SME Innovation List Includes Programmable Magnets, Robot Substitutes
Engineers and designers are always keeping an eye out for new materials and manufacturing methods that could impact their designs. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) revealed its list of seven innovations that could change the way industry makes things earlier this year.
The list (Innovations That Could Change The Way You Manufacture) was compiled by SME’s Innovation Watch Committee.
“Our Committee’s goal is to scan the vast technology landscape for cutting-edge innovations and to investigate ways they can be utilized.” –Christopher Kaye, director of innovative technology, US Endoscopy, and member of the SME Innovation Watch Committee
This year’s innovations to watch:
Build to Demand Manufacturing: This capacity-driven production strategy (an alternative to Toyota’s inventory replenishment strategy) involves analyzing demand patterns, allowing customer demand to drive production scheduling, and filling orders from production instead of inventory.
Smart Magnets: Magnetic material can now be “reprogrammed” with multiple poles of varying strength, opening the door for new applications like precision switches, self-assembling toys and furniture, and even robots that can scale walls without touching them.
Graphene: This one-atom-thick sheet of carbon is strong (50 times stronger than steel), flexible, transparent, and can conduct electricity. Applications include extremely sensitive sensors, aircraft braking systems, new lithium-ion batteries, and touch screens.
Microstructured Molding Tools: Created as square or custom inserts for injection or compression molds, these molding tools can add several capabilities to any molded product, including reduced friction, increased heat transfer, ice mitigation, and more. This approach can reduce microstructure manufacturing costs by 83% to 98%.
Quantum Dots: These nanoparticles of semiconductor material have unique optical and electrical properties. Controlling the size of a quantum dot allows a manufacturer to determine the color of light emitted, enabling electroluminescent displays with lower power consumption, and efficient solid-state lighting.
Remote Presence Robots: These robots can “stand in” for a person who wants to remotely attend a meeting using Web cams, digital video and sound, and guided laser pointers. According to SME, companies like Procter & Gamble are already using these robots in meetings to increase team efficiency.
Super Adhesive: General Motors has developed a polymer-based adhesive that is ten-times stickier than Velcro, and will come apart when heated. The adhesive provides the strength of a permanent liquid adhesive, with the easy release of foam tape or Velcro.
You can watch a video about programmable magnets below: