.’ But I think you still want to hear from the pilot.” Some of this fear can be mitigated by employing business applica- tions that create actionable “dashboards” for different audiences. Using these applications, a mechanic sees a very different set of data than an operations executive, for instance. The opportunities created by the IoT and smart, connected products far outweigh the initial challenges. One of the most exciting things, says PTC’s Heppelmann, is now manufacturers can be involved with a product after it leaves the factory floor. “That’s true closed-loop lifecycle management,” he concludes.
  8. 8. Sporting events, especially those that operate on a global scale, have a long history of uniting and inspir- ing individuals all across the globe. People are passionate about sports, and spend billions of dollars attending games and buying team merchandise. Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to that revelry. Emotions run at an all-time high at games, increasing the possibility of violence, crime, and crowd-control issues. The publicity and prominence of these events on an international stage also makes them highly ROBOTS KEEP TABS ON FANS AT BRAZIL WORLD CUP BY MICHELLE REIS attractive targets for terrorists and others out to make a name for themselves or their cause. Brazil, the site of this year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup (one of the world’s most widely viewed sporting events) and the 2016 Summer Olympics, isn’t taking safety and security threats lightly. On top of employing about 170,000 security personnel and spending close to 1.9 billion reais ($798 million) to ensure a trouble free World Cup tournament,
  9. 9. Photo courtesy of iRobot Brazilian government and law enforcement officials will also be pitting any terrorists or hooligans plan- ning on disrupting the event against an unusual foe: a military-grade robot called PackBot.
  10. 10. Equipped with a game-style controller for easy and remote operation, the PackBot is a unique, multi-mis- sion robot that can travel up to 5.8 MPH, climb grades of up to 60 degrees (meaning it can navigate stairs and maneuver itself over tricky terrain), and can be submersed in up to 3 feet of water. A 4.9 GHz mesh radio kit allows the PackBot to use multiple nodes to establish and relay communica- tions in radio challenged environments, and the robot also has state-of-the-art GPS, video image display, system monitoring, electronic compass, and temperature sensors. The most important capability of the PackBot, howev- er, is its versatility when it comes to security. “With respect to large events,” Trainer explains, “they can be used for a number of scenarios, including the identification and disposal of potentially dangerous objects, to obtain situational awareness in a potential- ly dangerous environment, and to communicate with someone in an area that may not be reachable.” The PackBot has already provided support for a variety of military, law enforcement, and disaster response teams, saving countless lives along the way. In addition to large-scale events, the robots have been used to inspect buildings at the World Trade Center site after 9/11, to survey damage and assist in recovery operations at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the earthquake and tsunami, and to assist with the post-marathon investigation in Boston. There is also continued use of PackBots in a variety of daily security and law enforcement operations, including the inspection and disposal of suspicious devices, SWAT, HazMat, reconnaissance, and hostage negotiations. Photo courtesy of iRobot Photo courtesy of iRobot The human factor in securing sporting events The prevention of violence and crime at events like the World Cup is extremely difficult for law officials due to people’s unpredictable nature. Violence within the stadiums, like the horrific fan-fight that occurred last December during an Atletico Paranaense vs. Vasco da Gama Brazilian football match, and the risk of violence from protesters are a concern. Many Brazilians, like the #NãoVaiTerCopa (#ThereWillBeNoCup) movement, have been protesting the World Cup since last year, and have said they will continue to do so for the entire- ty of the event. A main source of discontent has been the billions of dollars spent on World Cup infrastruc- ture in a country where poverty is still very prevalent. In a $7.2 million deal with iRobot—a Bedford, Massa- chusetts-based company that makes domestic robots for consumers as well as defense and security robots for the United States military—the Extraordinary Secretariat for the Security of Great Events (SESGE) and the Brazilian Federal Police procured 30 Pack- Bots to bring a high-tech approach to security. The robots have already been tested in 2013 during the Confederations Cup and Papal visit in July, and will be deployed to all 12 host cities during the World Cup. “These robots will be used by the federal police and other local police forces throughout Brazil to provide public safety support during major events and for other law enforcement applications moving forward,” says Tim Trainer, vice president of robotic products for iRobot’s defense and security unit.
