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  • Imaging: MRI scanner diagnoses knee injuries accurately
    2159    

    NEWS

       |   07/07/2019    
    Imaging: MRI scanner diagnoses knee injuries accurately
    Medical & Healthcare  Imaging supplies

    The scientists say the device (which looks like a large metal ring through which a patient places their leg) could help diagnose conditions such as anterior cruciate ligament injuries - particularly common among footballers. Furthermore, the small size of the device could enable it to be used in local clinics and even GP surgeries, potentially reducing NHS waiting times for MRI scans. Currently, key components of the knee joints such as ligaments and tendons are difficult to see in detail in the MRI scans, explains Dr Karyn Chappell, a researcher and radiographer from Imperial’s MSK Lab: "Knee injuries affect millions of people – and MRI scans are crucial to diagnosing the problem, leading to quick and effective treatment. However we currently face two problems: connective tissue in the knee is unclear on MRI scans, and people are waiting a long time for a scan." Following knee injury a doctor may refer a patient for a MRI scan to help establish which part of the joint is injured. MRI scans use a combination of radio waves and strong magnets to ‘flip’ water molecules in the body. The water molecules send out a signal, which creates an image. However, tendons, ligaments and meniscus are not usually visible with MRI, due to the way water molecules are arranged in these structures, explains Dr Karyn Chappell. "These structures are normally black on an MRI scan – they simply don’t produce much signal that can be detected by the machine to create the image. This is because they are made mostly of the protein collagen, arranged as fibres. The collagen fibres hold water molecules in a tight configuration, and it is in fact water that is detected by the MRI. If you do see a signal it suggests there is more fluid in the area – which suggests damage, but it is very difficult for medical staff to conclusively say if there is injury." To overcome this problem, Dr Chappell harnessed the power of a phenomenon called the "magic angle": "The brightness of these tissues such as tendons and ligaments in MRI images strongly depends on the angle between the collagen fibres and the magnetic field of the scanner. If this angle is 55 degrees the image can be very bright, but for other angles it is usually very dark." The team explain the magic angle is achieved in their scanner because they are able to easily change the orientation of the magnetic field. While the patient sits comfortably in a chair, the specially designed magnet (which uses motors and sensors similar to those found in robots in car factories) can rotate around the leg and the orientate magnetic field in multiple directions. This is not possible in current hospital MRI scanners, which are also much more expensive than the prototype scanner. "Specifically, we can combine images obtained at different magnet angles and not only increase the brightness, but also see how the collagen fibres are arranged. This enables us to establish the pattern of collagen fibres in the knee structures, which is crucial information ahead of treatments such as repairing a torn meniscus," added Dr Chappell. Dr. Chappell explained: "Although this is an early-stage proof-of-concept study, it shows the technology could potentially be used to accurately detect knee injury. We now hope to enter human trials – and explore if this technology could be used for other joints such as ankles, wrists and elbows."

  • The older the population, the more robots are in use
    2091    

    NEWS

       |   05/07/2019    
    The older the population, the more robots are in use
    Plants & Machinery  AI, Robot, Industry 4.0

    Demographic change can be seen from the number of robots in use in industry. This connection has been established by the Flexibility@Work 2019 study published by the personnel service provider Randstad. It applies, the authors say, to Germany in particular: hardly any other country has seen such a steep rise in the use of robots since the early 1990s as we have here. The reasons lie in the fact that industry requires not only experience and technical expertise, but also power and precision, which is why more and more cobots are supporting the ageing workforce. For every 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry in Germany, the study reveals, there are now 322 robots. Cobots, i.e. robots that can work directly with human beings without any particular safety precautions, have increased in importance. Not only do they relieve the burden on their human colleagues in connection with physically strenuous and monotonous activities, but they are also regarded as a way of offsetting the shortage of skilled employees . At the same time, of course, there are fears that cobots could provide competition for jobs.

  • Cell therapies: homing instinct shows cells "home"
    1938    

    NEWS

       |   04/07/2019    
    Cell therapies: homing instinct shows cells "home"
    Medical & Healthcare  Clinical Trial, Bioanalytical & Other Pharmaceutical Services

    In a world first, scientists have found a new way to direct stem cells to heart tissue. The findings, led by researchers at the University of Bristol and published in Chemical Science, could radically improve the treatment for cardiovascular disease. To date, trials using stem cells, which are taken and grown from the patient or donor and injected into the patient’s heart to regenerate damaged tissue, have produced promising results. To date, trials using stem cells, which are taken and grown from the patient or donor and injected into the patient’s heart to regenerate damaged tissue, have produced promising results.

  • Computer model supports cancer therapy
    2074    

    NEWS

       |   03/07/2019    
    Computer model supports cancer therapy
    Medical & Healthcare  Imaging supplies

    Researchers from the Life Sciences Research Unit (LSRU) of the University of Luxembourg have developed a computer model that simulates the metabolism of cancer cells. They used the programme to investigate how combinations of drugs could be used more effectively to stop tumour growth. The metabolism of cancer cells is optimised to enable fast growth of tumours. "Their metabolism is much leaner than that of healthy cells, as they are just focused on growth. However, this makes them more vulnerable to interruptions in the chain of chemical reactions that the cells depend on.

