There has never been a more exciting time to be an engineer – or a tougher one. New technologies are now emerging so fast that it can be very hard to keep up, but this is highly stimulating for innovative thinkers who want to find new ways of doing things, and it is also presenting some engineers with long-awaited solutions to problems they could previously understand but not actually solve. This article looks at three pivotal technologies having an industry-wide effect.
It’s one of the most frustrating problems faced while on the job – when the solution would be simple if only the right part were available. Arranging bespoke manufacture used to be expensive and could also mean long delays, and it was all the more annoying when just one small part was holding up a major project. Now, rapidly improving 3D printer technology means that parts can be created on demand, with costs staying low even if only one is needed. Gone are the days when the only materials such printers could use were paper and lightweight plastics. Now they can print in a variety of metals and even in living tissue.
As a quick visit to the likes of Transducer Techniques makes clear, load cell technology is developing rapidly, enabling more complex manufactured products to advance in turn. Smaller load cells can be put to a greater variety of uses, while increased sensitivity has led to improved performance in everything from automobiles to geological testing. They are playing an important role in robotics at a stage when it is poised to move from industrial to domestic applications, truly entering the mass market. Load cells are also enabling the development of increasingly refined medical instruments. Engineers are reviewing long established products to look at ways in which they could be improved by using more sophisticated load cells.
Smart products revolution is changing the way people interact with their devices, and in doing so, it is also changing the market, which means that engineers need to be smart about where and how they implement these technologies. With multiple connectivity options possible, they can consider ways for making a product more convenient for the end user or more efficient from the point of view of the middle man, as with elevators that use hall sensors to predict where they are likely to be needed next. Faster processing and much more effective big data analytics mean these technologies can now be implemented on a mass scale and can also be designed to feed back useful data to their developers.
The changes in the industry brought on by these developing technologies are one of the reasons why engineers are now in more demand than ever, and why it is now increasingly important for them to specialize. Focusing on a specific sector makes it easier to get an overview of how such technologies might be implemented with a view to improving on existing designs, identifying niche opportunities for new ones, and developing integrated product ranges.