Sandia’s Solar Glitter Moves Closer to Market with New…

Sandia’s Solar Glitter Moves Closer to Market with New…

Apr 28, 2017

“Sandia’s Solar Glitter Moves Closer to Market with New Licensing Agreement” Featured on Design-2-Part Magazine ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —An Albuquerque company founded by a Sandia National Laboratories scientist-turned-entrepreneur has received a license for a “home-grown” technology that could revolutionize the way solar energy is collected and used. The licensing agreement between mPower Technology Inc. and Sandia was signed Jan. 23. The agreement covers microsystems enabled photovoltaics (MEPV), according to a press release from Sandia. “This is an important milestone,” said Murat Okandan, founder and chief executive officer of mPower, in the press release. “It is an extremely exciting time in the solar industry with the upcoming critical, rapid change in the worldwide energy infrastructure. A lot of things are coming together and we’re excited to be part of it.” MEPV uses micro-design and micro-fabrication techniques to make miniature solar cells, also known as “solar glitter.” Dragon SCALEs are small, lightweight, flexible solar cells that fit into and power devices or sensors of any shape or size, including wearable ones. The high-efficiency cells can be integrated into satellites and drones, biomedical and consumer electronics, and can be folded like paper for easy transport. Dragon SCALEs also make possible new shapes and materials and faster, cheaper installation of solar energy systems on buildings, said Okandan. The product offers higher voltage, greater reliability, and lower energy costs than standard silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells, he added. “The key limitation to silicon is that if you bend and flex it, it will crack and shatter,” Okandan said. “Our technology makes it virtually unbreakable, while keeping all the benefits of high efficiency, high reliability silicon PV. It allows us to integrate PV in ways that weren’t possible before, such as in flexible materials, and deploy it faster in lighter-weight, larger-area modules.” Okandan said standard silicon PV operates with low voltage and high current at the cell and module level, which requires more silver or copper and adds cost. MEPV allows high-voltage and low-current configurations with less metal in the system and meshes well with integrated power electronics. “These are basic benefits that apply fundamentally to large-scale solar deployment,” Okandan said. “And the same technology provides key advantages in satellites, drones, and portable...

Are Autonomous Cars Disrupting the Supply Chain?

Are Autonomous Cars Disrupting the Supply Chain?

Apr 25, 2017

By Charles, Murray, DesignNews In the development of self-driving vehicles, Tier Two suppliers say they’re communicating directly with automakers in ways they hadn’t previously. During a two-week period in early February of this year, Chris Jacobs of Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) criss-crossed the country, visiting the offices of virtually every major automaker to discuss such technologies as radar, Lidar, and microelectromechanical sensors. A decade ago, Jacobs wouldn’t have gotten his foot in the door with the automakers to discuss such subjects. But thanks to the emerging importance of self-driving cars, Jacobs says he and his colleagues have suddenly become very important. “Just in the last year, it’s been insane,” Jacobs, general manager of ADI’s advanced driver assistance systems and automotive safety, recently told Design News. “Now, the OEMs [automakers] want to develop non-disclosure agreements with us. And they want us to develop prototypes for them without a Tier One [supplier], so they can try them out on their test tracks. This would have never happened 10 years ago.” Meet more than 9,100 qualified buyers and decision makers searching for new products, the latest technologies, and state-of-the-art processes across the full spectrum of advanced design and manufacturing at our East Coast Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo. June 13-15, 2017 in NY. Indeed, the time-honored order of the automotive supply chain seems to be changing, and the autonomous car may be behind it. In the past, Tier Two vendors, such as Analog Devices, didn’t communicate with automakers. Rather, they reported almost exclusively to the Tier Ones, such as Delphi Automotive PLC, Robert Bosch GmbH, Visteon Corp. and Continental AG. The Tier Ones, in turn, worked with the automakers to build bigger products, integrating sensors, software, semiconductor chips, and other parts from the Tier Twos. Under such arrangements, Tier Twos were generally discouraged from contacting the OEMs (the automakers) directly. “We would want to talk to them, and they would say, ‘Talk to the Tier One,’” Jacobs said. Now, that’s changing. Today, Tier Two electronics suppliers say they’re connected directly to the automakers on a separate dotted line – at least when it comes to autonomous cars. They’re neither more nor less important than the Tier One....

