Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sea Urchin Spines Inspire Tougher Cement

Sea Urchins usually call to mind horrid hours of pulling their dreaded spines out of one's feet after a careless step in the ocean. The long sharp tendrils are a natural defense mechanism for the invertebrate, and notorious for the pain their venom causes (though not fatal). While a nuisance during a day at the beach, however, the animal may have proved invaluable in a seemingly unrelated way.

Researchers at the University of Konstanz may have found a method to create a fracture-resistant type of cement. The team's evidence boils down to replicating the nanostructure of the sea urchin spine, reinforcing durability.

Enhanced view of sea urchin spine calcite
Publishing their work in the December 1st edition of Science Advances, the Physical Chemistry team, led by Professor Helmut Colfen, were able to engineer, on the nanoscale, a layer system mirroring a natural process. Dubbed the "brick and mortar" method, the sea urchin spine especially demonstrates this by alternating layers of hard crystalline with soft calcium carbonate. In this design, impact may indeed crack an outer layer, but the force is redistributed and nullified through a softer layer working in tandem with its counterpart. Applied to the make-up of cement, Colfen and his research team were able to produce samples showing "a value of 200 megapascals." The report continues:
"By comparison: Mussel shells, which are the gold standard in fracture-resistance, reach a value of 210 megapascals, which is only slightly higher. The concrete commonly used today has a value of two to five megapascals." 
Sea Urchin spines have served as inspiration before in the science community. In fact, a Chinese university published their findings in March in how the spines can be used to advance bone repair in humans. In the world of raw materials, cement being restructured to exponentially withstand impact like this opens vast potential for construction and architecture possibilities. Traditional limits in structural integrity may be rendered obsolete, and reorganizing materials on the microscopic level before they even reach the stage of sale could demand a completely new type of technological infrastructure in the industry. It is all just another reminder that while Mother Nature gets overlooked, she rarely is improved upon.

 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Bionic Boots Prove The Potential in Amateur Manufacturing

Keahi Seymour shows off his years-long creation at the Worlds Fair Nano (via Inverse)
For lessons in the patience required of entrepreneurship, look no further than Keahi Seymour. All the way back in 2014 at the Maker Faire, Seymour was showing off his bionic boots prototype to interested spectators and potential investors alike. At the recent Worlds Fair Nano in New York City, Seymour was still at it, giving demonstrations to curious onlookers and interviews to assigned press. From a shortsighted perspective, Seymour's invention, boots that mirror an ostrich's muscle structure to achieve speeds up to 25 mph, can be seen as a market burnout. While able to be purchased on Amazon, the product does not seem to have picked up speed from any major capital investment since Seymour's demonstration in 2014. If he has any major buyers looking to assist his goal of three price-tiers for different customers, Seymour hasn't been forthright about it.

In the bigger picture, however, it would be wiser to view the gigantic potential in Seymour's design. The current prototype, the X17, is made out of a variety of carbon composite materials: materials that become cheaper over the years as more efficient methods are developed in making them.  Not to mention, as more and more urban areas realign their transportation landscapes to compensate for overpopulation and an automated future, the less a vehicle takes up shared space on the road, the better. The X-17 not only has the advantage of shifting from roads to sidewalks, but the user doesn't need to look for a parking spot, or even find a place to lock it up. They can store these boots in the office.

Of course, any potential product needing expensive materials such as titanium and carbon fiber will be a pretty penny to bring to mass retail. Seymour has claimed in an interview with Inverse, though, that he sees lower price grade versions of his bionic boots being made with cheaper materials. He has also said in the past the same power can be replicated using traditional parts such as springs and actuators. These are not above the realm of an average American manufacturer, and Seymour is convinced this X-17 is ready for just that. If his boots are, indeed, introduced into the consumer transportation and leisure market, it may be one of many oncoming trends of crowd-sourced robotics coming to fruition.

You can track updates from Seymour about his bionic boots here at his website.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Virtual Reality Hits the R&D Lab

Through many eras, the toys of past, with advances in technology, often turn into the tools of the present. Nowhere is there a better current example of this than the world of Virtual and Augmented Reality. Normally associated with entertainment culture and the gaming world, VR/AR tech has found a valuable role in the manufacturing and engineering industries.

