Over the past 10 years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has slowly crept into the daily lives of consumers through smartwatches, vehicle tracking systems, public transport apps, home alarm systems and food delivery services. These technologies offer many conveniences, such as tracking transport schedules, parcel deliveries, the location of assets like vehicles, or local weather conditions. It takes existing expert domains, such as smart factories, process automation, flexible manufacturing and process control, and combines these with the extensive reach of internet and telecommunication technologies.
For industry, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) offers increased oversight and connectivity between different manufacturing and business processes, and closer integration with suppliers, logistics providers, warehouses, and even clients. It allows for improved efficiency and better analysis of process flows, often over large distances. At the same time, it allows for new services to be offered to clients such as predictive mainte-nance, management systems, analytical services and software updates.
At the heart of IoT technology is the capability to integrate the data streams from distributed sensors into management systems and user interfaces. While some sensors mainly collect and transmit data, other sensors could be programmed to automatically trigger programmed functions. As these different sensors and devices perform their functions, rich data is collected that allows for improved process management and efficiency, data analysis and value to be offered.
PROFILE 1 (Updated April 2022)
Additive layer manufacturing describes a manufacturing process in which a digitally controlled head with a laser deposits a fine layer of raw material to construct a three-dimensional object. Additive manufacturing is sometimes also called 3D printing.
3D desktop printers are already available to consumers at computer retailers and hobby shops. The performance and functionality of desktop 3D printers are increasing rapidly, while the cost of ownership is falling rapidly. Desktop 3D printers usually deposit a layer of molten plastic on a bed to create a three-dimensional shape.
In the industrial domain, rapid advances are being made in the melting of metals, alloys, high performance plastics and polycarbonates using lasers. Likewise, in the medical field, different technologies are being developed that allow for the combination of cells, growth factors, biomaterials and tissue to grow organs. Additive manufacturing technologies are also used to print complex sand moulds, or to create wax moulds for investment castings. The metal objects made by 3D printed moulds are basically ready-for-use and require almost no further grinding or processing.