COMPLEXITY

October 8, 2016


It is a very good thing technology is incremental.  If that were NOT, the case we would go out of our ever-loving-minds.  Have you ever stopped to consider how complex our society is?  Really—have you ever considered the complexity of every-day life and how complicated the products we use on a daily basis are?  I personally think nothing about the cellular phone I use or the automobile I drive or the blender (Internet provided) I crank up some days.  After a fairly straightforward learning curve and a few missteps while getting familiar with the new products, I’m off and running. Most are completely user-friendly with instructions written with the end-user in mind. (Some are not and that’s a subject for another day.)

I’ve decided I will start a new stream of posts in which I mention from time to time how complicated we have become and possibly where we just might be going. Of course, I still will lean heavily towards the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas I have covered through WordPress over the years.   Here we go.

boings-huge-supply-chain

 

The Boeing Company is a magnificent example of a company providing products of immense complexity. Can you imagine overseeing the design, selection of vendors, assembly and test of a product that has 2.3 million individual parts?  Only in the computer age could this happen. Imagine the paper that would be necessary, not to mention the manpower, required if there were no computers to manage this task.  Even with this being the case, 500,000 employees of the Boeing Company are required to “pull this off”.  Of course, this number of employees is not only for the Dreamliner but all the Boeing aircraft.

ge-fuel-nozzel-supply

 

3-D printing has lessened the number of components for the GE LEAP fuel nozzle but only because the General Electric company has chosen to complicate in order to simplify.  Great strategy and it works.

north-american-automobiles

Even during this recessionary period of time, people are buying automobiles. Eighteen (18) percent increase in the number of automobile models from 2015.  We are almost to the point where you can customize your individual automobile, have it assembles and eventually shipped to you.

lines-of-code

OK, this one blows my mind. One hundred fifty million (150) lines of code for a Ford F-150.  The chart above speaks for itself.  Who repairs all of this equipment?  Actually, the most complex assemblies are replaced rather than being repaired.

technology-vs-loyalty

The chart above will certainly indicate that we are no longer a group of men and women who have brand loyalty.  Not only for automobiles but for all other consumer products.  If one brand does not give us what we desire—we switch.

car-vs-computer

The chart above speaks for itself.  We have integrated into every product electronics that provide value-added to user experience.

i-phone-camera

The next two slides reference the Apple i-phone.  Two hundred (200) components in the i-phone camera.  Not the entire product, just the camera.   What a marvelous packaging job Apple has done to make the i-phone usable and mobile. Imagine. 24,000,000 (yes that’s twenty-four billion with a “B”) operations to capture one (1) image.

ge-fuel-nozzel-supply

CONCLUSION:  I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for our global technology.  We are now down to “hide and watch”. As always, I welcome your comments.

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PAYCHECK 2016

August 28, 2016


The following post is taken from information furnished by Mr. Rob Spiegel of Design News Daily.

We all are interested in how we stack up pay-wise relative to our peers.  Most companies have policies prohibiting discussions about individual pay because every paycheck is somewhat different due to deductible amounts.   The number of dependents, health care options, saving options all play a role in representations of the bottom line—take-home pay.  That’s the reason it is very important to have a representative baseline for average working salaries for professional disciplines.  That is what this post is about.  Just how much should an engineering graduate expect upon graduation in the year 2016?  Let’s take a very quick look.

The average salaries for engineering grads entering the job market range from $62,000 to $64,000 — except for one notable standout. According to the 2016 Salary Survey from The National Association of Colleges and Employers, petroleum engineering majors are expected to enter their field making around $98,000/year. Clearly, petroleum engineering majors are projected to earn the top salaries among engineering graduates this year.

Petroleum Engineers

Actually, I can understand this high salary for Petroleum engineers.  Petroleum is a non-renewable resource with diminishing availability.  Apparently, the “easy” deposits have been discovered—the tough ones, not so much.  The locations for undiscovered petroleum deposits represent some of the most difficult conditions on Earth.  They deserve the pay they get.

Chemical Engineering

Dupont at one time had the slogan, “Better living through chemistry.”  That fact remains true to this day.  Chemical engineers provide value-added products from medical to material.  From the drugs we take to the materials we use, chemistry plays a vital role in kicking the can down the road.

Electrical Engineering

When I was a graduate, back in the dark ages, electrical engineers garnered the highest paying salaries.   Transistors, relays, optical devices were new and gaining acceptance in diverse markets.  Electrical engineers were on the cutting edge of this revolution.  I still remember changing tubes in radios and even TV sets when their useful life was over.  Transistor technology was absolutely earth-shattering and EEs were riding the crest of that technology wave.

Computer Engineering

Computer and software engineering are here to stay because computers have changed our lives in a remarkably dramatic fashion.  We will NEVER go back to performing even the least tedious task with pencil and paper.  We often talk about disruptive technology—game changers.  Computer science is just that

Mechanical Engineering

I am a mechanical engineer and have enjoyed the benefits of ME technology since graduation fifty years ago.  Now, we see a great combination of mechanical and electrical with the advent of mechatronics.  This is a very specialized field providing the best of both worlds.

