EWI Awards Talented Students at State Science Day

The Ohio Academy of Science’s State Science Day was held on Saturday, March 11, at the French Field House on the campus of The Ohio State University. The highlight of this annual event was a was a state-wide competition for outstanding student projects in the field of materials science and engineering.

EWI sponsors the competition award, with EWI associates reviewing and judging every individual project. “My colleagues and I love this event. We get to see the talent-of-the-future first hand,” said Bill Mohr, EWI Principal Engineer and competition judging chair. “The competition offers a great opportunity to inspire and reward the next generation of engineers and scientists, and we’re thrilled to be part of it.”

Awards with
cash prizes were presented in two categories, high school (10th-12th
grades) and middle school (7th-9th grades). The first-place
prize in the high school division was Zachary David Merz, a 11th
grader at Carroll High School in Kettering. Merz studied 3-D printing of
combinations of polymers with a variety of additives and designed his own
bend testing fixture, since he did not have access to standard testing
equipment. Second and third place awards went to Edward Dan of Solon High
School and Jing-Jing Shen of Beachwood High School, respectively.

the middle school division, the first-place award went to 7th grader Alexa
Fischer of Village Academy in Columbus for her study on heat treatment
effects on aluminum alloys. Charles Pafford of Incarnate
Word Academy in North Royalton won the second-place award, and Bela Karajagi of
William Mason High School in Mason placed third.

In addition to the EWI Award, winners also received the Ohio Governor’s Award for Excellence in Materials Science.

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Reducing Waste, Cost, and Effort Within Manufacturing

Reducing Waste, Cost, and Effort and Cost Within Manufacturing Companies: An Independent Perspective

by James Cruz

James Cruz

EWI has approximately 250 member companies
and hundreds of other clients whom we work with periodically. I visit dozens of
those customers throughout the course of a year. Some of my contacts are in the
R&D group of an organization, some are in the manufacturing segment, and
some are in overarching roles that go by titles such as “corporate welding
engineer” or “company quality manager.” When I meet with them, I love getting
into the details of their organization.

One question I ask in some form on every visit is, “How well
do you coordinate work between departments?”

“Not very well,” is almost always the response.

In today’s manufacturing environment, lean manufacturing
helps optimize for the best possible customer part while driving towards zero
waste. There are thousands of articles written on strategies and methods to
ensure lean practices in organizations. That’s why it still surprises me, as I
talk to customer after customer, to hear stories about huge opportunities lost due
to the lack of communication between plants/divisions/departments, resulting in
duplicated effort and excess cost. 

Frequently, I talk to several individuals in different
departments of the same company and get asked the same technical questions from
each one. EWI is often asked to do equivalent (or very similar) research for
different departments or divisions within a company. In some very specific
cases, this is intentional siloing
for confidentiality or focus purposes. More often, though, it is a result of a
host of other issues ranging from imperfect assimilation of acquired divisions
to deliberate hoarding of knowledge.

Companies and researchers know this problem exists, and some have tried to solve it with variations of dotted-line matrices or centers of excellence or subject-matter working groups. Unfortunately, these “org chart” entities do little to truly tie together common challenges and drive towards a bigger goal. Usually, it’s the fact that these working group members only have collaboration as a “part-time” assignment – meaning it gets a day’s worth of attention right before the next “working group meeting”.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of self-preservation, with each division reticent to share information that makes them feel invaluable.

As an independent, cross-disciplinary engineering services provider, EWI is well-suited to help navigate the difficult landscape of establishing and maintaining relationships between departments within organizations. With broad industrial knowledge, technical expertise, a manufacturing process orientation, and an array of engineering services, our specialists are able to “link the silos” so your company can get the most from its own resources. Whether it is leading a joint design review between manufacturing and research arms of an organization, identifying strengths and obstacles with an eye toward innovation, or providing staff training to help reduce the fear of new technology implementation, we have a strong track record of successfully breaking down barriers – both technical and organizational – to enable companies to reach their goals.

If you feel your organization is facing some of these internal challenges, especially as they relate to the introduction of new technologies/processes into your manufacturing environment, I encourage you to reach out to EWI. We welcome the opportunity to help bridge the gap between segments of your business and hope to serve you in this capacity.

James Cruz is a Business Development Director at EWI. He can be reached at [email protected].

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STI-CO® is New EWI Member

EWI is pleased to welcome STI-CO® as a new member company. STI-CO custom designs and manufactures antenna solutions for specific applications, including covert, concealed, interoperable, public safety, rail, and transit antennas, as well as the Flexi-Whip Antenna. The company has been supplying custom antenna solutions since 1967 and is based in Orchard Park, N.Y.

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Advanced Joining Methods for FHE and 3D-printed Electronics

Developing reliable joining
technologies for products using flexible hybrid electronics (FHEs) and
3D-printed electronics is mission critical for consumer, medical device, and
military electronics applications.

