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Three of the Most Innovative Technologies Being Built in America

CNCMachiningIn labs, on manufacturing floors, and around universities, innovations in technology and industry are beginning to take place in areas you may not even be able to dream up yet. In another blog, we mentioned President Obama’s government-funded innovation hubs, where the government is funding $80 million in projects to push America towards its technological potential. The administration is planning for 15 innovative hubs by the end of Obama’s term, all of which will rely on new manufacturing methods. Below are some of the newest technologies being tested through those federal initiatives.

Bendable electronics

NexFlex is a group that is currently printing electronics that can bend and stretch. They have developed the technology to make the product work, and machines that can make the product a reality. According to their website, NexFlex’s flexible hybrid electronics “enables the integration of thin silicon electronic devices, sensing elements, communications, and power on non-traditional flexible substrates.” Innovations in this technology means bandages will not only be able sense vital information in the skin, but relay that to a doctor, and treat the problem itself. Here are some areas NexFlex is working in: Continued…

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Changing the Conversation About a Manufacturing Career with Parents

STEMWhen some parents close their eyes and visualize what a manufacturing career might look like, black and white images of the Industrial Revolution, Ford’s first assembly line, and workers covered in dirt and grime might spring to mind. “The conditions of the facilities when manufacturing was in its infancy were harsh, dark, dirty and dangerous,” according to Manufacturing Talk Radio. Because, when people think about modern manufacturing, they may still think of negative stereotypes from 100 years ago, a stigma the industry has had to fight.

Parents are the first springboard for ideas of what the kids will do when they grow up. But, are parents informed about the realities of manufacturing today, or are they perpetuating a 100-year-old stereotype? Continued…

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3D Printing Metal Could Change the Manufacturing Industry

Does the U.S. Need to Follow China's Lead to Close the Skills GapThe concept of 3D printing metal objects has implications that stretch to all areas of life. Consider a time when metal parts can be produced for aircrafts, satellites, and medical implants custom and on demand. Companies are researching 3D printing metal beams and building supplies, meaning an architect can plan a building, and a manufacturer can “print” each of the beams needed. Below is a list of the advances in 3D metal printing and what applications it can have in manufacturing.

3D printing metal beams

Until recently, there were three methods for 3D printing metal, but there were problems in the physical weight of the metal not supporting itself while it’s being printed. To overcome that, researchers built “sacrificial” metal structures to hold together what was being printed and be discarded afterwards. Unfortunately, it became a challenge to separate the newly-printed metal piece from the sacrificial structure supporting it, often damaging the end-product and creating waste along the way. Now, there is a light carbon steel support that objects rest inside of while they are being printed, and then is chemically power-washed off afterwards. Continued…

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How Area Organizations Are Helping Students Access the Latest in STEM – Dream It. Do It.

University of Virginia Program Brings Advanced Manufacturing to Middle SchoolersPublic and private organizations alike are doing their part to help get students interested in STEM, or the study of science, technology, engineering, and math. The American College Test (ACT) reported that 60 percent of high school graduates in 2015 were not ready for entry-level college classes. At the same time, projections indicate a need for several million new college graduates with STEM degrees by 2018. Because the need is so high, the American workforce could begin to hire young people who were trained and educated in STEM in different countries, if the US does not catch up. To understand the need, see what the U.S. Department of Education says about STEM:

“In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects collectively known as STEM.”

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Obama Administration Announces 5 New Manufacturing Hub Competitions

02G55941The Obama administration is challenging the greatest minds in America to join together to invent the future of manufacturing, bringing together industry experts, university researchers, federal and local government and non-profits to accelerate innovation. Since 2012 the Obama administration has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to bridge the gap between big ideas and actual products. Some of these big ideas include bio-printing skin for soldiers on the battlefield, or manufacturing products on an assembly line with zero waste.

Last week marked the ninth manufacturing hub awarded by the administration. Five new manufacturing hub competitions will soon launch, which will invest nearly $800 million to transform manufacturing technologies. With these competitions announced, Obama’s goal for “a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) of 15 institutes underway across the country before the end of his administration,” is on track. Below are the next five areas of competition and some brief information. Continued…

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What Pokemon GO Can Teach You About the Future of Manufacturing

13839947_10208656759489095_763414883_oThe kids at Kaneko’s 3D design and fabrication camp are ahead of the curve this week because many of them are already linking the gaming phenomenon Pokemon GO to its potential in 3D printing. This 8-day camp taught young people aged 12-15 basics in “Computer-Aided Design (CAD), 3D modeling, 3D printing, and fabrication.” While they had free reign to decide designs, many chose to physically “catch” Pokemon, a delight that is usually only virtual.

Pokemon GO is more than just a fad. Understanding how the game works can teach the player a lot about Augmented Reality (AR) technology and how it might be used in the real world going forward. Continued…

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How One Incredible IoT Device Could Revolutionize Farming

26848215455_b9b3107040The Internet of Things is nearly upon us. In manufacturing, many say the future is in wirelessly connecting everything in production from raw materials to shipping to customer support. But IoT and connected smart devices are already making their mark on a surprising industry: farming.

Adam Wolf, the CEO of Arable which makes the Pulsepod, found a way to receive up-to-the-minute information from the most basic of raw materials – plants. The Pulsepod allows farmers to receive hyper-local information on their crop through wireless sensors. And that could mean everything to any company that works with a farm. Continued…

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The Coming of 5G and the Industrial IoT

2588347668_a1006846faFrom the coffee pot in the office, to the locks and lights in the warehouse, to each and every sensor and actuator on your production floor, 5G will allow you to automate all of it. To put it simply, with 5G you can download a 3-D movie in six seconds, whereas it takes six minutes with 4G. The 5G future of wireless should be in wide use by 2020 but what does this mean for the future of manufacturing? A new Ericsson report relates real-world applications and the difficult changes that will come from 5G.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote July 14 on the future development of 5G in this country. Its practical applications include driverless cars, smart home technology, automated surgery, among others that haven’t been invented yet. Among one of the most exciting and consequential results from 5G will be the industrial Internet of Things. Continued…

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Two Nebraska Companies Win State Grants Aimed at Exposing Students to Manufacturing Jobs

4558972190_913abd2802It was announced earlier this week that two Nebraska-based companies, Distefano Technology and Manufacturing of Omaha and MetalQuest Unlimited of Hebron, were the recipients of state grants to support programs aimed at teaching area students about careers in the world of advanced manufacturing and technology.

Gov. Pete Ricketts made the announcement Monday, stating that the grants, under the name “Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative,” would be good for up to $125,000 each and would go towards supporting outreach and education initiatives for students in the state of Nebraska. Continued…

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Manufacturing at Work: 5 Awesome Manufacturing Processes

worker in a chinese factory Many people don’t realize just how cool manufacturing can be.

After taking students on their first factory tours, for example, students are often surprised by just how interesting manufacturing is to watch. Today’s cutting-edge manufacturing techniques require skilled workers to operate the, but that doesn’t mean those techniques can’t be fascinating all on their own.

In the spirit of awesome manufacturing processes, today, we’ve compiled a list of 5 videos of manufacturing technology that we think are really worth a look. Take a look below: Continue Reading

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