  11. 11. For police, the robot’s ability to provide real-time video and perform surveillance of life-threatening situations may be one of the most important offer- ings due to the possibility of public protests during the World Cup. With recent marches from radical anarchists Black Bloc taking on a violent edge, having added surveillance could assist in decreasing brutal confrontations between law enforcements and civilians. ”We will guarantee the security of fans, tourists, teams, and the chiefs-of-state that will visit us,” stated President Dilma Rousseff at a February press event in the Brazilian state of Alagoas. “I am certain we will host the cup of cups.” “We see robots playing an increasing role for a variety of missions, including security, law enforcement, defense, and certain industrial applications.” The future of robotic security Autonomous robots, like PackBots in Brazil and the new Knightscope K5 security bot, are live case-stud- ies on how robotics can be applied to general law enforcement and event security. These bots can not only protect civilians, but also ensure that law enforc- ers don’t have to put themselves at risk during life-threatening situations. “We see robots playing an increasing role for a variety of missions, including security, law enforcement, defense, and certain industrial applications,” Trainer states. “Given their range in size and unique capabili- ties, robots will open the door to new applications for public safety use, for event security and beyond.”
  12. 12. Additive manufacturing is moving into the mainstream. In the annual additive manufacturing market report, Wohlers Associates estimates revenues from products and services in the 3D printing industry at more than $2.2 billion last year, and more than 28 percent of that is tied to the production of parts for final products. According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), using 3D printers to build parts can cut product cost by 40 to 55 percent through the reduction of tooling and handling expenses and material waste. And across sectors like aerospace and automotive, fuel-cost savings and environmental benefits are dramatic. GE, the world’s largest supplier of jet engines, calls additive manufacturing the “next chapter in the industrial revolution,” and projects that by 2020 GE Aviation will manufacture 100,000 parts on 3D printers. The company believes that printed parts could help reduce the weight of a single aircraft engine by up to 1,000 pounds, leading to significant increas- es in fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions. Airbus, another early adopter of advanced manufac- turing technologies, is already moving beyond proto- types to components robust enough to be used in end- production aircraft.
  13. 13. The industry giant is producing a variety of fully tested and validated plastic and metal brackets for its next-generation A350 XWB, and 3D printed parts are also being used on its cornerstone A300/ A310 planes. In March, the first “printed” component —a small plastic crew seat panel—flew on an Airbus jetliner operated by Canada’s Air Transat. Across many major industries, from aerospace to automotive to medical devices, the advantages of using 3D printing are myriad. The process results in lighter parts, shorter lead times, fewer materials used during production, and a significant reduction in the overall environmental footprint. EOS, a German company that offers additive-manu- facturing machines and services, recently teamed up with Airbus Group Innovations to research the environmental impact of 3D printed parts. The study looked at the lifecycle of nacelle hinges used in jet-engine housings, comparing hinges cast in steel in the traditional manner to hinges produced by laser sintering titanium. The findings were impressive. The optimized geom- etry and weight savings of the laser sintered titani- um enabled CO2 emissions over the whole lifecycle of the hinges to be reduced by nearly 40 percent, and, most significantly, using the additive method to build the hinge could potentially reduce the weight per plane by 10 kilograms. Raw material consump- tion was also reduced significantly. “We are on the cusp of a step-change in weight reduction and efficiency—producing aircraft parts which weigh 30 to 55 percent less, while reducing raw material used,” says Airbus spokesperson Peter Sander. “This game-changing technology also decreases total energy used in production by up to 90 percent compared to traditional methods.” There are some limitations with 3D printing. In designs that include very narrow internal channels, excess material can get trapped during production and become difficult to remove, and it can be difficult to remove the supports some parts need to hold them in place during the build process. But the benefits seem to outweigh the challenges. Much of 3D printing’s potential in manufacturing comes from what is arguably its best asset: virtually unfettered design. Complex parts print as quickly as simple parts and, because there’s no need to build specialized tools or molds for casting, new designs aren’t hampered by traditional manufacturing constraints. Parts can be geometrically optimized for a high strength-to-weight ratio and designed to include functional components, and 3D printing can also make working with tricky but beneficial materi- als, like titanium, an option. Titanium is low density, high strength, corrosion resistant and biocompatible—ideal for use in aero- space—but its cost and the degree of material waste in traditional manufacturing has often made it an impractical choice. Because 3D printers can build metal parts in a virtually waste-free process, it increases the number of manufacturing scenarios in which titanium now makes sense. GE recently committed to an ambitious additive- manufacturing plan involving the printing of critical fuel nozzles for a new aircraft engine using titanium, aluminum, and nickel-chromium alloys. Tradi- tionally, each nozzle is made from 18 parts Photo courtesy of Airbus
