We’re really excited to have EWI move into town. Buffalo Manufacturing Works is being operated by Edison Welding Institute (EWI), and they’re trying to replicate the success that EWI achieved in Ohio. This article from the Buffalo News offers a brief explanation of what EWI and Buffalo Manufacturing Works is trying to accomplish here in Buffalo. In a nutshell, Buffalo Manufacturing Works will be offering resources and services to move manufacturing forward in our region. That sounds like a good thing to us, and we’re excited to get involved.
In the month of February, Buffalo Manufacturing Works is hosting a series of discussions about topics in advanced manufacturing. It seems like some of these events were tailored to our needs, so obviously we attended them. Mike, Dan, and Brendan gave their accounts of trips to Buffalo Manufacturing Works below.
Flexible Manufacturing – by Mike R.
On Wednesday February 18th, I attended the Flexible Manufacturing technical working group help by Buffalo Manufacturing Works. The topic of this meeting was robotics. The consensus of the group was that everyone is looking for flexible robotics. It is easy to calculate the ROI of a robot when you are buying it for one long run job, but what about small runs? There is a need for robots that are human friendly so we don’t have to build cages around them. They need to be easy to program which saves time and money. They need to be able to pick up different shapes and sizes which eliminate the design and production of new grippers for every part. Until recently these needs weren’t possible to fulfill.
Today robots are more sophisticated than ever, and flexible automation is starting to become reality. The robotics that we use at Staub are not flexible – they can only perform one function, or a series of very similar functions. To be able to move a robot from job to job, and to have the ability to “teach” robots new jobs would open up many new doors. Two companies that we discussed who are creating these robots are Universal Robots and Rethink Robotics. We had the chance to see these robots up close and personal at IMTS this year, and we were all very impressed. We can’t wait to see how Buffalo Manufacturing Works plans to move robotic technology forward in Western New York.
Additive Manufacturing – by Dan E.
The Buffalo Manufacturing Works Additive Manufacturing group met on Wednesday February 11, 2015. This technical group was created with a vision of forming an informal, creative collaboration of area experts to share best practices and brainstorm ideas in their respective fields. The first Additive Manufacturing meeting reviewed a wide variety of today’s additive manufacturing processes. These include: vat photopolymerization, material extrusion, material jetting, binder jetting, powder bed fusion, directed energy deposition, sheet lamination, and functional printing.
Buffalo Manufacturing Works has purchased ten machines covering a variety of additive processes to be used by the group in an effort to give local businesses the tools to expand and in turn stimulate economic growth. Some of these machines we’re very familiar with, and others are new to us. Having the opportunity to explore new and different Additive technologies with Buffalo Manufacturing Works will be an excellent resource to us and many other manufacturers.
Machining and Finishing – by Brendan L.
On the morning of February 4th I attended the Buffalo Manufacturing Works Machining and Finishing working group. The purpose of this meeting was to inform local Buffalo manufacturing companies and organizations of who EWI is and the direction they are headed. We learned that they have already begun to invest in modern machining technology in the fields of Robotics, Machining and Additive. In regards to Machining, they are very intrigued by new ideas such as Cryogenic and Acoustic tooling. Both techniques allow for better machining results. Decreased cutting time, decreased tool wear, and burr reduction are benefits of both technologies. We hope that the research done by Buffalo Manufacturing Works in these areas helps pave the way for us to adopt these technologies.
The end goal for adopting this equipment and testing these ideas is to act as a resource for companies and pass on their research to companies who do not have R&D capabilities or simply just want to know more about what innovation is currently being tested. They briefly described that in order to benefit from this research one would have to be a member, and by no means are they a not-for-profit organization. To ensure that the individual company benefits directly from the EWI initiative, they asked us what types of new ideas (Hybrid, Advanced and Alternative Energy) machining have we heard about and would like to know more about. The representatives of EWI informed us that they still have a large portion of investment capital to use and are willing to use it on these suggestions in order to stay relevant to everyone. They encouraged us to come back and contact them about having more meetings like this one on a regular basis.