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5 Innovative Manufacturing Brands to Watch

Ashton Belk
24 January, 2022

This year we are celebrating the diverse and vibrant world of manufacturing, a world we are honored to serve. Last week, we looked at manufacturing brands that have survived for more than 100 years. Today we’re shining a light on 5 innovative brands that are shaping our future.

These brands combine the innovative thinking that marks great manufacturers with a strong brand relevancy factor. Let’s explore what other manufacturing brands can learn from these five trailblazers.


Lightning E-Motors

Commercial electric vehicle manufacturer, Loveland, Colorado

Lightning eMotors

Image: Lightningemotors.com

Electric cars aren’t necessarily new to the manufacturing scene, but demand is at an all-time high. Lightning E-Motors provides the fundamental component to get more electric cars on the road: the engine. Lightning E-Motors designs, assembles, and integrates their electric motors into pre-manufactured vehicle bodies. By using readily available parts (like bus bodies and wheelchair lifts), they help more commercial vehicles go electric faster. They’re not reinventing the wheel and they don’t want to – they want to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road, and the atmosphere thanks them!

Lightning E-Motors teaches us that sometimes innovation isn’t about what you build from scratch but about being the best at what you do to support the ecosystem as a whole.

Okeanos

Sustainable packaging manufacturers, Miami, Florida

Okeanos

Image: MadefromStone.com

Did you know that at our current rate, our oceans are expected to have more plastic than fish by 2050? Well, Okeanos is serving up sustainability on a plate … made from stones! Takeout containers, hand cream tubes, potato chip bags can all be made with less plastic and carbon emissions by replacing 50-80% of the plastic with calcium carbonate, a naturally abundant, renewable resource. Companies that want to use more sustainable packaging can start right away. The pellets of finely ground stone can be integrated into pre-existing packaging manufacturing systems, without any new equipment or investment. And when that Okeanos coffee cup finally ends up in the trash can, it degrades in months as opposed to hundreds of years. Think of how happy the fish will be!

Natural Fiber Welding

Plant-based textile manufacturer, Peoria, Illinois

Natural Fiber Welding

Image: PeoriaMagazines.com

Natural Fiber Welding taps the abundant resources of nature to create the textiles of the future, engineering “leather” from plants. From Allbirds to Porsche to Ralph Lauren, Natural Fiber Welding is changing the landscape of natural fabric manufacturing. By manipulating the recycled textile fibers (like cotton or hemp) at an atomic level, they give it the performance of a synthetic (like your stretchy yoga pants!) without the pollution of plastic or petroleum. Their fabrics will never end up in a landfill because they can be completely reused or recycled.

Okeanos & Natural Fiber Welding both teach us that innovation can be a disruption. By trying to solve the problem at its source, these two brands create a substitute by strengthening their material with naturally abundant resources that are better for our planet without costing the consumer.

DroneSeed

Reforestation drone manufacturer, Seattle, Washington

Drone Seed

Image: TechCrunch.com

With the wildfires on the rise, we need our forests back quicker than ever, and we need to protect new seedlings from future fires. In the past, when a forest needed to be replanted, we had to rely on manpower and shovels, but DroneSeed takes off-the-shelf drones and customizes them to scatter seeds from the air, monitor the ground area with customized software, and spray pesticides to keep invasive plants at bay. Climate change has created unique problems in all our ecosystems, but DroneSeed’s technology could help us prevent the next Dust Bowl or Great Famine of China.

DroneSeed teaches us that innovation can be a repurposing. By taking something off-the-shelf, DroneSeed reimagines a drone’s function for a new solution.

Arris Composites

Composite manufacturing, Berkeley, California

Arris Composites

Image: 3DPrint.com

If it’s good enough for an airplane, it’s good enough for most things, right? Applying their knowledge of aerospace material manufacturing, Arris Composites developed Additive Molding, a technology that can mold the most advanced materials in the world (like continuous carbon & glass fibers) with industrial thermoplastics, embedded metals, and electronics. Usually, this process would take several different manufacturing steps, reserving it only for advanced industries. However, Additive Molding allows all of these components to be 3-D printed together for a wide variety of uses. The design possibilities are endless: lighter running shoes, unbreakable phone screens, sleeker airplane parts that reduce emissions. Hardware with integrated electronics can be formed into a mold and mass-manufactured all under one roof.

Arris Composites teaches us that innovation can be a reinvention, empowering designers with the materials to make things smarter, lighter, stronger, and more sustainable.


Innovation can take many forms, but these five companies share one thing in common: they see the value of solving tomorrow’s problems not only for their clients but for the greater good. And they are pros at staying true to what makes them relevant to the world. We look forward to watching these brands grow.

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