TechHub: Future of 3D Printing, 3M Connected Roads & US Manufacturing

A 3D printer hard at work in GrayMatter's Center of Excellence.

The Future of 3D Printing

Decades of innovation have led to the industrial revolution, or industry 4.0. The heart of it all? 3D printing. From aerospace to automotive, healthcare to fashion, manufacturing will never be the same due to 3D printing technology.

The next phase is underway — further shaping custom manufacturing capabilities — due to a few reasons according to Forbes.

Innovations in Direct-Metal Printing

Direct-metal 3D printing is faster than ever, and more capable, with the number of metal alloys that can be 3D printed on the rise. It allows for high-performance, lightweight and complex designs that would otherwise be impossible in the manufacturing process.

This allows for complex and highly detailed products critical for aerospace, automotive and mechatronic industries at a fraction of the cost. GE is a major player in the direct-metal printing field, with predictions for its metal business to surpass $1 billion in annual revenue within a few years.

Innovations in Selective Laser Sintering

Selective laster sintering (SLS) is the ability to produce parts from a variety of nylon materials. An example of use is the F-18 fighter jet, which has been using SLS parts for air ducts, electronic covers and other components for decades.

However, recent advancements on technology that speeds up production of SLS parts will help bring it into the mainstream rather than confining it to hyper-specific applications for military, defense and aerospace applications.

Shaping the Future with these Innovations

Using these advancements with computing power in the cloud, IoT connectivity, big data and next-gen robotics, Industry 4.0 is fully utilized as an adaptive, self-optimizing factory fueled by additive manufacturing.

Learn more about Industry 4.0 and the digital transformation process with GrayMatter.

Gartner expects growth in photopolymer 3D printing systems over the next couple years to be about 75%. Industries like health care and personalized medical devices are using 3D printing to create hearing aids, dental fixtures, hip replacements, medical implants and surgical tools. Another trend is implementing 3D printers in schools and public libraries, teaching children to use the hardware and design software.

Once considered a novelty, 3D printing is turning into a tech giant, with its influence growing into nearly every industry.

3M Connected Roads Paving Way for Autonomous Vehicles

Countless tech and auto giants are getting in on autonomous vehicle research, with a new startup popping up every week dedicated to self-driving cars.

3M is joining the efforts — but on the smart city infrastructure side of it.

Check out what GrayMatter is up to with smart city intelligent infrastructure.

The company is creating a solution to make it easier for self-driving cars to see, instead of forcing autonomous cars to adapt to the current crumbling, patchwork roads in place.

Past attempts at connected smart roads have failed due to ideas of forcing municipalities to spend large sums of money on retrofitting roads with complicated tech like sensors, making it impractical.

3M’s Connected Roads project instead takes technology and materials that aren’t that different from current infrastructure, making them more cost effective, and use them to talk to autonomous cars, according to CNet’s auto and tech industry news publication Roadshow.

This is done through retooling lane markings and changing road signs, benefiting both autonomous vehicles and human drivers, allowing each to more quickly and easily identify and process information.

The new lane markings will be machine-readable, while adding the ability to reflect outside the visible spectrum, making it easier to see in inclement weather. 3M scientists are also developing these lane-markings to be more durable than what is currently available, reducing future costs.

The road signs will also be more reflective, specifically-designed with 3M smart codes, allowing self-driving cars to regularly update information on the road.

3M struck a deal with the Michigan Department of Transportation in May 2017 to adopt the first pilot program for the project — helping test the efficacy of these new road markings and signs along I-75 in Oakland County.

Michigan is the perfect case study due to its severe winter weather, which has been a challenge for self-driving cars.

Interested in getting on board with smart city intelligent infrastructure? Learn about what our team has done to unlock new levels of connectivity within schools, banks and more — bringing infrastructure into the information age.

Go to intelligent infrastructure

U.S. Manufacturing Primed for Another Growth Year

2017 was the year of U.S. manufacturing. The industry had its best year since 2011, with signs showing 2018 will continue the momentum according to Industry Week.

