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.
What if algae borne of fertilizer runoff that pollutes rivers and lakes could be harvested and used as biofuel feedstock? What if the leftovers could be recycled into farm soil nutrients, eliminating at least some of the need for artificial fertilizers in the first place? Western Michigan University researchers have a plan.
Manufacturers of plastic parts recognize the potential of conformal cooling to reduce molding cycle times. Problem is, conformal molds require additive manufacturing (AM), and technologies in that space are still evolving. Costs also can be high, and beyond that, many manufacturing organizations lack the knowledge and expertise needed to apply and incorporate additive technologies into their operations.
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