PT Blog

Ever wonder what it takes to assemble one of the larger booths with heavy machinery and multi-story visitor spaces at a major trade show like NPE or K? Obviously, it takes money—lots of it. I remember an injection molding machine supplier telling me that it cost around $100,000 to ship and install a single 1000-ton press at a trade show—and that was one of more than a half-dozen machines at that booth. And, that was more than a decade ago.

But it takes more than money: a heck of a lot of planning and expert logistics. You can get a vivid impression of what’s involved by viewing a three-and-a-half-minute time-lapse video from Husky Injection Molding Systems revealing a bird’s-eye view of how they built their K 2016 booth. The action is speeded-up, but there are moments that may make you catch your breath, like when a large truck backs into a tight space just a foot or two from a large machine being assembled.

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The watchword today is “smart systems.” The “smart factories” envisioned by proponents of Industry 4.0 or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) are composed of assemblages or networks of smart systems. What makes them smart? There may be many possible definitions, but one of them surely is the ability to communicate data about the state and performance of the system.

An easy assumption is that smart systems must be digital. But efforts are underway to make analog systems smart too—at least to some degree. For example, at NPE2018, Bosch Rexroth showed off its new IO-Link for digitalization of analog interfaces for hydraulic valves, sensors and actuators (details here).

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HP Inc. recently opened its 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Barcelona, Spain. The new center sits at 150,000 square feet – about the size of three football fields.

The 3+ acre facility at HP’s Barcelona campus is dedicated to the development of HP’s industrial 3D printing portfolio and provides a large-scale factory environment to collaborate with customers and partners on digital manufacturing technologies.

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A recent announcement from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) regarding the keynote speaker of its upcoming 27th annual thermoforming conference simply substantiates what appears to be among the lead issues in the plastics industry: sustainability. That is exactly the focus of the planned presentation by keynote speaker Brian Landes, technology leader at Dow and president of SPE 2019-2020. The topic has been also dominant at several other plastics industry conference events within the last few years and will remain as such as the industry tackles the issue of plastic waste through emerging technologies, industry collaborations, and education.

Landes has outlined the theme of his presentation, Forming the Sustainable Future for Plastics and SPE, as follows:

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Protolabs recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Founded in 1999, the company is focused on a manufacturing model that couples digital front-end part analysis with automated tool pathing to produce custom machined components in as fast as 24 hours. The company produces custom parts and assemblies with automated 3D printing, CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication and injection molding processes.

The global digital manufacturer serves product developers across three continents and 60 countries—nearly 46,000 unique product developers in 2018 alone. Over the past 20 years, Protolabs has grown in capabilities with four flagship services and 11 manufacturing technologies, and has added capacity with more than 1 million sq. ft. of manufacturing space that houses over 1000 machines producing nearly 4 million parts each month. The company recently opened its 215,000-sq. ft. CNC machining facility in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

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