In a recent announcement, global firm AECOM and tech corporation HTC, pledged to jointly develop and produce virtual reality technology designed for mass architecture, engineering, and construction efforts. Although the announcement revolves around HTC's Vive software and brand new VIVE-FOCUS headset, exclusive to the Chinese market, it is indicative of a trend the US has shared for some time.


US manufacturers have already demonstrated not only an openness towards VR integration, but real-time transformation, as well. In a survey back in 2015, PWC found roughly one-third of manufacturers had planned or were already adopting VR/AR equipment for their daily product development and design. The use is only increasing, so much so that North American companies like Fleetway Inc. employ virtual reality for all its marine and navy architecture concept designs.

Ford Motors was utilizing VR even back in 2012
The advantages of VR/AR in manufacturing exist in the cost and time effectiveness. Creating VR models an engineer can interact with reveals potential design and application flaws that would cost tremendous amounts of money and effort even at the prototype stage. In addition, demonstrations for potential investment partners are exponentially more informative and impacting than a PowerPoint presentation.

As a new industrial model adapts to smart data and lightning-fast information exchange, simple but efficient development and research will be crucial. VR/AR technology was once thought of as a novel way to spend free-time, but it may soon prove invaluable to the serious business of moving America into 21st century manufacturing. 

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rise of The Microgrid



A basic Microgrid design (c/o Energy.gov)
With global instability on the uptick in multiple ways, many industries are reconsidering even the most basic of traditional models. The recent horrors Hurricanes like Maria and Irma inflicted exposed the fragility of the standard energy grid, and proved that, while the US national grid may not be as vulnerable to natural disaster everywhere, it could very well need to adapt in order to survive.

In this context, the microgrid as an option can be seen as a national asset. Microgrids, a largely American phenomenon so far (almost 54% of all microgrid systems are in the US),  are site-specific energy infrastructures designed to work within the greater energy grid while also functioning independently. Moreover, because they are designed to distribute energy locally, microgrids do not lose as much in transmission, and so are very cost-efficient.  Most microgrids are also designed for flexible integration, so as technology improves, they can adopt innovative models without needing to be remade, which usually results in costly shutdowns for traditional grid services.  

At the recent COP23 Conference in Bonn, Germany, microgrids were a chief interest among investors and government officials, alike. Pittsburgh Mayor Joe Peduto represented his city’s brugeoning microgrid community, which has demonstrated itself as quite ahead of other areas of the field. While still in development, the existing microgrid, created and implemented at the nearby University of Pittsburgh engineering department, has already been planned to complement other nearby microgrids, resulting in a chain system. This design is ideal for a mid-sized city like Pittsburgh, which may see population and business fluctuation in an uncertain future, and can unlink or link its multiple energy grids with ease, depending on demand.

In addition, microgrid technology has the extra advantage of being an ideal line of defense against cyberwarfare. Because of their flexibility within the larger grid, microgrids can be both connected and disconnected- a process called “islanding”- when cybersecurity compromises the integrity of national systems. With this in mind, defense interests have a good reason to consider how to assist in quick and efficient microgrid integration.

The success of microgrids in natural disasters has alreadybeen demonstrated in the past few months. While Puerto Rico and St. Croix continue with majority power loss, other Carribbean islands that were already implementing microgrid technology had working water and electricity the day after Maria passed them by. St. Eustatius made good use of its 4 megawatts of solar energy as well as battery storage and inverter infrastructure. Necker Island (home to Virgin Group owner Richard Branson) was also able to sustain damage from Hurricane Irma, even to its solar panels, due to its state-of-the-art microgrid.
Necker Island's Microgrid

As America looks forward, the idea of the small-scale model seems more and more beneficial for businesses looking to revitalize communities sooner rather than later. The microgrid not only already benefits from a proven track record, but a climate of necessity, as well.






Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Story of Rotor Clip and Mr. Slass

Americans take pride in their work. It is what defines us and makes us grow in our society. We learn, educate and pass the torch to future generations, so that they may be endowed with the same values and ethics that previous generations held. This isn’t to say that every country doesn’t take pride in their work; rather it exemplifies the American dream and spirit. One man who resembled these characteristics perfectly was Robert Slass, founder of Rotor Clip Company. He was a brilliant man, who over the years shaped Rotor Clip into the world leader it is today-leader in the production of retaining rings, wave springs, self-compensating hose clamps and other related products. For those who knew him best, he was a man of passion and fiercely believed in American Capitalism being a force for good in this country. It is because of him that Rotor Clip stands today at 60 years old. Through the years, he implemented creative ideas and trends that established prominence in the manufacturing industry and helped expand his company. Through his hard work and dedication, he created a company that is now celebrating 6 decades of life.                                                                   
In today’s fast moving world, many companies are bought out, merged, or simply forced out of business: their identity and uniqueness taken from them and thrown into a melting pot. While this is common, it doesn’t mean it is right. Also, one thing is for certain; if Robert Slass were still around today, he would have none of it. He believed in everyone coming to work happy and feeling secure in their job. He encouraged employees to do their best work and be passionate about what they were doing. Though he was described as a little demanding, he inspired his workers to take pride in the company they worked for and encouraged them that everyone had a function in the machine. His establishment of Rotor Clip is capitalism at its finest; providing meaningful jobs for a variety of people with varying skills and educations levels and give them the opportunity to live the American Dream. Bob wanted his employees to feel like he felt; a man with purpose and total devotion to the company he built and the vision to expand and do better.                                                                                                                                                                          
When Rotor Clip opened its doors in 1957, it was in a small 2000 square foot facility in Farmingdale, New York. Bob bought used equipment and refurbished it and he bought broken stamping presses and replaced them with custom models, using parts from other machines. For a majority of the first few years, Robert experimented with retaining rings from strips of steel and determined they would produce little waste and help the customer save on costs. Back in the 1950s, it was common for men to start businesses in garages and American corporations would buy from them. After World War 2, these open spaces and garages were the foundation of innovation, where ideas could be tested and perfected with minimal amount of investment. Some of these companies that originated in small spaces would end up becoming leaders in their industries, like Rotor Clip. Robert Slass was one of those lucky men who created something out of this small work space. 

                                                                                                 















If you analyze the story of Rotor Clip Company and Robert Slass, it is one of innovation and vision. Robert understood that in order to stay in business, he had to adjust to the times. In the 1980s and 1990s, there were many movements in the automotive industry; Toyota, Honda and Nissan emerged as leaders, overtaking Ford and GM, and companies like Samsung were producing and selling more electronics than American brands like Magnavox. The world was becoming more global and Bob knew that as an engineer, he had to demonstrate to manufacturers why Rotor Clip’s retaining rings, instead of traditional fasteners, could result in significant savings without sacrificing quality and reliability. The response was very positive, as many automotive manufacturers began to use retaining rings on several of their part components. Our company has been at the forefront of this trend for several decades, and the product and process improvements that were pioneered and implemented by Robert Slass are still serving the global marketplace today.                                                                                             
Looking back at the 80s, Japan was emerging as an economic powerhouse and an innovator of products and services. Japanese companies had a strong advantage in selling everything from automobiles to consumer electronics and these greatly threatened American companies. As all of this unfolded, Bob Slass watched closely, as he was concerned by companies who had been in business for several years in America suddenly sell out or go bankrupt. He knew then that Rotor Clip had to adjust to the Japanese manufacturing process. In 1980, he bought a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) vertical machining center to speed up production of die sets that held the tools to stamp retaining rings. With the CNC machine, retaining rings were produced with high accuracy in a much shorter time. Also, in 1987, he utilized Wire EDM machines, so that his retaining rings could be produced at incredible accuracy. All of this was done in an effort to compete with the Japanese market and Mr. Slass always had a plan in the back of his mind. He managed to find ways to produce rings at a much faster rate and also with immense precision and accuracy. Robert Slass eventually began construction on the facility that is now the company headquarters in Somerset, NJ. It still stands strong today; a testament to Bob’s life’s work. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                  








