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Posted: March 12, 2008
Innovations that could change the way you manufacture
(Nanowerk News) The Society of Manufacturing Engineers
(SME) announced a new initiative called Innovations That Could Change The
Way You Manufacture. This member-driven initiative outlines the emerging
technologies that are making a positive impact on manufacturing. It also
provides an educational framework for SME members and manufacturing
practitioners to keep up-to-date on the industry's latest and greatest
innovations. These innovations, which include such "what's hot"
advancements as Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM); "what's now" like self-
assembling nanotechnology and "what's green or eco-friendly" like
ultracapacitors will be showcased at the upcoming Competitive Manufacturers
Conference. The Conference, scheduled for June 17-19 at the Chicago
Marriott Schaumburg, is designed to connect manufacturing professionals to
leading industry experts.
The Innovations initiative was born out of a series of meetings, e-mail
exchanges and other communications between SME's Technical Community
Network (TCN) and the larger manufacturing community. The TCN requested
nominations for ideas from the community, kept some and eliminated others,
and then presented its findings to SME's Manufacturing Enterprise Council
(MEC) 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 innovations
Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM)
Intelligent Device Integration (IDI) and
Integrated 3-D Simulation And Modeling/Desktop Super Computers
Some, like DDM, ultracapacitors and self-assembling technology are already
making an impact on industry, while others such as, lDI and integrated 3-D
simulation and modeling/desktop super computers, hold great potential for
As Richard "Dick" Morley, a Council member and founder of R. Morley Inc.
(RMI) explained, this "what's hot" innovation 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."
While the next innovation, ultracapacitors may sound like something out of
the 1980's movie classic, "Back to The Future," this invention has 10,000
times more stored power than a typical D-cell sized electrolytic capacitor.
Ultracapacitors also have an unparalleled life span. In our daily lives,
these "super batteries" already provide long-lasting power solutions for
cellular electronics, medical equipment and most notably 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 also made the list because this "what's now"
and "what's green" innovation already has moved beyond theory to practice
most notably when IBM used it to enhance conventional computer chip
manufacturing. This ever-changing technology makes it possible for objects,
devices and even systems to form other structures without external prodding
"Almost like Legos® assembling themselves," said Morley.
This type of manufacturing at the microscopic level also holds great promise
to enhance daily life with such possible uses in water purification, sanitation,
agriculture, computer manufacturing and more. The innovation's "green"
element comes in when it applies to alternative energy such as photovoltaics
or converting the sun's energy light into electricity.
The fourth innovation also selected for its "what's hot" potential is, Intelligent
Device Integration (IDI), which any type of equipment, instrument or machine
that has its own computing capability. Currently used in personal and
handheld computers, IDI offers unprecedented visibility into and management
of equipment, products, and even consumer interactions. By combining sensor
data with two-way wireless communications, it promises more detailed, real-
time views of activities and objects and will enable organizations to respond
faster and even predict manufacturing incidents before they occur.
Integrated 3-D Simulation and Modeling/Desktop Super Computers, the final
innovations that could change the way you manufacture, are destined to
revolutionize computer modeling. Imagine a large computer screen containing
new automobile data. From it, users could see any segment or part instantly
and in as much detail as desired from engine to component all with 3-D
impact and full rotation.
These super computers will make it possible for the computer to be used as a
microscope, telescope and time machine 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," added Morley.
These five innovations will be prominently featured in this summer's
Competitive Manufacturers Conference. Other conference highlights will
include interactive sessions on lean manufacturing practices and collaborative
strategies with a special focus on ways a company can develop its own
For the most comprehensive information about the Competitive Manufacturers
Conference or to register, please visit www.sme.org/cmc.
SME's Member Enterprise Council is interested in hearing opinions about these
technologies. To submit your feedback, visit www.sme.org/forums and click
on "Innovations that Could Change the Way You Manufacture.
SME Technical Community Network (TCN)
The SME Technical Communities help manufacturing professionals gain in-
depth exposure to other professional and technical resources in specific
manufacturing disciplines. Each of the seven communities, in turn, offers even
more specific exposure to segments within its technology through working
committees, or tech groups. Major benefits include: tech group meetings,
online discussions, e-newsletters, community-level town hall meetings and
blue books. Visit www.sme.org/communities.
About the Member Enterprise Council
SME's Member Enterprise Council (MEC) was created in the fall of 1999 to
guide the development of the organization's technology portfolio. The MEC
serves the SME and the manufacturing community by recommending
manufacturing processes or areas of developing technology. The Council also
monitors the health and well-being of the SME Technical Community Network
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (www.sme.org) is the world's leading
professional society supporting manufacturing education. Through its member
programs, publications, expositions and professional development resources,
SME promotes an increased awareness of manufacturing engineering and
helps keep manufacturing professionals up to date on leading trends and
technologies. Headquartered in Michigan, SME influences more than half a
million manufacturing practitioners and executives annually. The Society has
members in more than 70 countries and is supported by a network of
hundreds of technical communities and chapters worldwide.