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MIT Solar Cells are as Light as a Soap Bubble


Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a solar cell so thin that it can rest on top of a soap bubble without popping it. Though it is years away from being commercially viable, the development shows a new approach to making solar cells that could help power the next generation of portable electronics. The new process is described in a paper by MIT professor Vladimir Bulovic, research scientist Annie Wang, and doctoral student Joel Jean, in the journal Organic Electronics. Full Article

It’s Alive! Wake Forest Bioprints Living Ear, Bone, Muscle

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson


They said they’d do it and now they have. In the cover story of SME’s Medical Manufacturing 2015 yearbook, Anthony Atala and James Yoo of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM; Winston-Salem, NC) described the process by which they hoped to bioprint living-tissue structures with a custom-designed 3D printer ( Full Article

American Universities to Showcase Research at Hannover Messe 2016

Press Release - Hannover Messe


In April 2016, for the first time in the history of HANNOVER MESSE, the world’s largest industrial technology event, many of America’s top ranked universities and industrial technology institutes will take center stage in the United States Pavilion in the Research and Technology trade fair in Hall 2. All exhibiting institutions will showcase groundbreaking research, business startups and global partnerships that line up with HANNOVER MESSE 2016’s focus on Industry 4.0. Full Article

Energy Manufacturing Research Highlights

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe, Journals and Tech Papers


A few years ago, lights-out manufacturing might have meant literally turning off the switch and closing the factory doors. Today, the renewed focus on manufacturing is advanced and energized, not in the least by efforts to explore energy consumption and management at the process, material or equipment level. Last June’s co-located SME North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC), ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC) and JSME International Conference on Materials and Processing (ICMP) included papers investigating energy efficiency through process improvements, materials choices, recycling regimes and sustainability analysis. Full Article

Micro Air Vehicles Go Batty for Biomimicry

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson


As materials improve, the kinds of natural structures that can be adapted to human use expand. For example: Bat-inspired innovative membrane wings that work like artificial muscles have been successfully tested in-flight, paving the way for a new breed of unmanned Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) that have improved aerodynamic properties, can fly over long distances and are more economical to run. Full Article

Nano-Shells Teach Bone how to Repair Itself

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson


Scientists at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) have developed a polymer sphere that delivers a molecule to bone wounds that tells cells already at the injury site to repair the damage.Using the polymer sphere to introduce the microRNA molecule into cells elevates the job of existing cells to that of injury repair by instructing the cells’ healing and bone-building mechanisms to switch on, said Peter Ma, professor of dentistry and lead researcher on the project. Full Article

NextFlex, America's Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute, Names Founding Members

Press Release - NextFlex


NextFlex, America's Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute, today officially welcomed its founding members in conjunction with the 2016FLEX Conference and Exhibition in Monterey, California. During the event, which opens today, NextFlex will be convening meetings of its Governing and Technical Councils, as well as an intensive series of Technical Working Group sessions. Full Article

NIST’s New Mfg Innovation Institute Competition is Open-Topic

Michael Anderson, Senior Editor


NIST wants to fund the creation of two more manufacturing institutes to join the nine already underway as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). What is different is that the competition is open-topic: ‘Any area of US advanced manufacturing national need that has the potential to have a transformative effect on the growth of US manufacturing’ will be considered, according to NIST.

Full Article

NASA Fired Up Over 3D-Printed Engine Components

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


A NASA team is fired up about getting closer to building a completely 3D-printed, high-performance rocket engine. They demonstrated this in December by assembling additive-made complex engine parts and firing them up with cryogenic liquid hydrogen and oxygen to produce 20,000 pounds of thrust. Full Article

First Chilling Laser Developed for Bio Research (Not Supervillainy)

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


Since the first laser was invented in 1960, they’ve almost always given off heat—either as a useful tool, a byproduct, or a fictional way to vanquish intergalactic enemies. Until now, however, those concentrated beams of light have never been able to cool liquids. University of Washington researchers are the first to solve a decades-old puzzle—figuring out how to make a laser refrigerate water and other liquids under real-world conditions. Full Article

