Competitiveness: Manufacturers look at what's hot, now, green

Manufacturers seek to remain ahead of the curve. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has announced an initiative called Innovations That Could Change The Way You Manufacture, covering emerging technologies that have a positive impact on manufacturing and related innovation.


Dearborn, MI – Manufacturers seek to remain ahead of the curve. The

Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME)

has announced an initiative called Innovations That Could Change The Way You Manufacture. The member-driven initiative outlines emerging technologies that have a positive impact on manufacturing, and provides an educational framework for SME members and manufacturers to stay abreast of industry innovation. "What's hot" advancements include Direct Digital Manufacturing DDM); "what's now"– self- assembling nanotechnology, and "what's green or eco-friendly"– ultracapacitors. They will be showcased at the

Competitive Manufacturers Conference

, June 17-19, 2008, at the Chicago Marriott Schaumburg.
The initiative was born out of communications between the SME Technical Community Network (TCN) and the larger manufacturing community. TCN requested nominations for ideas from the community and presented findings to the SME Manufacturing Enterprise Council for review. The Council collaboratively selected five "innovations that could change the way you manufacture" based on such criteria as universality across industries, positive impact on manufacturing, current availability for integration, and overall industry value. These include:
* Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM)
* Ultracapacitors
* Self-Assembling Nanotechnology
* Intelligent Device Integration (IDI)
* Integrated 3-D Simulation and Modeling/Desktop Super Computers
Richard "Dick" Morley, council member and founder of consulting firm R. Morley Inc. (RMI), said of DDM, "It is becoming an essential part of our nation's key manufacturing industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical and even entertainment. The automotive industry uses DDM as a part of additive fabrication to build assembly aids. Orthopedic surgeons use it to create customized metal joint implants. It is even been used by video game designers to develop the latest gaming characters."
Ultracapacitors have 10,000 times more stored power than a typical D-cell-sized electrolytic capacitor, plus unparalleled life span. They provide long-lasting power solutions for cellular electronics, medical equipment, and hybrid automobiles. "Imagine the positive impact future, widespread use of this innovation could have on our nation's current dependence on limited natural resources and ultimately our environment. This is one of manufacturing's greenest ways to go," said Morley.
Self-assembly nanotechnology, a "what's now" and "what's green" innovation, moved beyond theory to practice. IBM used it to enhance conventional computer chip manufacturing, and the ever-changing technology makes it possible for objects, devices, and systems to form other structures without external manipulations. “Almost like Legos assembling themselves," said Morley. It can enhance life with uses in water purification, sanitation, agriculture, and computer manufacturing. The green element applies to alternative energy such as photovoltaics or solar energy conversion.
The fourth innovation in "what's hot" is Intelligent Device Integration (IDI). Used in computers, IDI offers visibility into and management of equipment, products, and consumer interactions. By combining sensor data with two-way wireless communications, it promises detailed, real- time views of activities and objects.
Integrated 3-D Simulation and Modeling/Desktop Super Computers will change computer modeling. Imagine a large computer screen with new automobile data. Viewers could see segment instantly and in detail from engine to component with 3-D impact and full rotation. The super computers can be used microscopes, telescopes, and time machines to manage, view, and tool a complete manufacturing system. "This is not the modeling and simulation of 20 years ago or even two years ago," said Morley. Learn more on this topic from Control Engineering in:

3D Does It

Upcoming conference highlights will include interactive sessions on lean manufacturing practices and collaborative strategies with a focus on how companies can develop innovations. SME's Member Enterprise Council is interested in hearing opinions about the technologies.

Innovations that Could Change the Way You Manufacture


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