How Is Technology Changing Manufacturing?

Tag Archive: 3D printing

  1. How Is Technology Changing Manufacturing?

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    Over the past several years, advanced technology has come to the forefront in the manufacturing world.

    This technology not only enhances processes via automation, it has also allowed for a huge resurgence in U.S. manufacturing. In fact, data from the Institute for Supply Management showed that as of October 2017, the U.S. manufacturing industry had expanded at its fastest pace in 13 years.

    automated technology in manufacturing

    Evolutions in additive manufacturing, automation and industrial robotics are changing every step in the manufacturing process. Manufacturers are adopting robotics and technologies to collaborate with human engineers and operators, freeing them up for higher-level tasks and thereby increasing overall efficiency.

    At ESI, we’re proud to be a part of this exciting shift. We make use of various advanced manufacturing and industrial automation technologies, allowing us to provide cost-efficient, high-quality products with extremely quick turnarounds. Take a look at some of our automated processes below to see just how much time manufacturing technology saves us — and our customers.

    3D Printing

    Time saved for prototyping jobs: Over 200 hours

    3d printer

    The use of 3D printing has dramatically reduced the amount of time needed to develop and produce prototypes, as well as the overall costs associated with the process.

    Before we started utilizing 3D printing, it could take up to two weeks to design and develop a prototype. Additive manufacturing has reduced that time to just three or four hours. And since less time is required to build the prototype, ESI can now devote more time to thoroughly testing and evaluating the part, which, in turn, allows us to more easily adjust and optimize the design as needed.

    Automated Packaging

    Time saved for packaging: 15 hours

    automated-packagingThe team at ESI also makes use of a sophisticated automated packaging machine that loads parts, weighs, and packages them according to weight. With this manufacturing technology, ESI has been able to significantly reduce the overall time and costs needed for all packaging processes.

    What used to take 20 hours with manual packaging now takes just five hours­­. This allows us to get products to customers faster, at lower rates than allowed by manual packaging.

    Vision Inspection/Assembly

    Time saved for inspection: 10 mins. per part (for million-part jobs)

    To ensure our products are of the highest possible quality, we employ an integrated vision inspection and assembly system — a unique, customized assembly machine featuring built-in technology that inspects part runs in the millions.

    This allows for high precision and nearly eliminates the risk of any defects or problems. With this technology, we’ve significantly reduced the amount of time needed to check dozens of specified criteria; now, this complex analysis can be done in just milliseconds. And since this system combines assembly and inspection processes, we can more effectively manufacture large runs of parts with greater accuracy.

    Before we started using this technology, the turnaround time for inspection and assembly was about 10 minutes per part, but now it’s just half a second! Jobs that would have been nearly impossible to complete are now easily doable.

    Every manufacturer knows that product defects are a major cause of cost overruns and project delays.

    Quality of parts is an essential piece of the manufacturing puzzle. It is even more critical to the safety of applications, such as automotive parts. When there is absolutely no room for error, the inspection portion of the manufacturing process takes on a vital role.

    As an indication of our commitment to both quality and safety, our team at ESI has designed a customized assembly machine with the ability to inspect parts based on dozens of specific criteria. In just milliseconds — a speed faster than the blink of an eye — our machine can confirm that a part has been manufactured within the tolerances specified by our client.

    By leveraging the power of a vision-based inspection machine, we are able to verify parts with unparalleled speed and accuracy. The vision systems we use are capable of working far faster, and far more accurately than any human inspector.

    In the end, this means that we are able to deliver cost savings without having to sacrifice the quality of our products in any way.

    Learn More

    Automation and robotics deliver a range of benefits for both industrial companies and their customers. At ESI, our advanced manufacturing technology provides shorter turnarounds, faster production times, and higher-quality products, giving us more time to work with our customers to perfect part engineering, design, and functionality.

    To learn more about our manufacturing technology, or to further discuss the benefits of automation, check out our eBook on high-volume production, available in our comprehensive resource library.

    Visit our Resource Library

  2. Inside ESI: How Our Manufacturing Equipment Works

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    Committed to continual improvement, the team at ESI is constantly on the lookout for new equipment and processes that will ensure the highest-quality, fastest production — especially for the largest runs.

    ESI MachinesTo accomplish this, we’ve even custom-built a few machines of our own.

    You may have heard about our latest venture in 3D printing to expand our metal stamping capabilities and better serve our diverse clients. But this isn’t the only valuable investment we’ve made over the years.

    Below, we explore the state-of-the-art machines that have helped us solve our customers’ toughest challenges.

