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Weber A.,ASSEMBLY Magazine
Assembly | Year: 2014

Automakers, suppliers, universities and government labs around the world are scrambling to develop self-driving vehicles. In fact, Nissan is currently building a dedicated autonomous driving proving ground in Japan. When it opens later this year, the facility will feature real brick-and-mortar townscapes that will be used to push vehicle testing beyond the limits possible on public roads. Several companies are currently developing much less expensive and smaller devices. For example, Quanergy Systems Inca Silicon Valley start-up company plans to charge less than $500 for a device that it is developing that would be the size of two cigarette packs. Within a few years, it hopes to reduce the cost and size of the device to less than $200 and a single cigarette pack in size. Driverless technology will also add several extra layers of complexity to final vehicle assembly. Source


Weber A.,ASSEMBLY Magazine
Assembly | Year: 2014

Growing use of lightweight materials in the auto industry is forcing engineers to rethink how they splice wires and cables. While there are many technologies for directly splicing two or more wires together, including laser welding, resistance welding and soldering, ultrasonic metal welding has become a popular alternative for assembling wire harnesses. Ultrasonic welding creates solid-state metallurgical bonds that have high conductivity. It does this without producing arcs, sparks or fumes, and without melting the metals. Despite numerous benefits, ultrasonic welding may not be ideal for all wire processing applications. For example, wire bundles smaller than 1 square millimeter can be difficult to weld without damage. In addition, wires with high strand count and extremely fine individual wires may encounter wire breakage from ultrasonic welding. And, because ultrasonic welding requires an overlap, butt joints are not always possible. Overlap joints typically work better for multiple wire materials or sizes. Butt joints work well for solid wires. Source


Weber A.,ASSEMBLY Magazine
Assembly | Year: 2014

The US furniture manufacturers need help implementing state-of-the-art assembly lines to revamp domestic production after more than a decade of offshoring. Many of those companies are seeking assistance from the Franklin Furniture Institute (FFI) at Mississippi State University. The 27-year-old organization is operated by the Forest Products Department of the College of Forest Resources. However, the multidisciplinary effort also taps experts from Mississippi State's architecture, business and engineering schools. The FFI boasts a 5,000-square-foot laboratory equipped with machines and fixtures for testing components and joints. Several years ago, FFI focused heavily on frame design and structural performance. For instance, a major study examined the mechanical properties associated with using oriented strand board (OSB) as a frame stock, because of its cost-saving advantages. Source


Weber A.,ASSEMBLY Magazine
Assembly | Year: 2014

Collaborative robots can perform a variety of repetitive assembly tasks all while safely and intelligently working next to people without the need for traditional safety barriers. One of the best-known collaborative robots is Baxter, which was unveiled in 2012 by Rethink Robotics Inc. The easy-to-use interactive robot was designed to handle light payloads and operate alongside people. It features advanced force sensing technology, back-drivable motors, and a moderate velocity that combine to reduce the likelihood and impact of a collision. Unlike traditional robots that require extensive software programming, Baxter can be trained quickly, just like a person. Assemblers interact with the robot directly to teach it to do a task. A German company called pi4 Robotics has developed a similar product called Workerbot. Universal Robots A/S developed its UR5 device to allow manufacturers to automate easily, inexpensively and flexibly. Source


Sprovieri J.,ASSEMBLY Magazine
Assembly | Year: 2014

Engineers have multiple options and many factors to think about when choosing a linear actuator. Frank Langro, director of marketing and product management at Festo Corp, advises that there is a need to consider what loads are to be moved and how fast one wants to move them. For the most part, pneumatic actuators are designed to move to only two positions. 'If all engineers need is two positions, there's no point in dealing with servos and controls,' advises R.J. Ruberti, team leader for linear systems at SCHUNK Inc., which offers both pneumatic and electric actuators. If the actuator must move to more than two positions, some units can be equipped with proportional flow valves to modulate air on both sides of the piston. The choice of motor depends on the application and the control technology. Stepper motors are best for applications with low speed and acceleration requirements. The choice of belt or screw drive depends on the application. Source

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