Trade is likely to continue to increase, with stronger global growth expectations and a weaker dollar helping manufacturing goods represent nearly half of all U.S. exports.

There are three positive signs for the manufacturing outlook in the domestic economy:

U.S. inventory is too low

Inventories have been trailing the growth in domestic demand. The economy has been expanding at 2.2% since the end of the recession, with inventories below the necessary level in 2017. To remedy, factories are likely to go into overdrive to boost inventories in coming quarters.

Recovery in business investment

The recovery in business investment should help lift the factory sector. One-tenth of total industrial production is business equipment. When labor markets are tight, companies seek alternative ways to meet demand. Business fixed investment is stronger when unemployment rate is low, which it is today. Stronger stock prices help ease lending standards on commercial and industrial loans, leading investment spending.

Housing market on the mend

Construction supplies and appliances represent 5% of industrial production. Housing demand is on the upswing, continuing to outrun supply and builder sentiment is elevated. Construction activity will continue to strengthen in 2018 — providing a tailwind for manufacturing.

TechHub: Ford’s Vision for Smart Cities, 4 Digital Trends for 2018 & More

Ford’s Vision for Smart Cities

Ford Motor Company’s President and CEO Jim Hackett announced a range of mobility solutions, like autonomic vehicles and connected systems, centered around Ford’s idea of ‘the Living Street.’

The ideas are a connected, autonomous and ethically fair city that blends mobility and transport into cities instead of letting it stick out according to Forbes.

 

 

Ford is making a commitment to be a bigger part of smart cities; “Together we can create cities where density and diversity give life, they’re not in competition. It’s not about cities getting smarter, it’s about humans having a better day,” said Hackett.

Ford is also partnering with Lyft, Domino’s Pizza and Postmates with their self-driving vehicles to serve the ‘underserved,’ offering delivery service for dry cleaners, flower shops and corner grocery stores.

As a society, we’re moving into a time where the safest car is one without a driver. The logistics are being finalized to make this a reality, with Ford taking a big step to remain relevant by moving beyond the vehicle as different options are emerging.

4 Digital Trends Manufacturing Should Watch for in 2018

Industry Week details the top four digital trends most likely to affect manufacturers in 2018:

1. B2B manufacturers will embrace the Internet of Things

Industrial manufacturers have struggled to understand how to harness the power of IoT to create new business models and increase customer satisfaction — but that will change in 2018. A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that manufacturers will see three key drivers of IoT in the coming years:

Predictive maintenance

Companies will save time and money as IoT-enabled equipment undertake self-maintenance and alert managers to developments. Deloitte predicted this trend will “optimize maintenance tasks in real time, maximizing the useful life of manufacturers equipment while avoiding disruptions to operations.”

Self-Optimizing Production

Over the coming year, more manufacturers will develop systems that will allow a new level of product optimization. Companies will be monitoring and optimizing production processes in real time through interconnected factories and supply chains, initiating automated adjustments to enhance efficiency and cut down on waste.

Automated Inventory Management

Smart warehouses and connectivity are revolutionizing the way manufacturers capture and use key data, offering richer insights into inventory and supply chain. Businesses will be increasingly tracking the location and condition of inventory in route and in the warehouse. This will expedite reponse time, reduce inventory and enhance production time.

2. The rise of “cobot” production

2018 will bring smarter, safer and less expensive “collaborative robots” to replace bulkier, more dangerous traditional industrial robots. The International Federation of Robotics projects that “cobot” shipments will increase significantly — with the U.S. and China taking the lead in adoption rates.

3. Blockchain comes to manufacturing

Blockchain typically brings to mind cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, however the technology creates a system for seamless digital information to be stored, recorded and distributed without being falsified or copied.

It’s predicted to play a large role in other industries, like manufacturing, as a more trustworthy way of building digital relationships. It has the ability to build a trusted relationship between partners and customers, allowing blockchain to be used to register, certify and track goods within the supply chain to reduce risk.