Robots won’t take your job—they’ll help make room…

Robots won’t take your job—they’ll help make room…

Apr 21, 2017

“Robots won’t take your job—they’ll help make room for meaningful work instead” By TL Andrews, Quartz Unencumbered by the prospect of re-election, outgoing presidents tend to use their final speeches to candidly warn against threats they believe to be metastasizing in society. For example, George Washington spoke of the ills of hyper-partisanship and excessive debt. Dwight Eisenhower denounced the waxing power of the “military industrial complex.” President Barack Obama singled out an economic peril in his otherwise doggedly hopeful final address in Chicago: “The next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas,” he said. “It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete.” Obama articulated a fear felt by many around the world: That all our jobs will eventually be done by robots. Research backs this fear: One study found that automation will threaten at least 47% of jobs in America and up to 85% in the rest of the world. But a number of economists are beginning to argue that this view of automation excludes a lot of the story. Putting automation in context To simply argue that automation is going to gobble up jobs ignores the potential for productivity gains. The Business Harvard Review found that the IT revolution led to 0.6% labor productivity growth and 1% of overall growth in Europe, the US, and Japan between 1995 and 2005. “It all hinges on demand,” says Jim Bessen, professor of economics at Boston University. If the productivity gains are enough to significantly boost demand, then job growth may be the result. This is especially true when new technologies create jobs that simply did not exist before, such as social-media managers. In those cases, any jobs created will make a net contribution to the labor market. Though automation will cost some jobs, it will also create many others. A case in point is the rollout of ATMs in the US. Introduced in the 1970s, the number of ATMs increased from 100,000 to 400,000 between 1995 and 2010. Running an ATM is cheaper than paying a teller’s salary, so as ATMs became more numerous relative to tellers, the overall cost of each bank branch came down. As it became cheaper to operate a...

Toyota bets on sprawling Kentucky plant with $1.3 billion…

Toyota bets on sprawling Kentucky plant with $1.3 billion…

Apr 13, 2017

“Toyota bets on sprawling Kentucky plant with $1.3 billion investment”  By Nathan Bomey, USA Today Toyota said Monday that it will invest more than $1.3 billion in its sprawling Georgetown, Ky., plant, its largest factory in the world, in a massive retooling project designed to bring new vehicles to market faster and more efficiently. Although the investment does not include new jobs, the move signals a deepening commitment to the U.S. market amid threats by President Trump of a border tax on automakers that bet on Mexico. The president, who had previously targeted Toyota in his criticism of companies that make vehicles in foreign markets and sell them to Americans, hailed the Japanese automaker’s investment as reflective of an “economic climate that has greatly improved under my administration,” according to a statement issued by Toyota. To be sure, the Toyota investment is part of a plan announced days before Trump took office to invest $10 billion in U.S. operations over the next five years. In that respect, the investment is no surprise. The future of the sprawling, 7.5 million-square-foot Kentucky plant, which is Toyota’s largest factory in the world, was never in doubt. The company makes several vehicles there, including the Camry sedan, which Cars.com has dubbed the most made-in-America car in the U.S. based on an assessment of the car’s components. Still, the investment marks a significant bet on the future of American manufacturing. Toyota said the retooling investment would pave the way for a new system of vehicle assembly that it’s calling Toyota New Global Architecture.  The new platform is designed to be easily adjusted for future models, giving Toyota the ability to make engineering and design changes swiftly to response to market changes. “This is the largest investment in our plant’s history and it speaks directly to the quality of our people and our products, as well as the partnerships we’ve forged in the local community and across the state,” Toyota Kentucky president Wil James said in a statement. “This major overhaul will enable the plant to stay flexible and competitive, further cementing our presence in Kentucky.” The plant currently has about 8,200 employees, having added 700 in recent months to launch...

Adidas, Carbon take giant step into mass customization…

Adidas, Carbon take giant step into mass customization…

Apr 11, 2017

“Adidas, Carbon take giant step into mass customization of athletic shoes” By Norbert Sparrow, Plastics Today German sportswear giant adidas (Herzogenaurach) brought 3D printing’s promise of mass customization one step closer to the local mall today with the introduction of its Futurecraft 4D athletic shoe line, which features a midsole manufactured using a process called Digital Light Synthesis. Developed by Silicon Valley startup Carbon (Redwood City, CA), the technology differs from conventional 3D printing in that it grows objects from a pool of resin rather than creating them layer by layer. The partnership with Carbon allows Adidas “to overcome many of [the] difficulties to produce a sole that can rival one made by an injection mold, and at a speed and price that allow for mass production,” reports Reuters. Three hundred pairs of Futurecraft 4D shoes have been released for friends and family, and Adidas reportedly expects to sell 5000 pairs of the shoes this year, ramping up to 100,000 next year. Adidas used its extensive library of running data to shape functional zones into a midsole design crafted through Digital Light Synthesis, explains Carbon. “Unlike any traditional manufacturing technology, Digital Light Synthesis allows adidas to precisely address the needs of each athlete in regards to movement, cushioning, stability and comfort with one single component. Carbon’s unique programmable resin platform offers unparalleled performance with respect to material durability and elastomeric responsiveness,” said the company. Initially, adidas plans to produce batches of shoes customized for specific sports and cities, but the ultimate goal is to allow customers to be measured and tested in store for a perfectly fitted shoe that takes into account the user’s gait, weight and athletic pursuit, reports Reuters. Adidas describes the envisioned experience in this way on its website: “Imagine walking into an adidas store, running briefly on a treadmill and instantly getting a 3D-printed running shoe. Creating a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete’s own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points, it will set the athlete up for the best running experience. Linked with existing data sourcing and foot-scan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings.” Not about to be left in the dust, Nike is also exploring the...