Disney Research Uses Materials Science To Invent Touchscreen Walls With Conductive Paint

Materials science is a somewhat quiet revolution. Many of the biggest and most valuable inventions have been fueled by materials science innovations over decades. From the foundational computer chip (made from silicon material, of course) to clusters of supercomputers at the Materials Project, research teams are now doing analysis and predictions of how materials can be combined in the most efficient way possible.

A practical outcome of this sort of advanced materials research is a project between Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research – that has found a way to change the wall in your home or apartment into a touchscreen interface.

According to the researchers, “the technique involves using water-based nickel conductive paint to create an electrode pattern (a diamond arrangement) suited to capacitive and proximity (electromagnetic) EM sensing. The pattern is then overpainted with latex paint. Each row and column is then connected to a sensor board based on a 96 MHz Cortex M4 running Teensy 3.2 firmware and piped to a laptop for visualization.”

In a nutshell, you could touch the wall to turn on a light – or the electromagnetic sensing would note your presence, your gestures, or your motion to perform an action – much like smart device users are starting to use the Amazon Echo to turn on a light or adjust the air conditioning with a voice command.

Importance to Materials Science Technician Education

The researchers call their system “Wall++” and believe that you could run a light switch or thermostat or other controllers from the wall itself. These materials science research projects are likely to create entire new categories of jobs for people to install, maintain, and service these advanced systems.

For more ideas or direction about advanced materials science technician training in the real world, check out the Nano-Link Regional Center for Nanotechnology Education, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education program, that provides information on nano-tech and nano-materials. One of their industry affiliate partners is the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) which lists labs, tools, and experts.

Materials science may not be in the daily news, but it is consistently making headlines. A bright future is ahead for advanced materials and the technicians who want to be part of it.

Resources:

Hat tip to Peter Diamandis, profiled here in the AM News post, Materials Science and Additive Manufacturing Technology Convergence, in one of his recent email newsletters, shared an article link about the Disney Research work. The newsletter summary linked to this article at The Register: Turn that bachelor pad into a touch pad: Now you can paint buttons, sensors on your walls.

Here is the link to the Materials Project site mentioned above.

Somerset Community College Offers 3D Printing Technician Certificate

In February, Tennessee Tech University (TTU) College of Engineering announced its Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series, an online webinar event that reaches people around the world. The third lecture focuses on a relatively new 3D printing technician certificate offered at Somerset Community College (SCC).

The formal title of the third lecture in the series is “AM Research and Applications for Real World Production and Impact” with Eric N. Wooldridge, PE, RA, Professor of Additive Manufacturing, Workforce Development, and Pre-Engineering at SCC, Kentucky.

All across the USA, industry is increasingly interested in training for 3D printing. Not many schools offer a degree in 3D printing (yet), two or four year, and fewer have specialized certificates for those interested in the field. From automotive to aerospace, biomedical to home improvement to Hollywood special effects, additive manufacturing training is forecasted for growth.

Somerset Community College (SCC) is the first institution of higher education in Kentucky to offer a statewide certificate in additive manufacturing. In fact, it is one of the few in the nation and comes up early in a Google search for a related search, such as, “3D printing technician certificate schools colleges.”

Professor Wooldridge explains:

The move to go “certificate” is because industry is asking for students with skills as fast as possible whether referring to additive or welding, it wants technicians that can produce and can produce now. Additive manufacturing is still hardly known and relatively misunderstood, so we created the one-year certificate to allow various Somerset degree programs to add these skills into their Associates degree path and help to integrate additive within the company along with their primary job.  We wanted to create an additive “foothold” situation within our state so that existing manufacturers will have someone on the inside that can help them transition faster to the technology instead of lagging behind the curve of their competitors.

We also created a demonstration process to entice industry leaders to consider additive within their own operations.  We call it the “Netflix deal” where a company can come to us to try an idea with 3D printing – we’ll will take out all the risk of equipment cost, and the need for expertise, etc., produce a demonstration example for them relative to their operations (sort of like a Netflix trial that hooks you into the service).

After the experience, most will immediately want to do this on their own – so they send us employees for training – in some cases just one employee, in others we have trained 7 people for 16 hours of one-on-one training, or more accurately, re-training. Local employers have been very interested, supportive, and tapping into this new educational technology opportunity.  Over time, the goal is for graduating students to get hired at these same types of companies. 

But in either approach we are steadily making progress in integrating practical 3D printing applications into our region and our entire state.  So that we will have a workforce well suited for implementing cutting edge manufacturing innovations, as well as creating an ideal economic investment opportunity for tier one companies.

