COHERENT|OR LASER has had a significant impact on the Additive Manufacturing sector as a company that made metal AM processes and technologies more accessible to wider industry. However, COHERENT|OR LASER believes that machines alone cannot unleash the full potential of AM, this is why the company has also focused its attention on software and even more an innovative Cloud Manufacturing solution.

The company’s early history and initial success was due in large part to its heritage and expertise with industrial laser equipment which ensured reliability and flexibility; again the fundamental importance of these equipment qualities cannot be overstated. Furthermore, the company continues to build on this success through its forward thinking approach to the software and connectivity issues that will enable AM to reach its full potential.

Cloud Manufacturing for Additive Manufacturing

For some years COHERENT|OR LASER has focused heavily on developing an advanced and integrated CAD/CAM software environment, namely the APP SUITE, which supports a sophisticated manufacturing framework and enables real time operation of virtually any manufacturing platform.  Building on this exceptional knowledge base COHERENT|OR LASER’s software experts have gone on to develop its Cloud Manufacturing solution that connects that manufacturing framework and will provide real time feedback and data for its AM users.

Data Volume in the Digital Age

DATA: this is one of the most profound and complex issues of the digital age. Everyone knows it exists these days; most people understand it is important at some level; and more recently growing numbers of people are becoming aware of the power of data. The complexity of the data issue is vast, but essentially it comes down to capturing data, storing it and then using it appropriately and to achieve improvements. The volume of data is similarly vast. According to research conducted by Ludovico Camarda, Software & Electronics Manager COHERENT|OR LASER, the growth in data volumes since the turn of the century has been tremendous, and this growth is speeding up dramatically.

Camarda reported the following global data statistics at COHERENT|OR LASER’s recent Focus Days event at the COHERENT|OR LASER headquarters in Dieburg, Germany:

Time frame Volume of Global Data
0-2003 5 Exabytes
2004-2008 500 Exabytes (x100)
2009-2012 2500 Exabytes (x500)
2013-2015 7500 Exabytes (x1500)
2016-2018 20,000 Exabytes (x4000)

 

*1 Exabyte = 1018 bytes.

Camarda went on to break down the data into two different types: structured and unstructured.

Structured and Unstructured Data

Camarda went on to break down the data into two different types: structured and unstructured.

Within the realm of business, and specifically manufacturing, structured data includes data gathered from expected sources such as SEO, PDM, ERP, CRM, AP, Analytics and general business intelligence collation. In contrast, unstructured data exists in many forms that often remain uncollated and un(der)-used; such as process parameters, geometries, log files user actions, errors and warnings, sensor readings and machine reports. Regardless of the origin, Camarda believes that ALL of this data has value and when collated and used together offers real value and opportunities to improve manufacturing workflows and efficiencies.

Increasing Efficiency through Cloud Manufacturing

By approaching AM in such a holistic way, COHERENT|OR LASER has focused on the connectivity AND productivity of its machines. In specific terms, this means that CREATOR users have unprecedented access to their machine(s), either locally or remotely. This is made possible by a dedicated tablet for real time control of the machine’s parameters; enabled by a secure Cloud server. Whether for a single platform or a multi-machine set-up, each tablet can be operated using a unique hash key that can be connected to each CREATOR’s unique machine ID, regardless of geographic location. This in turn means that users can monitor any job running on any machine in real time. Moreover, the tablet and machine(s) can share build files and all essential process parameters through the secure cloud and complex digital workflows can be created locally and distributed to remote production environments quickly and easily.

The future of Cloud Manufacturing

Future developments with the cloud manufacturing solution for increased connectivity will include producing relevant data that can be made available to technical support operatives to facilitate improvements in the manufacturing process and to corporate management for analysis and business intelligence functions. Another further development phase will introduce a collaborative platform for resource sharing among stakeholders and, where appropriate, initiate a market place and open 3D printing bank of applications supported by the build parameter data that enables best practice. Connectivity for AM is a major enabler for driving uptake of the technology across many industrial sectors, and COHERENT|OR LASER is taking it very seriously and applying it to its AM offering right now.