How 3D Printing is Transforming Industry

Remember that scene in “Back to the Future Part II” where the future McFly family prepares dinner by “hydrating” a tiny, dense circle into an entire pizza? In mere minutes, they’re all happily devouring food from the future.


The hydrated pizza from “Back to the Future Part II”

This appliance might have seemed impossible back in 1989 when the film premiered, but thanks to today’s 3D printing technology, it’s becoming more of a reality.

In fact, a recent Automation World article detailed the future of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, in the food industry. And yes, “printing” pizza is a possibility.

Enter Foodini, by Natural Machines— a 3D food printer that makes pizza, pasta, breads, and cookies. Does making ravioli from scratch sound daunting? The creators of Natural Machines suggest to simply load the dough and filling and let Foodini print the pasta for you.

“Foodini is the first 3D printer to print all types of real, fresh, nutritious foods, from savory to sweet,” according to the Natural Machines website. “It uses fresh, real ingredients, making the Foodini the first 3D food printer kitchen appliance to contribute to a healthy eating lifestyle.”

While Foodini isn’t available for purchase quite yet, co-founder Lynette Kucsma, envisions a time where every household will own their own 3D food printer, according to Automation World.

Industry experts even say that 3D printing will help food manufacturers, not harm. Laurence Gibbons of Food Manufacture said it will be a huge part of the food and beverage industry — reducing costs and production time. In fact, Gibbons suggests it could even be as valuable to food manufacturers as the Internet.

But 3D printing isn’t limited to the food industry– it’s anything but.

New Balance, the athletic wear brand, announced yesterday their newest running shoe model– one that incorporates a 3D-printed midsole.

Instead of the traditional foam at the bottom of a sneaker, this model will have a lighter, 3D-printed midsole. According to Fast Company, brands like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have experimented with 3D printing for a few years now. Apparently, shoe companies are now competing to make a lighter shoe, one that can be produced quickly and they’re doing so with the help of 3D printing.

Photo courtesy Creative Tools

Photo courtesy Creative Tools

So if food, running sneakers, and even automobile parts are impacted, where else is 3D printing applicable?

According to Jesse Snyder of Alberta Oil Magazine, the oil and gas industry may be next. Snyder said Apollo-Clad’s laser cladding is a lot like 3D printing oilfield pipes and tools.

“Suspended in the air over the tube is the spray nozzle of a laser-cladding machine, which has been placing successive layers of tungsten carbide to build up three “stabilizer blades” in the center portion of the tool,” said Snyder.

Doug Hamre, the head of research and development at Apollo-Clad, a company that manufactures and repairs downhole tools and mining equipment, said it’s “exactly like 3D printing, but on a larger, industrial scale.”

David Greenfield of Automation World even said back in 2014 that “the ability to print using many different types of materials, and decreasing costs” could make 3D printing a game changer for the global automation market.

At the 2014 IHS Industrial Automation conference, senior principal analyst Alex Chausovksy said that industrial machinery production is an area to be most dramatically impacted by 3D printing technology.

“The increased ability for innovation in design means that companies armed with 3D printing technology can ‘work from function rather than fit,’ allowing changes to be made far more quickly than ever before,” said Greenfield.

According to Chausovksy, we are on the cusp of a new way to produce. However, he warns that another change it could bring to the manufacturing industry is “a restructuring of intellectual property rights.”

“Manufacturers will have to think about IP (intellectual property) in a different way. They may need to move from selling physical parts to selling CAD files for customers to print,” said Chausovksy in the Automation World article.

If this explosion of additive manufacturing or 3D printing can teach us anything, it’s that technology continues to transform industries of all sizes and compositions.

How’s the Weather: A Test-Bed for Technology

Let’s talk weather. It might be one of the most basic exchanges of small talk, but recently it’s become even more.

According to Jamie Carter of TechRadar, it’s becoming a test-bed for modern technology such as big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and even cloud storage.

The data mostly comes from “weather stations, observation systems at airports, meteorological satellites, ocean buoys, ships, aircraft and – most recently – personal weather stations in people’s homes that are connected to the internet.”

