Industrial Automation Asia – Weekly Product Update – [05.02.24]

Industrial Automation Asia – Weekly Product Update – [05.02.24]

IAA presents the latest exciting product news and updates in a mobile friendly text-based summary

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Figure announces commercial agreement with BMW Manufacturing to bring general purpose robots into automotive production

 

Figure, a California-based company developing autonomous humanoid robots, today announced that it has signed a commercial agreement with BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC to deploy general purpose robots in automotive manufacturing environments.

Figure’s humanoid robots enable the automation of difficult, unsafe, or tedious tasks throughout the manufacturing process, which in turn allows employees to focus on skills and processes that cannot be automated, as well as continuous improvement in production efficiency and safety.

“Single-purpose robotics have saturated the commercial market for decades, but the potential of general purpose robotics is completely untapped. Figure’s robots will enable companies to increase productivity, reduce costs, and create a safer and more consistent environment,” said Brett Adcock, Founder and CEO of Figure. “We look forward to working side-by-side with BMW Manufacturing to integrate AI and robotics into automotive production.”

Under the agreement, BMW Manufacturing and Figure will pursue a milestone-based approach. In the first phase, Figure will identify initial use cases to apply the Figure robots in automotive production. Once the first phase has been completed, the Figure robots will begin staged deployment at BMW’s manufacturing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Beyond the deployment of humanoid robots in an automotive manufacturing environment, BMW Manufacturing and Figure jointly will explore advanced technology topics such as artificial intelligence, robot control, manufacturing virtualization, and robot integration.

“The automotive industry, and with it the production of vehicles, is evolving rapidly. BMW Manufacturing is committed to integrating innovative technologies in our production systems to drive our future forward as an industry leader and innovator. The use of general purpose robot solutions has the potential to make productivity more efficient, to support the growing demands of our consumers, and to enable our team to focus on the transformation ahead of us,” said Dr. Robert Engelhorn, President and CEO of BMW Manufacturing.

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REJOOL adopts Siemens Xcelerator for development of hydrogen compressors

 

  • Hydrogen compression startup adopts Siemens’ cloud-enabled industry software portfolio to help establish digital thread for compressor development, manufacturing and supply chain/customer collaboration
  • Siemens Xcelerator as a Service including NX, Teamcenter X and Teamcenter Share used to streamline digital process to bring technology to market quickly

 

Siemens Digital Industries Software announced REJOOL, a startup focused on hydrogen compression devices, has adopted the Siemens Xcelerator as a Service portfolio of industry software to help bring its PIONYR hydrogen compression technology to market.

 

Based in Witzenhausen, Germany, REJOOL designs and manufactures compact, oil-less and small-size hermetically gas-tight piston compressors for stationary high-pressure hydrogen applications. Its product portfolio encompasses modular and customizable hydrogen compressors tailored for the building sector, research and development facilities as well as off-grid applications alongside provisions for consulting, engineering and spare parts. REJOOL adopted the Siemens Xcelerator as a Service portfolio to help establish a digital twin-based development process to bring its breakthrough PIONYR series compressors to market and to set a new standard in the hydrogen industry.

 

REJOOL’s engineering team adopted Siemens’ NX software for its product engineering and simulation activities complimented with Siemens’ Teamcenter® X solution for cloud-based Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). REJOOL has also taken advantage of Teamcenter® Share app for collaboration and data sharing with suppliers and customers.

 

“Implementing a fully digital way of working right from the beginning is of utmost importance. To achieve this, we required robust design software capable of simultaneous simulation and product rendering. Furthermore, effective collaboration both internally and with external partners necessitates a system for managing our complex product data from concept to final product,” said Stephan Hillebrand, CTO, REJOOL.

 

“We depend on the Siemens Xcelerator as a Service software portfolio throughout our development process from concept to the final product. This ensures structured, collaborative work on the 3D product model, constant visualization of up-to-date product data and seamless data exchange of design status with our suppliers – all via our secure cloud-based infrastructure. The synergy between Siemens’ NX, Teamcenter X and Teamcenter Share helps us to streamline digital work, making it more efficient than ever before,” continued Hillebrand.

 

“The hydrogen industry is one that’s key to exploring a lower-carbon future and I’m delighted to see pioneers like REJOOL adopting cutting edge technology from the Siemens Xcelerator as a Service portfolio to help them design, build and scale to help build that cleaner future for all,” said Klaus Löckel, Managing Director, DACH region, Siemens Digital Industries Software. “It’s another great example of pioneers across the full spectrum of industry turning to Siemens Xcelerator. With Siemens’ SaaS approach, we’re able to deliver an affordable, production ready toolset that allows startups to avoid the cost and time associated with traditional implementations. This enables them to focus on what’s important – building their businesses and innovating.”

 

To learn more about how Siemens is supporting startups such as REJOOL with its Siemens Xcelerator as a Service portfolio of cloud-ready industry software, visit https://www.sw.siemens.com/en-US/digital-transformation/cloud/

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Oiltek International secures additional RM52.5 million worth of contracts

 

SGX Catalist-listed and established integrated process technology and renewable energy solutions provider, Oiltek International Limited (优特科技国际有限公司) today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Oiltek Sdn. Bhd., has secured new contracts worth a total of RM52.5 million from Colombia and Malaysia.

The contract in Colombia highlights the Group’s growing presence in the Americas, with Oiltek having executed projects in Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Based on 2021 data, Colombia is the largest producer of palm oil in the Americas and the fourth largest supplier of palm oil in the world.

Mr Henry Yong Khai Weng (杨淳麟), Executive Director and CEO of Oiltek, said, “This contract from Colombia demonstrates Oiltek’s comprehensive engineering capabilities and global presence as one of the leading engineering companies in our industry. I am delighted to note that we are able to secure RM312.5 million worth of new contracts this year, which will further boost our project pipeline and growth as a Group.”   

