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Augmented Reality – The Next Step in Shop Technology?

VR and AR are all the rage these days! It started out in the gaming industry, which is understandable, but it has transitioned into the worlds of marketing and B2B business.

One of the earliest steps into the business world, that I witnessed, was modeling and designing architecture. This is pretty intuitive step, if you think about it… being able to step inside and explore a building before it’s built has some serious perks!

But, the world of manufacturing is often slow to pick up on crazy new technologies. “Don’t fix it, if it ain’t broke,” as the old adage goes. Manufacturing practices are often part of the long game – they change as the market sees a need – but that means that manufacturers play it conservative with their technology budgets, and adding AR to your manufacturing environment is pretty cutting edge at the moment.

That’s not to say that some folks aren’t already utilizing AR, but it hasn’t really caught on in this space… yet.

So, what can augmented reality do for a shop or manufacturing space?

Imagine a world where you can place stock into your workholding and make “digital cuts” before even buying the stock.

Envisioning a part being made without having to physically make it can really streamline your design process, but what’s more, witnessing the manufacturing process without have to make a chip or press any sheet metal could be invaluable.

That’s only in the realm of pre-production and designing of parts and workholding. AR might even have a place in the realm of assembly and QC.

An AR system can manage production workflow and keep tolerances in check. Being able to guide an assembler as they construct an assembly can not only assure proper QC, but also help find room for improvement or even guide automated system to do more complicated tasks.

Augmented reality certainly has a place in the world of manufacturing, but it will only be implemented when scale and price can compete with the current bottom line. Needless to say, the future is coming, and it’s pretty cool!

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