Of 3D printers and digital twins

There are multiple ways in which mechanical engineering is adapting to a world that is increasingly becoming digital

December 01, 2020 11:23 am | Updated 11:23 am IST



Though digitisation is not new, the number of fields adapting to this change are diverse. One of these is mechanical engineering, which is enhancing its product portfolio with digital functionalities and introducing innovative, data-based services. The need for companies to process and integrate data from various sources has led to new collaborations and models.

The boon here is that smart industries are ensuring increased productivity, improved resource efficiency, reduced machine downtime, reduced energy consumption, leading to reduced time to market. Some ways in which mechanical engineering has driven digital transformation are:

Artificial Intelligence: According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs report, there has been 74% growth in the jobs of Artificial Intelligence specialists. What is AI in digital transformation? It is the power of intelligent predictive decisions in automating industrial processes.

Digital twin: This is real-time virtual replication of physical models using algorithms. It can be anything from product, process or service and has become cost-effective with the Internet of Things (IoT). It is like having your best product technicians with the most advanced monitoring, analytical, and predictive capabilities at their fingertips and can be used for everything: from electric vehicles and aircraft to new recommendations.

3D Printing: This is a futuristic design for making prototypes, which has grown so rapidly that it is making waves across every industry and opening millions of employment opportunities.

Hybrid vehicle technology: This technology uses energy stored in batteries, which are charged through regenerative braking and an internal combustion engine. Together, these features result in better fuel economy without sacrificing performance.

Sustainable or green manufacturing: This minimises waste and reduces the negative impact on the environment. It involves adopting practices that influence the process design, product design and operational principles. Hence, engineers find a viable option in this as a career choice.

The writer is Director and Dean, Symbiosis Institute of Technology (SIT)

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