Adam Zewe’s picture

By: Adam Zewe

Scientists and engineers are constantly developing new materials with unique properties that can be used for 3D printing. But figuring out how to print with these materials can be a complex, costly conundrum.

Often, an expert operator must use trial and error—possibly making thousands of prints—to determine ideal parameters that consistently print a new material effectively. These parameters include printing speed and how much material the printer deposits.

MIT researchers have now used artificial intelligence to streamline this procedure. They developed a machine-learning system that uses computer vision to watch the manufacturing process and then correct errors in how it handles the material in real time.

They used simulations to teach a neural network how to adjust printing parameters to minimize error, and then applied that controller to a real 3D printer. Their system printed objects more accurately than all the other 3D printing controllers compared.

Ken Moon’s picture

By: Ken Moon

Henry Ford was onto something.

In 1914, the automaker began paying his factory workers $5 per day for eight hours of work on the assembly line. Although Ford had refined mass production to make it more efficient, he still needed employees to show up and stick around. The generous wage, equivalent to about $148 today, was meant to keep workers coming back.

A recent Wharton study measuring the effect of worker turnover on the quality of smartphones made in China proves what Ford probably realized more than 100 years earlier at his car plant in Michigan: A stable workforce is valuable, even in a factory setting where so much of the labor is unskilled.

“Ford created an automated system of work, but he recognized that to perform at a high standard, the system involved having workers whose work is interconnected,” says Ken Moon, a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions. “From his actions, I kind of suspect that he knew what we found in this study.”

Catherine Barzler’s picture

By: Catherine Barzler

Falls are a serious public health issue that result in tens of thousands of deaths annually while racking up billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Although there has been extensive research into the biomechanics of falls, most current approaches study how the legs, joints, and muscles act separately to respond, rather than as a system. The ability to measure how these different levels relate to each other could paint a much clearer picture of why someone falls and precisely how their body compensates. Until recently, however, an integrated measuring approach has been elusive.

Multiple Authors
By: Ella Miron-Spektor, Kyle Emich, Linda Argote, Wendy Smith

‘The experience was magical. I had enjoyed collaborative work before, but this was something different,” says Daniel Kahneman of the beginnings of the years-long partnership with fellow psychologist Amos Tversky that culminated in a Nobel Prize in economic sciences three decades later.

What Kahneman didn’t dwell on in his account was how different the two men were. One was confident, optimistic, and a night owl; the other was a morning lark, reflective, and constantly looking for flaws. Yet their partnership flourished.

“Our principle was to discuss every disagreement until it had been resolved to mutual satisfaction,” recalls Kahneman, author of the best-selling book, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013). “Amos and I shared the wonder of together owning a goose that could lay golden eggs—a joint mind that was better than our separate minds.”

Tim Mouw’s picture

By: Tim Mouw

According to autolist.com, more than 80 percent of cars produced today are white, black, or some shade of gray. It’s not necessarily because bright and bold colors are more difficult to produce and match than their grayscale counterparts. They just take longer to get through the inspiration and design process.

Believe it or not, producing a new auto color can take up to five years before it makes it to the showroom floor. It’s a long, tedious process for designers, paint companies, and auto manufacturers, but innovative color measurement technology is changing the game and reducing time to market.

Moving from inspiration to production of new car colors

Inspiration for future auto colors can come from just about anywhere—architecture, nature, Pantone Color of the Year, even the Paris Fashion Show. However, it’s not as simple as choosing a bright red poppy flower from the park or a muted yellow scarf from the runway and putting the color on a car.

Martine Haas’s picture

By: Martine Haas

One thing is clear about the future of work: Hybrid work arrangements are becoming the norm for many organizations. And no matter the industry, the concerns involve the same five “C” challenges: communication, coordination, connection, creativity, and culture. If you’re struggling to manage a hybrid team or workforce, or your own hybrid work, start by understanding the five challenges, then use the action steps below to assess where you’re at and where to go from there.

Communication: This challenge includes technology snags; meetings in which some people are remote; conversations monopolized by one or a few team members; and barriers due to power, status, and language differences.

Coordination: Greater effort is required to level the playing field between onsite and remote workers. Remote teammates can get left out of small exchanges and minor decisions, which can grow into bigger conversations and more important decisions.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

A novel, quantum-based vacuum gauge system invented by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has passed its first test to be a true primary standard—that is, intrinsically accurate without the need for calibration.

Precision pressure measurement is of urgent interest to semiconductor fabricators that make their chips layer by layer in vacuum chambers operating at or below one hundred-billionth the pressure of air at sea level. They must rigorously control that environment to ensure product quality.


NIST scientist Stephen Eckel behind a pCAVS unit (silver-colored cube left of center) that is connected to a vacuum chamber (cylinder at right). Credit: C. Suplee/NIST

“The next generations of semiconductor manufacturing, quantum technologies, and particle acceleration-type experiments will all require exquisite vacuum and the ability to measure it accurately,” says NIST senior project scientist Stephen Eckel.

Seb Murray’s picture

By: Seb Murray

In 1924, a cartel of light bulb manufacturers including General Electric and Philips agreed to artificially limit the lifespan of their products to about 1,000 hours—down from 2,500. The scandal, revealed decades later, came to epitomize the linear consumption model of making, consuming, and then discarding products that took hold during the Industrial Revolution and has been dominant ever since.

It may have enriched individual firms, but this system is reaching a dead end. It’s economically inefficient and environmentally damaging. Its costs range from the pollution of air, land, and water to sharp fluctuations in the prices of raw materials and potential disruptions to supply chains.

“The linear model depletes the planet of its natural resources, it damages ecosystems, and creates lots of waste and pollution in the process,” says Barchi Gillai, the associate director of the Value Chain Innovation Initiative (VCII) at Stanford Graduate School of Business. “It’s an unsustainable model. It cannot continue.”

Jennifer Chu’s picture

By: Jennifer Chu

Ultrasound imaging is a safe and noninvasive window into the body’s workings, providing clinicians with live images of a patient’s internal organs. To capture these images, trained technicians manipulate ultrasound wands and probes to direct sound waves into the body. These waves reflect back out to produce high-resolution images of a patient’s heart, lungs, and other deep organs.

Currently, ultrasound imaging requires bulky and specialized equipment available only in hospitals and doctor’s offices. But a new design by MIT engineers might make the technology as wearable and accessible as Band-Aids.

In a paper that appeared recently in Science, the engineers present the design for a new ultrasound sticker—a stamp-sized device that sticks to skin and can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours.

The researchers applied the stickers to volunteers and showed that the devices produced live, high-resolution images of major blood vessels and deep organs such as the heart, lungs, and stomach. The stickers maintained a strong adhesion and captured changes in underlying organs as volunteers performed various activities, including sitting, standing, jogging, and biking.

Sarah Murray’s picture

By: Sarah Murray

John Foye remembers what sparked his passion for finding solutions to climate change. Backpacking in Utah’s Uinta Mountains with high school friends one day, they came across a patch of forest that had been clear-cut. While deforestation was not a problem in Utah, the sight of an area almost entirely stripped of trees left a profound mark on Foye.

It led him to start a student solar club and found an energy technology startup, Invisergy, before he had even finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

Trees remain at the heart of Foye’s work. His new venture, Working Trees, helps U.S. ranchers plant trees across the land on which their livestock graze, something known as silvopasture. Because trees remove carbon from the atmosphere by turning it into biomass through photosynthesis, farmers can generate carbon credits, which they then sell to companies that need to buy offsets to meet their climate commitments.

“It was eye-opening for me to see what the first kilowatt hour does for a family, a business, and a mini-economy.”

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