For those who knew Mr. Slass, they wouldn’t have a bad thing to say about him. He was a man with vision and passion for his work. He built things with his bare hands, and was always there with his workers through it all. He encouraged his employees to be innovative and ask questions and always be involved in what he was doing. He resembled all the qualities of a great leader; similar to the company he created. Rotor Clip stands today at 60 years old, as one of the last great manufacturing leaders in the United States. Just like manufacturing was at the forefront of the American economy during the Industrial Revolution, Rotor Clip still stands based on that foundation and hard work. I think we all owe a special thank you to Mr. Slass for a wonderful 60 years.


Justin Arbadji is a Marketing Assistant for Rotor Clip Company Inc. 





Friday, October 13, 2017

Current Technologies transforming the Manufacturing Industry

Manufacturing was the leading job trend during the Industrial Revolution. Nearly 2/3 of the labor force was employed in factories, with workers described as strictly “blue collar.” This was the common perception; manufacturing being a strictly blue collar industry, with workers grinding with their bare hands to get a job done. Now, times are changing and recent developments in technologies promise innovation and excitement. The implementation of advanced technologies has brought change to an industry that defined us a hundred years ago. The new trends in the industry bring increased speed, customization, precision and efficiency to ensure goods are manufactured pristinely and of the best quality.

One of these current technologies is 3d printing: the ability to design and create virtually anything using metal, plastic, and even human tissue. This has changed the way we build things and has brought many benefits; reduction of design-to-production times, reduction of manufacturing lead times, individual and small lot products from machine parts to prototypes are much easier to produce and there is less waste, ensuring cost efficiency. 3d printing is still a very new technology that will only get better in the coming years for manufacturers.














Next, the Internet of Things (IoT) has increased connectivity with machines and humans, ensuring better communication, faster response times and greater efficiency across the board. IoT enables data to be transmitted wirelessly, assisting workers with maintenance cost, increased production and prevention of mistakes.
 Americans have desired interconnectivity, since the early days of the Industrial Revolution and the internet of things takes this objective to a whole new level with machines, sensors and humans working closer together than ever before.

Next is nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter on atomic or molecular levels. For manufacturing, this entails enhancing materials to make them last longer and give them new properties. While this technology has mostly been used in space engineering, it is on its way to providing greater solutions for manufacturers.

Cloud computing is another emerging technology in the manufacturing field that will assist in improving connectivity across multiple plants. Companies are able to share data across the globe, reducing on both cost and production times and the shared data will help with quality and consistency between the plant operation facilities.

The fifth new technology is one of massive debate; the rise of robotics. There has been much talk of implementing machines into the workforce to increase productivity, but this has concerned workers because it would potentially eliminate jobs. This doesn’t to appear to be the case, as robots are being used to complement human workers and make their jobs easier. While many believe it undermines the achievements of an individual, there is no denying robotics will play a pivotal role going forward.
Lastly, augmented reality has a lot of potential in the manufacturing field; real time instructions/guidance, real-time notifications, real time monitoring of worker tasks, improved safety warnings, more effective training and quick data retrieval. This is an emerging technology that will likely garner attention a few years from now, but nevertheless, it is important for manufacturers to research and potentially implement it.
















One of these new technologies is currently being utilized by Rotor Clip Company Inc. Rotor Clip offers 3d printing as a service to buyers. Engineers can now take their design ideas and produce them in a matter of hours. Also, they can design custom retaining rings for the customer so they can test for fit before committing to full production.   Additionally, there is a visionary system called Keyence, a visionary system used to determine the different dimensions of a ring. These new technologies have positioned Rotor Clip at the top of the manufacturing industry.

It is clear manufacturing is going in an exciting direction. With new emerging technologies, production is likely to increase significantly and the industry that was considered blue collar during the Industrial Revolution is now transforming into an efficient, computerized medium. Humans now have greater means to create materials and it won’t be long before we start seeing robots and humans working together in factories. Until then, we can celebrate knowing manufacturing continues to innovate and implement the best resources to ensure successful delivery to the customer.


