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Technology, Innovation and the Road Ahead

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In the recent past, technological advancements have led to the increased manufacture and usage of electronic equipment. Central to this technological advancement is the need to convey information from a source to a particular destination. The ultimate electronic device for this is the computer. For this reason, the computer has been used in various fields like medicine, engineering, statistics, astronomy, banking, aviation and virtually any other profession. With the discovery and intense usage of the internet which is basically an interconnection of computers, the computer has become even more useful as a source of invaluable information (Rajasingham, and Tiffin, 2004, p.56). The personal desktop computer commonly known as the pc is now a more common phenomenon is homes and offices. Even more portable and handy is the laptop computer which can be carried anywhere. The computer has thus not only gained substantial usage in the professional world but also in family, personal and social life. The ‘virtual world’ concept is a term associated with the use of computers and refers to the operations in the computing world which are parallel to the real world.

Perspective into Technological Advancement

The Past

Over the past 100 years the development of the Milling Machine has single handedly changed the way all machine shops produce their products.  The “milling” machine drastically improved employee production and quality, which ultimately allowed for the reduction in the number of employees needed.  Furthermore, the development of computer aided design and programming in “CNC” machines has altered the needed skill-set of the miller.  Further advances in the capabilities of machining technologies have increased the effectiveness of the worker.  Alternatively, advances have not come without the inevitable argument of the reduction of the work force due to the advancement in machining technology.  The Bridgeport Lathe and the CNC machine have led the revolution in the area and this paper will discuss the history and impact these two instruments have made in the “milling” profession.

The milling machine is one of the most useful machines in the industrial processes, due to its desirable versatility character (Inside Woodworking). This machine has a rotating drilling system that is very suitable for cutting metallic and wooden materials. The modern milling machine traces its originality from the nineteenth century, when it was first designed as a crude device of cutting wood (Inside Woodworking). The industrial revolution in the later years of the nineteenth century made it incredibly important for the milling machine to develop as a tool for cutting both wood and metal (Inside Woodworking). Metal became the major raw material in the cottage industries. This urged the artisans to model this machine in a way that metal ores could be reshaped into reasonable sizes and shapes for industrial use (Inside Woodworking).

The Present

The issue of technology on the growth of the milling machine is a multifaceted phenomenon. There are various ways in which technological advancement improve the operation of the milling machine. By the use of suitable attachments, this machine is equipped with various capabilities to accomplish many activities in the industries (Krar et al 10). The milling machine can drill, ream, bore, spot face and produce grooved and flat surfaces (Krar et al 10). However, there are the specific technologies that have enabled the efficient transformation of the milling machines from the traditional to technological form. The development of technologies such as the Computer Numerical Control, the Computer Aided Manufacturing and Distributive Numerical Control has improved the performance of the milling machines (Lynch).

The Computer Numerical Control technology has replaced the manual intervention in the manufacturing processes, and milling has realized success as a result (Lynch). The introduction of this technological stride has revolutionized a horde of machining systems in the history of large scale manufacturing. This has improved the quality of the manufactured products (Krar et al 12). The CNC technology provides a programmed system that automatically controls the milling machine for accurate positioning of materials (Lynch). The CNC enabled milling machines require minimal manual control, since the program can switch the machine on and off, in addition to monitoring all the specifications required for its operation (Lynch). This has greatly reduced labor cost for the manufacturing processes and enabled the production of quality items. The CNC milling machines have a programmed motion control, spindle activation and the speed regulator, which makes the entire milling process a smooth activity (Lynch).

Another technology that has been involved in industrial revolution in milling machines is the Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM). This technology promotes the accurate control of milling process in the industries, by designing and testing the production of new products (Krar et al 12). The CAM system is more complex, and it solves the inability of the CNC technology to handle complicated programs (Lynch). The CAM is a program that is used in computer terminals to help in CNC programming (Lynch). The CAM system is simultaneously implemented with the Computer Aided Design, which outlines the nature of the operation to be executed by the milling machine (Lynch). Thus, the CNC program has an easier task of just controlling the operation of the actual machine in the milling process (Lynch). This computer program makes the manufacturing process easier and pleasant, though the complete system of the programs is capital intensive. This has improved industrial processes in the world.

The airplane manufacturers are using the milling machine in more sophisticated methods in several activities. This has been very useful to aerospace industries. The Pilatus Aircraft Limited is one firm that has become a highly productive manufacturing centre due to the use of technologically modified milling machines (Manganelli 3). This Company specializes in the manufacture of trainer aircrafts, and it has grown at a high rate because of using modernized milling machines (Manganelli 3). For example, the recent development of the SCIROCCO milling machine has seen a rapid growth in the manufacturing of the curved aircraft parts (Manganelli 3). This machine uses extremely accurate coordinate-measuring techniques, and it allows a two directional link between the Computer Aided Design and the Coordinate Measuring Machines (Manganelli 3). The use of the milling machine has also helped this company to manufacture complex contoured surfaces using the Curves and Surfaces & trade, a program that offers the method of generating these surfaces (Manganelli 3). Thus, by using the various features of the technologically developed milling machines, production will increase in the aircraft industry.

A look into the future

It is therefore apparent that the world today is forging towards a computer intense future. Indeed, it can be said that in the future, most of us will increasingly use the virtual world of computers for entertainment, friendship and source of instruction (Ryan, 2000, p.71). This will be a good thing. The main advantage to as alluded to previously is the simplification of tasks. Moreover, the computer has the ability to perform functions with phenomenal speed. This saves time especially in a future which is abuzz with activity. It also pools different resources together acting as an all in one tool.

Additionally, reliability and effectiveness in the transfer of information are promoted with the use of computers as opposed to conventional ways say of sending information. All these benefits are derived within a cost effective framework which makes the computers even more advantageous. However, there is a downside to this as several demerits of computer use have been reported (Danaher 2004, p.90). As a source of instruction, the internet has been said to be unreliable. In addition, the vastness of the internet makes it hard to filter the information provided thereof. In entertainment, the internet has been said to be a source of moral erosion and a threat to family values and norms due to the uncontrolled nature and consequent influence of the media thereof. The virtual world of computing has substituted reality in social relationships leading to such personalities as antisocial behaviours (Earnshaw 2001, p. 27). Criminal activities like fraud have been reported due to the “impersonal” nature of this technology. However, various measures have been taken in the control of these demerits mainly by instituting legal frameworks which seek to mitigate the harmful effects that this technology is perceived to have. In light of this, it can be said that it is not only good but desirable to have a future whose activities are enhanced by computer technology.

Conclusion

In conclusion therefore, it can be confidently said that that the increased use of computers for instruction, entertainment and friendship in future will be a good thing. However, the adverse effects of this use should be noted and avoided. The concept of a ‘virtual world’ should be embraced in moderation, making sure to keep in touch with reality and thus enhancing basic values in the society. Speed, efficiency, reliability, effectiveness and simplification of the required tasks are some of the benefits of computers. These benefits are phenomenal and thus with the right control of the risks and demerits involved, the virtual world of computing becomes even better with time.

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