The cumulative new contracts secured in FY2023 to date amount to approximately RM312.5 million, representing a 59.4% increase from the total new contracts secured in FY2022. The Group’s current order book is approximately RM390.6 million and will be fulfilled in the next 18-24 months barring any unforeseen circumstances

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Asahi Kasei Launches Pilot of Chlor-Alkali Electrolysis Cell Rental Service in Europe – Contributing to Circular Economy and Reducing Costs for Customers

The Japanese technology company Asahi Kasei will test a rental service for chlor-alkali electrolysis cells in Europe with Nobian GmbH and LOGISTEED Europe B.V. Headquartered in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Nobian is one of the leading chlor-alkali1 companies in Europe. Headquartered in Gelderland, the Netherlands, LOGISTEED Europe is a leading logistics company with more than 10 locations in 6 European countries.

 

After launching its membrane process for chlor-alkali electrolysis in 1975, Asahi Kasei has enjoyed an excellent reputation among its customers for almost half a century as a supplier of all technological process components, including ion exchange membranes, electrolysis cells and electrodes, as well as expertise for plant operations. The global demand for chlor-alkali was about 100 million tons in 2022. 2 As a leading global process provider, Asahi Kasei has implemented the chlor-alkali process in more than 150 plants in 30 countries with a total capacity of over 30 million tonnes per year by November 2023.

The membrane process for chlor-alkali electrolysis produces chlorine, hydrogen and caustic soda by electrolysis of brine with the help of ion exchange membranes. It eliminates the need to use environmentally harmful mercury or asbestos as a process material, thus enabling greater energy efficiency. The combination of low-voltage diaphragms and electrolyzers developed with Asahi Kasei’s advanced technology reduces CO2 emissions through lower power consumption in the electrolysis process.

 

Circular Economy for Rare Precious Metals

The prices of precious metals used in electrolysis cells have risen due to strong demand for batteries and electronic components, as well as the Ukraine conflict. This trend is expected to continue and accelerate further as the need for water electrolysis for hydrogen production increases. The chlor-alkali industry therefore faces the challenge of making effective use of the limited precious metal resources. As a first step towards achieving a circular economy of precious metals and other metals, Asahi Kasei has decided to launch a chlor-alkali electrolysis cell rental service in Europe together with Nobian and LOGISTEED Europe.

When servicing electrolysis cells, customers using Asahi Kasei’s process will have to store the cells for an extended period of time, and production will be interrupted during this time. Following maintenance, production often has to continue at high capacity to compensate for the downtime, resulting in higher electricity costs. Customers can maintain capacity by renting replacement electrolysis cells from Asahi Kasei when repairing their own equipment, or benefit from maximum flexibility by using state-of-the-art high-performance electrodes that allow for lower electricity costs. The replacement cells are serviced after each use in Asahi Kasei’s certified repair shops and then reused by several customers in Europe. In addition, since customers do not have to store and maintain spare cells, the total amount of precious metals used in Europe can be reduced.

Nobian has been working with Asahi Kasei for more than 40 years and is a leader in the field of chlor-alkali electrolysis, while LOGISTEED Europe has more than 30 years of experience in Europe. As part of the pilot for the rental service, Asahi Kasei and Nobian will clarify production operations issues and optimize the service. LOGISTEED Europe will provide locations for the storage of the electrolysis cells and further advance the development of logistics between customers and warehouse locations. The market launch of the rental service is planned for 2025.

Asahi Kasei plans to expand the rental service to Asia and North America in the future and enhance the offering by integrating the system development capabilities of Recherche 2000 Inc., which was acquired in February 2020. This can further improve the contribution to the circular economy of precious metals and other metals through reduction and reuse to the recycling of electrolysis cells and electrodes.

 

1 It is a process for the electrolysis of sodium chloride solutions for the production of chlorine and caustic soda, both of which are used for various end-uses, including organic and inorganic materials, pharmaceuticals, soaps and detergents.

2 2024 World Analysis – Chlor-Alkali – Appendix (4. August 2023)

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Siemens Digital Industries Software 2024 Outlook Commentary

We monitor major trends for the coming year at Siemens, conceptualizing them as a set of pressure gauges with readings indicating the level of intensity of the impact across industries. In Singapore, the ageing workforce will be the focus for 2024, with the population aged 65 and above expected to surpass 21% and the country set to attain the “super-aged” status in 2026. The answer to navigating past this challenge lies in a strategy that drives resilience, agility, and adaptiveness.

Most companies are entrenched in the early stages of their digital transformation journey. While improvements in the traceability and accessibility of data across the organization are applaudable, they are insufficient in addressing the pressures coming in the new year. They must progress in their digital transformation maturity to do more than unlock the company’s data, employing advanced technologies like AI to support the automation of tasks and optimize the production process to address the gaps in the workforce.

 

Attributed to Alex Teo, Vice President & Managing Director of Southeast Asia, Siemens Digital Industries Software

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SIPLACE TX micron from ASMPT combines SMT assembly and die processing

 

Speed and precision for SiPs

Singapore, November 30, 2023 – The SIPLACE TX micron is the answer to the challenges manufacturers face in SiP (system-in-package) production. The flexible platform combines the speed of SMT assembly with the complexity of die processing. The new version of the pick-and-place machine has been significantly improved by market and innovation leader ASMPT in terms of speed and placement accuracy as well as transport and processing options. The hybrid system offers electronics manufacturers greater flexibility and thus significant competitive advantages for their Intelligent Factory.

A SiP (system-in-package) combines active and passive electronic components into compact functional groups for things like radio modules in smartphones, wireless earphones or smartwatches. The advanced packaging technology required for this assembles dies, bare semiconductor chips, as well as classic SMT components. The high demand for such modules can only be satisfied with machines that process dies with the same high speed that is common in the SMT world and with the level of precision that is common in die processing. It involves the placement of passive SMD components, which must often be positioned very close to each other, with exceptional precision.