4. Cyber security risks increase

2017 was the year of cyber threats, with experts believing 2018 will be even worse as the number of IoT devices and sensor technology increases. This poses a huge challenge for those in the industrial IoT space, forcing manufacturers to embrace cyber-physical systems to mitigate risk on operations in this increasingly vulnerable time. Advances in AI and machine learning are offering solutions to predict and ward off cyber attacks.

Kodak to Launch Cryptocurrency “KODAKCoin”

Kodak is joining in on the cryptocurrency frenzy — causing stock shares to more than double after announcing their plans according to Bloomberg.

The “photocentric cryptocurrency” aims to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management, currently a difficult task in the digital age where photo ownership is easily robbed.

The shares rose 119%, boosting Kodak’s market value to $289.5 million as of January 9th.


TechHub: Industrial Market Growth, Advancement in Smart Cities & Homeland Security Urges Cyber

The Industrial Market Opportunity

Manufacturing and industrial companies are the backbone of the U.S. economy. With the advancement of the digital age, more factories and utilities are looking to cut costs, decrease downtime and streamline operations.

This industry’s operations are extremely different from IT enterprises and rely on partner companies that specialize in operational technology in order to connect and protect their assts.

GrayMatter was highlighted in CRN, a news analysis online publication for technology companies.

“We help customers in these markets connect their factories, connect their big expensive assets,” said James Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter, in CRN. “Those are things we’ve been working on, to digitize the information, and to help customers get better results.”

Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter

The article explores various aspects from the operational issues companies face, to a continuously growing partnership with GE and the possibilities the Industrial Internet has for companies.

Part of that partnership is collaborative engineering on cutting-edge ideas like Brilliant Manufacturing by GE Digital, a suite of software enabling predictive analytics on a scalable intelligent system powered by the cloud-based operating system Predix.

“It’s enabling digital transformations at a scale that would have been harder to do in the past,” said Gillespie. “Predix is like the iOS of the operating systems and now there’s people coming together to write apps — there’s a whole group of people emerging in a community of developers and solution providers.”

Cloud technology is now in an advanced place where it’s becoming universally affordable, dependable and reachable. The community around the operating system is pushing the industry forward, and everybody needs to jump on board.

View all of the technology services GrayMatter has to offer:

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Homeland Security Urges Industrial Cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) issued an alert about a malicious BrickerBot permanent Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack.

BrickerBot exploits hard-coded passwords in Internet of Things (IoT) devices to cause a permanent denial of service, locking operators out of their systems.

The team encourages asset owners to know that their control systems are deployed securely and not exposed to threats through open internet connections by thoroughly auditing their networks.

Control systems often have devices accessible to the internet without operators knowing, leaving them at a greater risk for an attack. Completing a vulnerability assessment allows operators to know what devices are connected, how strong authentication methods are, vulnerable firewalls and use of unauthorized remote access.

To learn more about cyber security for the OT, download the GrayMatter cyber security guide for operational technology:

Download the Guide

The Advancement of Smart Cities

San Diego announced a new partnership with GE to deploy the world’s largest Internet of Things platform using smart streetlights. This will reduce energy costs by 60-percent and transform them into a single, connected digital network that can optimize parking and traffic, enhance public safety and track air quality.

Over 3,000 smart sensors will be deployed, with a potential to expand an additional 3,000 in the future, to upgrade over 14,000 city lights.

By reducing energy needs, greenhouse gas admissions will be reduced. Light pollution will also decrease with the implemented new technology enabling dimming and brightening features either automatically or remotely, depending on natural light conditions.

GE’s intelligent lighting in San Diego. Image: GE Lighting

The GE Current CityIQ sensor nodes will support a range of applications varying from gunshot detection, to smart parking and air quality control.

“This technology is powerful. Downtown visitors will be able to find parking easily and in real time using a smart phone, and the environmental and transportation data will help Downtown meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan. This is a huge win for San Diego,” said Kris Michell, the President & CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Deployment of the platform will begin in July and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

It’s expected to save the city over $2.4 million annually in energy costs.

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