Author Archives: elizabethvanstee2

Products Soon Will Know Where They Belong in Our World

As our world becomes increasingly more connected, we will find we need to shift our perspective on the products we manufacture and buy. Not only are we connecting with more things, but more things will be initiating connections with us—and with each other—as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

McKinsey & Company recently offered an interesting prediction of how the Internet of Things may impact manufactured products and processes. Robert Bosch GmbH deputy chairman Siegfried Dais suggested that “a piece of metal or raw material will say, ‘I am the block that will be made into product X for customer Y’” and that “this unfinished material “carries with it all the information about where and when it will be processed….The material itself records any deviations from the standard process, determines when it’s ‘done” and knows how to get to its customer.”

In this kind of scenario, the material becomes more than just a key part of the process; the process is indistinguishable from the information-laden material itself. Consider how smart materials may change not just the manufacturing process but also everything associated with the product after it leaves the assembly line—from warehousing and distribution to upgrades and warranty claims. Here’s an example of what may be possible:

  • Before a material even takes its final shape, it will know and display the truck, train or ship that should transport it.
  • On the truck, the product furnishes a GPS navigation map for the palette on which it rests to direct the driver to the specific dock where it and its “companions” should be unloaded.
  • Upon reaching the warehouse, the information in the product material directs robotic handling equipment to the bin where it should be stored. The location already has been determined and programmed early in the assembly process.
  • At the consumer’s home, the product is constantly monitoring the activity of the R&D team who created it and knows immediately when an upgrade is available, downloading the new software remotely on its own, once approved.
  • Products will use wear conditions and internal analysis of components to predict when they will break down—and file a warranty claim on behalf of their owner. If a software fix will take care of the repair, the product will download the fix seamlessly.

The IoT might justifiably recast the Internet of Things as the Internet of Thinking, as products and the materials from which they are made manage their entire lifecycle on their own, based on their intelligent evaluation of their changing environment. This new capability will offer new opportunity as we reshape and reevaluate the way we think about the supply chain.

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New Kinpo Group Beats Out Competition in Key Categories at CES

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CES 2016 was a massive, whirlwind of an event with thousands of pieces of new technology, old technology and reimagined technology on display.

With so many gadgets competing for attention, New Kinpo Group subsidiary XYZprinting was proud to pull ahead of the competition and have new products, including the da Vinci Mini, recognized by Reviewed.com and USA Today as a “Editor’s Choice,” by Tom’s Guide as a “Top Pick” and by TWICE as a “Best Pick” for the 2016 show.  These additional distinctions continue momentum from last year where XYZprinting earned a Top Tech of CES designation and PC Magazine’s “Best of CES” award for its 3D printing technology.

Beginning with CES Unveiled, show attendees and media members visited the booth to see how New Kinpo Group is breaking down technology barriers with the introduction of several easy-to-use devices that deliver innovative experiences to consumers.

Since last year’s show, New Kinpo Group has become the world’s largest provider of 3D printers, accounting for 22 percent of all the world’s shipments in this category. We’re continuing our expansion into new categories and new regions with a mission to enable the masses to experience the benefits of advanced technology.

One such area of significant expansion is robotics with the addition of XYZRobots. At CES, there was 71 percent more space dedicated to robotics, compared to 2015, making it a hotbed of activity on this front. Together with XYZPrinting, XYZRobot showcased an array of intriguingly advanced robots, 3D printers and electronic wearables. The new products represent significant innovations in capability and compactness that will be available in the global marketplace this year.

If you weren’t able to attend CES, here are a few of the items we displayed:

  • The da Vinci Mini, which is 70 percent smaller than the da Vinci Jr. home printer. Yet it maintains the same build size of 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches. It serves as a desktop 3D printer with a one-button printing process that’s as simple to use as a coffeemaker.
  • 3D pen that pushes melted material through its tip to enable artisans to draw 3D objects in minutes without a computer or software. With no restriction on print size, the pen can create whatever image is in the designer’s mind. It also can be used to repair objects or add decoration.
  • Nobel 1.0A, a highly accurate and affordable professional-grade desktop 3D printer. It uses a photosensitive resin and a UV laser to obtain a print resolution of up to 25 microns. It offers a maximum build size of 5 x 5 x 7.9 inches, larger than any other stereolithographic 3D printer can build.
  • BC1, a long-term, continuous ECG monitor that integrates into consumers’ clothing or as a wireless patch. With an anticipated Q3 2016 release date, the BC1 system provides users with seamless and accessible information to their body’s data without time or place limitations. The product will be retailing for $150 which includes the shirt.
  • W-01, a modularized, wheeled, edutainment robot capable of showing expressions and human-type movements. The personal robot serves as an educational tool for individuals learning how to create animations for LEDs by changing the expressions in the robot’s eyes. The interactive robot, equipped to play voice or music, is built with seven servo motors in its upper body and incorporates a link tracking sensor for maze-design competitions. It employs a laser and ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles when moving. W-01 can carry objects that weigh as much as 300 grams (2/3 of a pound).
  • Smart Service Robot for use in businesses. The new robot has auto-navigation, mapping and monitoring capabilities, can avoid obstacles and lets people interact with others in remote locations as if they were in the same place. It offers telepresence through a 14” touch panel. In Taiwan, a major home products chain uses the Smart Service Robot as a customer service representative to guide customers to store shelves and to handle call-center functions.
  • XYZprinting’s prosumer-grade 3D Jet is a desktop printer that sprays a photopolymer resin as an inkjet printer would, producing exceptionally high-quality prints. This innovation is particularly valuable to engineers, toy makers, entrepreneurs and project designers who need to build high-quality prototypes.

