Why ‘robotic blacksmithing’ could shape the future of manufacturing
What is robotic blacksmithing?
Blacksmithing traditionally involves making objects out of iron and then shaping them by hand, and nowadays, blacksmith-made items could be anything from wrought iron gates and shelf brackets to decorative coat hangers, fire guards and spiral staircases. The anvil, a heavy large block of metal, is used for both bending and shaping heavy metals (mainly iron) through force, with the use of hot and cold techniques known as forging. Traditional forgers, whose main job was to make horseshoes, are the most well-known blacksmiths; they would heat and hammer metal on the anvil until the correct shape and size was achieved.
Modern day manufacturing practices now feel a world away from this. Robotic blacksmithing does involve the bending of iron and other heavy metals, but this is now automated, with precise machinery controlled by computers running automated processes. These bending machines, which include Euromac bending machines, are able to bend heavy metals by building them up incrementally and repeatedly bending within a moulding press.
Gone are the days of working in noisy, smelly and hot forge workshops, as these modern machines are incredibly precise, clean and strong. The Euromac bending machines are designed to work independently and this is also what makes it all so exciting.
What makes robotic blacksmithing different?
These new state-of-the-art bending machines are the result of a student research project undertaken at Ohio State University in 2017. The US government funded a challenge and asked the students to come up with some ideas for ‘digitally controlled deformation-based shaping’. It was as a result of this and subsequent research that we are now really starting to see artificial intelligence take off. The process of machines ‘learning’ from previous experience is known as ‘metamorphic manufacturing’ and is already happening within manufacturing environments. Take a look at the Euromac bending machines from Cotswold Machinery Sales to see what is truly possible.
According to the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, ‘Metamorphic manufacturing is a new innovation…combining incremental deformation of a metalsmith with the precision and control of intelligent machines and robotic systems’. The following link offers deeper insight for further reading.
Manufacturing industry analysts have often wondered about artificial intelligence and its practical applications, it looks like we might just be witnessing it.