SME Unveils List of Manufacturing Innovations
Mar 17, 2009
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The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) announces its annual Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture.

"The fundamental difference between this list and others is that these innovations are available now. There’s no waiting needed," says Cindy Skelton-Becker, chair of SME’s Manufacturing Enterprise Council (MEC), which selected this year’s innovations.

They are:

* High-Speed Sintering
* Buckypaper
* Synthetic Gecko Tape
* Micro-Laser-Assisted Machining
* Wireless Power Transfer
* Personal Fabrication

Complementing this year’s list is also the 2009 Tech Watch List featuring self-healing polymers and liquid lens imaging. Self-healing polymers have the capability of repairing themselves after damage, while liquid lens imaging captures 250 pictures per second and could revolutionize how cell phones and automobiles are made.

"We chose all of these technologies based on usability across manufacturing industries, positive impact on manufacturing and their overall availability of use right now," says Skelton-Becker, who is senior manager, finish aftermarket group, for the Nordson Corp.

Synthetic gecko tape borrows from the animal kingdom to create an adhesive which can support higher shear stress (36 N/cm2), eliminating the need for high-heat soldering. Synthetic gecko tape will soon be used to create new and lighter materials.

Beyond materials like gecko tape or buckypaper, processes like micro-laser-assisted machining will also revolutionize manufacturing because materials that were previously impossible to machine can now be done with absolute precision.

While high-speed sintering or micro-laser-assisted machining will change how they get things done on the shop floor, the last two innovations — wireless power transfer and personal fabrication — will present revolutionary changes for not only manufacturers but also for the everyday consumer.

Also in the near future, personal fabrication will make prototyping and manufacturing easier, from the shop floor to the consumer. "It differs from traditional forms of additive manufacturing because it’s affordable for use anywhere, whether it’s a company, school, or individual," explains Terry Wohlers, FSME, a member of the MEC.

The six innovations will be showcased at the 2009 SME Annual Conference, June 6-9, 2009, in Philadelphia.

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