Next tech wave – Manufacturing, Materials & Automation

Manufacturing

  1. The advent of 3D printers has ushered in a new era of personal manufacturing. Makerbot, based in Brooklyn, NYC is making waves with its Replicator bots.
  2. A couple of my colleagues are hooked. It gives an individual a sense of total control. One can start with a napkin design, move to a computer model, interface the model to the Replicator and voila get a working prototype in minutes.
  3. The science behind these printers is that of additive manufacturing. Which basically means building out objects layer by layer.
  4. The other movement is that of Arduino, the open-source single-board microcontroller. Founders Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles named the project after Arduin of Ivrea, the main historical character of the town.
  5. This is an excellent initiative to encourage design junkies to use electronics and make utility hacks to everyday products. I decided to give it a go and made a color changing night light.
  6. This new wave of manufacturing (making) is personalizing an age old process and challenging the volume myths associated with manufacturing. It will be interesting to see how this space unfolds.

Materials

  1. I had never heard the word ‘Auxetic’ before. Materials that are auxetic expand on the application of force. The opposite of the well documented Hooke’s law.
  2. This could be used in applications ranging from filtration, the military, and band-aids. I’ll leave it here for you to ponder about these examples.

Automation

  1. Healthcare, Cars, and Agriculture. Three sectors which will be swept by a wave of automation. For better or worse, time will tell. I am a tech optimist and strongly feel it will be for the better.
  2. Google has obtained licenses for operating driver-less cars in Colorado, Nevada, and Florida. Vinod Khosla is bullish on automating 80% of every physician’s work. He is also investing in Lettuce Bots which help farmers in California get better at producing the 70% national share of lettuce the state accounts for.
  3. Will these automated systems be good enough or better than humans? What are the cost implications? How about legal stuff? I’ll be watching this space closely. You should too.
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