Tech Front: Device Lures Cancer Cells Away from Organs

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson


A small, implantable device that researchers are calling a cancer “super-attractor” could eventually give doctors an early warning of relapse in breast cancer patients and even slow the disease’s spread to other organs in the body. The sponge-like device developed at the University of Michigan is designed to attract the cancer cells that emerge in the bloodstream during the early stages of cancer’s recurrence—before tumors form elsewhere in the body. A new study in mice shows that the device attracts detectable numbers of cancer cells before they’re visible elsewhere in the body. Full Article

A Real-World ‘Invisibility Cloak’? Research Teams See Progress

Edited By Senior Editor Michael Anderson


For decades—since the first season of the original Star Trek series, at least—the world has wondered if something like a “cloaking device” to create functional invisibility would ever be feasible. Now, after a long wait, real progress was reported from two separate sources within a week of each other. Full Article

Tech Front: Fuzzy Logic Assesses Lean Manufacturing

Michael Anderson Senior Editor


Anita Susilawati, John Tan, David Bell, and Mohammed Sarwar, all of the Department of Mechanical & Construction Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University (Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK), say that yes, there is—and they’ve used a novel method to measure the leanness of Indonesia’s manufacturing industry. - See more at:
Anita Susilawati, John Tan, David Bell, and Mohammed Sarwar, all of the Department of Mechanical & Construction Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University (Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK), say that yes, there is—and they’ve used a novel method to measure the leanness of Indonesia’s manufacturing industry. - See more at:
With all of the variables that go into maintaining and growing a lean manufacturing environment, is there really a way to benchmark progress across a large facility? How about an entire enterprise? Sounds implausible but how about entire country’s industry? Three researchers at Northumbria University say that yes, there is—and they’ve used a novel method to measure the leanness of Indonesia’s manufacturing industry. Full Article

Why Manufacturing Needs Real-Time Data Collection

Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak


Real-time machine tool data collection isn’t just about helping manufacturers improve productivity and profitability, although that’s certainly a promised outcome. It’s also an essential first step toward a data-driven, high-tech manufacturing sector that is globally competitive. Today’s data-collection and monitoring solutions already help manufacturing operations management to see, analyze and quickly act upon time-sensitive data coming off the shop floor. Full Article

Tech Front: NASA JPL Gecko Grippers are No Mean Feet

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson


Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL; Pasadena, CA) are taking a cold-blooded approach to solving a sticky problem, namely how to effectively and repeatedly grip smooth surfaces in space. You can’t Velcro every surface, and adhesives lose their stickiness if used multiple times. How then to get, say, astronauts in a space station climbing the walls? JPL engineer Aaron Parness and his colleagues found an attractive solution in the foot of the gecko, the little lizard that effortlessly clings to walls with feet that, surprisingly, don’t produce any sort of chemical adhesive. Full Article

Tech Front: Absorbing Research for Cheaper, Better Solar Cells

Edited by Senior Editor Michael Anderson


The idea that solar cells might someday viably compete with carbon-based fuels has driven researchers for more than a century. Rice University researchers may have now found a path to produce cheaper, more efficient metal-based solar cells, making the US goal of reducing the cost of solar electricity to $0.06/kW-hr seem reachable. Full Article

Tech Front: Li-ion Battery Tech Leads to Hydrogen Production

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


Developers of electric cars that used lithium-ion batteries are racing the champions of hydrogen-fueled vehicles to see which will succeed the greenhouse gas-producing gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. They’ve been racing in different directions—until now: Scientists at Stanford University have created a low-voltage, low-cost “water splitter” that uses a single catalyst to continuously produce both hydrogen and oxygen from water. Full Article

Tech Front: Big Fuel Cell Breakthrough is at the Nano Level

Edited by Advanced Manufacturing Media Staff


A development in the real-time observation of fuel cell catalyst degradation could be the breakthrough that leads to the creation of more efficient and durable fuel cell stacks. Toyota Motor Corp. (Toyota City, Japan) and the the Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC; Nagoya, Japan) have developed a new technique that allows monitoring of the behavior of nanometer-sized particles of platinum during chemical reactions in fuel cells. This allows the processes leading to reduced catalytic reactivity to be observed. Full Article

24M Introduces the Semisolid Lithium-Ion Battery

Press Release: 24M


24M (Cambridge, MA) has emerged from stealth mode to introduce the semisolid lithium-ion cell, a revolutionary technology that solves the grand challenge of energy storage by enabling a new, cost-effective class of the lithium-ion battery. 24M’s semisolid lithium-ion is the most significant advancement in lithium-ion technology in more than two decades and combines an overhaul in battery cell design with a series of manufacturing innovations that, when fully implemented, will slash today’s lithium-ion costs by 50% and improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries. Full Article

Polytechnique Montréal Researchers Develop Ultra-tough Fiber that Imitates Structure of Spider Silk

Press Release: Polytechnique Montréal


  Polytechnique Montréal researchers have produced an ultra-tough polymer fibre directly inspired by spider silk. They believe that composites obtained by weaving together tough fibers of the type they're currently developing could, for example, make possible new, safer and lighter casings for aircraft engines, which would prevent debris from dispersing in case of explosion. Full Article

Viewpoints: NNMI: A New Place for Advancing Manufacturing

Michael F. Molnar, FSME, CMfgE, PE, Director - Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, SME Past President


Additive manufacturing has captured popular attention now that retailers are selling low-cost 3D printers. There is a perception that additive manufacturing simply appeared in the past two years, yet the technology has been under development for nearly 30 years—a timeline that is about average for a process or new material to mature from laboratory to production. Full Article

Tech Front: Promising Magnesium Ion EV Battery Progress

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Can a new class of batteries powered by magnesium-ion outperform and eventually replace the current lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries used in electric vehicles? A new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) shows that using magnesium ions in place of lithium ions could result in batteries that significantly outperform the lithium-based batteries commonly used in today’s EVs. Full Article

Laser Technologies Offer a Growing Array of Choices

Contributing Editor Bruce Morey


Lasers first started making a significant impact for manufacturing in the early to mid 1970s. Since then, a number of advances, both evolutionary and revolutionary, have made lasers a common tool of choice for applications such as cutting, welding, drilling, brazing, and cladding. They are often easier to automate than many of their mechanical competitors. No moving part contacts the metal, so no tool wears out that needs replacement. Full Article

Tech Front: A New Way to Extract Hydrogen from Water

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Hydrogen is considered an important source of clean energy, and the cleanest way to produce hydrogen gas is to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. But scientists have struggled to develop cost-effective water-splitting techniques. Now, researchers at NC State University (Raleigh, NC) have created a technique using a new catalyst for converting methane and water into hydrogen and a fuel feedstock, called syngas, with the assistance of solar power. Full Article

Energy--Do More With Less

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


There's a lot of energy stored in the 16,000-document collection of SME Technical Papers. Really-plug in keywords related to energy (e.g., oil, gas, carbon, emissions, solar, wind, green, sustainable) and you'll see the evolution of topics and surges of interest during certain time periods, such as many papers on energy conservation and management from the oil-crisis years of the early-to-mid 1970s. Full Article

Tech Front: New Method Creates Precise Graphene Nanoribbons

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


A team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley, has designed a new precision method of synthesizing graphene nanoribbons from molecular building blocks. The research, which created nanoribbons with enhanced properties, could be used in future electronic circuitry. Full Article

Forming and Fabricating Research Roundup

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


As one of the three original topic areas (with material removal and manufacturing systems) for the North American Metalworking (later Manufacturing) Research Conference (NAMRC), and as a perennial focus that continues to evolve, material forming has a solid foundation at SME. Forming and fabricating as a segment of the SME Technical Paper library is nearly 800 papers from 1951 to present. Full Article

SME Journal of Manufacturing Systems Top Downloads

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Just announced are the top five downloaded articles published in 2014 in SME’s Journal of Manufacturing Systems (JMS). Elsevier also publishes SME’s Journal of Manufacturing Processes and Manufacturing Letters. Full Article

More of the Hole Story

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


As the saying goes, you can always build a better mousetrap. Likewise, you can make a good hole better, according to the author of SME Technical PaperTP79PUB215, in this case by ball microfinishing. SME papers cover a range of topics and developments in holemaking, such as location methods, coolant types and delivery, drill geometry, combo tools (such as the "Rotabroach"), hole quality and other techniques such as punching, oscillatory boring and helical milling. Full Article

Tech Front: New Carbon Nanotubes May Boost Battery Life

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin have discovered high-performing carbon nanotubes that may lead to the development of improved battery life for flexible electronics and also for military and industrial applications. The research team, led by materials science Associate Professor Michael Arnold and Professor Padma Gopalan, recently released their results in a paper published in the journal ACS Nano. Full Article

NAMRC Research Event Upcoming June 8-12

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Session schedules and activity details are taking final form for the North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC), the flagship annual event of SME’s North American Manufacturing Research Institution (NAMRI/SME). NAMRC and the Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC) of ASME’s Manufacturing Engineering Div. are hosted together June 8-12, 2015, at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. . Full Article

Part of the Hole Story

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


It couldn’t have been long after the first tools were hacked into shape that the first holes were made in some rock or tree. Fast forward many centuries and the first machine tool used by mechanically minded folks is likely a drill press. Everyone feels like an expert after making a perfect hole in something, but precision holemaking involves “many factors that must be considered regardless of how simple making holes might seem,” says the author of SME Technical Paper TP62PUB6. Full Article

Lightweighting Heavy on History

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Maybe the desire to lose weight doesn’t go back as far as Atlas in Greek mythology, but for decades materials experts have sought lighter weight with strength and economy in the more well-known applications of autos and airplanes as well as in such products as metal cans and bicycles. Full Article

Variations of Waterjet: Robotic and Abrasive

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


No sooner had waterjet cutting gone mainstream did someone think of adding an abrasive to the water flow and integrating a robot into the system. From SME Technical Paper TP85PUB248: "High pressure waterjet machines capable of cutting relatively soft materials such as paper, cloth, wood, and fiberglass can now cut ceramics, metal composites, and tough metals such as Inconel and titanium because of a recent design innovation which induces abrasive grit into the water jet." Full Article

Tracing the Flow of Waterjet Processes

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


What’s able to cut steel, disposable diapers, composites, newsprint, titanium, ceramic tile, wood, cloth and even cake? With apologies to Superman, it’s waterjet, of course. Although “a modern waterjet system can slit a mile of newsprint in a minute using only a cup of water,” the history of using water for washing away material goes way back. Full Article

Tech Front: New Nanoscale Compounds for Better CNG Storage

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Researchers at Rice University (Houston) have published a new study on nanoscale materials composed of metal organic frameworks (MOF) that could be used to devise more practical storage systems used with compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. Today’s CNG-powered buses and trucks typically use very bulky tanks that store natural gas at very high pressure. Full Article

Cool Info on Metalworking Fluids

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Chilled air dispersion can lessen the risks to workers of ingesting, inhaling or absorbing cutting fluids, as addressed by V.N. Malhotra, S. Arunachalam and P. Dewson (University of East London; Dagenham, Essex, England) in their 2005 paper reporting the novel experimental technique. Full Article

Trends in Stamping Progress

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Papers exploring the current state and future trends in a particular technology are perennially popular. Too, rediscovering such papers a few years later provides a timeline of the topic’s evolution. Such is the case with several papers on stamping, among the 95 related to this fabrication process in the SME Technical Paper library. Full Article

Extrusion and Drawing Knowledge

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Extrusion and drawing, two related, stalwart topics in material forming, are covered from top of punch to bottom of die in more than 200 papers in the SME Technical Paper library. The range of contributors is broad, from companies like Alcoa, Westinghouse, ASEA, Western Electric and General Electric to universities in Japan, Germany and the US, as well as individual entrepreneur metalworking shops. Full Article