 

Two worlds and three precision classes in one machine

 

The SIPLACE TX micron from ASMPT fully meets these tough industrial requirements of the industry. After a further increase in the machine’s precision, three accuracy classes are now available for advanced packaging applications in a single machine: 10, 15 and 20 microns, each with a process stability of 3 sigma. Despite its improved basic accuracy from 25 to 20 microns, the machine achieves a placement speed of 93,000 cph – an increase of 14 percent compared to the previous 20-micron class of the SIPLACE TX micron. With its maximum placement accuracy of 10 microns, the machine can process an unprecedented 62,000 components per hour even in mixed SiP applications.

 

Larger components and boards

Thanks to its larger vacuum tooling, the SIPLACE TX micron can now process substrates measuring up to 300 by 240 millimeters with an accuracy of 15 microns @ 3 σ. New as well is the high-resolution SST54 circuit board camera with improved lighting performance for smaller structures, fiducials, and barcodes.

With the Long Board Option, the SIPLACE TX micron can process PCBs measuring up to 590 by 460 millimeters (23.2 by 18.1 inches). Also new is an optional multi-purpose conveyor system that allows regular PCBs, PCBs with carriers up to 20.5 mm high or curvatures as well as J-boats and JEDEC trays to be used as carriers. And customers who manufacture for highly demanding customers like those in the automobile industry will appreciate the optional level of traceability directly from the tape.

 

Now compatible with SIPLACE Tray Unit

As an added benefit for fast and uninterrupted production, the SIPLACE TX micron can now also be operated with the SIPLACE Tray Unit, which accommodates carriers that can each hold two JEDEC trays. Depending on the size of the components, up to 82 JEDEC trays or 41 wide trays measuring up to 355 by 275 millimeters fit into the unit. As a special feature, new trays can be added without having to interrupt the production because the magazine is split into a buffer zone for the continuous supply and the main storage area, which can be refilled with new trays.

 

Proven quality

Unchanged in the new version are established features such as the cost-saving detection of damaged or unusable components and the high-resolution component vision system with blue light that improves the image contrast for especially fine structures and balls. The SIPLACE TX micron is also certified in accordance with ISO Class 7 cleanroom requirements and Semi S2/S8.

 

A safe investment

“ASMPT’s product portfolio covers a wide range of areas for processing dies as well as SMT components,” explains Sylvester Demmel, Senior Product Manager at ASMPT. “To meet the changing market requirements, it was only logical for us to combine these two worlds in one machine, thus giving electronics manufacturers the opportunity to benefit from more flexibility and economic advantages for their Intelligent Factory. With its high precision and maximum placement speeds, the new SIPLACE TX micron is a future-proof investment that is profitable.”

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Dobot Unveils the Revolutionary CRA Series

 

Dobot Robotics, a leading industrial technology manufacturer focused on delivering innovative, market-driven collaborative robots, took the spotlight at iREX 2023. Dobot unveiled the new collaborative robots of CRA Series and the associated VX500 Smart Camera for the first time in Japan, and also showcased a range of innovative solutions with partners.

“The new CRA series comprises 7 robot models with payloads from 3 kg to 20 kg and working radii from 620 mm to 1,700 mm, thus expanding the range of high-performance and easy-to-use cobot solutions. Compared to the previous model, the CRA cobots offer a more powerful gearbox that shortens a work cycle by an average of 25 percent. ” said Yi Feng, Regional Head of Dobot Japan. “We have presented the CR20A palletizing solution as a representative of this new series. With a 20 kg payload and 1700 mm reach, it redefines cobots, and opens up new paths in the areas of heavy-duty sorting, packaging, and welding in industries such as automotive, household appliances, logistics, and metalworking and so on.”

The AMMR (Autonomous Mobile Manipulator Robot), capable of unrestricted mobility for various tasks, drew considerable attention. It integrates SLAM, laser navigation, and human-machine interaction for transportation and pick-and-place, featuring precise navigation, proactive safety measures, and easy-to-use software for safe collaborations.

In addition to offering advanced cobots for the industrial sector, Dobot also provides comprehensive educational robot solutions for various age groups, supporting both education and research. The Magician E6, tailored for education and research, integrates 2.5D visual recognition. Paired with Dobot’s spatial compensation technology, it achieves remarkable ±0.26 mm accuracy, empowering precision in grasping tilted objects by compensating for height and tilt variations.

Another popular exhibit is the MG400 training platform. It features the MG400 robot, which is only the size of a standard A4 paper, marks a breakthrough in small-batch flexible production automation, prioritizing safety, ease of use, and swift deployment.

Meanwhile, Dobot was also showcasing a variety of advanced cobot solutions. Notably, the 3D Vision Cobot integrates 3D vision technology for heightened spatial awareness. The Cobot Instant Positioning Device facilitates instant and precise robot positioning, enhancing workflow efficiency. Vision Camera Workpiece Inspection system leverages advanced vision camera technology for efficient workpiece inspection. Furthermore, the Cobot Assembly + AI Image Recognition System seamlessly integrates robot assembly with AI image recognition, advancing automation and intelligent manufacturing.

“As the cobot manufacturer ranked first in Chinese exports for five consecutive years, Dobot is honored to introduce more new products to the Japanese market. We hope that Dobot’s cobots can assist various industries and applications in Japan in achieving automation, thereby freeing up more labor for higher-value work,” said Yi Feng. “Currently, Dobot has sold out of 68,000 cobots, exported to over 100 countries and regions globally. In the future, we will continue to focus on the education, industrial, and commercial sectors, providing users with high-quality solutions and localized services.”

SOURCE: Dobot Robotics

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The benefits of cleaning-in-place

By Matt Hale, International Sales & Marketing Director, HRS Heat Exchangers

 

Cleaning/Clean-in-Place (CIP) systems have been around since the 1950s and in many regions and industries, they are now the standard method of maintaining hygienic and effective equipment operation. Yet we still encounter clients and manufacturers who are unfamiliar with the concept and continue to purchase or specify production equipment or systems which rely heavily on manual cleaning routines, often involving time consuming and expensive equipment breakdown.

