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48 SMT Magazine • March 2016 will have a broad effect on the health of your business. The impact of problems in the mate- rial department can be felt in customer satisfac- tion, employee satisfaction, cash flow, revenue growth, and profitability. The traditional method of handling mate- rial, at first glance, appears adequate and low cost, but, the spaghetti chart of the material operation shows how expensive it really is. Be- cause life goes on and in many cases painfully, more capacity for SMT lines, better software to run the ERP, more metro racks with typical bins and some with barcode locations continue to be the practice and unfortunately, win the budget- ary decision. Think ROI, not just the cost of smart cart vs. standard shelves and bins. Before you send out the black belt Lean ninjas to fight the material challenge, make sure they are familiar with the latest material handling systems, or you may end up with more jerry-rigged contraptions. To win the race for survival, growth and profitability, companies must give the highest priority to the material operation and materi- al handling tools. More SMT lines, faster ma- chines, or new ERP software are not the only, or even the best, answers to achieve their business goals. Fortunately, there are now a number of solutions that can help electronics manufactur- ers to streamline and take control of the materi- al black hole. These are robotic storage systems if you are an OEM or have limited part num- bers, and money is no object, and the smart cart if your needs are easy to use, and a fast, flex- ible, small foot print, with a ROI of less than one year. SmT Ben Khoshnood is the Presi- dent of Inovaxe Corp. He may be reached at researchers at KTh royal In- stitute of Technology have devel- oped a new polymer suited for photostructuring, opening new possibilities for medical diagnos- tics, biophotonics and 3D printing. The so-called off-stoichiometry thiol-enes (oSTE) polymer was de- veloped specifically to meet the need for a material suitable for both experimen- tal prototyping and large-scale manufacturing of labs-on-a-chip. "It can be very useful in a variety of applica- tions such as near-patient diagnostic tools," says Tommy Haraldsson, one of the developers and a docent in the department Micro and Nanosystems at KTH. one of the unique qualities of oSTE polymer is that its surface is chemically reactive without add- ing anything or preparing the surface in a special way. Upon exposure to UV light, the molecules of the polymer arrange themselves in a manner that significantly enhances photostruc- turing, a technique by which UV light is used to solidify micro-scale 3D shapes in liquid polymer. "These microstructures can guide light, such as with wave- guides. or they can be used to control fluid flow, such as with mi- crofluidics channels," says Gaspard Pardon, a post-doc researcher in Micro and Nano- systems at KTH. The oSTE polymer was developed over the last five years to bridge the "lab-to-fab-gap", and cre- ate an alternative to suboptimal off-the-shelf ma- terials, which have poor mechanical or chemical properties, that are now used for conceptual lab- on-a-chip device development. With the KTH material however it is possible to easily add different layers of material or to modify the surface properties for handling microscopic flows of fluids, without using glue or otherwise treating the material surface. Breakthrough for Lab-on-a-chip Material a PraCtICal guIdE to ManagIng MatErIal CoSt IMPaCt

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