Pat Toth’s picture

By: Pat Toth

This morning my favorite local news program had an interesting segment on new slang words and what they mean. The definitions probably weren’t necessary for millennials or generation Z, but for baby boomers like me, it was an eye-opening vocabulary lesson. I must admit I didn’t know what bougie (pronounced boojee) meant, even though I had heard it a few times—like when my niece said the wine glasses I used at Thanksgiving were bougie.

Perhaps you’ve heard some phrases lately that suddenly seem like they’re everywhere, such as Industry 4.0. When I first heard the term I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but it seems to be one of the hottest phrases in manufacturing.

There have been four major technological trends during the past few hundred years that have revolutionized both industry and manufacturing. The first combined mechanization with steam and water power. The second combined mass production and electricity. The third was the rise of electronic and information technology (IT) systems as well as automation.

Jon Speer’s picture

By: Jon Speer

Imagine that your medical device malfunctioned during patient use. Do you know whether quality assurance or quality control is responsible? When working through remediation efforts, do you know which quality function demands the attention, or should you make improvements to both?

More often than we may like to admit, a vast majority of medical device professionals do not have a full grasp on the acronyms and meanings of core industry terminology relevant to their role.

Quality assurance and quality control are complementary parts of a quality management system (QMS), yet they serve very distinct roles with different purposes. Without knowing how the two quality functions differ and intersect, your QMS processes will struggle, and more important, you’ll struggle to ensure your medical device is safe and effective.

This article will clear up any lingering confusion around the two terms quality control and quality assurance, explain how they differ from one another and how they intersect, and suggest how professionals in these roles can leverage certain tools and methodologies to successfully control quality and ensure quality.

Sabrina Habib’s picture

By: Sabrina Habib

Creativity is among the most in-demand skills in the workplace.

It’s not surprising that top multinational companies are looking to hire inventive thinkers: Research shows that creativity can drive innovation and resilience in organizations.

Tech giant Google has grown by innovating the way we all use the internet. Electric car maker Tesla touts a collaborative working environment to “solve the world’s most important problems with talented individuals.”

Still, sharing ideas can get messy when colleagues don’t understand or support novel concepts—or if they shut them down. Research offers some concrete ways to facilitate idea generation, both individually and in groups. But first it helps to know what you’re trying to facilitate.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

A vulnerable spot in global commerce is the supply chain: It enables technology developers and vendors to create and deliver innovative products but can leave businesses, their finished wares, and ultimately their consumers open to cyberattacks. A new update to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) foundational cybersecurity supply chain risk management (C-SCRM) guidance aims to help organizations protect themselves as they acquire and use technology products and services.

Jacob Bourne’s picture

By: Jacob Bourne

GE Renewable Energy has opened a new R&D facility in Bergen, New York, where it will research how 3D printing can play a role in boosting the energy efficiency of wind turbines.

Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, researchers will explore 3D printing the concrete base of wind turbine towers on site at wind farms, thereby avoiding the logistical challenge of transporting components. The first field applications are expected within the next five years.

There’s currently a surge in interest for renewable energy to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources and curb climate change. However, wind energy depends on massive turbines that are hundreds of feet tall and aren’t easy to build. GE is hoping to simplify the turbine construction process by deploying a 3D printer from COBOD International. It is reportedly the world’s largest 3D concrete printer, rising to about three stories in height. Currently, the printer is housed at GE’s R&D facility alongside a concrete batch-mixing plant and pump.

COBOD 3D concrete printer
The COBOD 3D concrete printer at GE’s facility. Credit: Courtesy of COBOD International.

Matt Fieldman’s picture

By: Matt Fieldman

I remember well when the phrase “a thousand points of light” entered regular usage. Popularized by President George H.W. Bush, the phrase referred to individuals and organizations that provide valuable and even lifesaving work in communities around the country. In 1990, President Bush founded the Points of Light Foundation.