 

A brief history of CIP

The production of safe food and drink products is of paramount importance to producers and maintaining hygienic (or sterile) conditions is key to this. Historically, most food production equipment was cleaned by hand, requiring the disassembly of piping, tanks and other items. Not only was this costly in terms of the time and labour required, but it also resulted in significant production downtime, and limited the design and size of processing equipment.

Some sources suggest that CIP systems were first implemented when dairies were forced to switch from metal pipes to Pyrex glass tubes during World War II, but the first automated CIP system was installed in a family-owned dairy in 1953 in the US. Non-dairy systems followed in the 1960s and the first pharmaceutical system was installed in the late-1970s. Despite this, in many industries and regions of the world, the benefits of CIP are little understood, and the use of CIP lags behind that of other territories, such as Europe.

 

Why choose CIP?

CIP is an automated method of cleaning food processing equipment without disassembly using validated procedures. CIP systems offer a number of advantages, including:

  • Reducing human errors which can lead to mistakes, such as using the wrong cleaning solution concentration, or not thoroughly rinsing equipment.
  • Improved health and safety by reducing or preventing employee exposure to cleaning chemicals.
  • Greater operational efficiency as less production time is lost during cleaning, and employees are not required to spend long periods cleaning equipment.
  • Improved product quality and consistency and less contamination of product.
  • Saving water, chemicals and energy through accurate, repeatable and automatic actions.

 

A smart approach to hygiene

Prior to cleaning, as much product as possible needs to be removed from the equipment. This is often done by physical removal or using air or water under pressure. Some systems, such as the HRS R Series of scraped surface heat exchangers, can even be run in reverse to remove and recover as much product as possible. Some of the most common elements of a CIP system include pre-rinsing, a high temperate caustic or chemical wash, and various intermediate and final rinses. Washing processes use a combination of chemicals and agitation (such as turbulent flow in corrugated pipes) to remove dirt.

All of these processes are controlled by integrated controls and systems such as flow meters, conductivity transmitters and turbidity sensors. Depending on the system, the final rinse may use potable or sterilised water, or another form of sanitising rinse containing bleach or peracetic acid (PAA), although in many situations it is preferable to rely on water alone. Air may also be passed through the system to ensure it is fully dry before production recommences.

CIP systems are generally classified as either single use or reuse. Single use systems discard all the liquid after use, while reuse systems store cleaning fluids for reuse in subsequent cleaning cycles. CIP systems can be integrated into the original manufacturing equipment or can be based on standalone systems which operate on and control one of more pieces of equipment. Modern CIP systems will assist with record keeping for the purposes of traceability, including records of key parameters such as temperature, pressure, chemical concentration and cleaning time.

 

Design considerations for CIP

If CIP is to be effective, not only does the CIP system itself need to be well designed, but the production equipment should also be considered with effective CIP in mind from the outset. Equipment and machinery must be hygienically designed and easy to manage, maintain and audit.

The design process must not only ensure effective cleaning but should also be as efficient as possible in terms of water, chemical and energy use. Considerations for the equipment itself include areas such as surface roughness, clean welding and the prevention of inaccessible areas or corners where dirt and/or cleaning chemicals may build up. Reliability is also an important consideration and CIP systems must be designed to operate for as long as the working lifetime of the equipment involved. It is also important to consider how user-friendly the control systems for the CIP are. For example, are they part of the overall control interface or a separate system?

 

CIP systems from HRS

HRS offers both integrated and standalone CIP systems. Integrated CIP is included in many of our complete systems, such as HRS pasteurisers and sterilisers, as well as our Asepticblock Series (where the AF aseptic filler & pasteuriser/steriliser are combined in one skid) and stand-alone aseptic fillers, for example.

Our standalone CIP systems are fully skid mounted and have modular designs for quick and easy site installation. The single-tank (ST) system is designed for simple cleaning applications where recovery of the cleaning fluid is not required, while multi-tank (MT) systems are suitable for more complex situations.

 

For small, portable applications, the tank can be heated to 85°C using electric heating elements, but steam heating using an HRS K Series multitube heat exchanger is also available. Units start at 500 litre capacity, and single tank systems are available up to 2,500 litres. Larger systems can be provided using multiple tanks, and centrifugal sanitary pumps are fitted as standard. Systems are fully automated using Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) systems and Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI), which can be standalone or integrated into the factory’s main control system.

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TANAKA Establishes New Method of Recovering Precious Metals Adhering to Vacuum Film Formation Equipment Components

Developing supply systems by 2025, promoting the recycling of limited precious metal resources, and contributing further to the circular economy

TANAKA Kikinzoku Kogyo K.K., which develops industrial precious metals products as one of the core companies of TANAKA Precious Metals, announced that it has established a jig cleaning method called TANAKA Green Shield. This cleaning method is characterized by nickel plating on the adhesion-preventing plate[1], a component of vacuum film formation equipment[2] used in semiconductor manufacturing and other processes. When using a nickel-plated adhesion-preventing plate, PGM[3] sputtered films, including platinum and palladium, can be easily detached from the plate.
TANAKA is developing a recycling business for this use case. After detaching sputtered films adhering to components, mainly made from stainless steel, of vacuum film formation equipment such as sputtering and vacuum deposition equipment, the recovered precious metals are refined and returned to the customer with the precision-cleaned components.
This cleaning method takes advantage of a unique TANAKA technology related to base plating. Applying a nickel plating to an adhesion-preventing plate enables PGM sputtered films to be detached through chemical treatment without damaging the base material. This method makes it easier than previous methods to detach PGM sputtered films, so it is expected to reduce the amount of cleaning agent required when cleaning equipment, in turn contributing to reduced environmental impact. With an anticipated reduction in recovery loss of precious metals scattered around during the grinding process, this method is also expected to achieve higher PGM recovery rates with lower costs.
TANAKA aims to develop the TANAKA Green Shield system to support a wide variety of component shapes and sizes and to expand PGM film recovery rates by six times the current level by 2025.
Jig Cleaning Method
There are multiple jig cleaning methods for vacuum film formation equipment components, including physical detachment (blast cleaning) and thermal sprayed aluminum base film formation. Physical detachment, in which an abrasive agent (cleaning agent) is sprayed to remove an adhered film, is currently a commonly used jig cleaning method due to its low cost. Use of an abrasive agent damages the surface of the base material, thereby leading to reduced lifetime of the base material. Another disadvantage of this method is that material is scattered during the process, causing a loss in precious metal recovery.
Another method for detaching an adhered film is the thermal sprayed aluminum base film formation method of jig cleaning. This requires the adhesion-preventing plate to be coated with aluminum in advance using a thermal spraying method, and the aluminum to be then dissolved with chemicals. Drawbacks of this approach include challenges in recovering adhered film from surfaces lacking an aluminum coating, as well as the elevated cost associated with forming the aluminum film.
TANAKA Green Shield is a base preparation method whereby nickel plating is applied to an adhesion-preventing plate prior to use. After using a plate in a sputtering process, for example, only the nickel plate coating between the adhesion-preventing plate and PGM sputtered film is dissolved. This enables not only the PGM sputtered film but also other adhered films with various compositions to be detached from the plate without damaging the base material. This base preparation has a high level of adhesion with adhesion-preventing plates and sputtered films, which can prevent sputtering defects caused by peeling of sputtered film. A wide variety of component shapes can also be nickel-plated with this method. In addition to preventing degradation of the base material, this cleaning method is cheaper than the aluminum film formation method. It also requires lower amounts of cleaning agent, making it an environmentally friendly, next-generation jig cleaning method.