You can find a host of resources on the SCC web page here on the “Research and Grant Materials” folder (marked with the red arrow via the link/image above). Professor Wooldridge has a variety of terrific case studies, videos, materials testing projects and photos, as well as some program brochures. All of this is in a shared cloud storage drive.

Here are some of the courses required for the 3D Printing Technician-Level 1 Certificate (Total: 16 to 18 credit hours):

  • DPT 100 Introduction to 3D Printing Technology
  • DPT 102 3D Printing Technology Fundamentals
  • BAS 160 Introduction to Business
  • BAS 170 Entrepreneurship
  • DPT 150 Introduction to Engineering Mechanics for 3D Printing
  • DPT 280 Special Projects for 3D Printing, Level 1
  • A related technical elective
  • A related technical elective

Online Event for Boosting STEM Success for Women

The National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Sciences (IWITTS) is hosting an online seminar called the STEM Success for Women Telesummit this week April 24 through April 26 (and last week, April 17-19).

The conference features 15 top expert practitioners and educators who have successfully recruited and retained female and underserved students in STEM and CTE programs, sharing their step-by-step *recipes* for how they achieved this. The event is free and registration information is here.

Donna Milgram, executive director for IWITTS, reminds potential attendees, “Don’t worry if you can’t make all of the sessions. When you register for the Telesummit, you get access to the recordings and written transcripts of every session.”

While TEAMM focuses on Additive Manufacturing and Materials Science, many of the grants and projects fall under the broader STEM focus. The telesummit opening session “Recruitment: Infusing Joy into STEM” attracted our attention because Mark Evans, an Instructor and Program Chair of Emerging Technologies at Athens Technical College in Athens, Georgia uses 3D printing (among other methods/technology) in his Emerging Technology program.

“We do a lot with 3D modeling and 3D printing. In fact our intro course EMTX 1000: Tech-Driven Problem Solving relies heavily on the students learning Blendr and then making models they will then print on our 3D printers here at Athens Technical College. I worked closely with Carol Stanley, the college librarian to create a space called the “TecKnOWL0gy” NEST (specific OWL spelling intentional; see below for more on the Nest).”

You can read the full speaker schedule and STEM session abstracts here in PDF form.

The program bulletin describes Mark Evan’s session: “How He Boosted Female Enrollment in Emerging Technology from 6% to 82%. He went from only 1 female student to 15 in his Emerging Technology class the very next semester. In Fall 2016, Athens Tech awarded nearly half of the forty-three certificates in Video Game Design & Development to women. Learn how Mark used drones and Sphero robots along with other fun strategies to engage prospective students.”

According to the Athens Technical College website, the Nest is: a lab and development space with software and equipment supporting 3D printing, multimedia design, mobile and game development, video production, coding/programming, electronics, and other technology. The “Nest” provides current students, faculty, and staff a safe space to learn and explore these technologies. The purpose of it is to support and enhance learning by sparking students’ interest in emerging technologies. The name ties in “technology,” “know,” and “owl”—the college mascot. “Nest” gives students a safe space to learn and explore.

Don’t miss signing up for the second half of the STEM Success for Women Telesummit.

University of Louisville Offers Additive Manufacturing Safety Training

The University of Louisville is an active member of the TEAMM Network and recently announced they have added an Additive Manufacturing (AM) Safety Workshop, conducted through their Rapid Prototyping Center, run by Ed Tackett, Director of Educational Programs in AM.

The new program is called the “AM Metals Safety Training Workshop” and is an advanced training for AM professionals. It is a one-day session (8 contact hours) held at the Additive Manufacturing Competency Center (AMCC).

The AMCC is a fully equipped learning laboratory that includes the latest AM technologies, machining, metrology and powder handling systems. Metals additive manufacturing requires an increased environmental health and safety effort. This new workshop is designed to help new users identify hazards, reference appropriate regulations and develop a mitigation strategy. Learn more about the AM Metals Safety workshop.

This workshop is designed to benefit supervisors, lead workers, managers, employers, and anyone responsible for the safety and health of employees and labs. The workshop covers various types of standard machinery, machine safeguards, and related regulations and procedures for metals additive manufacturing.

In an Additive Manufacturing magazine post by Christina M. Fuges, there is a good interview on safety with Ed Tackett. He shares a story about companies not realizing they have major safety risks with AM:

There’s recognition of the need to be safe, but the real question is what does it take? AMCC seeks to ensure students know the risks specific to AM and how to mitigate those risks. Believe it or not, companies are not being safe. We had a group come in for training, and after the initial day’s safety lecture, they immediately called their company to shut down the AM lab. They had no idea some of these dangers existed.

