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Using artificial intelligence to control digital manufacturing

Researchers train a machine-learning model to monitor and adjust the 3D printing process to correct errors in real-time

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Written by Adam Zewe, MIT News Office

Scientists and engineers are constantly developing new materials with unique properties that can be used for 3D printing, but figuring out how to print with these materials can be a complex, costly conundrum.

Often, an expert operator must use manual trial-and-error — possibly making thousands of prints — to determine ideal parameters that consistently print a new material effectively. These parameters include printing speed and how much material the printer deposits.

MIT researchers have now used artificial intelligence to streamline this procedure. They developed a machine-learning system that uses computer vision to watch the manufacturing process and then correct errors in how it handles the material in real-time.

They used simulations to teach a neural network how to adjust printing parameters to minimize error, and then applied that controller to a real 3D printer. Their system printed objects more accurately than all the other 3D printing controllers they compared it to.

The work avoids the prohibitively expensive process of printing thousands or millions of real objects to train the neural network. And it could enable engineers to more easily incorporate novel materials into their prints, which could help them develop objects with special electrical or chemical properties. It could also help technicians make adjustments to the printing process on-the-fly if material or environmental conditions change unexpectedly.

“This project is really the first demonstration of building a manufacturing system that uses machine learning to learn a complex control policy,” says senior author Wojciech Matusik, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT who leads the Computational Design and Fabrication Group (CDFG) within the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “If you have manufacturing machines that are more intelligent, they can adapt to the changing environment in the workplace in real-time, to improve the yields or the accuracy of the system. You can squeeze more out of the machine.”

The co-lead authors are Mike Foshey, a mechanical engineer and project manager in the CDFG, and Michal Piovarci, a postdoc at the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria. MIT co-authors include Jie Xu, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, and Timothy Erps, a former technical associate with the CDFG. The research will be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGGRAPH conference.

Picking parameters

Determining the ideal parameters of a digital manufacturing process can be one of the most expensive parts of the process because so much trial-and-error is required. And once a technician finds a combination that works well, those parameters are only ideal for one specific situation. She has little data on how the material will behave in other environments, on different hardware, or if a new batch exhibits different properties.

Using a machine-learning system is fraught with challenges, too. First, the researchers needed to measure what was happening on the printer in real-time.

To do this, they developed a machine-vision system using two cameras aimed at the nozzle of the 3D printer. The system shines light at material as it is deposited and, based on how much light passes through, calculates the material’s thickness.

“You can think of the vision system as a set of eyes watching the process in real-time,” Foshey says.

The controller would then process images it receives from the vision system and, based on any error it sees, adjust the feed rate and the direction of the printer.

But training a neural network-based controller to understand this manufacturing process is data-intensive, and would require making millions of prints. So, the researchers built a simulator instead.

Successful simulation

To train their controller, they used a process known as reinforcement learning in which the model learns through trial-and-error with a reward. The model was tasked with selecting printing parameters that would create a certain object in a simulated environment. After being shown the expected output, the model was rewarded when the parameters it chose minimized the error between its print and the expected outcome.

In this case, an “error” means the model either dispensed too much material, placing it in areas that should have been left open, or did not dispense enough, leaving open spots that should be filled in. As the model performed more simulated prints, it updated its control policy to maximize the reward, becoming more and more accurate.

However, the real world is messier than a simulation. In practice, conditions typically change due to slight variations or noise in the printing process. So the researchers created a numerical model that approximates noise from the 3D printer. They used this model to add noise to the simulation, which led to more realistic results.

“The interesting thing we found was that, by implementing this noise model, we were able to transfer the control policy that was purely trained in simulation onto hardware without training with any physical experimentation,” Foshey says. “We didn’t need to do any fine-tuning on the actual equipment afterwards.”

When they tested the controller, it printed objects more accurately than any other control method they evaluated. It performed especially well at infill printing, which is printing the interior of an object. Some other controllers deposited so much material that the printed object bulged up, but the researchers’ controller adjusted the printing path so the object stayed level.

Their control policy can even learn how materials spread after being deposited and adjust parameters accordingly.

“We were also able to design control policies that could control for different types of materials on-the-fly. So if you had a manufacturing process out in the field and you wanted to change the material, you wouldn’t have to revalidate the manufacturing process. You could just load the new material and the controller would automatically adjust,” Foshey says.

