In a laboratory in Niskayuna, General Electric researchers can study three-dimensional, virtual machine parts and inspect them for flaws before the company ever produces them.
This is the Brilliant Factory Lab, a newly finished space at GE Global Research headquarters in Niskayuna that lets researchers study the entire manufacturing process, from product design and engineering down to the factory floor and supply chain.
Engineers or manufacturers can don a pair of three-dimensional glasses and with what looks like a video game console, examine virtual parts up close and personal before they ever even exist.
The result is a speedier, more efficient manufacturing process and a higher-quality end product.
GE offered tours of the lab to more than 500 business and tech leaders who were in town this week for the first-ever Industrial Internet Consortium summer conference.
GE helped found the consortium last spring, along with AT&T, Cisco, Intel and IBM. Their goal is to accelerate growth of the so-called Industrial Internet — the integration of physical machinery with networked sensors and software — by identifying, assembling and promoting best practices.
In its first year, the consortium has grown to include 180 companies, nonprofit groups and academic institutions, said GE Global Research spokesman Todd Alhart.
“It’s really the merging of digital technologies and physical processes,” he said.
Since the Brilliant Factory Lab opened about two months ago, more than 1,000 visitors have been through the Niskayuna operation for an up-close look, Alhart said.