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New slicing software for AIM3D’s Voxelfill process

  • Development partnership between software developer Create it Real and AIM3D
  • Integrated Voxelfill plug-in for the 3D printers ExAM 255 and ExAM 510
  • New slicing plug-in from Create it Real for AIM3D’s Voxelfill technology to overcome inhomogeneous strengths and to achieve selective densities of 3D metal, plastic and ceramic components

The Danish software company Create it Real from Aalborg (Denmark) entered into a development partnership with AIM3D to integrate the Voxelfill process as a plug-in into the system technology of the ExAM 255 and ExAM 510. The slicing software solution SlicEx, which is based on Create it Real’s Real Vision Slicer, will in future enable users to make optimum use of AIM3D’s patented Voxelfill technology to overcome inhomogeneous strengths and to achieve selective densities of 3D components made of metals, plastics, fibre-filled plastics and ceramics.

 

AIM3D’s Voxelfill process overcomes inhomogeneous strengths by making use of a cross-layer filling strategy. The layer-based 3D build-up processes currently used in 3D printers often exhibit inhomogeneous strength values. With the now patented Voxelfill process, AIM3D is taking a new approach that overcomes inhomogeneous strengths and achieves defined selective densities in the component. With Create it Real’s new slicing software solution SlicEx, users are given the opportunity to exploit the potential of Voxelfill in the construction of 3D components. As a premiere, both companies will demonstrate the SlicEx 3D printer software and the Voxelfill plug-in at Formnext 2023 in Frankfurt.

 

Advantages for users of the Voxelfill technology

With the SlicEx plug-in, users of the AIM3D systems ExAM 255 and ExAM 510 will benefit from the fact that they now have comprehensive access to the 3D component building process with Voxelfill. Furthermore, their input and feedback on the subject of slicers can be passed on via AIM3D directly to the developer Create it Real in order to further optimise the process. Clemens Lieberwirth, CTO at AIM3D: “With the development of Voxelfill, the user now has the possibility to use the unique new process of Voxelfill to improve the z-strength and the printing speed. However, these modules are currently still under development.”. Jacob Nissen, CEO of Create it REAL, expresses his excitement about the partnership: “AIM3D is an ideal partner, backed by a strong academic background and a solid theoretical foundation. Their clear vision aligns perfectly with our capabilities, enabling us to collaborate effectively in achieving their goals.”

 

Voxelfill principle overcomes inhomogeneous strength properties

In additive manufacturing of polymers, components have inhomogeneous strength properties ​​due to the layer-based build process. This manifests itself primarily in the form of tensile and flexural strength shortcomings, as well as very brittle behaviour along the Z axis. In contrast, the strengths achieved along the X and Y axes with some processes are already close to the strengths possible with conventional injection moulding. AIM3D has already demonstrated this with the processing of fibre-filled components based on PA6 GF30 material. The phenomenon of inhomogeneous strength properties must be resolved in order to enable a wide applicability of 3D-printed components. By using the 3D extrusion technology of the CEM process, AIM3D has developed a Voxelfill strategy that overcomes these limitations and increases the cost effectiveness of the CEM process. Voxelfill can also be used for multi-material components and is suitable for constructing 3D components using plastics, metals and ceramics.

 

The two-stage Voxelfill process at a glance

With the Voxelfill approach, components are no longer created exclusively in layers (i.e. 2.5D), but utilise cross-layer filling by using so-called voxels as volume areas. To do this, , the component contour is first created as usual as the basic structure using one or more webs of the extruded material. A lattice pattern is created inside the component, which defines the boundaries of the volume elements to be filled, similar to cavities. This structure of the voxels to be filled resembles the honeycomb in a beehive. The Voxelfill strategy now comprises two process stages: 1. Generation of a lattice structure: the CEM system repeats this structure up to a defined height of the volume elements, then at this point the previously created cavities (voxels) are filled by injecting thermoplastic material with the extruder. 2. Filling phase of the voxels: now the second, even more important component of this 3D printing strategy is deployed: when the volume areas are filled, this does not include filling all voxels in one plane. This would again result in a Z direction weakness directly in the “seam” plane. By shifting the volume elements halfway up the voxel, a kind of “brick-like bond” is created in the component, resulting in the yield line being offset. This results in an enormous increase in strength and also improves the elasticity of the components in the Z direction. In addition, the introduced volume elements greatly reduce the printing time for fully filled components and thus significantly increases the cost-effectiveness of the CEM process.