  14. 14. welded together. With additive manufacturing, each part is built up as a single piece of metal. The end result will be 25 percent lighter and five times more durable than its predecessor. Nineteen additive fuel nozzles will be installed on every CFM LEAP engine, and to date more than 4,500 of the engines (developed by GE Aviation and the French aerospace company Snecma) have been ordered. GE estimates that it will begin making the fuel nozzles in 2016, with plans to print up to 35,000 nozzles a year. With time, advances in technology are expected to improve the output speed and resolution of 3D printers, expanding the use of additive manufac- turing. Technology being developed at the German based Fraunhofer Institute, for example, already shows the potential to quadruple printing speeds for metal objects. The production of parts for use in final products is 3D printing’s fastest growing segment, with a 60 percent annual expansion rate. MGI researchers predict that by 2025 there will be a $470 billion market in 3D-print- ed transportation parts. And the potential benefits of 3D printing reach beyond the initial manufacturing process and into service and maintenance. Late last year, the first British fighter jet to contain 3D-printed metal components was flown from an airfield in Lancashire, England. BAE Systems, maker of the Tornado jet, said its engineers are using 3D technology to design and produce parts that could potentially cut the Royal Air Force’s maintenance and service bill by almost $2 million over the next four years. Additionally, Airbus is considering the possibility of using 3D printing as a spare-part solution, which could be ideal for producing cost-effective, out-of- production aircraft parts on-demand. Photo courtesy of Airbus
  15. 15. 3D Printing: What It Really Means for Manufacturers – Michelle Reis According to a report by McKinsey & Co., the advantages of 3D printing over other manufacturing technologies will lead to five major disruptions: Accelerated product-development cycles: 3D printing will allow for a faster and more productive R&D process, and a reduction in product-launch risk and time to market. It will also require a robust supply chain, capable of keeping up with accelerated produc- tion while maintaining quality and consistency. New manufacturing strategies and footprints: As cost drops and capabilities increase, more parts could be created using 3D print. This doesn’t mean every part should be. Manufacturers must determine which components will reap the most benefit from the technology, and watch for universal standards regarding printing materials to develop, which could impact cost and footprint decisions. Shifting sources of profit: 3D printing has the potential to reduce the complexity and cost of some production types, forcing companies to differentiate their products in other ways. The ability to create replacement parts could also change the structure of aftermarket services. New capabilities: In order to create effective products, companies must increase their design knowledge regarding printing and have engineers who can conquer the technical challenge of tuning print materials so they get the most out of them. Disruptive competitors: While there are only a handful of leaders currently in the market, new businesses offering more customi- zation or better designed products are popping up daily. These companies threaten to shift the focus from the ability to manufacture 3D products, to other areas like design or ownership of customer networks. More competition can also lead to ethics and regula- tion questions. According to Sander, the lead time for such a part can be as little as one day if the component is based on an existing design, while redesigned parts can be produced in less than two weeks—something that Sander calls “a dream come true.” A 3D printed A350 XWB Bracket A380 THAI Engine fitting Photo courtesy of Airbus Photo courtesy of Airbus
  16. 16. Paired off around stylish chairs and tables, munching on hors d’oevres and sipping drinks, people who have clearly just met laugh and smile tentatively. Among the strangers, ferns sprouting from planters crawl up one whitewashed wall; large-screen TVs flicker from another, and palm trees sway outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. Tiny light fixtures hanging from the ceiling look like stars. Romantic? Sure. That’s the idea. But not for the purpose you might think. This “synergy social” at the University of South Florida isn’t meant to hook up singles seeking love, but scientists and academics looking for collaborators. “I can guarantee you, someone will be interested,” says Yu Sun, a professor of computer science and engineer- BY JON MARCUS ing at USF who has attended several of these events and emerged with partners—often specialists from the neighboring medical center—for joint research projects. “It’s beneficial to talk with people from other fields, especially the people who are really close to a prob- lem,” Sun says. “When we do research we need to go out and see the problem we need to solve, not just sit in our labs and imagine it.” This speed-dating approach to collaboration is taking off at universities where scientists want to develop practical applications for their work, and where collaboration with counterparts from different fields on the same and nearby campuses is seen as a way to get there. It’s also being tried at academic conferences, and advocates say it can be equally effective at private SPEED DATING TO COLLABORATE OFFERS NEW WAYS
