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Posted: Jan 18, 2012
Five ways nanomanufacturing improves manufacturing today
(Nanowerk News) Nanomanufacturing is no longer the next frontier. It's in action today, and it is improving products and processes and saving manufacturers money along the way.
This March, nanomanufacturing experts will be gathering in Boston to share their knowledge with other manufacturing professionals at the NanoManufacturing Conference and Exhibits organized by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. In addition to discussions on mid- to long-term applications of this smallest of technologies, there will be information on how it is already impacting the industry as evidenced in these five ways.
1) Materials – Nanotechnology is creating exceptionally light, yet extremely tough, materials, such as graphene. Nano composites are uniquely customizable to adhere to other materials. They are currently used in golf clubs and tennis rackets, with expectations that they will transform the aerospace, defense and transportation industries in the not-too-distant future.
2) Coatings – Nanotechnology is enabling coatings to have numerous beneficial properties that are proving very marketable. Nanocoatings are known to be a thermal barrier, flame retardant, ultraviolet resistance, self and easy cleaning, wear resistant, friction reducing, corrosion resistant, anti-scratch resistance, antibacterial and anti-fingerprint. They can even be self healing. Nanocoatings are used in myriad industries including automotive, defense, household cleaners, construction and exterior protection, with a very promising future in many more fields.
3) Energy Collection and Storage – Surface-to-volume ratios give nano particles most of their power. For example, a golf ball by volume equals the surface of a playing card. That same golf ball by nano particles has a surface area equivalent to four football fields. These particles use light more efficiently which is improving the efficiency and cost of solar panels.
4) Lighting – Quantum dots are nanoparticles of a semiconductor material with unique optical and electrical properties. A manufacturer can precisely control the size of a quantum dot to determine the color of light emitted. In addition to enabling the manufacturing of LED lights, quantum dots are used in electroluminescent displays and solid-state lighting.
5) Manufacturing Processes – Self-assembly is a branch of nanotechnology in which objects, devices and systems form structures without external prodding. Biological systems use self-assembly to construct various molecules and structures. Think of it as LEGOS® that assemble themselves. This process is currently being used in computer chips, and has potential benefits for water purification, sanitation, agriculture, alternative energy and medicine.
"More than 1,300 products have already made it to market using nanotechnology, with many more in the pipeline," said Lauralyn McDaniel, the conference manager. "This conference provides an opportunity for manufacturers from almost any industry to either be introduced to nanomanufacturing or discover the latest advances in the technology."
The NanoManufacturing conference is co-located with the MicroManufacturing Conference and Exhibits. Both events have been designed based on feedback attendees have given that the most valuable part of attending an SME conference is the people they meet and the resources they gain. To encourage the synchronistic collaboration, the sessions are shorter and breaks are longer, the exhibits have been arranged "in the round" to promote discussion, and the Conversation Connection areas are ideal for having in-depth conversations with colleagues. Attendees of either conference can go back and forth between the two and tailor this event to their own interests and needs.
The NanoManufacturing Conference sessions cover a broad range of topics including, metrology because "if you can't measure it, you can't make it," nanostructure manufacturing techniques, the future applications of graphene in every day products, occupational and environmental health and safety concerns and antimicrobial technologies for medical devices.
Additionally, a panel of nanomanufacturing leaders will address moving from the research and development phase and prototyping to the commercialization phase and volume production. The event concludes with the annual peek into the nanocrystal ball in an attempt to predict what the next five years will bring to nanotechnology.
For those who are new to the technology, need a refresher or just want to explore the topic in more depth, pre-conference workshops and tours to iRobot® and the Center for High-rate Nanomanusturing/Kostas Nanomanufacturing Research Center are also available.
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education and networking. Through its many programs, events, magazines, publications and online training division, Tooling U, SME connects manufacturing practitioners to each other, to the latest technologies and to the most up-to-date manufacturing processes. SME has members around the world and is supported by a network of chapters and technical communities. A 501(c)3 organization, SME is a leader in manufacturing workforce development issues, working with industry, academic and government partners to support the current and future skilled workforce.