“There are really three parts to the creative process. First there is inspiration, then there is the execution, and finally there is the release.”
– Eddie Van Halen
1. 3D Scanning Historic Race Cars
This might come as a shocker, but computer-aided anything hasn’t been around forever. With the decline of the internal combustion engine drawing near (believe me, I had a harder time writing that than you had reading it), the screaming exhaust note of vintage race cars is more cherished now than ever before. A lot of these classic rattle traps were built – and even worse, designed – with tooling that no longer exists. Get this: Some of these beasts were designed using paper – and paper rots! In some cases, the original blueprints no longer exist, meaning there’s no documentation whatsoever. All we’ve been left with is a single working example. How do you keep it running? I don’t know, but 3D scanning seems like a good start!
2. How Digital Manufacturing Builds Supply Chain Resiliency
TL;DR – Here are the five ways. Digital manufacturing accelerates production without massive manufacturing investments or delays; fulfills product needs just in time while eliminating inventory stockpiles; localizes production results in faster, more efficient deliveries of parts; supports meeting increasing demand for product personalization and customization; and delivers end-to-end automation and workflows to improve supply chain agility and flexibility.
3. Cobots: Masters of Packaging
Cobots have had a bit of a struggle finding their place in industry. Heck, SoftBank’s Pepper can’t hold a job and … Oh, poor Baxter. However, don’t put down Spot just yet! Handling a range of repetitive, low-speed applications like packaging could be the master craft for cobots! As a side note, I’m also really happy to see another article featuring Wyzo, the first collaborative delta arm.
4. What Do Inexpensive Cobots and Advanced Additive Metals Have in Common?
Metallic glass, bro. Take a look at the “space gear” image in this. “The most difficult, expensive gear component to machine from a steel block is one of the most common in robotic arms: the flexspline, an extremely thin-walled, flexible cup with a toothed rim. This is the centerpiece of what’s known as a strain wave gear assembly, which offers better precision, higher torque, and lower backlash than other gear sets. This eliminates positioning errors that would be compounded in a robotic limb with multiple joints.”
5. Printing With Moon Dust
You’re probably asking yourself, “Instead of bringing supplies to the moon, why not print them?” Excellent question! Fortunately, there’s a handful of additive tech companies working on space printing. Why? Sure, instead of taking stuff up there, just print it up there! Saves weight on takeoff payload, right? Sure doesn’t! You still need to bring all that material for the prints … Or do you? Here’s a company experimenting with printing simulated moon dust!
To access Tech Trends, log in to or register for an MTInsight account at https://www.mtinsight.org/