As a kid interested in social justice, this fascinated me. I saw these thousand points of light bringing hope and comfort to those in need. That said, while disparate groups deliver aid that is meaningful and valuable, they can often have an even greater impact when they work together and emulate and build upon each other’s successful approaches to common problems.

Today, when I think of manufacturing workforce development programs, I imagine them as “a thousand points of light,” too. They are obviously doing tremendous work in communities around the country. However, these programs are fragmented, disjointed, and rarely scale outside the cities and states that invested in their creation.

“A thousand points of light” might be a great metaphor for inspiring social action, but it’s no way to run national workforce development.

Brandon Cornuke’s picture

By: Brandon Cornuke

Manufacturers work hard to minimize disruptions to their operations and invest significant resources to minimize production risk. They also are under constant pressure to find new ways to deliver more value to their customers. Sustainable business growth is critical to delivering this value. Many achieve that sustainability through experimentation.

But innovation and experimentation involve risk, which could lead to wasted resources, not meeting expectations, or a lack of return on investment. Sometimes precious resources will be devoted to experiments that will not work out. But just as there is the risk of failure, there is risk associated with not being innovative as well. For instance, the business may not stay competitive.

Manufacturers can reduce their innovation risk by linking initiatives to the unmet needs of their customers. They need to anticipate how their customers’ needs will change in the future.

Georgia State University’s picture

By: Georgia State University

Georgia State University researchers have successfully designed a new type of artificial vision device that incorporates a novel vertical stacking architecture and allows for greater depth of color recognition and scalability on a microlevel. The research is published in the journal ACS Nano.

“This work is the first step toward our final destination—to develop a microscale camera for microrobots,” says assistant professor of physics Sidong Lei, who led the research. “We illustrate the fundamental principle and feasibility to construct this new type of image sensor with an emphasis on miniaturization.”

Lei’s team was able to lay the groundwork for the biomimetic artificial vision device, which uses synthetic methods to mimic biochemical processes, using nanotechnology.

Multiple Authors
By: Kurt Kleiner, Knowable Magazine

Every time you sit down with your phone in your back pocket, you’re reminded of a fundamental truth: Human bodies are soft and flexible. Electronics aren’t.

But soon there may be devices that can stretch, bend, and even repair themselves when they’re damaged. By harnessing the unusual properties of a liquid metal called gallium, materials scientists aim to create a new generation of flexible devices for virtual reality interfaces, medical monitors, motion-sensing devices, and more.

The goal is to take the functionality of electronics and make them softer, says Michael Dickey, a chemical engineer at North Carolina State University. “I mean, the body and other natural systems have figured out how to do it. So surely, we can do it.”

Bendable electronics can also be made with conventional metals. But solid metal can fatigue and break, and the more that’s added to a soft material, the more inflexible the material becomes. Liquid metals don’t have that problem, Dickey says: They can be bent, stretched, and twisted with little or no damage.

Flexibility turns out to be just one of gallium’s useful properties. Because it’s a metal, it conducts heat and electricity easily. Unlike the better-known liquid metal mercury, it has low toxicity and low vapor pressure, so it doesn’t evaporate easily.

Merilee Kern’s picture

By: Merilee Kern

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have used natural remedies for their healing properties. Some of the same treatments are still used by billions around the world, based largely on anecdotal evidence and lore. Clinical research on natural treatments is lacking due to costly clinical trials, sparse or restricted funding, and institutional bureaucracies that slow research. These hurdles ultimately prevent viable, affordable solutions from reaching a mainstream market in a timely fashion—or at all.

Rising demand for natural products is dramatically changing that industry sector. The global complementary and alternative medicine market is expected to grow from $100.4 billion in 2021 to $404.66 billion by 2028, according to the “2021 Complementary and Alternative Medicine Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis” report by Grand View Research. The report further states that traditional alternative medicine, or botanicals, dominated the market in 2020 with a share of 38.48 percent.

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