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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

TechFront: New Laser-Like Polariton Beams Show Promise for Electronics, Medical Uses

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Researchers at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) have developed a new laser-like beam, called a polariton, that is said to be the first polariton laser powered by electrical current instead of light. The invention, which technically isn’t a laser, also works at room temperature instead of at below-zero temperatures. Full Article

Tech Front: Research Team Develops New Ultralight, Ultrastiff Additive Materials

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


A team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL; Livermore, CA) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA) has developed a new material for additive manufacturing processes that is as dense and light as an aerogel, but has 10,000 times more stiffness. This material is described in the researchers’ paper published in a June 20 article in the journal Science. Full Article

TechFront: Ultra-Strong MRIs Show Promise for Neuroscience, Other Research

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


New ultra-strong, high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) full-body scanners under development by GE Healthcare (Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, UK) and Tesla Engineering UK (Pulborough, West Sussex, UK) will be used by researchers to speed detection and improve therapies for Parkinson’s disease and a host of other disorders. Full Article

Tech Front: New Process Allows Nanofibers to Grow at Room Temperature

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Researchers at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC) have devised a safer method of growing vertically aligned carbon nanofibers (VACNF) with ambient air, rather than using toxic chemicals like ammonia at very high temperatures in a vacuum chamber. Full Article

Tech Front: Graphene-Based Light Detectors Add Thermal Vision to Contact Lenses

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


New research into graphene-based light detectors that can use the full infrared spectrum has the potential to put heat-vision technology into a contact lens or other devices. And unlike the mid- and far-infrared detectors currently on the market, the detector developed by University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) engineering researchers doesn’t require bulky cooling equipment to work. Full Article

Tech Front - New Carbon Nanotubes Outperform Copper as Electrical Conductors

Patrick Waurzyniak, Senior Editor and Ellen Kehoe, Senior Editor


Carbon nanotube-based fibers created at Rice University (Houston) show that on a pound-per-pound basis, the nanotube fibers have more capacity to conduct electrical current than copper. Although individual nanotubes can transmit nearly 1000 times more current than copper, the same tubes coalesced into a fiber using other technologies fail long before reaching that capacity. Full Article

Tech Front: Researchers Develop a Muscular Micro Material

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Vanadium dioxide, already known for its ability to change size, shape and physical identity, could add super strength in a tiny package to its list of impressive attributes. A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) recently demonstrated how a micro-sized torsional muscle motor constructed of vanadium dioxide is thousands of times stronger than a human muscle. Full Article

The Latest News About the US Manufacturing Network

Edited by Assistant Editor Katelyn DaMour


Click here for the latest news on the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. President Barack Obama announced the formation of a NNMI to strengthen US industry in March 2012 and renewed calls for it in his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union addresses. Full Article

Tech Front: Nanotube Soldering Process Creates Tiny Electrical Pathways

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Scientists at the University of Illinois (Champaign, IL) have devised a way to heal gaps in tiny wires too small for the smallest soldering iron. A research team, led by electrical and computer engineering professor Joseph Lyding and graduate student Jae Won Do, has published its results in the journal Nano Letters. Full Article

Tech Front: Carbyne Chains Hold Promise for Creating Stronger Nanomaterials

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Carbyne may turn out to be the strongest of a new class of microscopic materials ever, if scientists can determine an effective way to produce it in bulk. Researchers at Rice University (Houston) have studied carbyne nanorods or nanoropes that could have a host of remarkable and useful properties, which are described by Rice University theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his group in a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano. Full Article

Tech Front: DOE Grant Funds Research to Improve Nanoscale Additive Manufacturing

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


A new three-year $660,000 grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) will fund researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta) on development of advanced additive manufacturing techniques used to create 3D nanoscale structures. Full Article

Tech Front: Researchers to Combine Computing, Materials Science with Maker Movement

Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe.


Hoping to capitalize on the current wave of interest in additive manufacturing and the maker movement, two professors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI) and Drexel University (Philadelphia) are aiming to meld recent advances in computing, additive manufacturing and materials sciences into a new discipline dubbed the "informatics of making." Full Article

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