Why quality is the obstacle to mass adoption of 3D printing

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is a hot topic.  Although the technology was invented in the 1980s, only now is it getting industry traction.  In fact, in 2017 Gartner’s famous hype cycle predicted that additive manufacturing is moving past disillusionment and into real product applications.  Many predict AM will cause massive industry disruption. Not only for manufacturers but also for everyone involved in the manufacturing supply chain. This includes transportation and logistics companies, retailers, and many others. In a 2017 study by PwC, 74% of participants agreed that companies investing in 3D printing today will have a significant competitive advantage.

Figure 1. 74% of participants in a 2017 PWC study agree that investment in 3D printing today is critical for competitive advantage. Source: PWC ‘The Future of Spare Parts is 3D, 2017.

There are many reasons for the rapid growth and interest in 3D printing for manufacturers.  For example, the actual printing process is getting faster. CAD software providers are providing feature-rich solutions explicitly for this purpose, and there are viable use cases beyond prototyping or home use.  But there is one huge obstacle to adoption in the largest, most productive use cases – quality.

A killer 3D printing use case – spare parts

Take the example of spare parts.  Most asset-intensive businesses aggressively manage spare parts inventories. This is not only because they tie up capital but also because a failure to have a spare part available in a crisis can derail operations.  3D printing is viewed by many as a game-changing solution to spare parts problems – just print what you need, just in time.  In the same PWC study, only 10% of German industrial firms surveyed use additive manufacturing for spare parts currently. However, 85% expect to do so within 5 years.

Under traditional operating models, quality is inherent in the manufacturing of spare parts.  But quality of spare parts produced by 3D printing is anything but certain. For spare part 3D printing to be considered reliable, the quality must be:

  •       Proven and repeatable under stable production processes – similar printers, materials, operators, etc.
  •       Consistent across locations and operations, under any conditions
  •       Guaranteed without input from the part’s designer

This isn’t easy for companies whose core business may have nothing to do with manufacturing.  Here are 3 risks when an asset-intensive business shifts from spare part procurement and management to manufacturing parts themselves.

Quality of source materials

Process manufacturers understand that quality in equals quality out.  Often relationships with materials providers are closely guarded or even contractually protected.  Because many 3D printing equipment and solutions vendors have little to no experience with manufacturing, the burden for sourcing materials for additive manufacturing falls on the business producing spare parts with their printers.  Unknown quality source materials present a large potential operational risk. This is especially true if the parts are used in mission-critical equipment or have a role in the production of quality-sensitive products such as medical devices, food products, and many others.

Quality in the manufacturing process

Ensuring that a specific manufacturing process produces quality parts is a science. It is a combination of advanced engineering, materials science, and flawless operational execution.  For spare parts manufacturers, providing 3D printing solutions with consistent quality standards may be a disruptive model for supply chains and solve many operational challenges.  But for spare part users, manufacturing on their own may be constrained – at least for the near future – to a fraction of their spare parts inventory that isn’t mission critical.  In a model where parts manufacturers provide a blueprint for companies to print on their own, ensuring quality in the manufacturing process is essentially impossible.  Even if 3D printing is consistently producing parts, ensuring quality requires insights from the OEM/blueprint designer. On its own, this isn’t a scalable model.

Quality control

Every traditional manufacturing process has quality control built into it, that vary from manual inspection to the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to advanced manufacturing operations.  But since 3D printing is a constant, linear process, it tends to lack rigor with quality control (QC). Because the industry is just emerging, there are no clear solutions to QC.  One emerging idea is to apply visual inspection to the 3D printing process.  This option is fairly cheap if done at scale. It can be done at the printing site– it only relies on software and a high-definition camera. But it does require the parts designer to train the machine learning algorithms.

To learn more about how visual inspection works, check out this short video.


In the coming years, we will surely see QC solutions come to market designed specifically for additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing is shifting from a promising technology to a powerful disruptor, and its gaining momentum with complex ties to many adjacent transformative technology movements such as the ubiquity of the Internet of Things, the industrial use of digital twins, and the public and private investments in Industry 4.0 transformations.  IDC forecasts that in 2018, worldwide spending on 3D printing will be nearly $ 12 Billion.  Every manufacturer should think about its additive manufacturing strategy.  But at the same time, responsible large-scale adoption must be done with an eye towards quality.

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How IoT and microservices can overcome the mass data challenge

Our planet is changing. An ever-growing population combined with a rapidly-escalating increase in traffic and the number of extreme weather events is putting continuous pressure on our infrastructure assets. IoT technology is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but increasingly a necessity when it comes to the future, across everything from smart devices in the home, to helping manage the smartest cities on the planet.

