Ghassan E. Jabbour is a University of Arizona professor developing an inkjet printing process that produces photovoltaic devices such as solar cells. He uses digitized images on a computer and sends them to a printer that sprays an organic solution onto an electrically conductive surface. He describes the printed product as a self-illuminated photograph. "The new process uses inkjet to vary the conductivity of the conductors," says Jabbour. "Basically, we design an electronic circuit, scan it to a computer, then send it to the printer." He programmed the printer to interpret colors and convert them to particular chemicals that produce predetermined reactions. "We do some chemistry that allows us to control where we want a lot of electrons and where we don't want electrons." His self-illuminated photographs print in visible colors, but he can also print in colors in the infrared wavelength range that are invisible to the naked eye. For more information, go to www.ua.edu.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.