Methods of Material Selection and Optimization

Microcreping delivers a new method of material optimization: many successful commercial Microcreped products have resulted when characteristics of the incoming substrate were also optimized for Microcreping.

Learn how material optimization can reduce costs and improve performance.

Turn 2D into 3D

Most sheet materials (nonwovens, film, paper, textiles, composites) are two dimensional. Micrex compressive treatment technology allows you to alter an existing material to make it three dimensional. This transformation also changes other physical properties such as softnessbulkextensibility, and more.

These enhanced properties give designers new options that would be impossible with existing 2D materials.

At Micrex, we are in the business of helping customers explore this technology to commercialize new products:

The Portfolio Effect – Odds of Success (Part 3)

Here are a few more thoughts to add to our discussion of the portfolio effect and risk.

I grew up admiring the concept of the “Lone Wolf” inventor. The Wright Brothers, Edison, Tesla, Bell. Parts of what we all have heard are myth, and some is reality. Several of these “individual inventors” created what looked a lot like a corporate entity at their time. However, the myth of the Lone Wolf lives on – e.g. consider Steve Jobs and the iPhone, or Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

It is dangerous to subscribe to this myth. At Micrex, 98% of our customers are large corporations. Only they have the ability and resources to launch a new product into a competitive global marketplace. They understand that the best way to develop new products is by having a broad portfolio of initiatives at various stages of maturity. This approach takes most of the luck and some of the risk out of product development.

The portfolio approach for product development shares the theoretical underpinnings with the same concept in finance. In the 1970’s, “Modern Portfolio Theory” conclusively demonstrated that maximizing return while systematically controlling risk required that one work with a diversified portfolio of investments.

At Micrex we have a soft spot for drunks, sailors and entrepreneurs. Despite our better senses — we occasionally get to work with an entrepreneur in a startup. In almost all cases, they run out of time or money (which in many ways is the same thing) before their product is ready for market.

How do we handle this same risk at Micrex? Through our customers. At any one time, Micrex is working on 300 – 400 projects. Many will not succeed, but some will. It is a matter of averages.

Rethinking Textile Replacements

The disposable paper dress, in 1966 a revelation and new development, has proven to be a failure. The nonwoven substrates available at that time made unappealing, uncomfortable products.

Since then, the nonwovens industry has developed, and the time is right for new, improved products to replace textiles, going beyond fashion and the paper dress, such as hospital bed sheets, tablecloths and window treatments.

This is where Micrex technology comes in:

Paper dress

Happy?

You can use Micrex’s technology to transform nonwovens from 2D into 3D materials. You can also add properties such as softness and stretch, more closely matching the desired qualities of textiles than ever before:

Add softness: get rid of harshness in your sheet material.

Turn 2D into 3D: add three dimensional effects to your nonwovens. At Micrex, we have been adding these 3D effects to several grades of nonwovens for years.

Add extensibility (comfort stretch): at the same time as adding a decorative effect – providing you with a huge advantage over other technologies. The result: a textile replacement with desirable textile properties.

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Fail Fast: It Should Be Part Of Your Strategy

At Micrex, we are big believers in the concept of “Fail Fast”. We have always talked about it with our customers – and what we have learned is that there are different interpretations of what “fail fast” means.

Fail?

From an engineering perspective, fail fast is about system safety and optimization. A system that is designed to fail fast is one that will go into a failure state, rather than continue to operate in a possibly failed state. This allows back-up or redundant systems to immediately be activated.

The key is to minimize the delay between a likely failure and a truly flagging failure, so that an alternative solution can be implemented.

Extrapolating this to product development leads to two more alternatives:

  • Fail but learn: failure produces learnings, which inform next steps
  • Fail often: design the system to make it easy to try the next thing.

Celebrating Failure Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense

Why celebrate failure – particularly when we know that the corporate world rewards success?
The product development professional must strive to foster an environment where failure can occur without negative consequence. The good news: this is not as hard as it sounds.

The Solution: Test Early Or Inexpensively

It means looking for ways to test either early or inexpensively. Test components before testing the entire system. If something seems to work, then test variations that fail – it will give you confidence in the solution’s robustness.

Counterpoint: I was chatting with a long-time customer about changes at his company because of a recent merger.

Me: “What’s new at your company?”

Customer: “They’re training us to be more entrepreneurial”.

Me: “How’s it going?”

Customer: “Great – until something does not work out”.