Conveyor belt with superimposed A3 logo

Design Insights: A3 Becomes One Association; Motoring On Mars; Women In 3D Printing

March 22, 2021
A review of the day’s top trends and news from Machine Design editors.

A3 Now One Organization

On the opening day of its Automate Forward virtual event, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3) announced it was bringing all its related associations under the single A3 banner. “The Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – Advancing Vision + Imaging, the Motion Control & Motor Association (MCMA) and A3 Mexico are unifying into a single association,” A3 officials announced March 22. Association officials said this was the culmination of two-year process to formally unify the groups.

“We are becoming one A3 to better serve our members by providing more valuable resources to help them become more successful,” association officials said in a release. “This transformation will allow more companies from all sectors of the automation industry to connect and move technology forward; the transformation will help educate more people throughout the world about your products and services; and the transformation will streamline your member benefits through one A3 membership.”

A3 officials said they also plan to expand benefits and improve connections between automation companies and end users. 

Can Your Motor Handle This?

We ask a lot of motors under normal circumstances, but when one has to be designed to be dropped from the top of the atmosphere—and the atmosphere in question belongs to the planet Mars—there are obviously special considerations.

In developing motors for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JBL) and its Perseverance mission to Mars, maxon has a number of unique challenges. “We made material changes, going from industry standards aluminum or brass for a component to stainless steel or titanium for the Mars motors. This let engineers match expansion coefficients for the different components,” said Robin Phillips, a maxon engineer who worked closely with JPL on developing motors to power robotic arms and power drones. “We also modified how we fix parts together, going from adhesives—the standard—to welding. We also added a few new parts, such as securing rings to strengthen the connections.”

And once Perseverance made it to the Mars surface, there was the small matter of temperature variants—anywhere from −184°F to 68°F. That made it important for the maxon motors to be able to withstand the temperature variants (and in particular, the cold).

Women in 3D Printing

The recent TIPE 3D Printing 2021 conference drew more than 1,600 attendees and 147 women speaking on various aspects of the 3D printing business. The focus was on the advancements in the field—everything from additive manufacturing materials to applications in health care and mass customization. The fact all of the presenters were women was indicative of the access women have gained in the field. The estimates that just 12% of additive manufacturing jobs are held by women indicates there is room to grow participation. Presenters at an executive forum on the topic said that will change due to the efforts of everyone in the industry.

“Leaders develop other leaders, instead of other followers. And in my experience, female leaders seem to pay more attention to that,” said Sonita Lontoh, CMO of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing at HP. “Maybe they are more intentional and more willing to develop others as leaders. And we’re more collaborative and inclusive. What you get when you mix people from diverse backgrounds and diverse experiences is what I call the value network.”

Machine Design is leading on this topic with its Women In Science & Engineering (WISE) initiative. Look for continuing coverage on this subject throughout the year.

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