  17. 17. companies, especially those in engineering and technology, some of which are starting to adopt this approach. “The idea isn’t new, it just hasn’t been applied this way in science,” says Jeffrey Grossman, a professor of engineering who began running what he calls “speed-storming” sessions—a combination of “speed dating” and “brainstorming”—when he was a postdoc at Berkeley, and who has been asked by technology and engineering companies to show them how it’s done. “What’s happened in science, compared to 100 years ago, is that the vertical well of depth that you have to go into is much deeper because we know a lot more,” says Grossman, now at MIT. “In a way, that creates a challenge to this Renaissance idea that you can bridge gaps between disciplines. But it’s no excuse to not do it. It’s this incredibly important part of creativity and idea-generation that scientists aren’t paying enough attention to.” Others point out that academics and engineers sometimes prefer the solitude of their labs to social situations. “Scientists are just people. They have the same concerns and fears about approaching a new person,” Grossman says. “I don’t know whether it’s nature versus nurture. You’d have to ask a psychologist,” says Graham Jones, chair of chemistry at Northeastern University, who attended a speed-dating session at the nearby Tufts-New England Medical Center that resulted in collaborations. “But the current way science is being funded and promoted really encourages people to stay in their lab and to stay focused on their work and not talk to strangers.” Overcoming that was the point of the event at Tufts, says Karen Freund, associate director for research collaboration at Tufts’ Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “Part of why we did it this way was to get people out of their labs and offices and encourage them to meet people who, even though our campus is not huge, they might not know otherwise,” Freund says. “It’s almost a luxury to take time out to talk to one another,” she says. “But there’s no substitute for face-to-face conversation.” Academics may be comparatively solitary, Freund says, “but these are individuals who are inquisitive and ultimately interested in these connections, which is why the speed-dating method is successful.” Surprisingly successful, according to an experiment run at a conference at the Royal Society in London, which included two 90-minute speed-dating sessions among 24 biophysicists, mathematicians, biochem- ists, and experts in bioinformatics who were then paired up for five rounds of 15-minute icebreakers. Twelve walked away with collaborative projects. “The sum is greater than the parts,” says Jones, of Northeastern University. “You really need to broaden your horizons and collaborate with people across the board. What might seem an insurmountable problem to one person is actually quite solvable to another.” At a speed-dating event at Berkeley, researchers were paired off for three minutes each, measured with an egg timer. In two hours, a test group of 10 people from six departments produced 45 proposals. “At first people feel silly, so there’s a little bit of getting over the silliness factor of it,” Grossman says. “Then, as soon as you do it, there’s an energy in the room that’s hard to describe. Every single time I’ve speed-stormed, there is a sense of excitement.” “You’re not only intersecting people’s science, you’re intersecting people. And there’s a real value to that.” The private sector should take note. Engineering teams in any organization can be siloed away with little connection to one another. Cross-departmental speed dating could be a way to brainstorm fresh ideas and see the bigger picture. “In every situation I’ve tried it in, there's been a bene- fit,” Grossman says. “Why is this catching on? Part of it is because when people do this they just like it, and part of what they like is that they’re communicating in a way that takes out of the picture all the usual social norms that keep people from communicating with each other. So it feels safe, different, and exciting, and there is a lot of potential for idea-generation.”
  18. 18. BY NANCY LANGMEYER Contemporary robotic systems have come a long way since machines first started to appear in 400 B.C. Today, some of the most compelling advances in robotics can be seen in the surgical field. Surgical robots have become standard for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in almost all surgical areas. Today the surgical robot market is dominated by the da Vinci Surgical System from California-based Intuitive Surgical. The system has been used in more than 1.5 million surgeries, and the company has a market share of 68 percent according to a recent report from WinterGreen Research. The da Vinci has a vision system with a 3D image of the operating field, a patient-side cart with electro- mechanical arms that hold interchangeable surgical instruments, and a surgeon console for controlling the procedures. Accuray, a radiation oncology company also based in California, holds 15 percent of market share, and was recently listed as one of the Top 10 Robotics Innovators SURGICAL ROBOTICS INDUSTRY EXPECTED TO QUADRUPLE by Fast Company for its slightly sinister sounding CyberKnife System. Although not a surgical device per se, the CyberKnife System is the first and only robotic radiosurgery system; it delivers noninvasive stereotactic radiosur- gery and stereotactic body radiation therapy through- out the body. Simply put, the system can deliver high doses of radiation with extreme accuracy in treat- ments that are individualized to each patient, reducing the amount of radiation needed dramatically. According to the WinterGreen report, the robotic surgery industry is expected to grow four-fold in the next five years from $4.9 billion in 2014 to $19.9 billion in 2019. Susan Eustis, co-author of the report and president of WinterGreen, says the growth is propelled by next-generation systems that will, among other things, decrease the number of ports needed in MIS. With increased accuracy and the ability to repeat processes, Eustis says that existing open surgery can soon be replaced in a large part by robotic MIS.