NKG growth will continue with the addition of these new products as well as other innovative launches planned for 2016. Over the past year, NKG has grown to an estimated $7.9 billion USD in sales, a record for the global corporation. NKG now embraces 22 companies, 72 factories and nearly 45,000 employees.

 

Robots Reach for New Roles in Manufacturing

In nearly every business and government sector across the globe, robots are handily making work easier and more consistent. They help assemble cars, perform operations and explore planets. In manufacturing, robots traditionally have been assigned to large tasks that require only gross movements, like painting, picking and placing. Now, however, they are able to handle fine movements and to work literally shoulder-to-shoulder with humans on complex projects.

So far, robots have been performing tasks that humans could do but that would be time-consuming, boring, hazardous or difficult for mere human hands. As we look to the future, we should anticipate that robots—networked with the Internet of Things (IoT)—will become much more progressive in their capabilities. They will become smarter, more dexterous and more reconfigurable, assuming new stature in the manufacturing ecosystem. Here are a few ways that robots are likely to evolve in the not-so-distant future:

  • Robots will become lighter and more portable, so that they can be used more flexibly for a variety of tasks and on multiple assembly lines. The results will be a much more agile and less expensive manufacturing infrastructure and an increased ability to customize smaller runs by moving robots around and programming them for short-term duties.
  • Robots will become increasingly agile, able to manipulate smaller components in more complex ways. They will begin to transform the concept of “assembly” into the concept of “craftsmanship,” with much more sensibility toward fine details.
  • Robots will become increasingly smart, able to learn to some extent from their past activity and predict work flow. They will begin to show the kinds of intelligence we see in today’s Internet, in which previous choices and actions help guide future actions toward desired goals and quality.
  • Assembly-line robots will connect to the Internet of Things so that they will be able to request parts when supplies are low and request replacements for parts they determine are damaged before those components are installed into products.
  • Through the Internet, robots will communicate with each other to simplify and accelerate just-in-time production. Going beyond ERP, robotic “peer-to-peer” communications will enable an assembly plant robot to notify a supplier robot when a particular work cell has deviated from the planned production schedule or a supplier to tell the assembly plant that it has run into problems, all in real time.
  • Researchers currently are taking advantage of artificial intelligence capabilities in robots to train them when to say “no” to a human command. The robots are being taught to speak up when they receive a command that could be dangerous to humans or cause damage in the facility, based on logical arguments that developers are implanting in the robot’s software.

If all these prospects seem impossible, remember that many of us said the same thing about the Internet and email a generation ago. Chances are we’ll come to rely just as much on robots in manufacturing as they become an essential part of the industrial infrastructure.

 

Consumers Want More Affordable Technology-Inspired Gifts This Holiday Season

With technology products entering the market at an ever-increasing pace, every day seems like a holiday, a time to buy the latest gadget or work-saver. So the traditional holiday season becomes a time to focus even more closely on the amazing range of new tech devices becoming available, like those being offered by New Kinpo Group (NKG).

NKG product design labs and manufacturing facilities are the places where “emerging technology” first emerges and where consumer trends often begin. This year, those trends favor highly affordable devices that are responsive to consumer demands for lower price points, along with the ability to customize a wide range of products. With such customization, consumers in effect are creating gifts of their own using their own technology.

One remarkable development that is stimulating consumers to create and personalize products on their own is the emergence of 3D printing for homes and schools. NKG subsidiary XYZprinting produced the first affordable line of consumer 3D printers and now leads the global market in 3D printer shipments.

The latest affordable 3D printing device from XYZprinting is the $199 3D scanner, which allows anyone to scan three-dimensional objects for 3D printing and customization. The scanner turns physical objects into digital replicas that can be modified in size, shape or other dimensions for 3D printing by using a computer.

More customizing is on its way with tabletop, do-it-yourself robots from NKG. Teens and adults alike now can build their own humanoid robots and program them to carry out commands that can be created and edited with software available as a tablet app or through a remote control. Each of these small robots is equipped with 18 powerful servo motors, allowing for the programming of human-like movements. Consumers even can create their own designs for the robot’s armor and use a 3D printer to produce other unique parts for their robots.

Wearable devices, which largely originated as technology related to sports and leisure, now are evolving more toward overall health, a more customized use that helps individuals reach personal health goals. Rock Health reports 17 percent of the U.S. population already is tracking a key health factor in a mobile app. Much of this tracking now is shifting toward wearable devices, from wristbands to smart watch. Additionally, 63 percent of those who have purchased wearables say they did so to become active, and 42 percent did so to lose weight.

