Technology and magic

Eight years ago, I wrote about this quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That quote is still on the wall of our Technology Centre, even though we have moved into a bigger facility since I wrote the blog post. Then, I discussed how we demystify advanced adhesive technologies for our customers, to take away the “magic” of the science. We believe that the understanding of how things work is vital. We think that delivering significant productivity enhancements, improving your competitiveness and your bottom line, is the real magic.

In only the subsequent eight years, technology advancements have meant that the images from the cameras on our mobile telephones are so good that there is no need for a separate camera for nearly all of us. We can listen to every song, ever recorded, for just a few pounds a month. We can ask Alexa to turn on the heating at home, even when we are not there. My watch is an enhanced fitness tracker… as well as telling the time accurately to within 50 milliseconds.

We often take these once magic items for granted. Sometimes, it can be disappointing, such is our expectation for advancement. The tech commentator Benedict Evans discusses the Apple iPhone: “It’s kind of like looking at the difference between the car in 1900 and the car in 1905, versus the car in 1980 and 1985. There was a period when every new iPhone was substantially better than the one before. That’s clearly not the case anymore.” We may take timely breakthroughs for granted, and raise the bar for what counts as “magic” on the next one.

I sense that we need to be more aware of just how far we have come. We don’t have to wait for the next new thing to feel the “magic”. Instead, we have the chance to temper our forward expectations and simply notice it around us.

I took the opportunity to ask our team about what they saw as innovative products we have launched in the last five or so years. As with the iPhone, innovation can be evolutionary, not just revolutionary. Here are just a few of the ideas we have come up with.

  • Adhesives for wearables – the first biocompatible, light-curable adhesives to be specifically formulated without common skin irritants and materials of concern for medical wearable and electronics applications.
  • Vision on robots – we started selling simple benchtop cartesian robots for dispensing applications over 30 years ago. Today, we offer intelligent CCD vision-based programming and fiducial auto-adjustment systems for them, enhancing accuracy and programming speed.
  • Point-One™ Structural Polyurethane Adhesives – with micro emission, meaning that have a concentration of monomeric diisocyanates less than 0.1% by weight, so no mandated training and much improved H&S.
  • Relyon PiezoBrush PZ3 –one of the world’s smallest, highly effective handheld plasma treatment devices, opening up this surface treatment technology to many more applications.
  • Born2Bond cyanoacrylate adhesives – novel development in fast cure capabilities, including hybrid UV cures and two part systems.
  • LED UV curing lamps – these have become the de facto technology for UV light curing, with extraordinary intensities. We have handheld versions which bring application flexibility and opportunity.
  • Low outgassing conformal coating – Dymax 9771 meets ASTM E595, MIl-I-46058C and MIL-STD 883.
  • archytas series – robot integrations, which are robotic dispensing, UV curing and/or surface preparation systems custom-built to meet your application requirements

There are lots more examples, if we stop to think about it. Even if these products have been around for a while, they represent a frontier of innovation for their time. We must remind ourselves of the value and potential that these materials and tools continue to offer. By resetting our expectations and taking a moment to appreciate the technology at our fingertips, we can reignite our sense of the “magic” – delivering productivity, quality, health and safety, robust and reliable performance, return on investment, competitiveness, a safer environment, and your bottom line.

Peter Swanson

Posted by Peter Swanson

Peter is the Managing Director of Intertronics. He is mostly involved in strategy, recruitment and helping out the Marketing team.

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