  19. 19. “The magnification is excellent and with greater visualization, there is less blood loss,” says David Albala, chief of urology at Crouse Hospital and medi- cal director for Associated Medical Professionals in Syracuse, New York. Albala also notes the much quicker recovery time seen in patients who’ve had MIS procedures. Patients generally experience less pain and more rapid healing while surgeons experience less fatigue, and hand tremors are reduced with greater control from the robotic instruments. “Ten years ago this technology was a fad, but it’s not anymore,” Albala adds. “This technology is here to stay. It used to be industry driven, but now the baton has passed to the patients. They are coming in asking for it.” No one knows for sure what the future will bring in this industry, but other companies around the world are working on next-generation surgical robots that are bound to shape the field. “Systems from these companies are still years away, but in the meantime, what we’ll see next is modifica- tions that will provide better dexterity and better visualization,” Albala concludes. Medical researchers are also focusing in on long-dis- tance surgery (telesurgery) and surgical snakes, built to reach previously unreachable areas in the body. The Flex System, developed by New England-based Medrobotics Corporation, is already available in Europe, but not yet approved for sale in the United States. This robot-assisted flexible endoscopic plat- form can access and visualize hard-to-reach anatom- ical locations and deploy specially designed flexible surgical instruments to perform procedures. Although some industry leaders believe that there may be a time when a robot can do surgery on its own, Albala says no. “Everyone’s anatomy is vastly different, so I don’t agree with those that say it’s a possibility.” Photo courtesy of Accuray
  20. 20. builder bots Termites, known more for their destructive chewing than architectural talents, are, in fact, master builders. Look inside any termite mound and you’ll find an intricate network of tunnels, each designed to optimize natural air conditioning and lighting. How do these tiny bugs achieve such architectural genius? Emergence: A combination of hardwired genetic code and environmental cues that allow simple creatures like termites to produce amaz- ing structures. Harvard University researchers have looked closely at emergence and applied those basic principles to robotics, creating a team of small robots that can collectively surmise how to build a structure from blocks. The four-year TERMES Project demonstrates that autonomous robots can cooperate in building structures without a centralized computer system telling them what to do. Instead, they are prepro- grammed with simple commands based on the structure to be built. A compiler developed by the Harvard team takes any blueprint and turns it into a representation that corresponds to traffic laws for the robots to adhere to, says TERMES Project lead Justin Werfel. “It tells them where they are allowed to go and where they can’t go.” The robots don’t communicate with one another, but use onboard sensors to place blocks where they are needed. If a robot finds it can’t perform a task because it’s been carried out by another bot, it will find something else to do. To begin the building process, one brick is laid down as a foundation to give the robots a point of refer- ence to build up the other blocks. They may build the structure in different ways each time, and if one robot fails, the others can complete the task. If more robots are added, they work together to build the same structure. T E R M I T E S A R E I N S P I R A T I O N F O R B I L L B U L K E L E Y
  21. 21. Robot designer Kirstin Petersen notes that, like termites, the bots build structures much larger than themselves. “Each robot is about seven inches long and four inches wide. Designing them was challenging because they needed to climb and also traverse level ground,” Petersen says. “Larger whegs that provided the ability to climb higher resulted in a bumpy construction process.” Because the mobile robots had difficulty placing objects precisely, the team designed special foam bricks with tongues and grooves for alignment. The bricks are held together with magnets that make the structure stable enough for the robots to climb over. While construction robots are nothing new, it’s the autonomy of these termite bots that makes them special. “The real advance is the compiler that comes up with rules that tell the robots how to build what we want,” says Steve Burbeck, a North Carolina-based consultant in artificial intelligence. Burbeck, a former IBM scientist, says that having many simple robots cooperate on projects is an exciting area for artificial intelligence. He believes they may represent an alternative to complex systems prone to bugs and hacking. Werfel believes that similar systems could be adopted for classic robot tasks that are “dangerous, difficult, or dirty,” like building a levee out of sand- bags in a flood zone. Eventually, swarm robots might build things underwater or in space. Photo courtesy of Eliza Grinnell / Harvard SEAS