Carter said  that if crowd-sourcing weather data is on the rise, (as are sensor-packed smartphones) this can help meet the demand for hyper-local weather data.

With mobile devices and other IoT devices, even the average smartphone owner might be able to give the weather industry more real-time data that can be used to create more sophisticated weather prediction models.Weather-Data

Who doesn’t want a more accurate look into the weather? You can’t predict the nastiest of extreme weather patterns, but we might be getting closer.

The IoT even offers different, cheaper ways to collect weather observations.

“Existing observation networks are limited in number but highly calibrated, because they’re expensive to run and operate,” said Charles Ewen, chief information officer at the Met Office in the TechRadar article. “However, the IoT offers a high density of observations of an unknown quality.”

And analyzing weather data isn’t just convenient for knowing when to wear raincoat. Per Nyberg of InformationWeek said that “early, granular, and accurate” weather reports could benefit everyone from healthcare providers to retailers.

“Granular and early forecasts can create business opportunities — for example, alerting a brewery to supply distributors and points-of-sale greater inventory in anticipation of an unusually warm spring weekend in the Northeast,” said Nyberg. “Or suppose a blizzard is due to hit Atlanta on Black Friday — with enough notice, retailers could adjust their plans.” 

Per Nyberg, InformationWeek

Of course, Carter notes that while predicting weather has always been about clouds, it’s now also about the cloud. He said the cable TV company, The Weather Channel, used about 13 data centers and generated a whopping four terabytes of data an hour. But by using the cloud, The Weather Channel is now processing a predictions “in milliseconds, and every 15 minutes rather than once per hour.”

Here’s a few other stories from this week worth noting. 

Should Banks Prepare for the IoT?

A recent report from Deloitte has shown some major potential for the IoT in both the retail banking and capital markets. According to Christopher O. Hernaes of TechCrunch, because banks rely on data for risk management and credit analysis.

“In addition to adding new data sources to credit scores, sensor technology could revolutionize loan collateral tracking and balance sheet reporting for both SMEs and corporate clients,” said Hernaes. “Imagine the possibilities for real-time monitoring of inventory or livestock for manufacturing and agriculture segments. This would potentially enable banks to perform automated and near real-time balance sheet reporting.” 

In addition to banking, we’re already seeing “smart” payments like with Apple Pay. MasterCard is apparently even allowing payments through the fitness wearable, Jawbone.

Continue reading this post from TechCrunch.

4 Network Requirements for the IoT

According to Ben Rossi of Information Age, the hype over the Internet of Things is full-speed and not going to slow down any time soon.

Rossi said there are four important network requirements for enabling the IoT before taking advantage of the transformations it has to offer:

  • Broadening the horizons of the network’s visibility
  • Determining your IoT fit
  • Smarter feedback for smarter decisions
  • Defending “dumb devices”

Read more about these here.

Know Thy Enemy

A recent article by Edward Jones of Entrepreneur suggested a new kind of cyber security strategy– hire a hacker.

If this sounds unconventional, you’re not alone. If hackers cause so much damage, why would anyone want to hire them?

Jones said there are multiple reasons, however, to consider hiring ethical hackers:

  • Everyone’s under cyber-attack
  • Ethical hackers spot vulnerabilities
  • Can be worth the money in the end

Read more about ethical hackers.

Media We Link To:

“Cloud on Clouds: How Weather Data is a Test-Bed For New Tech” – TechRadar

“3 Ways Big Data Supercomputing Change Weather Forecasting” – InformationWeek

“Banks Should Prepare For the Internet of Things” – TechCrunch 

“4 network requirements to enable the Internet of Things” – Information Age

“Know Thy Enemy, Hire a Hacker” – Entrepreneur

The Human-Centric Internet of Things

The Internet of Things.

Bloggers write about it, Gartner analysts research its future impact, and others discuss it over coffee with colleagues.

Whether it seems likely now or not, Gartner said that by 2020 there will be 25 billion connected things. Still, many industry leaders have their concerns.

