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– Automating Manufacturing Workflows with AI and ML: The Oqton Approach

Oqton, owned by 3D Systems, takes automation to the white-collar side of manufacturing by tackling …

The primary focus of the digital transformation in manufacturing has predominantly centered on the advanced automation of factory floor operations, leading to enhanced productivity and addressing long-standing challenges related to plant staffing. However, a significant staffing obstacle that many operations are currently facing revolves around the scarcity of programmers. As Industry 3.0 has already automated a substantial portion of factory operations, the diminishing availability of industrial programmers is rapidly evolving into a critical issue.

Oqton emerges as a pivotal player in this scenario. Dr. Ben Schrauwen, the CEO and co-founder of the company, highlighted the pressing concern stating, “The median age of programmers is 54 and increasing.” Oqton was established to bridge the gap between production realities and manufacturing engineering, particularly in areas where there is a pronounced talent shortage such as additive manufacturing, dental labs, and CNC industries.

Founded in 2017 in San Francisco, Oqton leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the programming of various industrial technologies, including CNC machines, additive manufacturing (AM), and 3D scanning. Recently, the company was acquired by 3D Systems in a $180 million deal, maintaining its autonomy as a wholly owned subsidiary. This strategic acquisition aligns with 3D Systems’ vision to integrate Oqton’s expertise with other additive manufacturing vendors like EOS, Stratasys, and Trumpf.

Oqton’s innovative approach extends to utilizing AI for programming metal 3D printing machines and automating diverse work processes. By harnessing AI capabilities, Oqton streamlines operations by capturing orders, analyzing historical data, estimating job times and costs, thereby enhancing overall efficiency and accuracy.

The company has successfully implemented solutions across various sectors such as energy, automotive, aerospace, dental, and medical industries. Notably, Oqton’s collaboration with Bertram Dental Lab in Menasha, Wisconsin, has revolutionized the metal 3D printing landscape, enabling significant efficiency gains and scalability.

Oqton’s relentless pursuit of innovation extends to quality control and in-process monitoring, leveraging AI to enhance analytical techniques and streamline manufacturing processes. As the company continues to expand its reach and capabilities, the future holds promising prospects for further advancements in automation and AI-driven technologies across diverse industrial sectors.

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Last modified: February 9, 2024
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