One of the buzzwords in manufacturing is “disruptive technology.”
Like many buzzwords, the phrase is starting to be generically applied; many now use it to describe anything new or innovative. But that’s not really accurate: Truly disruptive inventions go a step beyond the fresh and new to actually displace an existing market, industry or technology.
“Innovation and disruption are similar in that they are both makers and builders,” explains Caroline Howard in Forbes. “(But) disruption takes a left turn by literally uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day.”
Industry disruption has been the modus operandi at Brewer Science since the company was founded in 1981. Since revolutionizing the optical lithography industry by inventing ARC® brand anti-reflective coatings, it has continuously introduced groundbreaking product technologies for advanced lithography, chemical and mechanical device protection, planarization, thin layer handling, 3-D integration and nanotechnology.
Brewer Science’s Chief Technical Officer, Tony Flaim, was asked to speak to such disruption at the SEMI Strategic Materials Conference in Mountain View, California, on September 21, 2016. One of his key topics: The game-changing impact of thermoplastic polymer adhesives on how semiconductor packages are produced.
Other than Brewer Science’s achievements, what’s up and coming in the wide world of disruptive technology? Global tech leaders predict the most prevalent changes through 2018 will center around cloud computing, mobile platforms and apps, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine communications (M2M), and data and analytics, says KPMG's 2015 Global Innovation Survey.
Other recent trends considered disruptive across industries include:
- A Forbes article earlier this year points to self-driving vehicles that optimize sensors for use in live traffic; virtual platforms offered by product innovators like Under Armour and the protocol known as “5G” that represents the next generation of the Internet. Groundbreaking products it references include smart shoe inserts, eye-tracking hardware and software, gamified toothbrushes, virtual reality hardware, a sensor that cares for plants and a wearable smart device that dispenses pain relief.
- A recent McKinsey study names advanced robotics with enhanced senses, dexterity, and intelligence as well as next-generation genomics, the manipulation of genes to improve health diagnostics and treatments. It also points to energy-storage devices that are expected to make electric vehicles cost competitive, extend electricity through developing countries and improve overall grid efficiency. These and nine other trends it names could collectively generate $14 to $33 trillion by 2025, it predicts.
- A story in Inc.com last year references 3D printing capabilities for making products like vital organs, cars, guns and custom-fitted suits, such that designers will earn royalties for downloads; interactive advertising within video games; a shift from employer-provided health care to employer-provided stipends for choosing among the insurance marketplace; a decline in in-house offerings at colleges as students favor online learning and a blending of online and brick-and-mortar retailing in favor of “individual customer experiences.” Writer Ilan Mochari also predicts the popularity of online shopping for millennials will lead to more pre-purchase research online and more lenient return policies.
- A separate Forbes article this year predicts increasingly automated financial functions; impacts from big data and the IoT including better speed, efficiency and storage; smart-linked homes; smart-linked wearable devices; more and cheaper space exploration; more commercial space and use of satellites by businesses; and a burgeoning in the medical marijuana industry.
As for Brewer Science, the sky is the limit.
“The technology industry changes almost in front of our eyes,” notes Corporate Relations Manager Loretta Wallis. “The raw materials we're using, however, haven't really changed much over the last couple of decades. Basically our palette is the periodic table of elements, and it's our job to make beautiful combinations to help drive the industry forward. Thankfully, we have some pretty amazing R&D employees who love to get creative.”