The eyes of Industry 4.0
The other game-changer that everyone is talking about is Industry
4.0. In manufacturing, this will lead to an unprecedented push
for flexibility, and the laser—as a flexible and versatile tool—
plays a key role here. Optical sensors and measurement devices will provide the data needed.
We can say that photonics creates the eyes and senses of
Industry 4.0. However, traditional laser, sensor, and machine
manufacturers will have to transform themselves to becoming
a software-centric hardware manufacturer.
Digital manufacturing will drive convergence
of hardware and software.
Flexible Industry 4.0 tools will need to be
able to interact with their environment, as well
as new types of machine interfaces. Robots
will become collaborative robots (cobots),
which will move safely and freely in the factory through the use of vision-based sensors
and through intelligent algorithms.
Novel camera systems are needed that are
able to perceive their surroundings in a sim-
ilar way as the human eye does. Depth of
field, motion, and surface structures must be
recognized—only in this way will a genuine
human-machine cooperation be possible. Five hundred-thou-
sand new cobots a year will be sold worldwide by 2025, accord-
ing to Barclay Research.
3D printing/additive manufacturing is another enabler of
Industry 4.0. 3D printing is the only seamless connection from
digital to material known in manufacturing today. It will become an important new manufacturing method. Reduction in
complexity, improved specifications, and many more factors
lead to massive cost savings—and totally new possibilities and
freedom when it comes to design
(see Fig. 2).
Autonomous cars will change
mobility completely, as they are
enabled by photonics. Without
photonic sensors such as digital
cameras and computer vision sys-
tems (both visible and infrared)
taking millions of data points
each second, autonomous cars
could never become reality. Our
industry is at the forefront of this
development and we expect this
to be a € 9 billion market for pho-
tonics by 2020.
FIGURE 2. 3D printing will become an important
new manufacturing method, leading to massive cost
savings. (Courtesy of the TRUMPF Group)