 

A look at the potential of Voxelfill

Variations of the Voxelfill strategy with the CEM process enable the use of various materials: hybrid multi-material solutions with different Voxelfill materials and different materials for the contour/structure of the inner walls become possible. This way, the material properties can be “customised”. Defined component weight, damping properties, elasticity or changes to the centre of gravity can be tailored to the application. By selectively filling only certain volume chambers (selective densities), component properties could be influenced in a targeted manner on the basis of FE simulations. With Voxelfill it is possible to only fill the areas of a component that are absolutely necessary for the flow of forces. As a result, from the outside these components purely look like conventional parts, and can also benefit from applying finishing processes. At the same time, however, the 3D printing process is carried out with reduced material and weight, right up to realising lightweight components. Especially when deploying fibre-reinforced materials, the use of Voxelfill offers an additional option for specifically aligning the fibres in the component to enhance mechanical properties. In the flat plane, the CEM process already offers very good options for controlling the orientation of the fibres. With the Voxelfill strategy, this affects the contour and the inner walls of the component. By injecting the material into the volume chambers (filling the voxels), the 3D component also receives fibres that are aligned in the Z axis, thereby further improving mechanical properties. Clemens Lieberwirth, CTO at AIM3D: “Of course, the Voxelfill process is particularly suitable for 3D printing of plastics and fibre-filled plastics, but it is also suitable for 3D printing of metal and ceramic components using the CEM process. In general, there are advantages due to the higher build speed and cross-layer filling.”

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 Ricoh and Siemens collaborate to realize the industrial aluminum Binder Jetting process for mass production

High efficiency air-cooling heatsink created by RICOH’s aluminum Binder Jet Technology (BJT) system (Image credit: @Ricoh)

  • Ricoh and Siemens start collaboration to develop the solution for aluminum Binder Jetting Technology for mass production
  • As the first step of the collaboration, Ricoh has implemented Siemens’ Additive Manufacturing Network to build a full digital process to optimize its internal process and machine management for aluminum binder jetting technology – from print job preparation, through manufacture, to delivery of components
  • Ricoh also aims to leverage the Additive Manufacturing Network capabilities to digitally transform its process service provision to a wide spectrum of industrial additive manufacturing focused customers

 

Siemens Digital Industries Software has announced that Ricoh have begun a collaboration to realize the industrial aluminum Binder Jetting (BJT) solution for mass production. Ricoh is leveraging Siemens’ Additive Manufacturing Network capabilities to maximize the efficiency of the process and to achieve the scale required to take advantage of BJT in an industrial setting.

Additionally, Ricoh is implementing Siemens’ Additive Manufacturing Network to optimize the aluminum BJT workflow for production preparation, planning, scheduling, and production management with less effort. Ricoh has also implemented Siemens’ Brownfield Connectivity and has begun collecting and storing information on each process necessary for quality stabilization and production control. Siemens will continue to provide Ricoh with solutions optimized for the aluminum BJT workflow, and both companies aim for early commercialization of these technologies.

Ricoh’s proprietary Binder Jetting Technology applies the company’s inkjet printing technology and expertise to enable the production of metal parts with more complex shapes that would not be possible with conventional metal processing methods such as machining and casting. In the process of BJT, the aluminum-alloy powder is spread out over the modeling area and then solidified with a specially formulated binder to shape the part. The same process continues layer-by-layer-by-layer until completing shaping the whole part. After the process, the ‘green-body’ part is sintered in a furnace to create a densified, end-use component that can be used as is or enter a downstream post-processing chain.

Ricoh has positioned the “realization of a zero-carbon society” as one of its material issues. Ricoh aims to achieve zero GHG emissions throughout its entire value chain, enabling customers to develop highly energy-efficient products by using Ricoh’s 3D printers, thereby contributing to the realization of a zero-carbon society.

“The production of aluminum parts is a holy grail for the additive industry and we’re delighted that Ricoh has chosen Siemens’ Additive Manufacturing Network capabilities from the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio of industry software to help them commercialize a much sought-after process,” said Zvi Feuer, Senior Vice President, Digital Manufacturing Software, Siemens Digital Industries Software. “Our collaboration with Ricoh will apply its expertise in additive manufacturing with our knowledge and experience in delivering additive-specific operations management technology across a wide spectrum of industries – from order capture, production planning, and manufacturing to part delivery transaction closure. Together, Siemens and Ricoh are working to deliver repeatability and consistency at the scale needed to truly take advantage of using robust and repeatable aluminum additively manufactured parts in the commercial world.”

Tokutaro Fukushima, General Manager of Additive Manufacturing Business Center, Ricoh Futures Business Unit, Ricoh Company, Ltd., said, “Ricoh will enable our customers to manufacture innovative aluminum components that have never been produced before by any process and will work with them to realize new customer value in the area of electrification of EVs and other forms of mobility. By combining Siemens’ powerful solutions and knowledge with Ricoh’s aluminum BJT, we will be able to provide our customers with highly reliable and practical systems for mass production applications. We hope to promote electrification together with our customers and contribute to solving social issues such as realizing a zero-carbon society.”

Metal Binder Jetting Technology for manufacturing innovative aluminum parts contributes to weight reduction and improved heat exchange performance of aluminum parts by realizing shapes that cannot be produced with existing processing technologies. The binder jetting method saves time and resources due to its high productivity and the ability to reuse unused materials. Ricoh’s industrial inkjet printhead technology, developed over many years, enables stable manufacturing of parts with complex shapes and is capable of processing aluminum alloy, a widely used material for metal parts.

To learn more about how Siemens is providing world-class manufacturing operations management to the additive manufacturing industry and how the Siemens’ Additive Manufacturing Network is supporting pioneers in the industry, visit: https://additive-manufacturing-network.sws.siemens.com/

To learn more about how Ricoh has been developing 3D printing technology that enables mass production to aluminum parts which are widely used they conduct heat well and are lightweight, visit: https://www.ricoh.com/technology/tech/123_metal_3d_printing

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Busch Introduces New Generation of Small MINK MM

Busch Vacuum Solutions introduces new MINK MM dry claw vacuum pumps. The new generation stands out for its minimal operating costs, low energy consumption and reduced CO2 footprint through reduced raw material requirements. They feature a three-piece housing for quicker and easier maintenance and a special oil-draining tool. The new compact MINK MMs are 15% lighter than their predecessors and are also available as Aqua versions or with an IoT Kit. They can be used, for example, in the medical field and the food industry, for vacuum packaging and pneumatic conveying, and in machine building, woodworking and the plastics industry.

