Polaroid is re-innovating the instant analogue film design. The innovation is meant to improve shelf-life, the quality of the print and reduce scrap. Fraunhofer Project Center (FPC), now known as the Fraunhofer Innovation Platform for Advanced Manufacturing (FIP-AM@UT) at the University of Twente, worked together with Polaroid to solving a unique new material that required material understanding and research capabilities.
Sometimes when you look to solve one problem, you end up solving another. Consider the injection moulding process: when a plastic part comes off a machine, it needs to be cleaned up by removing excess material that is critical to the process (around the gate for example) but not required on the part itself. If this material removal can be done inside the injection moulding machine then you would not only reduce the number of steps but most likely improve the part quality as well.
The key is to focus on the problem rather than be too fixated on the solution. There is nearly always more than one way to solve a problem and engineers who are prepared to look at multiple solutions can often end up solving more than just the problem at hand. Polaroid asked FIP-AM@UT to look at a problem troubling them in manufacturing a new material.
They were hoping to develop a new material that had better properties compared to the one they were using so it could be more effective, and the part being produced more reliable. Engineers at Polaroid had in this particular area limited material science knowledge and were hoping the scientific approach of FIP would be able to shed some light on sourcing/developing a material with the desired properties. As part of the investigation, FIP-AM@UT performed an extensive literature review and identified a new material that not only solved the problem at hand but also removed a subsequent manufacturing stage that was by-material of the current problem.
The solution FIP came up with not only solved a key technical problem that Polaroid was facing but also identified a faster and lower-cost solution.