As skilled metal workers become harder to find, companies are filling in the gap with new automation that can replicate finely detailed work once only possible through a skilled craftsman.
- California startup Machina has developed a new machine capable of performing complex and detailed tasks, filling in for skilled metal workers.
- Machina aims to create a robotic blacksmith that will mimic human workers.
- The automated blacksmiths use a series of sensors, complex software, and metalworking tools to recreate metal items in just a few hours.
- While companies struggle to get needed parts due to labor shortages in the metalworking industry, Machina could be the answer.
- Machina has raised $22 million and has investors like Lockheed Martin and Innovation Endeavors. It already has notable customers, including the U.S. Air Force, NASA, and hypersonic airplane startup Hermeus.
Why it’s news
Right now, automated metal working is slow and difficult. Companies will spend millions of dollars and several years crafting the molds needed to form metal parts. This process takes time and trial and error, creating significant expenses for the company. While Machina’s new robots are still too slow to effectively replace mass-produced parts, they can expedite the initial mold development process.
Machina’s robots can also provide a cheaper alternative for companies that need a short run of a metal part. Rather than investing in an expensive mold, Machina can manufacture a smaller supply of custom parts.
The metal-working robots work similarly to existing robot arms in factories today. The robotic arms can use tools to cut, shape, and bend the metal into the desired form. For a human, learning to expertly craft metal can take years. Machina’s computer and artificial intelligence systems teach the robots in a matter of minutes.
Machina’s technology is still new, and the company is learning alongside customers how to better hone the robots to provide the best quality services. Machina technicians work alongside customers to help them learn how to use the robots—which are $2.5 million for a set.