Innovation Article

Dawn Bailey’s picture

By: Dawn Bailey

In this article series, we explain some of the successful strategies and programs shared by Baldrige Award recipients to highlight categories of the Baldrige Criteria and how your organization might consider using them as inspiration. 

Vandana Suresh’s picture

By: Vandana Suresh

Plastics are a popular 3D printing material, allowing users to create a variety of objects, from simple toys to custom prosthetic parts. But these printed parts are mechanically weak—a flaw caused by the imperfect bonding between the individual printed layers that make up the 3D part.

Now, researchers have developed the technology needed to overcome 3D printing’s “weak spot.” The method integrates plasma science and carbon nanotube technology into standard 3D printing.

“Finding a way to remedy the inadequate bonding between printed layers has been an ongoing quest in the 3D printing field,” says Micah Green, associate professor in the chemical engineering department at Texas A&M University. “We have now developed a sophisticated technology that can bolster welding between these layers all while printing the 3D part.”

A new way of heating 3D-printed parts

Plastics are commonly used for extrusion 3D printing, known technically as fused-deposition modeling. In this technique, molten plastic is squeezed out of a nozzle that prints parts layer by layer. As the printed layers cool, they fuse to one another to create the final 3D part.

Davis Balestracci’s picture

By: Davis Balestracci

What is the Vasa? It was a Swedish warship built in 1628. It was supposed to be the grandest, largest, and most powerful warship of its time. King Gustavus Adolphus himself took a keen personal interest and insisted on an entire extra deck above the waterline to add to the majesty and comfort of the ship, and to make room for the 64 guns he wanted it to carry.

This innovation went beyond the shipbuilder knowledge of the time... and would make it unstable. No one dared tell him. On its maiden voyage, the Vasa sailed less than a mile and sank to the bottom of Stockholm harbor in full view of a horrified public, assembled to see off its navy’s—and Europe’s—most ambitious warship to date.

What reminded me of the Vasa? The time has been ripe for visible motivational speakers to weigh in on Covid-19 and “inspire the troops.” From a speech using the Vasa as a backdrop:

“I want to see healthcare become world-class. I want us to promise things to our patients and their families that we have never before been able to promise them.... I am not satisfied with what we give them today.... And as much respect as I have for the stresses and demoralizing erosion of trust in our industry, I am getting tired of excuses....

Dave Cook’s picture

By: Dave Cook

We are experiencing the biggest remote-work experiment in history—but many are beginning to imagine life after lockdown. Amid unprecedented global job losses, concerns about transport infrastructure, and the continuing need for workplace social distancing, governments are launching back-to-work plans.

Meanwhile, the latest U.S. research reveals that 74 percent of businesses want some workers to permanently work remotely, and business leaders are actively shedding leased office space—hinting that not everyone will go back to the office.

Here are five key trends that will shape the future of how we work.

Mary Ann Pacelli’s picture

By: Mary Ann Pacelli

Last year’s Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) was an enormous success for U.S. manufacturers looking to engage the next generation of manufacturers. But how can you ensure the spark you kindled in the next generation finds fuel? Now more than ever, it’s critical to inform students and potential young manufacturers about the numerous career opportunities available in today’s Industry 4.0 world.

Fortunately, there are many ways to inspire potential young manufacturers. Here are a few ideas.

Making and keeping the manufacturing connection

One of the key reasons MFG Day is such a success is that it gives students the chance to experience hands-on learning in a way they may never do in school. According to a recent IndustryWeek article, 64 percent of high-school students choose their career based on their interests and experiences. This means students need to see your manufacturing equipment and observe your processes in action.

David Braun’s picture

By: David Braun

No matter how well designed, there are no running shoes that allow runners to keep up with cyclists. The bicycle was a key invention that doubled human-powered speed. But what if a new kind of shoe could allow people to run faster by mimicking cycling mechanics?

This is the question my students in Vanderbilt’s Center for Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology and I explored as we developed a new theory of spring-driven robotic exoskeletons. We came up with a concept for a new type of lower-limb exoskeleton that could allow the world’s fastest human to reach a speed of 18 meters per second or about 40 miles per hour.


Robo-boots allow the legs to supply energy in the air during running, similar to the pedaling mechanism in cycling. A. Sutrisno and D. J. Braun, CC BY-ND

Brian Lagas’s picture

By: Brian Lagas

When most people think of lean processes, they believe the goal is to optimize things in a step-by-step approach. The result that companies using lean methods can look forward to is incremental improvements brought about by the elimination of waste.

Individuals who stick with this definition often assert that lean principles oppose innovation. That’s because “innovation” is typically considered a product-based form of invention that causes disruption. Lean manufacturing is all about following well-defined processes and figuring out how to make them better. Innovation, on the other hand, usually occurs by uprooting current processes or blatantly not following them.

It may appear that lean manufacturing and innovation are opposed. However, some analysts assert that when companies recognize the compatibility between lean principles and innovation they will accelerate past their competition.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have devised a novel, accurate, easy-to-operate, time- and labor-saving way to provide calibrated scale-bar standards for testing the performance of terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) systems.

TLS technology is widely employed to create detailed, high-resolution, 3D digital images of terrain, buildings, vegetation, construction projects, crime-scene forensics and—increasingly—very large objects such as airframe components that must be fitted together with precision, often on the scale of a few hundred micrometers (millionths of a meter; a human hair is about 100 micrometers thick).

“Of course, for geodesy and surveying and most forensic uses, you don’t really need micrometer resolution,” says NIST project scientist Vincent Lee. “But TLS systems are now often used in aerospace and ship building, where big components have to be joined very meticulously, like a wing onto a fuselage. That’s where measurements from a few hundred micrometers to a millimeter really matter.” And that’s where careful system testing really matters. (See video three below.)

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

So many companies are shifting their employees to working from home to address the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Yet they’re not considering the potential quality disasters that can occur as a result of this transition.

An example of this is what one of my coaching clients experienced more than a year before the pandemic hit. Myron is the risk and quality management executive in a medical services company with about 600 employees. He was one of the leaders tasked by his company’s senior management team with shifting the company’s employees to a work-from-home setup, due to rising rents on their office building.

Specifically, Myron led the team that managed risk and quality issues associated with the transition for all 600 employees to telework, due to his previous experience in helping small teams of three to six people in the company transition to working from home in the past. The much larger number of people who had many more diverse roles they had to assist now was proving to be a challenge. So was the short amount of time available to this project, which was only four weeks, and resulted from a failure in negotiation with the landlord of the office building.

Sangeet Paul Choudary’s picture

By: Sangeet Paul Choudary

The digitization of patient data and the adoption of cloud-based healthcare management systems have created efficiencies and new business models across the value chain. Advancements in AI provide superior decision support systems to doctors, while connected devices enable the remote delivery of care and monitoring. 

But the most important transformation in healthcare is only just beginning to take shape. Digitization of healthcare demand and supply will eventually lead to the creation of large platforms that aggregate industrywide demand and supply, and orchestrate interactions between producers and consumers of healthcare. 

Sensing this opportunity, big tech firms from Tencent and Alibaba to Amazon and Google, as well as industry incumbents like Philips and UnitedHealthcare, have been moving toward platform models. To understand the importance of platforms in healthcare, we need to start with the forces driving the digitization of demand and supply in healthcare: the digitization of patient data and provider workflows. 

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