True innovation in materials takes on many forms, and for 80% of the world’s population means the effective use of often scarce resources. “Technology Transfer,” a term used to refer to the process of converting academic research into usable products, is just as important whether between the developing and the developed world or between two disparate industries.
This transfer of ideas and solutions is at the heart of what Material ConneXion is about. We believe that solutions to material problems can be found by looking elsewhere, be it a different discipline, a different culture, or even to nature, through the concept of biomimicry – mimicking nature’s often elegant solutions. Through our unique library of over 4500 material samples, as well as the consulting work conducted for Fortune 500 and start-up companies alike, we find answers by looking beyond the usual sources.
A number of these “cross-pollination” ideas will be presented, highlighting the successes and also the frustrations inherent in the process. Examples will also be given of where we can expect to see more of this type of innovation in the future and what it means for the future of production.
Dr. Dent plays a key role in the expansion of Material ConneXion’s technical knowledge base. His primary function is to direct research into innovative products and processes. His research directs the selection of materials to be juried into Material ConneXion’s library and guides the implementation of consultancy projects. His role includes coordinating the monthly jury selections that vote 50-60 new materials into Material ConneXion’s libraries in New York, Milan, Cologne, Daegu, and Bangkok as well as management of the physical library team and our online database.
Dr. Dent received his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Cambridge in England. Prior to joining Material ConneXion, Dr. Dent held a number of research positions both in industry and academia. At Rolls Royce PLC, Dr. Dent specialized in turbine blades for the present generation of jet engines. He has completed postdoctoral research at Cambridge University and at the Center for Thermal Spray Research, SUNY, Stony Brook, NY. Other research projects, during this period, included work for the US Navy, DARPA, NASA, and the British Ministry of Defense.
Dr. Dent has contributed to many publications and books, and is the co-author of the books ‘Material Connexion: A Global Resource Of New And Innovative Materials For Architects, Artists And Designers’ with George M. Beylerian and “Ultramaterials: How Materials Innovation is Changing the World.” He currently writes “Material Innovatoin” – a bi-weekly column for BusinessWeek’s online Innovation Page. He is a frequent speaker on materials innovation and design across many disciplines.