The world of semiconductors, displays, computers, printers, cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), circuit boards, and many other electronic devices may soon experience a paradigm shift away from silicon chips, according to Glenn Sanders, VP of development at Rolltronics. The company has pioneered a new approach to electronics manufacturing by producing thin-film electronic devices on flexible substrates using roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques. "The first applications will probably involve flexible back planes for IT and PDA devices," says Sanders. Using roll-to-roll manufacturing, Rolltronics plans to work with private companies developing Internet devices, medical imaging equipment, electronic ID tags, electronic books and paper, and a variety of other "transformational" products. Other potential applications include logic, wireless, power, memory, and display components. The devices are constructed as a "sandwich" of five or six thin layers (such as the plastic used in overhead transparencies) laminated into a single unit. "We're still in the prototyping phase, but we expect to have test units in a year and small production quantities in 18 months," says Sanders. For more information, visit the Rolltronics web site at www.rolltronics.com.
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.