Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

May 7, 2018

By The University of Minnesota Featured on Phys.org One of the key innovations of the new 3-D-printing technique on skin is that the printer uses computer vision to track and adjust to movements in real-time. Credit: McAlpine group, University of Minnesota In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at the University of Minnesota used a customized, low-cost 3D printer to print electronics on a real hand for the first time. The technology could be used by soldiers on the battlefield to print temporary sensors on their bodies to detect chemical or biological agents or solar cells to charge essential electronics. Researchers also successfully printed biological cells on the skin wound of a mouse. The technique could lead to new medical treatments for wound healing and direct printing of grafts for skin disorders. The research study was published today on the inside back cover of the academic journal Advanced Materials. “We are excited about the potential of this new 3D-printing technology using a portable, lightweight printer costing less than $400,” said Michael McAlpine, the study’s lead author and the University of Minnesota Benjamin Mayhugh Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “We imagine that a soldier could pull this printer out of a backpack and print a chemical sensor or other electronics they need, directly on the skin. It would be like a ‘Swiss Army knife’ of the future with everything they need all in one portable 3D printing tool.” One of the key innovations of the new 3D-printing technique is that this printer can adjust to small movements of the body during printing. Temporary markers are placed on the skin and the skin is scanned. The printer uses computer vision to adjust to movements in real-time. “No matter how hard anyone would try to stay still when using the printer on the skin, a person moves slightly and every hand is different,” McAlpine said. “This printer can track the hand using the markers and adjust in real-time to the movements and contours of the hand, so printing of the electronics keeps its circuit shape.” Another unique feature of this 3D-printing technique is that it uses a specialized ink made of silver flakes that can cure and conduct at room temperature. This is different from...

What is PolyJet Technology?

What is PolyJet Technology?

May 2, 2018

By Stratasys PolyJet is a powerful 3D printing technology that produces smooth, accurate parts, prototypes and tooling. With microscopic layer resolution and accuracy down to 0.1 mm, it can produce thin walls and complex geometries using the widest range of materials available with any technology. Benefits of PolyJet: Create smooth, detailed prototypes that convey final-product aesthetics. Produce accurate molds, jigs, fixtures and other manufacturing tools. Achieve complex shapes, intricate details and delicate features. Incorporate the widest variety of colors and materials into a single model for unbeatable efficiency....

Putting the ‘smart’ in manufacturing

Putting the ‘smart’ in manufacturing

Apr 11, 2018

By Silke Schmidt, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Phys.org “Although smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, many of the companies that make our everyday consumer products still rely on paper trails and manually updated spreadsheets to keep track of their production processes and delivery schedules,” says Leyuan Shi, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That’s what she hopes to change with a research idea she first published almost two decades ago. During the past 16 years, Shi has visited more than 400 manufacturing companies in the United States, China, Europe, and Japan to personally observe their production processes. “And I have used that insight to develop tools that can make these processes run much more smoothly,” she says. These tools are based on the notion of a “digital twin,” or a computer representation of physical assets (machines and people) and processes that helps managers better operate the systems that connect them. Take, for example, a car manufacturing company with 15 different suppliers, each of which delivers a specific car part. As these parts arrive at the company, they are assembled by people who work in different departments, such as sheet metal cutting, heat treatment, welding, painting and so forth. The overall goal of this manufacturing system is to fill a set number of vehicle sales orders. That’s a classic example of a supply chain: a set of processes that link raw source materials to final consumer products. A company’s goal for making supply chain manufacturing more efficient might include decreasing production downtime due to delivery delays for required parts, and better adjusting to unpredictable events, such as rush orders, machine breakdowns, or defective parts. The technology Shi has developed helps managers meet these goals. With a database system, user software and equipment sensors, it creates a digital twin of what is physically happening at the supply facilities and shop floors. Managers can use that digital representation to visually track the global production progress in real time and adjust workflows as needed. The tool provides continuously updated start times for each assembly stage and constantly refined delivery times for the customers who ordered the cars. “That’s what we mean by smart manufacturing,” Shi says. The technology...

