With over 210.000 visitors, the Hannover Messe is one of the leading trading fairs in the area of industrialization. Cor Bangma, intern at the Research Group Renewable Resources of NHL Stenden. visited the fair this year.
The use of robots will undeniably increase in the future of manufacturing. Humans still have the advantage on the field of using our senses and brain to make good decisions. Robots however are far more precise, don’t get tired and can work much faster than humans. When the software controlling the robots (and their decision making) will get better in the following years, more and more human tasks can be executed by robots. At Hannover Messe big names like Kawasaki, Airbus, Epson and Siemens showed off their advances in this field. Demonstrations included robots preforming complex tasks like delivering and placing packages with precision and cutting windows in an airplane hull.
At the fair several new players in the field of software were present, but also well known companies like SAP. Not only did they show their innovations on the field of robot control, but more frequently they demonstrated their advances on the field of controlling the whole production process, using the data from robots in a production facility. Software like this can be used to optimize a production process and provide information useful for dealing with malfunctions and maintenance. Software companies try to differentiate themselves from the competition by creating alliances with robot manufacturers or by integrating their software in existing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems.
There were several 3D printer manufacturers at the fair. Most of them focused on the printing of plastics. There was at least one company present that could print steel. Also, one company was working in the field of printing with magnesium. Due to the flammable characteristics of magnesium powder this is not an easy task. The possibility of printing composite materials is, according to most companies present, just a matter of time. The main challenge (and opportunity) in this area is the controlling of the orientation of the fibers to create good material properties..