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IMTS 2016 Show Daily

ITAMCO Brings Virtual Reality to Top Shops Display

September 15, 2016 / , Editorial Intern

Virtual reality, robotics and a traditional machining line from ITAMCO, on display in Modern Machine Shop’s Top Shops Booth W-10, are intended to show how the incorporation of dynamic new technologies can revolutionize production and manufacturing.

ITAMCO, or Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies, based in Plymouth, Indiana, delves into virtual reality using Microsoft’s HoloLens, allowing visitors to use their hands and the device’s headset to command a universal robot to move virtual objects that can only be seen through that headset. The HoloLens is a goggle-like device that is able to project images and information into real space through extremely well-rendered holograms, creating a mixed reality. This could be especially useful for manufacturing, layering real-time information from a computer onto the shop floor, ITAMCO says. It could provide instructions and specifications for shop workers as they work, generate holograms of instructors to train new hires without losing man-hours, or provide 3D instructions to fix parts, among many other uses.

This combination of virtual reality and robotics, although relatively new for this company, comes down to the ease of use and quick setup that it makes possible, says Joel Neidig, business development and technology manager.

In order to decide what is a valuable technological innovation versus what is a gimmicky trend that is not worth the investment, ITAMCO evaluates how the new technology, whether it be software or hardware or a combination of both, could improve a particular process. “Obviously there are some failures, but the majority are successes when they are implemented to improve processes,” Neidig says.

The response from shop workers in regards to embracing new technologies, particularly robotics, has been positive, he says. “We are currently training our operators, not just engineers, to be able to do setups with the universal robot. We can also move the robot around the factory so it is not just fixed to one work center or cell. It can be used across the whole factory, where and when we need it.”

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