Here at Thomas, we offer all kinds of amazing resources to help industrial professionals source for what they need, from the latest news to industrial guides to a direct connection with more than half a million B2B companies. Here, we’re showcasing some of our latest additions to another asset: new categories to search in and source from.
This month, in addition to our favorite overall categories added over the previous month, we’re also featuring nine categories of products and services related to wildfire fighting. This way we hope to better enable those who are dealing with the fires to source for what they need. We’ll be diving into details on these fire-related categories first.
1. Fire Fighters’ Goggles
Specialized goggles for firefighters are made to be heat and flame resistant, as well as including coatings such as anti-fog. A different type of goggle is also being used to help firefighters in their work: one startup is using virtual reality to train future firefighters, using both goggles and a heavy heat generating jacket to better mimic the conditions of a real fire.
2. Fire Fighters’ Overalls
Fire fighters’ overalls feature a material called Nomex, a fire-resistant textile that is also commonly used in Hollywood for potentially dangerous filming, including in costumes and set pieces. The Martian, Airplane!, and The Dark Knight have all featured nomex incorporated into aircraft parts, costumes, and protective wrappings to maintain a standard of safety during stunts and effects.
3. Personal Water Filtration Systems
When wildfires could potentially cut off supplies of clean water, personal water filtration systems help to ensure safe water supply for individual consumption. On a slightly larger scale, combined solar power and water purifying systems that can support a small house have also come into the market in recent years.
4. Inflatable Shelters
Inflatable shelters were growing in demand before this year’s wildfire season on the West Coast, as demand has grown after seeing the effects of the Australian fires and the pandemic. Other types of shelters being created include biodegradable plastic, cardboard tube, bamboo, and 3D printed structures made from recycled rubble.
5. Fire Shelters
More relevant now than ever as record fires sweep across the western U.S., fire shelters are small aluminized tents that can save a firefighter from a short-lived fire passing by, as they reflect heat and trap a portion of breathable air inside with the firefighter. Shelters are made up of an outer layer of woven silica and an inner layer of fiberglass, both of which are covered in aluminum foil.
6. Air Tankers
Air tankers are planes that carry water or fire retardant to dump on wildfires. While drones are not yet able to take on this task, they are able to help in other ways, including as reconnaissance to map out the terrain and to find where the worst areas may be.
7. In-Mask Thermal Imagers
Thermal imagers inside firefighters’ masks allow them to find the hottest and coldest spots in a fire to help them assess risks or better perform search and rescue. Augmented reality for firefighters, which would incorporate these types of thermal imagers with other capabilities, is currently in development.
8. Drip Torches
Drip torches allow the user to create a controlled fire to get rid of excess brush and grass, limiting future wildfire spread. Although drip torch use has not traditionally been popular in California, it has gained popularity in the past couple of years as policies have changed and fires have grown more severe.
9. Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFs)
Mounted onto defense aircraft, MAFFs systems enable certain planes to carry water or fire retardant for dumping, expanding the number of available firefighting aircraft if necessary. While dropping water or retardant from above won’t stop a fire entirely, it allows ground crews more time to set up defenses against its spread.
10. RAID Cache Batteries
Enabling computers to retain temporary data if the power goes out, RAID cache batteries are a part of a RAID disk controller that allows one disk to fail without shutting everything else down. More radical water-based batteries are in the works for organizations including the US army and IBM, which can withstand higher ranges of temperatures and more damage than conventional batteries.
11. COVID-19 Test Kits
As the pandemic continues, COVID-19 test kits continue to evolve, with some models now offering results in two minutes (as opposed to the hours it took in the beginning). A new type of test is also being developed at the University of Wisconsin which could finally do away with the swabs that go deep into your nostrils: people being tested would only have to spit into a tube.
12. Contactless Door Openers
Not all measures to combat the pandemic are high tech: contactless door openers are tools that can fit on a keychain which can turn a doorknob without touching it. Hands free door openers are also part of a range of Free 3D print files related to the virus which have spread online.
13. Quaternary Disinfectants
Quaternary disinfectants are special antimicrobial compounds used in a range of industrial and consumer cleaners. Although quaternary disinfectants have been around for decades, they’ll be getting some competition: nanotechnology-based disinfectants are being developed in response to the pandemic, as microparticles of metals like silver and copper have been shown to kill viruses.
14. Onshoring Services
Industrial interest in onshoring has increased since the supply chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic in the beginning of this year, as we showed in our industrial survey report. The most likely companies to onshore? Agricultural, energy, utility, and food and beverage companies.
15. Bound Metal Deposition (BMD) Additive Manufacturing
BMD additive manufacturing creates metal objects through extrusion and then sintering, and is much cheaper than SLS and EBM 3D printing. More extreme uses for 3D printing are also being developed, including machines that can 3D print sensors directly onto live organs like lungs, even when they’re still moving.
16. Zinc Citrate
Commonly used as a nutritional supplement, zinc citrate has also found its way into toothpaste thanks to its ability to combat bad breath and fight gingivitis. Zinc citrate’s cousin zinc oxide has also found new applications, as zinc oxide nanoparticles have been shown to kill bacteria and viruses.
17. Ultraviolet (UV) Curable Monomers
UV curable monomers help to control the viscosity of UV curable adhesives, printing inks, and other products by diluting the other ingredients of the adhesive and adding characteristics like flexibility or extra reactivity. These monomers may soon find their way into UV curable smart materials, which are currently being developed in small quantities.
18. Liquid Bulk Wax
Liquid wax can be used in products from cosmetics and creams to food packaging. Foamable wax mixtures for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals has been patented in recent years, which allows for disease treatment through the skin as well as cosmetic applications. Why foam instead of cream? It offers better penetration of ingredients through the skin.
19. Ferric Pyrophosphate
Ferric pyrophosphate, used as a dietary supplement for iron, is one of many health related ingredients increasingly sourced by manufacturers as health products have grown in popularity over recent years. Private label supplements especially have been taking off as both trends dovetail into each other.
20. Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries
Useful for high power and large capacity applications, lithium iron phosphate batteries are more efficient and long lasting than traditional batteries. The market for these and other advanced batteries, including flexible, rollable, and even stretchable varieties, is predicted to grow to over $500 million over the next several years.
21. Direct Metal Printing (DMP) Additive Manufacturing
DMP additive manufacturing creates 3D printed complex metal parts. It may be called on in the future to print copper, which a recent startup has figured out how to do for electric vehicle applications. However, with the antimicrobial properties of copper, printed copper could also be used to produce pandemic-fighting supplies.
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