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Robotic cocoon-spinner challenges 3D printing

The German manufacturer Festo has developed a technology that uses a robot to “spin” interconnected fibreglass webs to create 3D structures. The technology, called 3D Cocooner, is inspired by the way that insects spin their cocoons and is the latest in a series of nature-based technologies that Festo has developed in recent years. It will make its public debut at this month’s Hannover Fair in Germany.

Motors will act as sensors to analyse themselves

German researchers are developing intelligent motor systems that can monitor their own operation without needing any extra sensors. By transforming the motor itself into a sensor, the research team at Saarland University, led by Professor Matthias Nienhaus, is creating smart motors that can tell whether they are running smoothly, can communicate and interact with other motors, and can be controlled efficiently.

German plant is ‘first’ to combine Industry 4.0 and IIC platforms

A German plant producing hydraulic valves has become the first in the world to combine the technical standards of Germany’s Industry 4.0 platform with those of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). The Bosch plant in Homburg is using the technologies to manage and optimise its processes to avoid consuming electricity at expensive peak times.

Bodies collaborate on an IP networking standard for IIoT

LonMark International – the non-profit organisation that enables interoperable systems for products based on the ISO/IEC 14908 standards – has announced plans to develop a new control-networking standard for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in cooperation with Echelon Corporation, the CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) Technical Committee TC-247, and LonMark Germany.

Specification will make it easier for smart factories to talk

Two organisations working to standardise smart factory operations – the OPC Foundation and AutomationML – have released a specification intended to make it easier to achieve interoperability in future factories.

Project will use 5G phone technologies to enhance production

Three Swedish organisations – SKF, Ericsson and Chalmers University – have embarked on a two-year, government-backed project that will combine next-generation (5G) mobile communications with manufacturing technologies. The aim of the 5G Enabled Manufacturing (5GEM) project is to improve speed, quality and information flows in advanced production systems.

Robot uses mocap technology to track human guide

A US research organisation called Madlab.CC is developing software that allows humans to interact with industrial robots using intuitive gestures.

Low-cost concept takes Ethernet to the sensor level

Innovasic, the US developer of industrial Ethernet silicon products, has demonstrated a “low-complexity” Ethernet concept designed to take Ethernet to the edge of industrial, building, transport and automotive networks.

Profibus International announces encoder certification testing

Profibus & Profinet International (PI) has introduced certification of products that use its encoder profile, thus ensuring the interoperability of drive and motion control applications. Together with PI’s PROFIdrive profile, the encoder profile defines interoperable application interfaces for various drive and motion control technologies based on Profinet and Profibus.

Industry leaders join forces to test TSN infrastructure

Leading automation suppliers, including Bosch Rexroth, Kuka, National Instruments and Schneider Electric, have joined forces with the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) to develop the world’s first Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) testbed. The aim is to demonstrate the new Ethernet IEEE 802 standards – referred to as TSN – being used in manufacturing applications.

Vibration isolators can vary stiffness 100-fold in less than 10ms

A Californian research-and-development organisation owned by Boeing and General Motors has developed an active variable-stiffness vibration isolator capable of 100-fold changes in stiffness and actuation times of less than 10ms, independent of the load.

£1.7m project will use magnetic gears for marine propulsion

Three UK companies are collaborating in a £1.7m project to develop compact, efficient electric drives for marine applications. Rolls-Royce, the magnetic gear developer Magnomatics, and the high-voltage motor manufacturer ATB Laurence Scott, will design, manufacture and test a 2.5MW magnetically geared propulsion motor (MGPM), using Magnomatics’ Pseudo Direct Drive (PDD) technology. The project is being co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Soft gripper can pick up fragile objects of almost any shape

Swiss researchers have developed a flexible gripping technology that can bend to pick up delicate objects such as eggs and paper without needing to know anything about the type of object or its shape. It could, for example, be used to handle food, to capture debris in outer space or be incorporated into humanoid robots.

New cooling technology ‘shrinks motor sizes by 75%’

Two US companies have announced plans to produce electric motors with a novel cooling technology that results in them being 75% smaller, and much lighter, than conventional motors with a similar power rating. They say that the motors, aimed principally at automotive applications, will deliver the power and torque to drive a passenger car from a package the size of a one-gallon can of paint.

Control system cuts robot programming times to ‘minutes’

A Finnish research organisation has developed a control system for the industrial robots that, it claims, can cut the time taken to set up and program robots to “minutes”, rather than the hour or more needed when using traditional programming methods.