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DECEMBER 2018 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 45 allowing employees to be more productive. Then again, some products are "leaners" that are tough to categorize. The Wright brothers' first airplane was rev- olutionary, but there is some debate about whether the first jet plane was too since it's really just an airplane with a more powerful engine. Similarly, the Tesla seems revolution- ary to most of us, but electric vehicles (EVs) have been around since the 1800s, and one EV held the world land speed record until 1900. Is a new type of fastener or squeegee capable of being revolutionary? Undoubtedly, some com- panies will say so, especially if they increase their profit margin. Products at IPC APEX EXPO Keep all of this in mind as you roam the aisles at IPC APEX EXPO. You'll probably see some "leaners," somewhere between evolutionary and revolutionary. IPC's Connected Factory Initiative (CFX) comes to mind. The open- source CFX standardizes machine-to-machine communications, allowing one person to mon- itor all of the machines on a line through a smartphone. But is CFX a truly revolutionary? You be the judge. Try it out in San Diego next month and see. To help you craft the ultimate trade show shopping list, IPC has created this handy listing of all 311 new products on display at IPC APEX EXPO. It's not too late to thumb through these pages and start making a list of new products that could put your company light years ahead. Whether your company needs the latest cutting-edge tools or not, you can find what you need at IPC APEX EXPO 2019. DESIGN007 An artificial soft skin imbued with flexible electronics could enhance the way robots sense and interact with their surroundings, KAUST researchers have shown. The team has discovered how to program electrical conduc- tivity and strain sensing into a single material embedded in a stretchy polymer skin. The discovery could also have applications in wearable electronic devices. When an animal stretches a limb, a network of nerves and sensors within the skin provides feedback that help it orient the limb in space and interact with its surroundings. Embedding a network of strain sensors and connective wiring into a flexible artificial skin would give soft robots similar sensory feedback, help- ing them autonomously navigate their environment, says Gilles Lubineau, who led the research. Until now, researchers have used different materials for the sensing and conductive wiring components, adding cost and complexity to the fabrication process, explains Ragesh Chel- lattoan, a Ph.D. student in Lubine- au's team. "Our objective is to get both sensing and wiring connectivity in the one material," he says. The researchers created a stretchy skin for a toy action figure to demonstrate their material. They coated one of the figure's legs with the artificial skin and then applied DC voltage only to the leg's left side before flexing the leg at the knee and observing what happened. The next step, Chellattoan says, is to gain greater control over where nanowire welds form. This would give researchers the ability to draw precise conductive pat- terns into the artificial skin. (Source: KAUST) Sensitive Robots Feel the Strain

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