Innovation through technology will increasingly dictate business success as globalization and the Internet flatten the global economy. No where is that more important than product design where new processes, ranging from multi-material molding to gas-assist, create opportunities to make quantum improvements in product performance, appearance and cost.
“In today’s environment, innovation must provide value, which translates into growth,” said consultant Jack Avery in a presentation called “Growth through Innovation”, at the most recent Annual Technical conference of the Society of Plastics Engineers. Avery, who led processing innovation at GE’s Technical Center for many years, points to multi-material processing and design as important new areas for innovation. In one new hybrid process, deep-drawn perforated sheet metal parts are inserted into an injection mold. Plastic melt passes through openings in the sheet metal forming rivet heads, creating strong functional integration of the plastic and metal. Another plastics technology innovation is called the Skin-Form Process, in which a polyurethane mix head is installed on the moving side of an injection molding machine. A shuttle table is fitted to the fixed side of the clamping unit. After a thermoplastic part is made, the mold opens and the shuttle table moves the component into the polyurethane casting position. The reactive urethane components are injected into the mold, creating a two-component part that combines the leather-like quality of urethane and the strength of thermoplastic.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.