Tech Front: New Conductive Polymer Nanocomposites Hold Promise for Portable Devices

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Researchers at Drexel University (Philadelphia) have developed a strong, flexible, electrically conductive nanocomposite material that could be used to power future wearable energy storage devices. The conductive MXene-polymer nanocomposite material, created by researchers in Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering in collaboration with scientists at Dalian University of Technology in China, is very flexible yet has the strength to support many times its own weight. Full Article

Forming and Fabricating Presses On

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


The collective topics of forming and fabricating are a heavyweight segment of the SME Technical Paper library, with nearly 800 papers from 1951 to present. Here’s an overview of the many areas covered in the fabrication and material forming case studies and tutorials in SME’s database. Full Article

Tech Front: Hybrid Semiconductor Phosphors Emerge for Low-Cost LED Lighting

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


A team of researchers at Rutgers University (Piscataway, NJ) have designed new materials that could change the way household light bulbs are manufactured. With the phase-out of traditional incandescent light bulbs in the US and other countries, lighting manufacturers have looked for more energy-efficient lighting alternatives in the form of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Full Article

Advanced Materials Always on the Edge

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


As materials discoveries have advanced, techniques have evolved “to accelerate the transition from materials processing in a laboratory environment to fabrication techniques in a full scale production environment” and to show how “the advent of new materials and advances in the design of mechanical and electrical components are inextricably linked.” The paper stating this describes a knowledge-based approach to hot isostatic pressing. Full Article

Tech Front: New High-Hardness Metal-Matrix Material Developed for Additive Uses

Edited by Senior Editors Ellen Kehoe and Patrick Waurzyniak


A new ferrous metal-matrix material developed by The NanoSteel Co. (Providence, RI) will soon offer manufacturers a new alternative for producing fully dense, high-hardness metal components with additive manufacturing techniques. Full Article

JIT and Other TLA’s

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Animal, vegetable or mineral—what are TLA’s? Turns out, searching for a selection of papers on just-in-time manufacturing in the SME Tech Paper library brings up many TLA’s—Three-Letter Acronyms, not to keep you in suspense. Full Article

New Papers from RAPID 2014

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Technical papers presented at RAPID 2014 and eligible for the 2014 Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper Award are now available online in the SME Technical Papers collection. The 13 papers cover a range of additive manufacturing topics, including several dealing with biomedical applications and one presenting a review of the current state of development of selective laser melting of refractory alloys such as those of tungsten, molybdenum and tantalum. Full Article

Quality Topics Run Deep

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


SME Technical Papers on quality have been a mainstay of the collection for decades. Several hundred papers-from "Administration of Quality Control" (1951), "Role of Quality Control in the Sales Effort" (1965), "Quality Assurance of Advanced Composite Structures" (1979) and "In-Process Quality Control for Cold Forming" (1983), through "Quality Measures Through Service Gap Analysis" (1991), "TV Screen Quality Inspection by Artificial Vision" (2003) and "Quality Inspection Planning of Oilfield Equipment" (2010)-show the durability of the topic. Full Article

Focus on the Workforce: Partnering for STEM: The National Educator's Workshop

Mel Cossette, Principal Investigator, National Resource Center for Materials


Training the future workforce is critical to our nation’s economy, especially in the areas of manufacturing and material science. Edmonds Community College (EdCC) and the National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU), which is housed at EdCC, are dedicated to this initiative through the annual National Educator’s Workshop (NEW) event, which is produced by MatEdU. Full Article

TechFront: Battery Breakthrough: Stable Lithium Anodes

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


A Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA) research team has developed a stable pure lithium metal anode that could lead to the design of smaller, more efficient and less-expensive batteries for use in a wide range of applications from consumer electronics to electric vehicles. Full Article

Six Sigma in the Spotlight

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


Other than lean, two of the most downloaded topics from the expansive SME Technical Paper collection are quality and Six Sigma. Zeroing in specifically on Six Sigma, which is all about “zeroing in”—on defects, that is, we find more than 15 papers directly related to the subject. Full Article

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