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The Wall Street Journal

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Prof. Yossi Sheffi notes that “just-in-time” (JIT) supply chains can help improve product quality and manufacturing processes, leading to reduced inefficiency. JIT “reinforces resilience because it strengthens the relationships along the supply chain between companies, their suppliers and customers,” writes Sheffi. “Close relationships allow companies to react collaboratively to supply-chain disruptions.”

Popular Science

A team of scientists from MIT and Facebook have created a new object tagging system called InfraredTags, reports Charlotte Hu for Popular Science. “InfraredTags uses infrared light-based barcodes and QR codes that embedded permanently into the bodies of 3D printed objects,” reports Hu.  

Smithsonian Magazine

MIT researchers have been working to turn polyethylene plastics into woven fabrics, reports Smithsonian Magazine reporter Frederick Reimers. “We strongly believe that adoption of PE textiles will be very beneficial for the world from the sustainability standpoint,” says Principal Research Scientist Svetlana Boriskina tells Reimers. 

NPR

Greg Rosalsky of NPR’s Planet Money spotlights a new study co-authored by Prof. David Autor that examines the impact of the China Shock on Americans working in the manufacturing industry. Rosalsky notes that the research by Autor and his colleagues on the China Shock demonstrates what happens “when a bomb explodes on a community's main industry. The community doesn't just bounce back. Workers don't just shift to new sectors or move to new places. The social fabric of the community gets ripped apart. Destitution, squalor and depression set in.”

TechCrunch

Via Separations, a startup co-founded by Shreya Dave ’16 and Brent Keller ’16 after conducting research with MIT Professor Jeffrey Grossman, has announced a $38 million Series B led by NGP ETP, reports Ron Miller for TechCrunch. “Basically, our vision is if we can decarbonize that supply chain infrastructure, then we don’t have to rely on consumers having to make a decision between the thing that they want and how to do good for the planet” says Dave.  

WCVB

WCVB-TV spotlights two MIT startups, True Moringa, a beauty and wellness company that uses the oil from Moringa trees grown in Ghana to directly benefit farmers in Ghana, and Sourcemap, which traces supply chains and provides transparency about where goods are stemming from. Says Kwami Williams ’12, co-founder and CEO, of his inspiration for True Moringa: “I started to ask myself, if aerospace engineers can help put a man on the Moon, then what can I do to help put more food on the table for families” in Ghana.

Mashable

Mashable reporter Emmett Smith spotlights how MIT researchers have created a new toolkit for designing wearable devices that can be 3D printed. “The researchers used the kit to create sample devices, like a personal muscle monitor that uses augmented reality,” explains Smith, “plus a device for recognizing hand gestures and a bracelet for identifying distracted driving.”

Forbes

Ben Armstrong, interim executive director of the MIT Industrial Performance Center, speaks with Forbes contributor Ethan Karp about the labor shortage in manufacturing and the future of the field. “We want to have companies that are really driving technology forward and forcing us to adjust our training system to be more technologically advanced,” says Armstrong. “Instead, the problem is that a lot of small and medium manufacturers are offering comparatively low-wage, low-tech jobs that are oftentimes low-skilled. So companies are adapting a lot of their operations to a lower-technology, lower-wage, lower-skill equilibrium.”

National Geographic

National Geographic reporter Roxanne Khamsi spotlights how Prof. Richard Braatz is working on developing continuous manufacturing processes that could help boost global vaccine availability. Khamsi notes that one feature Braatz and his colleagues are testing is using “a filter that attaches to the side of their production tanks to continuously extract vaccine material, rather than harvesting it in bulk.”

Reuters

Reuters reporter Timothy Aeppel spotlights a new report by MIT researchers examining how automation is spreading to small and medium-sized factories in America. “Among the 34 companies with 500 employees or fewer in Ohio, Massachusetts and Arizona that the MIT researchers visited in their project, only one had bought robots in large numbers in the last five years,” writes Aeppel, “and that was an Ohio company that had been acquired by a Japanese multinational which pumped in money for the new automation.”

The Boston Globe

Institute Professor Suzanne Berger speaks with Boston Globe reporter Jonathan Schlefer about how to ensure the new Senate bill that invests in research and development helps strength small and medium-sized companies. “The focus can’t just be on large firms at the top of the manufacturing chain because their ability to produce a range of advanced goods depends on their base of suppliers,” says Berger. “And today those suppliers lack the technology and skills to make the parts that would allow the top of the chain to take off.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Mark Wilson writes that MIT researchers have developed a new light-sensitive paint, dubbed ChromoUpdate, that makes it easy for people to change the color and pattern on a variety of objects. Wilson notes there are a number of applications for ChromoUpdate, from testing out different colors on a product to “quickly projecting what is essentially data onto everyday objects could make smart homes even smarter, without the use of more screens in your house.”

Mashable

Researchers from MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and other organizations have created a new method to produce liquid metal, reports Mashable. The researchers hope “the new process will be used to change metal design and production processes and get applied in architecture components or product design.”

The Interchange

On The Interchange podcast, Prof. Jessika Trancik discusses her research exploring the cost declines in lithium-ion batteries and what it will take to reach mass-market adoption of electric vehicles.

The Economist

A new study by Prof. Jessika Trancik and postdoctoral associate Micah Ziegler examining the plunge in lithium-ion battery costs finds that “every time output doubles, as it did five times between 2006 and 2016, battery prices fall by about a quarter,” reports The Economist. “A doubling in technological know-how, measured by patent filings, is associated with a 40% drop in price.”