How AI Can Help Build Its Own Products
We talk about artificial intelligence quite a lot these days, and with good reason. As was written in a piece here last October, artificial intelligence is now the norm. As much as we focus on the wonders of AI though, one interesting aspect of it is often ignored: the idea that it can be, in some ways, self-perpetuating. Here we’re not necessarily talking about robots building other robots (though this is certainly possible and will undoubtedly be done in the near future). Rather, we’re looking to the most basic components of modern devices and electronics, and exploring how AI products can expand and improve the mass production of circuit boards — which in many cases can then be used to run “smart” devices of all kinds.
Sharing Circuit Board Designs
One exciting way in which we see AI impacting the broader manufacturing world is that it can streamline (and really, abbreviate) the process between the completion of a digital rendering and the beginning of production. In the past, even where highly automated machinery was being used in production, designs would typically have to be uploaded, and production put into action, in a fairly direct manner. Now, however, thanks to cloud network and improved AI in production, designs can be spread and acted upon more widely and more quickly.
Regarding the mass production of circuit boards, this process occurs via modern software. Specifically, the use of a Gerber software viewer can help to communicate the artwork behind a printed circuit board design to fabrication vendors far and wide, and essentially begin the production process. In other words, in theory, a PCB designer can complete a design and, through this software, launch wide-ranging fabrication of that design with the push of a button; communication and instigation from that point are taken care of automatically.
Manufacturing Circuit Boards Remotely
The process just outlined above, of sharing PCB designs with remote fabrication centers, wouldn’t necessarily involve much in the way of automated processes if it merely meant that people in those centers would then put the designs into action. However, the idea here is that PCB designs can more or less be shared directly with the machines that will turn schematics into physical circuit boards.
Specifically, we’re referring to 3D printers. We know already that these devices are upending supply chains across all industries, and changing the ways in which mass production works, even across vast distances. And now that 3D printers are also beginning to be used in the creation of PCBs, they can contribute to the idea that said creation is being automated, at least to some extent.
Tracking & Monitoring Production
Finally, there’s the tracking aspect of things to consider. In this regard, the modern creation of printed circuit boards and other electronics can be handled much like other manufacturing efforts. Simply put, we know that among the ways in which AI can impact the supply chain are various changes to logistics, including forecasting order fulfilment, measuring inventory and the like.
We don’t typically think of PCBs in the context of mass inventory. Regarding AI monitoring and tracking of production more generally though, it’s worth noting that the more automated process are involved (such as 3D printing), the better companies will be able to track numbers, recognize errors, and so on.
Again, the combination of these factors and processes don’t quite amount to robots building their own successors. It is clear however, that PCBs can now be created more efficiently through at least partial use of automated systems. And when you consider that some of those same PCBs can in theory be used to drive the functionality of “smart” devices down the road, it’s an interesting example of AI products facilitating more AI.
Check out my BlockDelta profile for additional articles.