Industry News: Materials Research Society Announces First Innovators for 2017 iMatSci Innovator Showcase

The MRS celebrates two innovative companies who are developing 3D printed radio components and tire wear sensors

15 Aug 2017

The Materials Research Society (MRS) has selected the first two materials-based startups, both out of Duke University—Multi3D LLC and Fetch Automotive Design Group LLC—to demonstrate their new technologies at the iMatSci Innovator Showcase, held November 27-28 during the 2017 MRS Fall Meeting in Boston. 

The iMatSci (Innovation in Material Science) Innovator Showcase offers early-stage startups a unique opportunity to meet and interact with industry and R&D leaders and early-stage investors, to spur collaboration and accelerate the adoption of new materials technologies for real-world applications.  All early-stage materials startups are encouraged to apply; applications will be accepted through September 1, 2017.

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Superior Conductive Filaments

The global Radio Frequency (RF) components market is expected to reach $17.54 billion by 2022, but fabrication techniques for commercial RF components have seen little innovation. Conventional RF manufacturing techniques, such as machining and photolithography, are accurate and reliable, but they are also expensive, time-consuming and produce unnecessary waste.

Multi3D LLC is a Duke University spin-out that offers highly conductive 3D printing filament for rapid prototyping and manufacturing of electronic and radio frequency components. Most recently, the company has created a new product called Electrifi Conductive Filament that is 100 times more conductive than the most conductive filament available on the market today. Their product will accelerate research in the United States by significantly reducing cost, weight and turnaround time. By creating customized components to fit the design space at hand, Electrifi Conductive Filament also eliminates the need to design technologies around commercially available parts.

Carbon Nanotube Tire Wear Sensors

Automobiles are becoming increasingly smarter, with significant attention on sensors that ubiquitously monitor the cars’ environment and overall condition. However, one component that lacks data is the only part of the car that contacts the road—the tire. While most vehicles do allow for the measurement and communication of real-time tire pressure data, it has never been possible to monitor tire tread wear in real time.

Electrical engineers at Fetch Automotive Design Group LLC, another Duke University spin-out, have developed an economically priced, printed carbon nanotube device that they call Tire Wear Sensor, which can provide real-time, noninvasive material thickness measurements that allow for the mapping of tire tread from the inside of tire itself. The sensor relies on a simple mechanism, in which cross-capacitance between two metal electrodes is monitored. As the material thickness above the sensor is changed, the electrical response between the two electrodes modulates accordingly. The simple design of the sensor (2mm-scale conducting square electrodes) allows for a variety of manufacturing methods and materials which has the potential to add value to the new smart-car space, military vehicles and even race cars.