  23. 23. When 3D printers first hit the market, geeks across the globe celebrated the new opportunity to print all kinds of commodities in their homes. This disruptive and highly personalized way of manu- facturing meant never again having to buy an overpriced store item that only ‘sort of’ met your needs and specifications. But that vision has yet to be realized. So why aren’t consumers printing more of their own products? While 3D printing is taking off in large-scale manu- facturing and President Obama pushes to open more advanced manufacturing facilities in the United States, individual consumers are just not buying in. At least not yet. Some argue that the demand for consumer 3D printers is low due to a lack of strong consumer offerings, but the fact is, despite all the hype around its benefits and innovative qualities, 3D printing technology is truly targeted toward pas- sionate, highly motivated makers and hobbyists, not the average person. “To date, the consumer 3D printing market has been held back in part because there is no compelling use—something that the consumer can only acquire by producing it on a 3D printer at home,” says Peter Basiliere, research vice president for imaging and print services at Gartner. A recent Gartner report predicts that we might see a compelling consumer application within the next two years, but for now the broadest use case of at-home 3D printing has been in the creation of figurines and other small nick-knacks, not items that have an impact on everyday lives. This doesn’t help convince average consumers the machines are a good investment. Until industry leaders figure out how to make people want it, 3D printing won’t take off as a consumer technology. And there are other reasons for the lack of interest. Printers aren’t priced for consumer adoption. It’s true that 3D printers are less expensive than they once were and prices are still dropping, but that doesn’t mean they’re affordable for everyday consumers. Most printers that create high-quality products cost well over $2,000, and the printers that are consumer-friendly in price (less than $1,000) typically don’t replicate CAD designs correctly and cannot print high-quality products. Not to mention they usually have to be assembled DIY-style (which is daunting for those of us who panic at the thought of putting together simpler objects, like IKEA furniture). Printing materials are expensive and structurally weak. Current consumer printers use either ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PLA (polylactic acid) plastic filaments to 3D print. These plastics are Photo courtesy of MakerBot
  24. 24. not sturdy and household items with moving parts can’t be printed. In order to create useful models, future printers will have to use metals or carbon composites. Unfortunately, these materials only add to the cost of owning a 3D printer, and currently run from $40 to $122 per kilogram of material. It takes hours for parts to print. The current build speed on a consumer printer is too slow to truly be practical. Depending on the size of the model and quality of the printer, it can take from several hours to several days to print a model. Imagine setting up a print to be done overnight, only to wake up and find that the print failed and you have to start all over again. 3D printers aren’t exactly ‘user-friendly’. This is partly due to a difficult set-up process, and the skills needed to be able to utilize the technology. Printer set-up, in the current iteration, requires the use of high-voltage supplies and specialized parts and equipment, and cheaper printers will usually not connect to WiFi. Not only is set-up complicated, but consumers lack the skills and experience needed to use 3D-printer software tools to create their own models. Designing your own file requires working knowledge of CAD software, and download- able files that consumers can use are not moderat- ed and may not work on every type of printer. There are safety concerns. Printers that utilize powder-based materials are messy and potentially explosive depending on what you’re making with them. These printers work at high temperatures and produce resins as part of the process. There are also concerns about indoor air quality and emis- sions from these 3D printers. Intellectual property issues can arise. Right now it’s fairly easy for people to share and download digital designs for 3D printers online. A website called Thingiverse has many items that people are design- ing, copying, and printing. But many items people are creating, like Star Wars figurines, are protected by copyright. Remember the controversy surrounding Napster, the peer-to-peer music file sharing service? Soon, there could be similar lawsuits over copyright infringement of 3D-printed products. Some companies are using creative ways to get around these issues to fill in the gap in the consumer market. In Boston, for example, 3D printing company Makerbot (well-known for its desktop 3D printers and scanners) is drawing in consumers through an in-store location on 144 Newbury Street. The shop is not only meant to be a place for customers to purchase printers and printing material, but it also serves as an interactive space where you can see demonstrations and join workshops to learn how to use the devices. Customers can also scan, print, and purchase objects created on-site, while also accessing some fun takeaways like $5 novelty gifts from a “gumball machine,” and a 3D photo booth, which takes one minute to scan a subject’s head and shoulders and then ships the end-result to your doorstep. Other companies attempting to capitalize on 3D printing for ordinary consumers are offering this type of printing as a service, while also selling 3D printed creations. Sculpteo, i.materialise, and even UPS operate quick 3D printing services and have communities that connect makers, buyers, and sellers of 3D printed objects. This marketplace is getting even bigger now that e-commerce giant Amazon launching its own online storefront for 3D printed objects and downloadable design files. Certain social trends, like the recent Maker move- ment, could be a factor in bringing 3D printers into the home, but it may always remain a niche market. Leaders in the 3D printing industry will have to figure out a way to overcome limiting factors in order to bring the technology into mainstream use.