Now that they have shown the effectiveness of this technique for 3D printing, the researchers want to develop controllers for other manufacturing processes. They’d also like to see how the approach can be modified for scenarios where there are multiple layers of material, or multiple materials being printed at once. In addition, their approach assumed each material has a fixed viscosity (“syrupiness”), but a future iteration could use AI to recognize and adjust for viscosity in real-time.

Additional co-authors on this work include Vahid Babaei, who leads the Artificial Intelligence Aided Design and Manufacturing Group at the Max Planck Institute; Piotr Didyk, associate professor at the University of Lugano in Switzerland; Szymon Rusinkiewicz, the David M. Siegel ’83 Professor of computer science at Princeton University; and Bernd Bickel, professor at the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria.

The work was supported, in part, by the FWF Lise-Meitner program, a European Research Council starting grant, and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Business & Economy

Campus 365 provides cloud-based seamless solutions to educational institutions 

With its ERP software and pioneering technological innovation, Campus 365 is disrupting the education sector and making education more effective and accessible

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Just as technology, and particularly the digital era, has disrupted and improved most major segments of India’s economy, education and training is also undergoing a tech revolution. Education Technology, more commonly known as EdTech, possesses the power to bridge the learning gap thanks to technology’s ability to eliminate geographical barriers. As much as digital adoption is the need of the hour, it is critical to retain a few unparalleled benefits of a traditional classroom setup such as group discussion, personalised support from educators and creating opportunities to work on peer collaborative assignments.

Armed with a mission to empower schools with tools that serve people in the most human, helpful way, Campus 365- an ed-tech start-up incubated by NASSCOM 10000 startup based out of Gurgaon, is providing cloud-based solutions to schools and colleges to manage and track their daily activities seamlessly. With user-friendly mobile apps to help students, parents, and teachers maintain the academic cycle, Campus 365 provides a 360-degree outlook to stakeholders assisting them in making productive decisions to escalate their progress.

“We all know that the introduction of EdTech is transforming the learning process in schools. Initially, technological abilities were not needed for students but these skills are now of much importance. Today, students should have good knowledge of online communication to attend classes, check emails, and submit assignments online and our school ERP gives our students a dedicated platform for this to make them future-ready. We at Campus 365 believe that technology is a powerful instrument that can elevate education to an advanced level, allowing students to learn and collaborate in new ways and we are constantly working towards it” said  Mayank Singh Co- Founder and CEO of Campus 365.

Campus 365 is India’s largest all-in-one app for teachers, schools, and coaching institutes to manage their online and offline classrooms in one place. This online teaching and institute management app helps users create tests & quizzes, share study material & homework, chat with students, take live online classes, record live lectures, teach using digital whiteboard, automate attendance, and much more.

Empowering 1000+ institutes globally, Campus 365’s mission is to enhance student learning by bringing innovation to education. Campus 365 partners with schools and colleges across the country to provide students with a holistic learning experience that makes them future-ready. The company offers a high-quality, end-to-end solution for every stakeholder involved in a child’s learning journey. Campus 365 tackles some of the most critical aspects of School management and reduces school staff workload. By doing so, the company ensures that school teachers nurture the young minds of tomorrow and that the school support staff enjoys using the Campus 365 School ERP engine’s superior apps. Campus 365’s innovative school management software solutions are aimed at providing the best of School ERP features and safety measures to school-going children.

Campus 365’s team is founded with a deep-rooted passion toward delivering value to not just schools, but to parents and teachers as well, who ensure that children are always walking on the path of constant innovation. Today, Campus 365 is used by schools around the world – from kindergarten to higher studies schools and non-profit schools.

Campus 365 has simplified the managing of day-to-day activities such as attendance marking, alerts through mobile applications, fees payment reminders, parent-teacher notifications, and holiday schedules. Every team member in Team Campus 365 has some experience in School and College Management Process and it is also one of the reasons why the company puts concerted efforts into optimising the School and College Management Software. Breaking complex software and making them user-friendly is the top priority of Team Campus 365.

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Microsoft announces winners of Future Ready Applications Hackathon held across six cities

The hackathon was held in Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, & Kochi

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  • The top three winners of the hackathon from each city received cash rewards of INR 50,000, INR 30,000, and INR 20,000 respectively

Microsoft today announced the winners of the Future Ready Applications hackathon. In Hyderabad, more than 250 participants joined the 8-hour-long in-person event open to all Microsoft customers and pro developer community in India. The participants came up with new age, innovative apps which were built on cloud-native architectures leveraging the Microsoft Azure platform.

