Inexpensive RFID tags may be seeing more use in the consumer world, thanks to printable electronic polymers. Available at 1 cent each, the tags can be used to monitor stock and reportedly may reduce inventory costs by up to 10% and staff costs by 20%. Flexible polymer circuits would allow tags to be printed directly onto, or into, low-cost packages during manufacturing. Wal-Mart has already requested its top 100 suppliers to use RFID tags by 2005.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
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 discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.