  26. 26. What’s in your product? Manufacturers worldwide are recognizing the benefits of being able to answer that simple question. Of course, for most products, there is no simple answer. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year, Intel announced that all of its microprocessors shipped in 2014 will be conflict mineral free. Intel will continue procurement from Africa, but clear visibility into its supply chain will allow it to avoid conflict mines, and this will pay off big for Intel. First, Intel’s brand is enhanced by putting distance between its products and the human suffering creat- ed by warlords in conflict zones. Intel is positioning itself as a champion of sustainable development with predictable benefits to its corporate reputation for social responsibility. Second, as companies with less-developed procure- ment processes flee the region in order to reduce their own brand risks, it is likely that local supplies will increase, causing local prices of the minerals to decrease, reducing Intel’s procurement costs. But this is only one example of how supply chain visibility can pay off. Consider, for example, the costs of recalls due to design flaws and counterfeit parts. Counterfeiting goes far beyond currency and is estimated to be a multi-trillion dollar problem worldwide, with obvious health and safety implications. Counterfeit handbags and shoes get their share of media attention, but consider automobile parts. One auto manufacturer is currently recalling a significant portion of all the automobiles it has produced in the past decade due to counterfeit parts. Several other ways that supply chain visibility can build value and head off problems: 1 Identify hazardous substances. Many mar- kets come with restrictions on hazardous substances. Revelations of such substances can keep a finished product from reaching your customers. 2 Reduce end-of-life costs. Recycling regula- tions impose end-of-life costs on manufac- tures based on the amount of certain materi- als in a product. Companies can reduce recycling escrow and negotiate more favor- able terms by knowing how much of what materials are in their products. 3 Reduce trade costs. International opportuni- ties often come with reciprocal trade requirements. Knowing who produced parts of your product and where can both open opportunities and reduce trade costs. 4 Take a proactive approach to regulation. Intel is taking a proactive approach to reduc- ing conflict and increasing fair-trade practic- es in Africa. As the new conflict mineral law comes into being, Intel has positioned itself ahead of the game. Many more government regulations are pending, and working toward excellent supply chain visibility now will pay off in the future. 5 Optimize design. If designers are aware of both regulations and the content of parts, they can more easily evaluate design alternatives that can result in reduced material costs. 6 Control material costs. Companies can aggregate material usage across product lines to negotiate volume pricing. Production visibility may even help hedge against changing material costs.
  27. 27. © 2014, PTC Inc. All rights reserved. Information described herein is furnished for informational use only, is subject to change without notice, and should not be taken as a guarantee, commitment, condition or offer by PTC. PTC, the PTC logo, Product & Service Advantage, Creo, Elements/Direct, Windchill, Mathcad, Arbortext, PTC Integrity, Servigistics, ThingWorx, ProductCloud and all other PTC product names and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of PTC and/or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. All other product or company names are property of their respective owners. J3770–PLS-Spring-2014-ePub–EN–0514 PTC Product Lifecycle Stories brings you the latest news and trends in design innovation and manufacturing. Subscribe to PTC Product Lifecycle Stories for daily updates. PRODUCT LIFECYCLE STORIES INSIGHT ON PRODUCTS, MANUFACTURING, AND SERVICE Share this eMagazine