The event also provided an opportunity for the participants to interact and engage with subject matter experts across Microsoft, its key partner organizations, Tech Influencers and Microsoft Valuable Professionals across India. Participants showcased innovative solutions to solve real-world business challenges around four key themes – fintech, e-commerce, sustainability, and developer velocity.

The hackathon saw an overwhelming response from startups, and enterprises from the technology sector focused on building customer experience and developer velocity as a theme. Developer professionals with industry experience ranging from 3-15 years representing leading technology companies like Accenture, EY, TCS, WIPRO, Cognizant amongst others participated in the event.

The top three winners from Hyderabad were:

Microsoft FRA Hackathons Winners Hyderabad
PositionTeam NameSolutionCategory
WinnerGROUP I: Aravind Palisetty, Srikanth Mudili, Vasanth KoradaDevFocus with AzureDeveloper velocity
Runner UpGROUP J: Srinu, Irfan Ali Zaidi, Ravitej Nerella, Chaitanya Venkata Manikanta ChintalapatiPick & ParkSustainability
Second Runner UpThought Solvers:·        Rishi BFinancial Management Applications through AzureFin Tech

The winning teams were shortlisted based on their innovative idea and their presentations. In addition to the reward for winners, all the participants were given $200 Azure credit coupons and participation certificates.

Aparna Gupta, Executive Director, Customer Success, Microsoft India, said,“At Microsoft, we are committed to designing solutions and providing the right skills and resources for pro and citizen developers to grow and thrive in a digital economy. The Future Ready Applications hackathon was organized to bring India’s brightest technical minds together to collaborate, connect and innovate. Congratulations to all the hackathon winners. We are very excited to see the innovative thinking and the potential of scale of some of these applications that will enable businesses in India to solve for challenges, innovate and grow on cloud.”  

Microsoft Azure platform hosts more than 200 products and cloud services which can help developers solve today’s challenges and design solutions for the future. Our goal is to empower developers to harness the power of the cloud, enabling them to move from idea to code; code to cloud and cloud to the world.  A series of initiatives focused on developers have been launched to empower the community like the Blogathon Challenge, Azure Developer League, virtual training days, cloud skills challenge across the Azure community present in 100 Indian cities.

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Takeda becomes a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) in India

As a signatory, Takeda has committed to adopting the Ten Principles of the UNGC which are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, a global values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader announced that its India operations has become a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the largest sustainability initiative globally.

As a signatory, Takeda has committed to adopting the Ten Principles of the UNGC which are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. 

Ratnesh Kumar, Executive Director, UN-GCNI said, “The commitment to support UNGC Principles & Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has encouraged socially responsible organizations to join the Global Compact initiative. We are delighted to welcome Takeda India into the GCN family and look forward to jointly pursuing goal-oriented initiatives towards the advancement of UN Global Compact’s mandates.”

Speaking on the announcement, Ms. Serina Fischer, General Manager for Takeda in India said, “Takeda is proud to have a values-based culture as its strong foundation. Our Global Code of Conduct is based on principles that are organized around Patient-Trust-Reputation-Business in that order. It embodies the spirit of Takeda — what we stand for and how we conduct ourselves. We are proud to become a signatory to adopt the Ten Principles of UNGC which is another step in bringing our global code of conduct to life and at the same time enables us in contributing to sustainable development goals (SDGs) while advocating for responsible business practices.” 

“We’re focused on accelerating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives across our business and look forward to working with the UNGC to make more progress toward the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Takeda in India is already a member of the UNGC’s Centre of Excellence for Governance, Ethics and Transparency (CEGET) and Anti-Corruption Collective Action Work Group (ACCA) focused on shaping governance transparency and anti-corruption initiatives” said Dr. Ruchi Sogarwal, Head of Public Affairs and Patient Advocacy for Takeda India.

Over the years, with its journey in India, Takeda has been a key industry leader in establishing ethical practices as a global corporate and is currently working to bring effective aid to rare disease patients in the country.

Ten Principles of the UNGC:

Human Rights

Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.

Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Labour

Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.

Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour.

Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour.

Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Environment.

Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.

Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.

Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Anti-Corruption

Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

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