    State-of-the-Art Manufacturing Equipment

    • Swiss-Made Wire Electrical Discharge Machine (EDM)

    swiss-made-high-speed-EDMAdded in March of this year, the AgieCharmilles CUT 300 mS specializes in high-speed wire EDM cutting and boasts cutting tolerances of ±2 µm and surface qualities as fine as Ra 0.1 µm.

    In addition to its high precision and fine surface finishes, it also provides significant time and cost savings. What does all this mean? Higher-quality products, faster turnaround times, and lower costs for our customers.

    Read more about how our EDM machine saved a customer money while allowing for design flexibility.

    • 150-Ton Stamping Press

    Progressive die stamping provides a cost-effective way to produce metal components with complex geometries at extremely high speeds while ensuring high reliability and minimal scrap. With a bed size of 48 in. x 60 in., our 150-ton press can stamp a variety of formed and flat parts.

    Discover how our 150-ton stamping press saved one client 80% of their part order and cut their lead time from 10 weeks to four.

    • Custom Vision Inspection Machine

    laser-sensor-inspectionTo ensure reliable quality, ESI designed a proprietary vision inspection machine that can inspect parts based on dozens of criteria — in milliseconds.

    A laser sensor triggers a camera, which captures an image of the part as it drops through a window in the machine. These quality inspections are faster and more accurate than human inspection and allow us to deliver millions of parts at a quicker turnaround, with zero defects.

    To get an inside look at how this groundbreaking technology works, download our eBook, “High Volumes, Zero Defects: How It Works” or see it in action here.

    • Automated Assembly

    In addition to our metal stamping capabilities for complex parts, we also offer assembly services. Through our automated assembly and inspection services, we can increase production rates while reducing your costs and turnaround times.

    See for yourself how we were able to increase productivity and decrease defect rates for one of our recent customers.

    • Automated Packaging Line

    As an extension of our automated assembly services, ESI’s automated packaging line weighs and counts bulk parts to precisely fill cartons, allowing for speedy and accurate packaging before delivery.


    About ESI Precision Metal Stamping

    Here at ESI, we pride ourselves on our precision metal stamping expertise and one-on-one personal service. With a variety of high-quality metal stamping machines, we can work on projects of any size, for any industry — from aerospace and medical to military and automotive.

    We invite you to visit our cutting-edge facilities in North Branford, Conn., where we have 57,000 square feet of manufacturing space. To see our equipment in action. Contact us today to schedule your visit.


  3. Watch a 3D Printer Create an Inspection Fixture

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    In a relatively short amount of time, 3D printing has had quite an impact on the manufacturing sector.

    As 3D printing becomes more prominent in the public sphere, it opens up a world of opportunities for manufacturers. 3D printing technology is “additive,” meaning manufacturers can use the minimum material needed to fabricate the part — delivering less waste and more material cost savings.

    Today, 3D printing in manufacturing is used for multiple applications. In an effort to deliver error-free metal stamping projects, ESI uses 3D printing in an unexpected way — we 3D print quality inspection fixtures.  By 3D printing these fixtures for each custom designed part, we can accelerate the inspection process and deliver quicker turnaround. Here’s how it works.

    Step 1: 3D Print the Fixture

    Quality inspection fixtures are specially designed by ESI engineers to hold stamped metal parts in place during the quality inspection processes. Using 3D CAD drawings, we design a unique inspection fixture for every stamped metal part we produce.

    The fixtures — designed to hold stamped parts in place without impeding the quality assurance process, and for easy loading and unloading — are 3D-printed using ABS plastic on a weekly basis.

    Depending on the size and complexity of the fixture, the 3D printing process takes about 3 hours to complete. Magnets can also be easily incorporated onto the fixtures for optimal adherence to the inspection machine.

    Step 2: Inspect the Part

    We inspect large volumes of our parts with a coordinate measuring machine (CMM), as seen in the video above, which also shows how our 3D printed fixtures really prove their value.

    The Benefits of 3D

    Without a 3D printer to create custom inspection fixtures, manufacturers must either:

    1. Outsource their fixtures or
    2. Use other means, such as clamps, to hold parts to CMM beds.
    3. CNC Machine their fixtures

    Outsourcing inspection fixtures can add unnecessary time and cost investments to a project. Affixing parts to CMM beds with clamps takes time, negatively impacting the number of pieces that can be inspected, and can potentially damage the parts. And, CNC machining is costly and time consuming.

    With custom designed and 3D printed inspection fixtures, setting up a piece is quick and efficient, allowing for a greater volume of inspection and, therefore, lower defect rates.

    To view the array of varying parts that we have 3D printed inspection fixtures for, visit our Sample Gallery today.

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