Software Engineering

Materials Engineering

Material engineering is a fascinating field for a rising freshman and should be considered as a future path.  Composite materials and additive manufacturing have broadened this field in a remarkable fashion.  If I had to do it over again, I would certainly consider materials engineering.

Systems Engineering

Systems engineering involves putting it all together.  A critical task considering “big data”, the cloud, internet exchanges, broadband developments, etc.  Someone has to make sense of it all and that’s the job of the systems engineer.

Hope you enjoyed this one. I look forward to your comments.

BIOPRINTING

June 19, 2016


If you have read my posts over the past few months you will be very familiar with 3-D printing.  “Additive” manufacturing is a disruptive technology that is changing the manner in which components are made.  Once again, let us look at the definition of 3 D printing relative to “rapid prototyping”.

A 3D printer is a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) device that creates three-dimensional objects. Like a traditional printer, a 3D printer receives digital data from a computer as input. However, instead of printing the output on paper, a 3D printer builds a three-dimensional model out of a custom material. (For our purposes, the words “custom materials” are the key words.)

3D printers use a process called additive manufacturing to form (or “print”) physical objects layer by layer until the model is complete. This is different than subtractive manufacturing, in which a machine reshapes or removes material from an existing mold. Since 3D printers create models from scratch, they are more efficient and produce less waste than subtractive manufacturing devices.

There are several viable options available today that take advantage of rapid prototyping technologies.   All of the methods shown below are considered to be rapid prototyping and manufacturing technologies.

  • (SLA) Stereolithography
  • (SLS) Selective Laser Sintering
  • (FDM) Fused Deposition Modeling
  • (3DP) Three Dimensional Printing
  • (Pjet) Poly-Jet
  • Laminated Object Manufacturing

The process of “additive” manufacturing is finding more and more uses as the availability of desirable materials improves.  At one time, during early phases of 3-D development, materials suitable for printing were very limited with only a few finding acceptance.  Even then, most 3-D printing was used to product prototypes and not “workable” goods used for long-term use.  That has all changed.  Additive manufacturing is now being considered for production as well as prototyping.

The June 2016 edition of “Manufacturing Engineering” had a fascinating article entitled “Bioprinting Helping Researchers Understand How Cells Work”.  Bioprinting is a new word to me with a definition as follows:

“ Bioprinting is the three-dimensional printing of biological tissue and organs through layering of living cells. While this area of manufacturing is still in the experimental stage and is currently used primarily in scientific study rather than applied science, the possibility of creating functional replacement tissues or organs could one day transform medical treatment.” 

Every day new applications for 3D printing are being discovered. Whether it’s  3D printing drones with the electronics built into them, or 3D printing human tissue for drug toxicity testing, the research being done and discoveries being made are often times unbelievable.  The area of 3D bioprinting is probably one of the most interesting applications of additive manufacturing.   It’s quite clear that someday in the not too distant future many of us will eventually have 3D printed body parts both inside and outside our bodies. The prospects of bioprinting are staggering.  As the technology develops over the coming decades,  individuals  will begin receiving bioprinted organs and other biological components, there is no doubt that the term ‘bioprinting’ will become a commonly used word within the English vocabulary.

Bioprinting begins with creating an architectural design based on the fundamental composition of the target tissue or organ.  Pre-bioprinting is the process of creating a model that the printer will use to later create and choose the materials that will be used. One of the first steps is to obtain a biopsy of the organ. The common technologies used for bioprinting are computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  In order to print with a layer-by-layer approach, tomographic reconstruction is done on the images. The now-2D images are then sent to the printer to be made. Once the image is created, certain cells are isolated and multiplied. These cells are then mixed with a special liquefied material that provides oxygen and other nutrients to keep them alive. In some processes, the cells are encapsulated in cellular spheroids 500μm in diameter. This aggregation of cells does not require a scaffold, and are required for placing in the tubular-like tissue fusion for processes such as extrusion.   In a laboratory environment, a bioprinter then uses that design and deposits thin layers of cells using a bioprint head, which moves either left and right or up and down in the required configuration. Bioprinters use bio-ink, or bioprocess protocols, to build these organic materials. They also dispense a dissolvable hydrogel to support and protect cells as tissues are constructed vertically, to act as fillers to fill empty spaces within the tissues.

As you can imagine, the equipment used to bioprint human parts is remarkably specialized and used within a clean room environment to eliminate infection of the part or organ when surgically applied to a patient.  The three digital photographs below will illustrate two applications of equipment.

Biopringing Equipment

Biopringing Equipment(2)

BioFab

As mentioned earlier, bioprinting , for the time being, is experimental in nature but very very promising.  Considerable work is being accomplished to bring this form of additive manufacturing to the medical field. The nose and ear shown below indicate two body parts that will be surgically applied to an individual.

Nose and Ear--Bioprinted

For more information on bioprinting, please log into the following web pages:

  • America Makes
  • BioBots
  • Bioprinting (Journal)
  • Cellink
  • Cyfuse Biomedical
  • International Journal of Bioprinting
  • Lux Research
  • MicroFab Technologies
  • Penn State University
  • SME
  • Te Vido Biodevices
  • US Food and Drug Administration
  • Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

As always, I welcome your comments.

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