Monitoring machine health and product quality enables predictive maintenance that optimizes repairs to minimize factory downtime. Data-driven intelligent manufacturing often relies on probabilistic techniques with intractable distributions. For example, generative models of data distributions can balance fault classes with synthetic data, and sampling the posterior distribution of hidden model parameters enables prognosis of degradation trends. Normalizing flows can address these problems while avoiding the training instability or long inference times of other generative Deep Learning (DL) models like Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), Variational Autoencoders (VAE), and diffusion networks. To evaluate normalizing flows for manufacturing, experiments are conducted to synthesize surface defect images from an imbalanced data set and estimate parameters of a tool wear degradation model from limited observations. Results show that normalizing flows are an effective, multi-purpose DL architecture for solving these problems in manufacturing. Future work should explore normalizing flows for more complex degradation models and develop a framework for likelihood-based anomaly detection. Code is available at https://github.com/uky-aism/flows-for-manufacturing.

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