Tag Archives: Manufacturing

Updates from Georgia Tech

New Projects Create a Foundation for Next-Gen Flexible Electronics
By Josh Brown – Four projects set to move forward at the Georgia Institute of Technology aim to lay the groundwork for manufacturing next-generation flexible electronics, which have the potential to make an impact on industries ranging from health care to defense.

Researchers at Georgia Tech are partnering with Boeing, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, General Electric, and DuPont as well other research institutions such as Binghamton University and Stanford University on the projects.

Flexible electronics are circuits and systems that can be bent, folded, stretched or conformed without losing their functionality. The systems are often created using machines that can print components such as logic, memory, sensors, batteries, antennas, and various passives using conductive ink on flexible surfaces. Combined with low-cost manufacturing processes, flexible hybrid electronics unlock new product possibilities for a wide range of electronics used in the health care, consumer products, automotive, aerospace, energy and defense sectors.

“Flexible electronics will make possible new products that will help us address problems associated with food supply, clean water, clean energy, health, infrastructure, and safety and security,” said Suresh Sitaraman, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, who is leading Georgia Tech’s flexible electronics activities. more> https://goo.gl/qjx3UT

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Updates from Aalto University

Launch times draw near for Aalto satellites
By Jaan Praks – The Aalto-2 satellite, designed and built by students, is ready and waiting to be launched inside the Cygnus space shuttle at the Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex in the US.

On 22 March, the shuttle will be launched with an Atlas V booster rocket up to the orbiting international space station, where the astronauts will release it later to orbit independently.

Aalto-2 will take part in the international QB50 Mission, the aim of which is to produce the first ever comprehensive model of the features of the thermosphere, the layer between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. Dozens of satellites constructed in different countries will also be part of the mission.

Construction of the Aalto-2 satellite began in 2012 as a doctoral project when the first students graduated as Masters of Science in Technology after working on the Aalto-1 project.

Since the start of the Aalto-1 project in 2010 and the Aalto-2 project two years later, around a hundred new professionals have been trained in the space sector. The impact is already visible in the growth of space sector start-up companies. more> https://goo.gl/yKLrez

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Updates from Boeing

737 MAX 9 Factory Rollout
Boeing – Following on from 737 MAX 8 rollout and flight test, we are now rolling out the first new 737 MAX 9, right on schedule.

737 MAX 9 is the perfect answer to the need for growth while maintaining maximum airline profitability. As well as 16 more seats than the incredibly popular 737 MAX 8, it offers lower trips costs than the competition, the lowest trip costs, which minimizes the risk airlines take on as they grow. And yet provides more than enough additional seats to deliver consistently higher profits through all market conditions.

What’s more, 737 MAX 9 enables airlines to reach farther than almost every single-aisle route they operate today. It has the longest range in its sector without the investment in any auxiliary fuel tanks, and with one auxiliary tank, matches the versatility of the 737 MAX 8 with a range of 3,515 nautical miles. more> https://goo.gl/FsrDdR

A Battle Plan for Mexico’s U.S. Trade War

By Alejandro Silva & Alejandro Urbina – An optimal negotiation is one in which both parties extract as much value for their own interest as possible without fundamentally damaging the other party’s position.

While Mexico’s interests remain aligned with a continuation of trade with the U.S., Trump’s unconstructive rhetoric has made it harder to create any kind of win-win framework. Not only did Trump campaign on the idea that trade with Mexico has hurt U.S. manufacturing jobs, he has refused to deal seriously with complex topics such as the nature of globalization, the pace of technological advances and the impact on production costs from unionized labor.

This approach helped to build political capital among his more populist base, but it ignored the challenges involved in detangling the decades-long trade ties and cast a pall over any future negotiations.

A trade war between the U.S. and Mexico would be in neither side’s interest. more> https://goo.gl/i0Vtv4

Updates from Georgia Tech

Four-Stroke Engine Cycle Produces Hydrogen from Methane and Captures CO<sub2
By John Toon – When is an internal combustion engine not an internal combustion engine? When it’s been transformed into a modular reforming reactor that could make hydrogen available to power fuel cells wherever there’s a natural gas supply available.

By adding a catalyst, a hydrogen separating membrane and carbon dioxide sorbent to the century-old four-stroke engine cycle, researchers have demonstrated a laboratory-scale hydrogen reforming system that produces the green fuel at relatively low temperature in a process that can be scaled up or down to meet specific needs. The process could provide hydrogen at the point of use for residential fuel cells or neighborhood power plants, electricity and power production in natural-gas powered vehicles, fueling of municipal buses or other hydrogen-based vehicles, and supplementing intermittent renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics.

Known as the CO2/H2 Active Membrane Piston (CHAMP) reactor, the device operates at temperatures much lower than conventional steam reforming processes, consumes substantially less water and could also operate on other fuels such as methanol or bio-derived feedstock. It also captures and concentrates carbon dioxide emissions, a by-product that now lacks a secondary use – though that could change in the future.