We’re living in a time where security incidents like Stuxnet happen and a number of other breaches are the norm. Being wary about a time where every “thing” is Internet-facing is certainly warranted.

In fact, at the IQPC Cyber Security Forum in Calgary this October, security consultant  Nicolas McKerrall set out to show just how vulnerable the Internet of Things can be, according to a recent article by IT World Canada.

With his own personal investment of a couple hundred dollars, McKerrall illustrated “just how easily one could issue commands to the myriad of devices in an industrial control network.” He even walks the attendees through step by step how easy it is, and there’s even a video of him doing so:

According to McKerrall, gaining access can be as easy as making a fake account on LinkedIn. And in some cases, that’s not even necessary–like when the devices are connected  to a network.

Once you reach any of these devices, said McKerrall, “they will happily spit out all the information that you need to allow you to take control of them. They’ll tell you what device they are and what versions of software they are running.”

What McKerrall has illustrated is some pretty unnerving stuff around the Internet of Things. But the author of the article, Jim Love, makes a good point.

“Should we be afraid of the Internet of Things?  No. We should be afraid of proceeding into it with our eyes closed,” said Love. “Admitting and acknowledging the weaknesses we know about can allow us to find ways to architect a much more secure ecosystem.” 

Jim Love

But apprehension isn’t the only emotion tied to the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, H. James WilsonBaiju Shah, and Brian Whipple of Harvard Business Review said in a recent article that a more human-centric side of the IoT is beginning to gain popularity.

“It’s less about automation and more about personal augmentation; less about individual devices and more about ‘living services’ that let people program and connect smart devices however they want,” said the authors.

For example, IoT living services might look like connecting your car to a smart garage door opener, which is connected to a smart lock, and even activates your smart thermostat and smart lighting system. You pull into the driveway and they simultaneously interact– creating a better, “smarter” experience of coming home. This is human-centric IoT.

After completing an open-source analysis of IoT behavior, the authors found that of the 1,000 technology platforms and services, customers generally want an IoT that provides personalized services. In fact, the top responses include IoT services that provide feelings of safety at home, quantifying data around oneself, and optimizing what we would have to do otherwise manually.

“The data show that the most heavily used IoT programs are ones that make home life easier, more distinctive, and more pleasant,” said Wilson, Shah, and Brian. “Respondents also show a big preference for services that don’t require them to go out of their way to make something work.” 

Here’s some other notable stories from this past week:

Medical Students Crunch Big Datasteth

This week, KUNC Radio began their multimedia story with a simple phrase: Medicine, meet Big Data.

And what an interesting introduction, indeed. Interpreting data isn’t exactly a skill most physicians were required to learn in medical school.

But New York University’s medical students Brian Chao, Michael Lui, Hye Min Choi, and Varun Vijay are using data to analyze health trends– specifically learning about the anatomy of cells, and how disease may disrupt them. It’s even a big part of their studies.

“That’s how we make decisions; we make them based on the truth and the evidence that are present in those data,” said Marc Triola, an associate dean for educational informatics at NYU’s medical school.

Read more about these NYU med students analyzing health data.

Cyber Attacks on the Rise Since Sony Hack

Marianne Zumberge of Variety said yesterday that cyber attacks are on the rise in the media industry about one year after the Sony Hack, according to a new survey.

“Of the 319 execs in the media business surveyed worldwide in May and June, 46% reported having been subject to cyberattacks over the past year from third parties such as hackers that targeted digital media in advance of a major launch such as theatrical or DVD releases,” said Zumberge. “When asked the same question last year, only 29% reported such incursions.”

Continue reading here.

Five Biggest Things in Tech Right Now

Summarizing  some of the biggest pieces of news into a nice, bite-size article, Gene Marks of Forbes points out five trends in the technology space:

  • The connected home appliance market in the U.S. is expected to grow at a rate of more than 98% over the next five years.
  • Despite regulatory issues, funding for drones continues to fly high.
  • Verizon’s new Android phone has a shatter-proof screen…and 48 hours of battery life.
  • NASA is offering patents to start-ups with no money down.
  • Facebook at Work signs up its biggest business yet.

Read more from Marks.

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