The Future of Materials Summit Mon, Nov 13 2017
Advances in 3D printing, robotics, extreme customisation and high-performance computing are just some of the elements that will shape the future of manufacturing. But nothing will impact how things are made, and what they are capable of, more than the materials manufacturers use. From programmable matter to smart polymers and self-healing concrete, new materials are set to transform our lives.
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But that is only “may be”. Human beings are still inefficient at turning raw materials into useful ones, and useful ones in products. The road from discovery to production is long and strewn with pitfalls. There are many examples of wonder materials, much hyped at the time, that have failed to deliver the advantages they promised. And even modern manufacturing methods can be wasteful and polluting.
The Future of Materials Summit will thus analyse the modern materials “ecosystem”, from research and development, via supply chains, to business applications. Its purpose will be to address such questions as: How can this ecosystem be made more efficient and environmentally friendly? How can materials’ performances be improved throughout their life cycles – from the moment they are made to the moment they are recycled after their job is done? How can governments encourage manufacturers to develop new materials and to refine their production methods – if, indeed, such encouragement is thought necessary? And how are new ways of designing and manufacturing things reshaping industry?
In the spirit of debate and curiosity that defines The Economist, The Future of Materials Summit will bring together leading manufacturers, scientists, technologists and policymakers for a discussion intended to help crystallise what is happening, and to illuminate the role of novel materials in the manufacturing industries of the future.