New dual-step method provides 3D printing of conductive metals.

Shalini Saxena for ArsTechnica:  Customizable, wearable electronics open the door to things like heart-monitoring t-shirts and health-tracking bracelets. But placing the needed wiring in a complex 3D architecture has been hard to do cheaply. Existing approaches are limited by material requirements and, in the case of 3D writing, slow printing speeds. Recently, a research team at Harvard University developed a new method to rapidly 3D print free-standing, highly conductive, ductile metallic wires. The new method combines 3D printing with focused infrared lasers that quickly anneal the printed nanoparticles into the desired architecture. The result is a wire with an electrical conductivity that approaches that of bulk silver.   Cont'd...

What Do Device Developers And Design Engineers Need To Know About Membrane Keypads And Touch Pads

The evolution of innovative input devices is far from over. New technologies and products are revolutionizing the market all the time.

Factory Automation Will Speed Forward with A.I., Says Bernstein

By Tiernan Ray for Barron's:   Bernstein Research’s Alberto Moel, who follows tech-industrial companies such as Corning(GLW) and AU Optronics (AUO), this afternoon offered up a thinks piece on robotics andfactory automation, arguing that some of the costs of automation beyond the basic cost of the robot are about to get dramatically cheaper, thanks in large part to artificial intelligence akin to what Alphabet (GOOGL) and others are doing. Moel notes that the basic components of factory robots are only falling by perhaps 6% per year, their cost reduction bounded by things such as casings and servomotors and reduction gears that don’t rapidly fall in cost. But, writes Moel, the cost to install and adjust these machines on a factory floor is ten times their component cost and that stuff can be reduced more dramatically: How much this integration costs varies widely. An often-cited rule of thumb is that a $50,000 robot will need $500,000 of integration costs before it is all said and done. Of course, these integration costs can be amortized over many robots, so perhaps a better estimate would be 3-5x the robot cost [...] But I do believe we are at an inflection pointthat will materially increase the capability of automation systems and substantially reduce programming, setup, and fixturing costs which are the largest cost element in most automation efforts. So instead of a measly 6% YoY cost reduction , we get 25-30% YoY declines, and automation Nirvana.   Cont'd...

For Advanced Manufacturing, Success Demands Innovation, Education and Public-Private Partnership

MICHAEL D. WHEELER for  Global manufacturing has undergone enormous changes in the past decade as many developing countries have joined the club of tier-one manufacturing nations, a recession stalled demand, and employment fell precipitously in leading economies. Yet manufacturing remains critical to the future of both developing and advanced worlds, driving innovation, productivity and competitiveness, and offering a pathway out of poverty. Recent attention has focused on “advanced manufacturing,” which replaces traditional labor-intensive processes with ones based on the newest technologies. It encompasses a family of activities that depends on information, computation, software, sensing and networking, while making use of cutting-edge materials and emerging capabilities such as nanotechnology. Advanced manufacturing is an especially potent propellant of future economic growth, distinguished by continual process improvement and rapid new product introduction. These critical features will lead to the building of lighter, more fuel-efficient automobiles, the creation of “needleless” tests for medical conditions like diabetes, and the fabrication of semiconductors with 10 times the current processing power.   Cont'd...

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