The AM Metals Safety Training Workshop was created to help reduce these risks and get new and experienced technicians up to speed on the safety needs with advanced metals 3D printing.  TEAMM is a strong proponent for materials/workplace safety and believes this class is a trendsetter in AM lab standards.  As new materials are developed and 3D printers are increasingly capable of utilizing multiple materials, it is imperative that technicians understand these materials’ properties both individually and as they are combined during the AM process. Learn more about the AM Metals Safety workshop.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of this training workshop, students will be able to:

identify safety issues for a metals additive manufacturing facility.

  • interpret the various safety regulations and apply that knowledge to their specific situation
  • formulate a site specific safety plan

Workshop topics include:

Personal Protection

  • Job Hazard Analysis
  • General PPE
  • Hazard Specific PPE
  • Gloves
  • Protective Suits
  • Respirators
  • Flame resistant PPE
  • ESD Considerations

Facility Safety

  • Powder Descriptions
  • Powder Storage
  • Waste Storage
  • Electrostatic Safety
  • Inert Gas Monitoring
  • Laser Safety
  • Downdraft Tables
  • Fire Suppression
  • Industrial Hygiene

Operational Safety

  • Wet separator vacuum maintenance
  • Increased Hazard Events
  • Hydrogen production
  • Filter Changes

Current Regulations (Discussion)

  • OSHA
  • NFPA
  • EPA

SAMPLE standard operating procedures (SOP’s)

  • General Safety Concepts for Additive Manufacturing
  • Storage of Metal Powder
  • Handling of Metal Powder
  • Cleanup of Spilled Metal Powder
  • Disposal of Metal Waste Powder
  • Emergency Response for Fire Involving Metal Powder
  • Use, Storage, and Care of PPE
  • Use and Handling of Compressed Gas

Worth mentioning, under the banner of educating  technicians and instructors, UofL also conducted one of the AM-WATCH teacher training workshops that AM News reported on: TEAMM Network Member Creates Additive Manufacturing Studio. You can check out the UofL event details here from their December 2017 workshop.

TEAMM appreciates UofL taking the lead on safety topics in AM technician level education. This work is part of a larger project funded by the Advanced Technological Education Program of the National Science Foundation, DUE #1501251

AeroDef Manufacturing Event Rich in Additive Manufacturing and Materials Science

AeroDef Manufacturing, produced by SME, is the leading exposition and technical conference for the aerospace and defense manufacturing industry. It is a veritable who’s who of additive manufacturing and materials science experts and companies.

If you are a student looking for an internship or job, this looks like a great place to network and get ideas for companies you might want to explore. Students get a 50 percent discount. Also, if you are one of the 18,000 people who has been trained by the Abaris Training company, you can get a 20 percent discount (the same as an SME Member) as well. Abaris Training helped to guide the very successful Composites 101 Workshop done here at the National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) in Edmonds, Washington. Read about it on the SME AdditiveManufacturing.org site: Pilot Composites Workshop Wows Students.

AeroDef is putting a big focus on mixed reality, a combination of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) this year. Attendees have a chance to be a part of live, participative demonstrations of augmented and virtual reality technologies in the Mixed Reality Solution Center.

TEAMM and AM News have been covering manufacturing and materials science advances utilizing virtual reality. You can read about Dr. Magesh Chandramouli, from Purdue University Northwest, who gave a keynote at last year’s M-STEM event about how VR can be incorporated into the student learning experience. Also, the Edmonds Community College makerspace, The FACILITY, is working on a virtual reality framework for digital manufacturing instruction with its VR Lab.

Starting from design engineering all the way through maintenance and repair, participants can test capabilities and see firsthand the benefits of these technologies. In addition, attendees are encouraged to join the Mixed Reality in Manufacturing panel discussion on Tuesday, March 28 to learn how leading companies are applying the technologies throughout the supply chain.

According to the website: “AeroDef showcases the industry’s most advanced technologies across an innovative floor plan designed to facilitate interaction and business relationships between exhibitors and buyers looking for integrated solutions. Our keynote speakers and panelists come from the highest level of government and business. They come to share their vision of the potential of technology, collaboration and public policy to transform manufacturing – concepts that attendees can actually experience on the exposition floor and in our in-depth conference sessions. It’s the one event that brings together high-concept, integrated solutions and real-world applications.”

Explore innovative advances in processes and materials:

  • Digital Manufacturing
  • Additive Manufacturing & 3D Technologies
  • Composites
  • Precision Machining
  • Automation & Robotics
  • Quality, Measurement & Inspection
  • Simulation
  • Finishing & Coatings
  • Advanced Materials

You can learn more about SME’s AeroDef Manufacturing conference that starts March 26, 2018 here.