Prototyping Harvest Automation’s HV-100 Robot for Agricultural Spacing
Aug29

Prototyping Harvest Automation’s HV-100 Robot for Agricultural Spacing

With population growth and an ever-increasing lack of access to water and arable land, future agricultural demands will require more efficient use of existing resources to increase crop yields. In an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency, robots have been designed for various agricultural applications such as picking and weeding, but these robots have yet to find widespread acceptance in the marketplace due to technology and price barriers. Now, one robot – Harvest Automation’s HV-100 robot, commonly nicknamed the Harvey – has found commercial success.  This success is due in large part to the Harvey’s technological ease-of use and efficiency, as well as low cost of operation as compared to the high costs of labor. An important step in ensuring the health of every plant is container spacing. Every container has to be evenly spaced as the plants grow so the plants do not intertwine and get damaged. While spacing is critical for the health of the plants, it is also one of the least desirable tasks on the farm. Moving and spacing plants is hard, tedious work. The Harvey is capable of handling all plant spacing, consolidation and collection aspects of a nursery or greenhouse operation and uses established technology that is reliable, affordable and perfectly geared towards the task at hand. On those rare occasions when it becomes “confused,” the HV-100 also possesses failsafe algorithms that cause it to either stop or maneuver around unidentified objects. This feature, along with its diminutive size, makes it a safe addition to the workplace. MITRPAK, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lampin Corporation, an employee-owned precision machining company located in Uxbridge Massachusetts, manufactures a right angle gear drive that powers arms in the front of the robot to raise and lower the potted plants. This gear system also includes electronic sensors that keep the robot aware of its position. Lampin/MITRPAK remains intimately involved with the design of the product. Harvest Automation initially engineered the part, and Lampin engineers made refinements after a prototyping process where the part went through multiple iterations before a final design was reached. Lampin added value by providing engineering expertise and by working with Harvest Automation on a program that combines high-quantity blanket orders with part cost reduction. The right angle gear drive that powers the arms for the Harvey is just one of many components that makes up the HV-100 robot. Each part has been carefully engineered to increase productivity vis-a-vis plant spacing, consolidation and collecting plants, and the amount of intricate machining put into each component of the HV-100 robot is a testament to the engineering and innovative acumen of Harvest Automation and its partners....

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Can Musk’s Hyperloop be Brought to Life?
Aug21

Can Musk’s Hyperloop be Brought to Life?

What is Musk’s Hyperloop? Last Monday Elon Musk, a billionaire, entrepreneur, and the co-funder of such companies as Paypal, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity, revealed his new plan for the Hyperloop. The basic idea involves having small capsules, holding about 28 passengers each, travel through enclosed tubes at nearly the speed of sound. They would be propelled by a linear induction motor and ride on pockets of air in a low-pressure air system. The lack of friction would result in incredibly fast travel, with a ride from from Los Angeles to San Francisco taking a mere 35 minutes to complete. This is 5 times faster than the current system of rails. Musk believes that the cost would be about $6 billion, which would be a mere tenth of the cost of this current rail system. Creation of the Model CEO of WhiteClouds Jerry Ropelato challenged a team of five designers to create a miniature of Elon Musk’s proposed futuristic Hyperloop system. The 3D-printing company went to work and created the model in less than 24 hours. Small enough to sit on a desk, the model was created with three different 3D-printers – a Connex 500 printer, a ProJet 3500 HDMax, and a ZPrinter650. After all the parts were made, the team worked to assemble them and create the finished product. “This really demonstrates the possibilities 3D printing offers,” Ropelato stated. Criticisms of Hyperloop However, not everyone is convinced that the Hyperloop is feasible. Physics professor at UC Berkeley, Richard Muller, has stated that Musk ought to have made a prototype before laying out his proposal. He believes that this could result in complications regarding the safety of the system as well as the energy it would require. Others are concerned about the fact that Musk has not factored in development costs, and worry that this will be something which is later regretted. Says professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT John Hansman, “The high-level concept doesn’t violate any fundamental laws of physics…[but] I’m not sure whether the details...

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Inventor of 3D Printing Makes Acquisition
Aug20

Inventor of 3D Printing Makes Acquisition

Rock Hill, SC-based 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), the company that invented of 3D printing, has announced its acquisition of American Precision Prototyping (APP) and sister company American Precision Machining (APM), further extending its operations in the United States. Details of the transaction were not disclosed. Headquartered in Tulsa, OK, APP and APM bring extensive advanced prototyping and manufacturing experience to 3DS, along with significant aerospace presence. They also possess a strong regional infrastructure and long-term, key relationships with companies in the sector. “APP and APM bring a wealth of experience and bench strength in both advanced manufacturing and the aerospace industry that is highly complementary to our offerings,” said Ziad Abou, Vice President and General Manager, Quickparts for 3DS. “This acquisition further enhances our North American capabilities and expertise.” “3D Systems is, bar none, the recognized leader in advanced manufacturing with an exceptional track record in providing the highest quality parts services globally,” said Jason Dickman, President of APP. “We have been a long-standing customer of 3DS’ SLA and SLS printers, materials and software, and we couldn’t be more excited to join the team as it positions us to provide unparalleled parts services to our customers far into the future.” 3D Systems is a leading provider of 3D printing centric design-to-manufacturing solutions including 3D printers, print materials and cloud sourced on-demand custom parts for professionals and consumers alike in materials including plastics, metals, ceramics and edibles. The company also provides integrated 3D scan-based design, freeform modeling and inspection tools and an integrated 3D planning and printing digital thread for personalized surgery and patient specific medical devices. Its products and services replace and complement traditional methods and reduce the time and cost of designing new products by printing real parts directly from digital input. These solutions are used to rapidly design, create, communicate, prototype or produce functional parts and assemblies, empowering customers to manufacture the...

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GM Uses 3-D Screen to View Prototypes
Aug19

GM Uses 3-D Screen to View Prototypes

At GM Headquarters in Warren, Michigan, engineers, executives and designers can gather around a powerful new tool that shows them a life-sized version of a future vehicle. It’s not a model in the traditional sense. There’s no clay, metal, wood or plastic involved. Instead there is the Powerwall with its 24-foot screen. The Powerwall screen can display the vehicle in 2-D for simplicity or go for 3-D. Every aspect, from individual parts to the whole design, can be examined in crisp detail. Computer graphics allow the user to portray the vehicle in real settings from cities to the countryside. This new tool is intended to reduce the long timeline often needed to bring a new car to market. Traditionally, details must be hashed and rehashed over hand-crafted or small screen computerized models. Money may be saved as bad ideas are eliminated before expensive prototypes are produced. The Powerwall lets viewers interact with the computerized model. Parts can be moved, and elements changed. All the while, a team can contribute to the process simultaneously with a fuller knowledge of the vehicle under development. This will have an effect on the manufacturing process as well. Executives may be able to make better decisions about retooling a factory based on the evidence that they can see with their own eyes. Designers may make changes after witnessing their designs come to life in realistic settings. The Powerwall could be thought of as an enormous HDTV. In fact, it has a 5879 x 2160 resolution which is about double the vertical resolution and triple the horizontal resolution of a high-def television. Christie Digital Systems produced the enormous Mirage DLP projectors. The middle of the image is an overlap of pixels, demonstrating how precise these two projectors must be to create the necessary image. A central PC oversees 16 PCs to create the image. With a faster timeline, executives and designers can target their ideas to the present and not just guess at the...

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