Justin Arbadji is a Marketing Assistant for Rotor Clip Company Inc.



  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Are Robots replacing humans in the labor force?

There was a time when technology was limited and humans mostly did work with their bare hands. Before the internet or computer, everything was done by hand and less by machine. Man felt productive and accomplished; after all, it wasn’t until the 1900s that the Industrial Revolution changed how the United States manufacturers goods and services. The automobile, the cotton gin and electricity came along at a time when the country was finding its niche in the labor market and there was an increased demand for workers. Fast forward 100 years later and there seems to be a tide turning again. This time, its robots replacing humans in the labor force and whether or not the capabilities they bring to emerging technologies will exceed that of a person?

There’s no question this has been on everyone’s minds for years now. When we think of the future, we envision flying cars and machines that are functioning and producing more output than the average human. Some are excited, some are scared, but we are all curious. It begs us to question: If humans are replaced, does that mean there is no longer a need for us in the labor force? Will we become obsolete?



The future of the labor market may not be as job-crushing as research suggests, according to a new report conducted by Pearson, Nesta and researchers at the University of Oxford. The study concluded rather than machines controlling the workforce, it will be more of a balance between humans and machines, working together. While technology is changing the global economy and labor markets,
humans still have control over their own destiny.

In order to preserve the integrity of the human spirit and production, society will have to find ways to blend human and machine capabilities. One can argue we already have because if you were to go a Quick Check or Wawa, you’ll find that automation is used for placing food orders. This eliminates the need for more workers and allows machines to do a standard person’s job. While this is a small example, it is this automation that has many humans curious on their working future. With technology able to perform various tasks a human can do, an employer’s mentality believes they can save money by hiring fewer workers and just have a machine do the job.

There was a previous study conducted by Oxford researchers in 2013 that formulated 47% of United States jobs being at risk of being automated over the course of the next two decades. Researchers also found that 70 % of workers in the U.S. and the U.K. are employed in occupations riddled with future employment uncertainty and that jobs could be at risk if workers aren't proactive about keeping up with their skills (theguardian.com). Honing your skills properly in order to be employed will become a necessity for workers, but it won’t eliminate much of the already existing labor force. Like today’s economy, there will be a balance between machine and man, as long as humans can learn the full capabilities of the technology they are working with.

Technology has provided efficiency in the workforce and in life, creating simplistic ways to gain access to information (cellphone, internet, etc…) and while this is very positive, there is one negative thought that has hit the heart of every person; machine outdoing humans. As people, we take pride in our work and it defines who we are. The evolution of the human race has been a fascinating journey over thousands of years that has ultimately led to life shattering inventions and production. Now, the development of machines and their increased sophistication threaten to take human jobs.
If robots eventually replace humans in most of the workforce, then where does that leave us? The best answer is to find a balance and remember how we got this far.

Look no further than Rotor Clip Company. Founder Robert Slass envisioned something great; a giant manufacturing facility capable of growing on a global scale. To think his vision began in 1957 and 60 years later, the company is still standing and recognized as the global leader in the manufacture of Tapered Section Retaining Rings, Constant Section Retaining Rings, Spiral Retaining Rings, Wave Springs, and Self-Compensating Hose Clamps, is a testament to the hard work and integrity displayed by the staff. With little technology at his disposal, Slass created a company out of a small warehouse building and it grew to become what it is today. He embodied the human spirit and the will to succeed and he took pride in his work. He created his vision with his own mind and bare hands, not a machine.















The human mind is capable of something that current day robots are unable to do; creativity. It is this creative nature and thought that fuels production and keeps humans at the forefront of the labor force. Going forward, technology will continue to assist our production and provide easier means to accomplish tasks. It is up to us to continue to innovate, think smart and stay ahead of the game, just like Robert Slass did back in 1957. Combining human thought with the efficiency of a robot can produce wonders and also save the human race from serious drought in work. As long as we continue to accomplish great feats, humans aren’t going away from the labor force anytime soon.

Justin Arbadji is a Marketing Assistant for Rotor Clip Company