Factory tour at Asada Mesh

Activity report

On September 19, nine Leading Program students (two first-year students, six second-year students, and one third-year student) visited the Kagoshima Plant operated by Asa Mesh Co., Ltd., in the city of Satsumasendai, Kagoshima Prefecture. The company manufactures and sells the world's finest stainless steel mesh, and the students toured the facility to witness its state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities. In addition to seeing some of the world's most pioneering technologies for themselves, students experienced how screen printing is performed and participated in an extended question-and-answer session as part of what was a very rich training session. The company conducted not only the plant tour, but also an information session about its operations and the question-and-answer session in English. Half of the participating students were international students, and they were heard expressing their thrill at the use of English.

The Leading Program would like to take this opportunity to extend its heartfelt gratitude to President Hideaki Asada and Vice President Hideaki Hayashi, who came down to the plant from the company's Head Office in Osaka.

[Participation report by Chongchao Li, 2nd-year student]
1. Purpose of participation

The Advanced Leading Graduate Program "Global Leader Program for Fiber Renaissance" aims to train graduates who possess leadership qualities and who can act as a leader in industries. It is important for the students to understand how good‐quality products are made at manufacturing sites, outside the campus. To develop application skills, we will learn how the knowledge and the techniques we have learned in lectures and on-campus facilities are employed in the actual manufacturing process. It also will be a good opportunity to discuss with technicians to learn problem-solving skills.

2. Problems identified as a result of participation
This time's factory tour was almost perfect. The company was very considerate to provide English explanation all the time. And it was very kind and wise to divide us into two groups when visiting the sites there. I didn't have any problems this time, but I think it might be better to check the speakers and laser pointer beforehand to avoid chaos, although it didn't affect the overall experience at all.

3. Results of participation
It was my first time to learn that the metal mesh can be made so fine and soft. We have had many lectures about weaving structure and fabrics, but all of them were talking about fibers and yarns. While Asada Mesh applied weaving technology into stainless steel wire, aiming to make the finest steel mesh in the world. I think that is an impressive innovation.
At the beginning, I didn't know what these precise meshes are capable of, until I learned another thing for the first time, Screen-printing. It is just so smart to use screen-printing to produce those precise components which other technologies are not able to. We were offered an opportunity to try screen-printing by our own hands. I felt so amazing when seeing a pattern could be printed so easily and accurately.

4. How will you apply what you learned to your research?
For my present research, I need to find an ideal electrode for my materials. Since I am working on electroactive dielectric elastomer for actuators such as artificial muscle and they are very flexible, the electrodes attached to those materials also need to be very soft to reduce the movement restriction of the materials. I was very surprised and excited when I touched the stainless meshes because of their softness. I received some different samples from the company and I will use them for my experiments. Hopefully, that will be the solution for the electrode that I am looking for.
Apart from that, the technology of screen-printing also provides an idea for patterning pre-designed electrodes or even actuators for my research.

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