Photo credit: USDA Forest Service
Nels Jensen is part of our INDUSTRIAL team on a fact-finding mission to surface the technologies and trends impacting manufacturers and to share what we discover along the way.
In the near future, manufacturers will be making wood windows and clear wood roofs and doors.
The idea of manufacturing “clear wood” is not new, but it has not caught on because the conventional method removes lignin, which bonds fibers to give wood its strength. There’s not much of a market in construction for weak and brittle materials.
However, scientists at the University of Maryland have come up with a new technique to make wood transparent without removing the lignin. The researchers changed the lignin molecules by applying hydrogen peroxide to the wood's surface and then exposing it to UV light or natural sunlight. The end product looks like glass, but it has the strength and flexibility of wood.
We came across this new wood innovation when INDUSTRIAL recently developed the first website and a campaign for the Wood Industry Resource Collaboration (WIRC), a consortium of 11 wood industry associations.
Researchers have devised a new robotic system for handling and assembling garments. That’s right, sewing automation.
Apparently, it’s difficult for industrial robots to work with limp materials, which makes automated sewing difficult.
To enable industrial robots to take over garment sewing applications, fabrics were laminated with a water-soluble thermoplastic polymer that temporarily stiffened the fabric. The team demonstrated that the treated fabric could be autonomously assembled via the robotic sewing of pocket flaps for military uniform pants.
One of our clients is Manufacturing USA, also known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The network helps develop manufacturing technologies and processes through public-private partnerships among research institutes, U.S. industry, universities, and federal government agencies. This emerging technology came from ARM, The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute.
Disinfecting Fresh Eggs With UV Light
Reducing the microbial load on eggs is important because it reduces the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks associated with eggs and poultry meat. This is one innovation that may be quickly adopted within the food industry.
We have written about food safety in manufacturing as part of our work for the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network. This story explains how a team of researchers figured out that pulsed ultraviolet light was faster, safer and cheaper for disinfecting eggs than traditional sanitizers.
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And a few more stories from our work with Manufacturing USA:
Our client work here at INDUSTRIAL takes us to interesting content destinations, which leads us to additional industry sources and some fascinating stories about emerging technologies in manufacturing. The future of manufacturing is, indeed, fascinating.
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