Unlike conventional engines that run at thousands of revolutions per minute, the reactor operates at only a few cycles per minute – or more slowly – depending on the reactor scale and required rate of hydrogen production. And there are no spark plugs because there’s no fuel combusted. more> https://goo.gl/h4K7fV

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Updates from Georgia Tech

Pioneer of Modern Electronics
By Michael Baxter – The smartphone you peer into, the LED bulb in your desk lamp, the Blu-Ray player that serves up your favorite film – all are here largely because of Russell Dupuis, a professor in electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech.

That’s because an essential component of their manufacturing traces back to a process that Dupuis developed in the late 1970s, a process that ushered in a new breed of mass-produced compound semiconductors. These electronic components – particularly those forged of elements from columns III and V in the periodic table — can operate at extremely high frequencies or emit light with extraordinary efficiency. Today, they’re the working essence of everything from handheld laser pointers to stadium Jumbotrons.

The process is known as metalorganic chemical vapor deposition, or MOCVD, and until Dupuis, no one had figured out how to use it to grow high-quality semiconductors using those III-V elements. Essentially, MOCVD works by combining the atomic elements with molecules of organic gas and flowing the mixture over a hot semiconductor wafer. When repeated, the process grows layer after layer of crystals that can have any number of electrical properties, depending on the elements used. more> https://goo.gl/eG2G8e

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Make Chips Do More and Last Longer with Embedded FPGA


By Geoff Tate – The cost and the time to design ASSP/ASIC/SoCs keeps rising.

Also, customers are demanding more flexibility in chips so their systems can be upgraded for critical changes (such as protocols/standards), which increases the useful life of their systems and increases their ROI.

For example, in data centers, customers are now seeking reconfigurability. Rather than a fork-lift upgrade when standards evolve, data centers want programmable chips so they can upgrade the data center’s ability during the life of the center without touching the hardware. This also gives the data center the option to customize for added competitive advantage. As Doug Burger of Microsoft said at a recent talk at FPL 2016, (Re)Configurable Clouds will change the world with the ability to reprogram a datacenter’s hardware protocols: networking, storage, security. Adding FPGA technology into the mix is a key in doing this. Embedded FPGA technology is now available to increase performance while lowering cost and power.

Another example is microcontrollers. In older process nodes such as 90nm where mask costs are cheap, a line card can have dozens or hundreds of versions. This offers each customer the small differences in, for example, the number and types of serial interfaces (SPI, I2C, UART, etc). However, now that leading edge microcontrollers are moving to 40nm where masks cost $1M each, microcontroller manufacturers need a programmable way to customize their chips and offer multiple SKUs. Adding this capability also opens the path for their customers to customize the MCUs themselves, similar to how they now write C code for the on-board processors. There are a few microcontrollers today, such as Cypress’ PSoC, which offer some limited customizability. However, only embedded FPGA can provide more and scalable customizability. more> https://goo.gl/9xx7sC

Updates from GE

GE Just Turned the World’s Most Powerful Jet Engine Into A 65-Megawatt Power Plant
By Tomas Kellner – GE is taking the world’s largest jet engine and turning it into a power plant. The machine’s beating heart comes from the GE90-115B, which is the largest and most powerful jet engine, capable of producing 127,900 pounds of thrust, according to Guinness World Records. The electricity generator, which GE calls LM9000, will be able to generate a whopping 65 megawatts — enough to supply of 6,500 homes — and reach full power in 10 minutes.

The technology is also a good example of what GE calls the GE Store — the system of sharing technology, research and expertise among its many businesses. Today, aeroderivatives power towns and factories but also oil platforms and ships. more> https://goo.gl/dSwnhF

America Is Still Making Things

By Alana Semuels – So-called advanced manufacturing, which is highly specialized and requires a facility with computers, is actually expanding. The U.S. economy will need to fill 3.5 million skilled manufacturing jobs over the next decade, the White House says. This is an industry that employs skilled and educated workers such as engineers and scientists. It’s also an industry that adds significant value to the economy.

Of course, the U.S. has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, and those losses have reverberated across the country. The scale of those losses has overshadowed areas of growth—but there has been growth.

A key point often missed in the debate over whether it’s trade or automation that has displaced American jobs. Automation and trade are deeply entwined phenomena; trade increases pressures to automate or export simple jobs, but also incentivizes the U.S. to specialize and create more high-paying jobs.

The catch is that traditional manufacturing workers don’t have those advanced degrees, and can’t get those jobs.

Unskilled jobs in the industry have been disappearing for decades as technology and globalization have made them obsolete. Yet technology is also enabling new types of jobs that provide a career for people who know how to use it.

The hard part is what happens to everyone else. more> https://goo.gl/cyCLkE

Updates from GE

GE At 125: These Pioneers Helped Shape The Way We Live [Video]
By Tomas Kellner – GE will be 125 years old in 2017, and the company has shaped many aspects of modernity we now take for granted.

Over the last few years, we’ve visited pioneers such as Nick Holonyak, who developed in GE labs the first LED that emitted visible light, Joseph Sorota, who helped build the first American jet engine at GE Aviation, and Arnold Spielberg, who designed the computer that ran the first version of BASIC, the programming language that helped launch home computing.

For good measure, we throw in a profile of Don Wetzel, who used GE jet engines to build the world’s fastest jet-powered train. Take a look. more> https://goo.gl/qZjOj8