  • HP is launching the largest research center for 3D printing …
    2397    

    NEWS

       |   25/06/2019    
    HP is launching the largest research center for 3D printing …
    Plants & Machinery  AI, Robot, Industry 4.0

    The research center brings together experts from various disciplines, including system technology, data intelligence, software, materials science, design and applications. The center was conceived as an environment for collaboration between mechanical engineers, researchers and developers. In addition to HP’s own experts, customers and partners of the company will be working on research projects, according to the company’s press release . Additive manufacturing, in which 3D printing plays a crucial role, is a significant development in the “fourth industrial revolution”. Many industrial managers are hoping to make small series of products, even down to a batch size of 1, more cost-effectively in future than has ever been possible before in industrial mass production.

  • AI still lacking in transport management
    2737    

    NEWS

       |   24/06/2019    
    AI still lacking in transport management
    Plants & Machinery  Packaging machines

    The consulting firm interviewed 200 European logistics and supply chain management experts for its analysis . According to the results , only 42% of respondents from the manufacturing sector have their own employees working on transport planning and monitoring, while the figure for retailers was only slightly higher at 53%. Only 35% of manufacturing companies have their own transport management system. Even less, 31%, use AI microservices for this purpose. Those already using them aim to improve delivery reliability or save freight costs in doing so. BearingPoint expects the importance of AI tools in transport management to increase significantly in the coming years. A survey conducted by the software manufacturer Inform in 2018 had already revealed that AI has led a rather shadowy existence in logistics to date. The reasons given for the sluggish implementation included lack of know-how, high costs, inadequate IT infrastructure and limited time resources.

  • Sepro and Universal Robots announce partnership
    2907    

    NEWS

       |   20/06/2019    
    Sepro and Universal Robots announce partnership
    Plants & Machinery  AI, Robot, Industry 4.0

    Following similar collaborative projects with Stäubli Robotics and Yaskawa Motoman , the Sepro Group has now reached another far-reaching agreement: the French supplier of robots and industrial automation for the plastics industry and the Danish collaborative robots (cobots) specialist, Universal Robots , announced their cooperative partnership in May 2019. The idea going forward is for Sepro’s control platform Visual to be integrated into the cobots from Universal Robots, and Universal Robots technologies to seamlessly integrate into other Sepro robots and injection molding machines, where required. Sepro specifically developed the control platform Visual for robots used in plastic injection molding machines. All Sepro products, including the jointly marketed product lines of partners, are controlled by Visual and have the same user interface regardless of robot type. Sepro will provide the worldwide service for Sepro and Universal Robots solutions under the agreement.

  • Film-generated solar power
    2737    

    NEWS

       |   15/06/2019    
    Film-generated solar power
    Building & Construction  Tools for building

    In a pilot test, Heliatek glued 120 HeliaSol elements, a special solar film, to a 230 m2 area of rough concrete on a Schneller Mühle grain silo in Donauwörth, Bavaria. Together with Lechwerken (LEW) , a regional utility company from Augsburg, Heliatek plans to test the still young technology in a long-term test . The film is expected to deliver an output of around 10 kWp and generate around 4,400 kWh of electricity per year. The results of the test should contribute to further product development. Unlike conventional solar modules, the film can be applied to a wide variety of facade shapes and surfaces. Since there is no decline in output even at high temperatures, no ventilation distance to the substrate is required. The film can thus be glued directly to the facade. For the pilot test, the concrete facade was first treated with a special primer to strengthen the adhesion of the film adhesive.

  • Bavaria invests 40 million in lightweight construction resea…
    2788    

    NEWS

       |   12/06/2019    
    Bavaria invests 40 million in lightweight construction resea…
    Industrial Goods  Manufacture of basic metals

    Half of the 40 million euros in funding is financed from the supplementary budget of the Bavarian state and the other half by industry. The money is primarily slated to benefit the aerospace industry in Augsburg. MAI Carbon (MAI stands for “Munich Augsburg Ingolstadt”), a Carbon Composites e. V. (CCeV) initiative, will take care of the required coordination. This, in turn, is an Augsburg-based association of more than 200 companies and research institutes from Germany, Austria and Switzerland working in the field of high-performance fiber composites. Bavaria is leveraging the funding program to strengthen Augsburg’s position as one of the leading international locations for the research and use of lightweight construction materials such as carbon. In addition to the aerospace industry, the Bavarian automotive and sports industries as well as the e-mobility and environmental technologies, mechatronics, automation, IT and embedded systems sectors are also expected to benefit from the research.

  • Human and machine work more efficiently together
    2941    

    NEWS

       |   25/05/2019    
    Human and machine work more efficiently together
    Plants & Machinery  AI, Robot, Industry 4.0

    The researchers from the universities of Göttingen, Duisburg-Essen and Trier entrusted various mixed teams with transport tasks, including vehicles. They measured the time the groups needed to meet the challenges. It turned out that transport processes were most efficiently coordinated by mixed teams of humans and machines. They also had the lowest number of accidents. The result surprised the scientists, as automated machine processes are generally regarded as highly efficient. The researchers concluded that “excessive fears” of job loss due to automation are unjustified: humans and machines are obviously at their best when working together. Safe and successful cooperation nevertheless requires a number of conditions to be fulfilled. The German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) has already published several papers dealing with various aspects of human and machine interaction.