The first week of May saw Nasrec play host to this year’s Machine Tools Africa Expo. Pitching itself as the biggest exhibition of its kind in Africa, the event takes place every two years, and showcases everything that twists, turns, rotates, cuts, forms, bends, or shapes.
That’s definitely our kind of fun!
Three lucky Baker Baynes – Imraan Lambat, Daneel Ballaram, and Helen van der Schyff – staff went along to represent Autodesk at a stand for the four-day expo. This gave them the perfect perspective to get an insider view of the event, and a sneak preview of what the future of making things holds. Here’s what they took away from the event (besides the drool-worthy goodie bags, that is!).
MTE 2017 was an event to showcase world leaders in machining tools and allied equipment, as well as demonstrating the vast range of components that this machinery is able to manufacture. This year’s event focused on the various new kinds of equipment and emerging technology available to machine manufacturers.
An added bonus was the opportunity to hear from thought leaders in the various fields supported by manufacture.
With its focus on advancements in technology, it’s only natural that the Machine Tools Expo would attract engineers, machinists, and industry participants such as ourselves. We enjoyed rubbing shoulders with colleagues and competitors alike, sharing insights into the world of machine tools, and finding common solutions to some of the challenges we share.
It was encouraging, as always, to see that SA’s leading CAD software providers were represented at the event.
Interesting to note was the strong focus on robotics at this year’s expo. Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) machinery was the top focus, understandably, while robotics was a strong contender for second-most represented industry. Many industry CAM and robotics suppliers were present at the event, including HAAS, Fenuk, and Machine Tool Allied.
The Way Forward
According to Imraan, the world of machine tools is changing – fast. “It is moving to very sophisticated automated systems: robots, artificial intelligence (AI) etc. – which make the manufacturing process seem a lot simpler.”
Daneel agreed, adding “Additive manufacturing is really taking off, with 3D printing of composite materials and metals.” And, let’s not forget, “machine Learning robots.”
Helen concurred, pointing out that there’s also a strong leaning towards more what she describes as “clean manufacturing… Faster, more accurate, and cleaner… which is achieved through robotic intervention.”
It’s a brave new world – and we’re living at its cutting edge. As Daneel put it, “The future of making this [mechanised world] is closer than we expected. With technology moving at a rapid pace, it’s now possible to manufacture designs that could not be done in the past.”
Helen puts this rapid growth down to the growing freedom in sharing information, saying, “people are becoming far less apprehensive about using cloud services which is a good thing.” She credits this with the increase in the use of cloud-based services and sharing of information.
Imraan was impressed by the growth in the maker movement, as are we. It’s inspiring to see sole operators and even hobbyists following their passion, learning to use technology trends in innovative ways that serve humanity.
Our team agreed on one key takeaway from this year’s event: the use of robotics and artificial intelligence in manufacture is on the rise. The uptake is dramatic, and the changes are being felt in every aspect of our daily lives – no matter the line of work we’re in.
We certainly are living in the future – the future of making things!