Solar panel frames (1) are getting lighter, and the electrical junction boxes (2) and connectors (3) that carry the electrical current they generate are getting smaller, aided by plastics with low-temperature impact resistance that meet electrical and flame retardancy requirements. (Source: SABIC Innovative Plastics)
A few years ago, I wrote a trend report titled "Smaller, Faster, Better" highlighting not only nano and micro technologies but also a general sizing down across the board. A striking number of experts dismissed it as irrelevant for the American market. I love having articles like this that back up my trend reports with current information. Thank you!
I'd love to see the process 3M and IBM are developing in action. It sounds amazing. It's good to see 3M in new areas.
Some of the most interesting and fun applications I found during reporting this story were the small health monitoring devices. For example, you can see pictures of the Japanese swallowable endoscope in use, both outside and inside the body, here: http://sanfrancisco.ibtimes.com/articles/170187/20110627/japanese-scientists-invent-mermaid-tiny-remote-controlled-pill-camera-examine-digestive-tract.htm and a video of one from the University of Washington here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlQN3c04mu0
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
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