For youngsters, the line between learning and play always has been vague, but now the difference becomes nearly indistinguishable as they learn to make their own tech play items. XYZprinting STEAM offers an online curriculum exchange program for incorporating 3D printing into the classroom. Many youngsters will be building some of their own holiday presents—from drones and model rockets to robotic-type toys—using what they learn from these classes and employing 3D printers.

For adults, the Maker Movement extends the evolution of learn/play to people who become 3D printing artisans, with new products produced cost-efficiently.

In all, this holiday season will be spiced up by affordable trends and DIY devices that let anyone become a maker and that make our lives more connected.

 

Focus on STEAM means new opportunity for 3D printing

From rockets to tortoise shells to complete clothing lines, stories of students creating amazing things using 3D printing technology have been all over the news in recent months.

Educators across the globe are embracing 3D printing as a new way to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) activities and teach 21st century “maker skills.” These skills, like programming, tabletop filmmaking, stop motion animation and robotics, combine with 3D printing to help prepare students for the jobs of the future.

“I see so much potential for students to use 3D printing in new and unique ways to create fun and educational classroom experiences and gain skills that will last a lifetime,” said Philip VanHooks, principal at Cooke Elementary in Detroit, Michigan.

And the good news is the industry growth is just getting started. The global 3D printing materials market is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.2 percent from 2015 to 2020, according to research from Lucintel. Although many organizations have focused attention on the medical industry as the best opportunity for growth, the applications are endless, especially in education.

3D printing was traditionally a mystery to the consumer market, but the growing affordability of 3D printers, such as the da Vinci line offered by XYZprinting has helped make the technology more accessible to the average consumer, therefore creating more opportunities for the classroom. The da Vinci line is unique because it’s one of the only models that comes fully assembled and ready for use, making it even easier to use this innovative technology for education.

Recently, XYZprinting partnered with D&H Distributing to expand the distribution of 3D printers in the education market. As part of the agreement, XYZprinting products will be incorporated into D&H’s K-12 education offering and educational sessions through programs such as the Solutions Lab Training Center.

With the increased focus on STEAM education XYZprinting expects even more students will be able to take advantage of 3D printing and explore real-world prototyping. For example, instead of design students creating 3D objects on a computer and pressing print only to end up with a 2D form, they can produce a tangible, shareable product, which can create a deep sense of accomplishment amongst students.

Training in the arts has been shown to improve creativity and innovation, and students who study arts benefit from increased test scores, according to research from the National Center for Education Statistics. By incorporating 3D printing technology, students gain hands-on learning experiences and a chance to engage in the arts in unique ways such as printing garments, sculptures and even instruments.

In the future, the 3D Printing industry will need even more dreamers, believers, and doers from a variety of backgrounds who aren’t afraid to continuously innovate and envision a world that is strikingly different than the one around us. The best place to find those dreamers is in the classroom, and XYZprinting hopes to play a role in further making 3D printing technology accessible to tomorrow’s leaders.

Do You Know Where Your Electronics Come From?

Electronics take center stage in our homes and offices but people don’t often think about the companiesthat test, manufacture, distribute and provide repair services for them. This large, mysterious sector,known as the electronic manufacturing services (EMS) industry, is experiencing steady growth globally.

Did you know:

  • EMS is the largest segment in the manufacturing industry, with an estimated revenue of $1.75 trillion USD. Source
  • The EMS industry is estimated to grow to $639 billion in 2018 with a compound annual growth rate of more than 7 percent. Source
  • In 2014, EMS providers contributed to 73.6 percent of top 25 sales in the category, up from 70.2 percent in 2013. Source
  • Across all segments in the market, consumer electronics is experiencing the fastest growth, with an estimated compound annual growth rate of more than 11 percent in 2012. Source

New Kinpo Group (NKG), which was ranked as the no. 11 top contract EMS manufacturer for 2014*,predicts additional EMS growth will be fueled by the Southeast Asia market. Having been based in Taiwan for more than 40 years and in Southeast Asia for 20, we continue to invest throughout the region in order to offer customers greater flexibility, lower costs, faster delivery times and world-class product quality. Most recently, we opened a new factory in the Philippines. This highly-automated,vertically-integrated factory is dedicated to consumer product manufacturing.

Although many have long-realized the benefits of manufacturing in China—where NKG also has a presence—the EMS industry globally is just realizing the infinite manufacturing possibilities that exist in Southeast Asia. Thanks to our investment in the region, we saw these opportunities early on. As a result,the company’s international customers are able to capitalize on our robust infrastructure to better serve local customers. With our extensive knowledge of local markets, we’re able to vertically integrate supply chains and keep our design team close, drastically improving delivery time for our customers.

We’ve developed manufacturing facilities in Brazil and Mexico to extend our electronics excellence to even more customers. By emulating our success in Taiwan, lead time and overall cost is significantly decreased. Also, products produced locally face lower tariffs, which creates savings for both the company and the consumer.

For more on NKG’s global expansion, please visit our newsroom. Data about the growth of the EMS industry and NKG’s role in the space can be found at Manufacturing Market Insider.
*NKG is ranked as the no. 3 top contract EMS manufacturer when revenue is combined with Compal Electronics*