The new MINK MM 0182 / 0142 / 0104 / 0084 A are improved versions of the proven MINK MM 1142 / 1102 /1144 / 1104 BV. Despite being approximately 15% lighter in weight, they are just as robust and offer the same performance as their predecessors. Since the connections are also in the same places, the new vacuum pump can easily replace the older versions 1:1, even in vacuum systems.

Thanks to the proven dry and contact-free vacuum technology, the new MINK MMs are particularly efficient and nearly maintenance-free. Nevertheless, the new vacuum pump’s redesigned three-part housing provides easier access for service and maintenance, which is particularly fast and efficient. The oil drain has also been optimized. A special oil-draining tool prevents oil from flowing into the housing when draining.

The vacuum pumps are suited for a wide range of applications in the food industry, hospitals and healthcare facilities, as well as in woodworking for clamping on CNC routers but also in many other industries that want to improve their processes and reduce their energy costs.

The new MINK MM 0182 A and MINK MM 0142 A are designed for applications in the rough vacuum range with a reduced ultimate vacuum of up to 40 hPa (mbar), while the new MINK MM 0104 A and MM 0084 A are conceptualized for a vacuum level of up to 60 hPa (mbar).

The vacuum pumps can be supplied with an inlet filter or vacuum relief valve and can be retrofitted with the IoT Kit from Busch for monitoring. For applications in humid environments, the new vacuum pumps are also available in Aqua versions with a corrosion-resistant Aqua coating. These can be equipped with a special filter and a condensate drain.

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HID Elevates Textile Management Efficiency, Durability and Integration With New LinTRAK RAIN RFID UHF Tags

Three New Tags Combine Compactness and Resilience to Seamlessly Blend Into Linens and Uniforms Without Compromising Functionality

 

HID, the worldwide leader in trusted identity and RFID tracking solutions, today announced the release of three new models in the LinTRAK RAIN RFID ultra-high frequency (UHF) tag family, setting new standards for efficiency, durability and integration possibilities in the industry.

HID is a leader in trusted identity and RFID tracking solutions, with a solid foot in the linen management services market through a combined RFID and Cloud services offer. The company has extended its LinTRAK RAIN RFID UHF tags for linen management to include three new models that bring together the best of both worlds—compactness and resilience.

The LinTRAK C10S measures 10 mm x 52 mm and is 20 percent smaller than its predecessor, offering the best size/reading distance ratio in the industry.

The LinTRAK C15S measures 15 mm x 52 mm and features a unique advantage on the market: a 5 mm zone above the chip to ease the sewing process, specifically designed to respond to linen manufacturers’ requirements.

Finally, the LinTRAK C15SH measures just 15 mm x 46 mm and can be directly heat-sealed onto linen items. It is the smallest UHF heat-sealable washable RFID tag on the market.

Recognizing the diverse nature of linen types and attachment requirements, HID has engineered the new LinTRAK tags to be small and discreet, providing an even more unobtrusive option to seamlessly blend into linen items without compromising their robustness. Crafted to be ruggedized and durable, the new tags stand up to the most demanding environments, ensuring longevity and consistent performance.
LinTRAK C10S and C15S are MR-conditional, making them suitable for use in medical environments. Patients with LinTRAK-tagged linen or gowns can safely undergo MRI scans, ensuring seamless health care procedures without any interference or compromise.

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Eplan: Faster Access to Device Data

Eplan eStock gives companies access to centralised device management in the Eplan Cloud, simplifying collaboration and reducing coordination times and media discontinuities. Working with eStock has become even easier in the Eplan Platform 2024, meaning that users can automatically and quickly access the full range of more than 1.5 million device datasets in the Eplan Data Portal. Another benefit is that all the data – from a company’s inhouse device management system or from the Data Portal – can be edited together and saved via user rights management.

Eplan eStock – the cloud-based device management system on the Eplan Platform – lets users manage and maintain device data right in a browser, including voltages, currents, data sheets and component designations. They have already had access to the data stored there since Version 2023. This all makes collaboration easier and reduces coordination times and media discontinuities. The data is thus more consistent and of higher quality – after all, there is no need for multiple data entry. This is also reflected in the project quality while taking into account all the required standards.

New: Eplan Data Portal integration
Now a few crucial innovations have been added: devices can be imported from the Eplan Data Portal into eStock. When making the first keystrokes for the entry, users see all devices in their own database in addition to all the relevant devices for the search in the Eplan Data Portal. Users can then open the desired device in the same window and, in case it hasn’t been already, import it with one or two clicks. When items are transferred from the Data Portal into Eplan eStock, the software initially created a draft version – meaning that previously approved device data isn’t automatically “overwritten” but the saving must instead be actively confirmed – i.e., accepted – by the user. Users can thus add data and/or make changes to the draft version before approving it and actually using the device in a project.

Eplan Platform 2024 – faster data access
Another practical benefit is that users have access to more than 1.5 million device datasets in eStock with the new direct integration to the Eplan Data Portal. Component manufacturers involved in the Data Portal upload new and/or updated data on an ongoing basis and the pool of device data is continually growing. Eplan’s developers have also paid attention to efficiency when using data from the cloud and the system only downloads data changes to a local computer based on the last time it accessed eStock, considerably speeding up data access. Another performance gain also benefits users – in the Eplan Platform 2024, it is quick and easy to switch between the source of a local database and an eStock collection based in the Eplan Cloud. This also offers users considered time savings and even greater ease of use.