In the UK, the infrastructure challenges are ever-present, with a population that has increased by 8% since 2006, motorway traffic rising by 10% and extreme weather events occurring four times more frequently as our planet continues to change. These changes present clear challenges, both to private businesses and to the broader public sector, and planning for the future is a must, says Manish Jethwa, chief product & technology officer at Yotta.

To give our infrastructure the best chance of coping with this new environment, we can no longer take a reactive approach to maintenance and services. Today, a more predictive way of working is urgently required.

Sensors play a crucial role in this process. When placed on infrastructure assets such as highways, streetlights and drain gulleys, they essentially become the pulse of the road. Every minute, these devices feed back countless amounts of data into a communication network, which can then be passed to a management analytics device before being displayed in an application.

However, it is easy for data to become unmanageable when quantities continue to rise over terabytes and petabyte levels, where it becomes imperative that there is a sound infrastructure in place to mediate the collected data. That’s where meta-level data analytics can help. While businesses can use the cloud to help reduce the sheer amount of data that is being gathered by sensors and probes, it’s important to analyse what infrastructure is being used to hold and manage the data.

To ease the mass data challenge, a connected asset management platform such as Yotta’s new revolutionary Alloy can help extract large volumes of data collected through the help of microservices. Microservices are built as a suite of modular services that each have a specific role to perform.

These microservices are critical because they can help drive crucial data to the right places, which then allows data analysis to happen at a more general level. Microservices can also be built for predefined service levels for each sector. These thresholds can then be used to detect any notable changes in the sensors, such as a significant rise in traffic, or an increase in water levels within a drain.

Manish Yotta

A further example of this type of data collection in practice is the collection of temperature variations within cities. A process which may require a number of different sensors to collect regular readings. Microservices can provide a valuable service in reducing multiple measurements into key notifications of predefined thresholds being exceeded. It is easy to imagine similar technology being used to monitor noise and air pollution too.

While microservices play a vital role in ensuring data is collected in an efficient way, individual assets […]

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IoT is heading for mass adoption by 2019 says Aruba

IoT is heading for mass adoption by 2019 says Aruba

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has published the results of a survey looking at adoption levels, security concerns and business use cases for the Internet of Things across EMEA. Among its findings is that mass adoption of IoT is expected by 2019, with better than expected business results a key driver. The study was conducted with Kevin Ashton, creator of the term Internet of Things.

IoT is consistently over-delivering

The research revealed that IoT deployments delivered benefits that vastly exceeded expectations in the two key performance areas of business efficiency and profitability.

It found that while 16 percent of business leaders projected a large profit gain from their IoT investment, after IoT had been adopted 32 percent of executives said they saw profit increases.

And, while 29 percent of executives expected their IoT strategies to result in business efficiency improvements, after deployment 46 percent said that they experienced efficiency gains.

Internet of Business spoke to Morten Illum, EMEA Vice President at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company about this anomaly. He told us this “shows that the hype is not misplaced when IoT is used in the correct manner. The only way that IoT can fall short of expectations is if we don’t sufficiently use the data that the sensors are gathering from their surroundings. The onus is on us to make use of the data created to realize our own high hopes.”

It’s an obstacle race

Despite the gains to be made from implementing IoT, the research revealed that there are still many obstacles that stop it being implemented. Cost of implementation was reported as one of these by 50 percent, maintenance by 44 percent and integration of legacy technology by 43 percent.

Data, which is the central plank of the IoT, also presents issues for many organisations. While 98 percent of organizations that have adopted IoT claim that they can analyse data, 97 percent feel there are challenges to creating value from this data.

Security is also a significant issue, with 84 percent reporting that they had experienced an IoT related security breach. Not surprisingly with that figure in mind, more than half said that external attacks are a key barrier to moving forward with an IoT strategy.

Reacting to this, Morten Illum told Internet of Business, “It’s clear that companies need more information about the devices connecting to their network. Network managers require the ability to create policies/permissions around each of them, so that if a device is compromised by malware or human error, it can be identified and removed from the wider network.”

Read more: 5G will drive IoT adoption, Ericsson claims

The situation in 2019

Despite these challenges the report concludes that 85 percent of businesses plan to implement IoT by 2019, driven by a need for innovation and business efficiency.

77 percent of businesses believe it will allow them to transform offices into smart workplaces. 59 percent say IoT will allow them to increase employee productivity, 40 percent expect it to help with growing the business, and 20 percent see it as improving worker’s ability to collaborate.