The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going…

The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going…

Apr 2, 2018

“The Surprising Key To Keeping The U.S. Expansion Going: Manufacturing Innovation” By Marco Annunziata, Forbes  The current U.S. economic expansion is already one of the longest on record—it turned 104 (months) in February. The manufacturing sector holds the key to making it the longest. Manufacturing is currently seen as unglamorous, unloved, needing protection just to survive. I believe this view is profoundly misguided, and that it is in manufacturing that we will see the most powerful growth-enhancing technological transformation ahead. The U.S. economy has picked up speed, and the global economy with it. The IMF recently noted that we are enjoying the most broad-based synchronized upswing since 2010. The U.S. labor market keeps expanding at a robust pace and has created over 17 million jobs since the recovery started; the unemployment rate holds at a very low 4.1%, and strong economic activity keeps attracting more people into the labor force. Wage growth remains muted, however, with average hourly wages increasing at a modest 2.6% pace in the last twelve months. This is a problem. Stronger wage growth would give better support to household consumption, and it would make it easier to reduce income inequalities. Slow wage growth is disappointing, but it should not be too surprising. True, a tighter labor market should boost wages—I believe that it will, and that in the coming months we will see more robust wage pressures. But sustainable strong wage growth depends on productivity. Only when productivity rises at a robust pace can workers enjoy faster wage increases without compromising their firms’ competitiveness and market position. Productivity growth has been dismal of late. In the decade prior to the financial crisis, 1996-2005, U.S. labor productivity rose at an average pace of 3% per year. During the recovery, 2011-2017, it averaged a measly 0.7%–over four times slower. Most other advanced economies have suffered a similar fate. What I find most worrying is that manufacturing sector productivity has suffered an even more severe slowdown: from 4.8% to 0.3% a year. From the early 1990s to the onset of the global financial crisis, productivity growth in manufacturing outpaced the rest of the economy by a significant margin; now it is lagging behind....

U.S. Reshoring: A Collaborative Challenge

U.S. Reshoring: A Collaborative Challenge

Mar 27, 2018

Featured in Design-2-Part Magazine Manufacturing Experts Answer 5 Questions on How to Turn the Tide FAIRPORT HARBOR, Ohio—North America’s $137 billion metalforming industry is driven by the production of myriad precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming, and roll forming technologies, as well as vital value-added processes. In recent decades, approximately 3-to-4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost to offshoring. The tide seems to be turning modestly in recent years as companies return U.S. production, or sourcing, from offshore. In comparison to 2000-2003, when the United States lost about 220,000 manufacturing jobs per year (net) to offshoring, 2016 achieved a net gain of 27,000. Progressively bridging this gap presents huge collaborative opportunities and challenges for all manufacturers, associations, employees, communities, and the U.S. government itself. The following Q&A explores factors that are key to the collective goal of gaining momentum in successfully returning the manufacturing of parts and products to the United States from offshore. Authors of the Q&A are two men with a vested interest in the subject of reshoring: John Stoneback, president of JM Performance Products, Inc., of Fairport Harbor, Ohio; and Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, based in Kildeer, Illinois. JM Performance Products, Inc. has been manufacturing CNC mill spindle optimization products since 2009. The company’s Patented High Torque Retention Knobs overcome a critical “loose-tool” design flaw inherent in CNC v-flange tooling that was responsible for costly, industry-wide issues with CNC milling and boring that negatively impacted production costs, cycle time, and tooling costs. An essential element of the patented design is a knob that is longer and reaches a little deeper into the holder’s threaded bore. As a result, all thread engagement occurs in a region of the tool holder where the diameter is large, and where there is correspondingly more material to resist deformation. The Reshoring Initiative, founded in early 2010, takes action by helping manufacturers realize that local production, in many cases, reduces their total cost of ownership of purchased parts and tooling. The Reshoring Initiative also trains suppliers in how to effectively meet the needs of their local customers, giving suppliers the tools to sell against lower priced offshore competitors. The Initiative is...