While soldering is currently used in prototyping for these applications, it may not be viable for high-volume manufacturing – due to limitations of speed, joint size, reliability, and strength. EWI recently completed a study evaluating two promising welding processes that have been used in mass production for decades – parallel gap and ultrasonic welding – specifically for joining of FHEs and 3D-printed electronics.

This work is presented in Better Techniques for Joining FHE and 3D-printed Electronics, a new paper written by EWI Senior Engineer Tim Frech. To read the full paper, click on the button below.

For more information about this project, contact Tim Frech at [email protected].

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Changing Technology Drives Need for New Repair Methods

By Henry Cialone, EWI President and CEO

In the ever-changing world of manufacturing, adaptation is not just a suggestion. It’s a requirement. 

And keeping up with the latest technology trends is just the first step. As product designs evolve to take advantage of new materials and manufacturing methods, companies also face the challenges of how to repair and maintain their products in the field — a concern that is not often considered during the product design and engineering phases. Consequently, many organizations are recognizing the need to accelerate innovation in repair technologies and to update the skills of the workforce to apply the latest sustainment solutions.

The aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industry is a good example. The commercial aviation MRO industry is expected to grow to more than $110B by 2025, putting a strain on the available capacity. Military aviation MRO needs are also growing and have the potential to outstrip capacity and put our nation’s readiness at risk. Global commitments combined with fiscal constraints dictate that the sustainment community drastically alter current processes and maintenance paradigms in order to meet current and future demands. 

New strategies, process innovations, and the effective and efficient applications of technology to specific sustainment challenges will largely determine the success of the sustainment enterprise. For example, automated inspection and repair technology innovation could dramatically increase MRO capacity, improve consistency, and even enable repair of components that otherwise would be scrapped and replaced. The consequences of not developing improved repair methods include continued increase in sustainment costs, reduced system availability during long MRO cycles, and potentially reduced performance of repaired components.  

The Benefit of Dual-Use Approaches

Many rapidly evolving industrial technologies can be brought to bear in developing new repair methods, including:

  • advanced nondestructive evaluation
  • data analytics
  • predictive modeling
  • materials characterization
  • additive material deposition
  • high-precision joining
  • advanced coating
  • A.I. enabled automation

Emerging technologies such as virtual learning and augmented reality can also help quickly upskill workers to employ these new technical solutions.

To meet increasing market demands, the industry is already investing in many of these technologies and implementing improved sustainment solutions. It stands to reason that lessons learned by industry can also help the government to meet many of its growing sustainment challenges. By providing access to the latest equipment and technical expertise at partner facilities, EWI and partners, including The Ohio State University, Ohio Aviation Institute (OAI), GE Aviation, and the Ohio Aviation and Aerospace Council (OAAC) are developing the Dual-Use Repair Technology Innovation Initiative to serve as the nation’s repair technology “industrial commons.” 

The Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Solution

If successful, we’ll be focusing on a variety of potential solutions to address commercial and military priorities, such as robotic inspection and repair technologies, additive technologies for aircraft engine rotating components, legacy avionics system sustainment, and training the future workforce in new technologies.

So, how do we proceed? We’re establishing a consortium of industry players across the MRO supply chain to help industrial partners take advantage of the latest innovations. We will also provide a vehicle for DoD to leverage and rapidly adapt methodologies already in use in commercial aviation industry. Initially we will be operating out of EWI and partner facilities. Eventually, we plan to create a physical plan for this cluster at The Ohio State University Airport in Columbus, Ohio, to provide a training hub where we can bring students in as interns to learn about developing technologies and be trained on how to implement them in repair.

Still a work in progress, EWI has been developing repair methods and creating an MRO growth plan. We understand the enormity of this challenge, however, and realize we can’t do it alone. We expect our delivery partnership to grow over the coming months. 

If you are interested in learning more about this project, contact Henry Cialone at [email protected].

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New Surface Treatment Method Improves Polymer to Steel Bond

welding is important to many industrial applications. For instance, with
battery manufacturing, the direct joining of polymers to metals can allow for
smaller package designs; in automotive manufacturing, direct joining improves
fuel efficiency; and direct joining used in medical device manufacturing
results in better quality joints.

Recently, EWI investigated a method of direct joining using a commercially available surface treatment, CoBlast, a proprietary surface modification developed by ENBIO Ltd. Research trials demonstrated that this surface treatment method can be used to improve the bonding strength of both polymers PTFE and PA to steel. This research is discussed in a new paper by EWI Applications Engineer Miranda Marcus et al., Joining TeflonTM with Nylon to Steel Using Commercial Surface Treatment.

To view this paper, click here.

To learn more about EWI’s plastics joining capabilities, click here.

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