The challenge, Chris Kozup, vice president of marketing at Aruba, points out, is working out the right strategy for IoT. Commenting on the report he said, “With many executives unsure of how to apply IoT to their business, those who succeed in implementing IoT are well positioned to gain a competitive advantage.”

Read more: Connected tech adoption in manufacturing set to double

The post IoT is heading for mass adoption by 2019 says Aruba appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Solving Challenges Due to Mass Adoption of IoT

Solving Challenges Due to Mass Adoption of IoT

London, June29, 2017 – Telit, a global enabler of the Internet of Things (IoT), together with OT-Morpho, a world leader in digital security & identification technologies, announced today that the companies are partnering together to solve the challenges facing the mass adoption of IoT via today’s traditional deployment methodology.

As the cellular Internet of Things market is maturing and evolving to deploy tailored IoT such asCAT-M and NB-IoT, the companies believe a different deployment approach will be required.The two companies are partnering to bring to market a next generation approach that will allow the digital distribution of mobile subscriptions on demand to IoT connectivity modules. The joint solution will enable global interoperability, reduced total cost of ownership for end-customers and improved time-to-market for enterprises and device makers looking to roll out large-scale IoT projects.

Together, Telit and OT-Morpho will leverage their combined technical expertise as well as their worldwide customer and carrier eco-systems to jumpstart the IoT narrowband cellular economy. The focus will be on streamlining the provisioning and subscription management process for next generation Cat-M and NB-IoTconnectivity.

“We are excited to partner with OT-Morpho and collaborate on innovative ways to serve the needs of the IoT market. We believe our new approach will also offer significant advantages to MNO partners – including but not limited to – new market opportunities for services, minimal impact on existing business processes, cost savings on SIMs logistics while maintaining the highest level of security and are working with some early adopters to fully leverage these.” said Oozi Cats, CEO of Telit.”Following the recently announced Telit simWISE offering, this new solution will further target the coming wave of NB-IoT and Low Cat devices enabling a global IoT-centric subscription management service, reduce total cost of ownership for end-customers and improve time-to-market for IoT developers.”

“OT-Morpho and Telit see the massive opportunity represented by the IoT market and believe that as key ecosystem players they have a vital role to fulfill in helping MNOs and enterprises roll out their IoT strategies. By streamlining subscription management and by bringing solutions that can enhance the security and integrity of connected devices, we are fulfilling critical industry needs in order for the IoT to reach its full potential,” said Didier Lamouche, CEOof OT-Morpho.

As Telit and OT-Morpho progress into their partnership, the companies plan to announce the details of their solution in the near future, which will enable a wide-scale adoption of cellular technology across billions of devices worldwide.

*NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard that has been developed to enable a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular telecommunications bands.


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How Japan is using cellular IoT to lead the way for mass smart metering deployment

As the Internet of Things continues to advance, the smart metering market is expected to explode. Influenced by rising energy prices, increases of energy theft, demand for more accurate billing and a heightened awareness of energy conservation, the global market is expected to reach nearly $ 20 billion by 2022.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Japan where, following the 2011 Fukushima crisis and subsequent move from nuclear power, the government’s Energy-Environment Council set an 85% nationwide target smart electrical meter adoption by 2020.

Aggressive smart metering rollout is very much a global phenomenon. However, what sets Japan apart is the top-down nature of this initiative. The Japanese government is significantly driving the deployment of smart utilities, having mandated that up to 100 million buildings and households be connected within the next three years.

While the rollout in Japan is government-led, individual companies have been granted the freedom to select the technologies they will use. With cellular IoT solutions having matured sufficiently to enable mass-market deployments, LTE is fast becoming the technology of choice for Japanese providers; it provides the extended battery life, low power consumption, cost efficiency and reduced size essential to smart utility metering. While initial observations suggest that deployments will begin with CAT-M1 networks, both M1 and NB1 are already being targeted. Thus, an integrated dual-mode chipset – enabling modules to be designed before a final decision is made – is attracting increasingly more vendors.

The result for Japan will be a uniform – even harmonious – rollout with individual gas, water and electricity vendors having received clear targets in terms of deployments schedules and new technology trials. This means that the mass adoption will happen much faster than in other countries. In comparison, European and American utility companies are having to drive smart meter implementation themselves, resulting in a slower and far more sporadic deployment.

For the future of efficient and high-volume smart metering deployment, Japan is a market to watch.

The post Japan Using Cellular IoT to Lead Way for Mass Smart Metering Deployment appeared first on Altair Semiconductor.

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