Better cross-departmental collaboration
Eplan eStock, the centralised device data management system in the cloud, simplifies collaboration. Data sovereignty always lies with the company or the user, who determine the quality and level of access themselves. Standards can be easily and comprehensively implemented via rights management. Access to the centralised device management in the cloud is available to Eplan users with a subscription licence for the Eplan Platform 2023 at no additional cost.

Find out more at: www.eplan-software.com/solutions/eplan-estock/

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AntaRx-Si3: new inertial GNSS smart antenna from Septentrio

Septentrio, a leader in high-precision GNSS*/INS positioning solutions, announces AntaRx-Si3. This is the first GNSS/INS (Inertial Navigation System) Smart Antenna on the market in an ultra-rugged enclosure, designed for easy installation on machines such as agriculture robots. AntaRx-Si3 is the new member of the family of receivers leveraging FUSE+, which is designed to answer the need for position availability in tough industrial environments where GNSS signal reception may be temporarily compromised, such as under foliage. The IMU sensor in FUSE+ also improves positioning integrity** and reliability, which is critical for autonomous systems.

 

“With AntaRx-Si3 you get a receiver delivering positioning information with a high level of availability and integrity, that you can install with minimal effort. This is especially beneficial for after-market upgrades. It also allows removal of this valuable component at the end of the day to protect against theft or vandalism,” commented Danilo Sabbatini, Product Manager of GNSS/INS at Septentrio.

The AntaRx-Si3 smart antenna is robust inside and out. It is designed to be mounted outside on a machine for operation in harsh environments out in the field. Enclosed in an impact resistant polycarbonate IP69K housing it can handle high levels of shocks and vibrations. This multi-frequency receiver delivers Septentrio’s field proven high-accuracy RTK positioning down to the centimeter level. AntaRx-Si3 has a built-in 4G cell modem, so there is no need for additional modem integration to acquire high-accuracy corrections.

AntaRx-Si3 leverages Septentrio’s GNSS+ algorithms with advanced multipath mitigation, which allows uninterrupted operation in environments where satellite signals could be reflected off nearby machinery or high structures such as silos. It delivers positioning at a high update rate and low latency, which are critical for control loops in autonomous movement or rotation. For more information about AntaRx-Si3 or other GNSS/INS solutions please contact the Septentrio team. Meet Septentrio GNSS experts at World FIRA 2024 in Toulouse, France from February 6-8.

 

* Global Navigation Satellite System including the American GPS, European Galileo, Russian GLONASS, Chinese BeiDou, Japan’s QZSS and India’s NavIC. These satellite constellations broadcast positioning information to receivers which use it to calculate their absolute position.

** Integrity is the measure of how truthful the positioning information really is. It gives an idea about the accuracy of the position so that one can make a judgement on how much to rely on the positioning under current conditions. For example, the current positioning may be temporarily less accurate than desired, under certain challenging conditions, such as near high structures which block GNSS satellites. Integrity information conveys the extent of accuracy degradation so the user can factor that in.

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Emerson Introduces Ultrasonic Metal Welders with Advanced Controls for Fast-Cycling, High-Precision Welds

New Branson GMX-Micro ultrasonic welders offer advanced controls and better connectivity for faster welding of EV batteries, conductors and terminations

Emerson has launched the Branson Series GMX-Micro, a line of high-precision ultrasonic metal welders that feature a new computerized operating system, multiple power levels and configurations, advanced controls, and improved connectivity. The new welders are able to meet changing material and production requirements for electric vehicle batteries, battery chargers, conductors, and electronics applications, with faster cycle times that can increase productivity and reduce costs.

Redesigned and upgraded from the existing Branson GMX-20MA and GMX-20DP welders, the GMX-Micro series is available in two power levels: With 4,000 watts of welding power, the GMX- Micro 4400W is equipped with a standard weld stack, while the more powerful 5,500-watt GMX- Micro 5500W is available with either a standard metal welding stack or a direct press weld stack. The direct press stack is specially designed to exert higher downforce with greater stability, making it possible to complete complex, many-layered battery film welds or large-conductor welds with greater stability and consistency.

“Emerson has engineered the new Branson GMX-Micro series welders to help electric vehicle, battery, and charging system manufacturers increase the output and quality of more energy-dense, thin-film and solid-state batteries, and to reliably bond the larger conductors now required for rapid charging at higher voltages,” said Alex Yeung, global business development manager, metal welding, Emerson.

The GMX-Micro welders feature all-new power supplies and controls, including an upgraded pneumatic actuation system that resets more quickly (within 100 milliseconds of weld completion), to enable faster weld cycles and greater production rates. Weld stacks are held in rigid polar mounts, while actuators feature dual linear bearings, integral height calibration, and a linear encoder with 5-micron resolution that eliminates the need for external measurement devices.

These features, together with a nodal support design that precisely balances the GMX-Micro weld stack and horn with the anvil during welding, ensure effective ultrasonic energy transfer and repeatable, high-precision bonding.

Users of the all-new GMX-Micro power supplies (5,500 or 4,000 watt) manage welder functions through a standard 7-inch LCD touchscreen, or optional extended display, that can develop, store or retrieve weld recipes quickly. The display also graphs critical weld parameters — power, height or frequency — in real time. The new power supplies also provide extensive weld-quality data capture and storage, multilingual operation, and easy software-based upgrades.

The new GMX-Micro series are built on a compact, modular chassis, with two styles based on the choice of normal or direct-press actuator. Designed to simplify configuration, automation, and mounting of single- or multi-welder systems, both chassis offer expanded working space below the actuator, allowing for easier insertion and removal of larger parts. Weld stacks are also equipped with quick-change tooling to enable rapid production changeovers. Additional connectivity, including 1000/100/10 megabits per second Ethernet, supports real-time data transmission to manufacturing execution systems (MES) or retrieval of stored production recipes via secure internet.

To learn more, please visit

https://www.emerson.com/en-us/catalog/automation-solutions/branson-gmx-micro.

https://www.emerson.com/en-us/news/2024/01-new-branson-gmx-micro-high-precision-ultrasonic- metal-welders

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