Standardization News

The 10 Most Read Features of 2021

SN Online presents its annual list of the year's most popular features.
David Walsh

While the world may not have fully returned to normal in 2021, it was nonetheless a year of recovery and rebuilding. The real estate market boomed, infrastructure was in the headlines, and new, cutting-edge technologies provided society with faster, more efficient ways to build. All of this was reflected in the content on SN Online, the digital partner to Standardization News.

However, as you’ll see as you peruse this year’s list, despite society’s focus on building and rebuilding in 2021, some quirkier, less conventional topics did make it into our Top 10. Stories about leather, amusement rides, and even robots are all represented below. And of course, since it was 2021, a story on personal protective equipment (PPE) makes an appearance as well.

As always, no matter how high-tech or socially impactful the topic, standards are needed to help make these technologies safer and to streamline their development, meaning more often than not, the content on SN Online parallels developments in the world around us. Read on to see which stories and topics made this year’s list of the 10 most-read stories of the year.

1. A New Way to Build

2021 was the year 3D construction printing burst onto the technological landscape. Though not a new technology by any means, the immense potential for this building method began to take shape, with new materials such as polymers coming to the forefront. This story about standards for those new materials was the most popular feature of the year on SN Online.

2. The Shape of Concrete to Come

Continuing with the theme of building, this feature on the transformative technology of 3D concrete printing (3DCP) was the second most-read feature of 2021. Exploring 3DCP projects from the Netherlands to Mexico, it is clear that standards will be at the center of this technology’s evolution.

3. Additive Manufacturing Advances the Energy Industry

With all things additive manufacturing-related making headlines in 2021, it’s no surprise that this story, demonstrating the power of this disruptive technology to solve supply chain problems and save the energy industry billions in productivity and efficiency, came in third on our list.

4. The 3 Most Important Standards for Amusement Rides and Devices

Sometimes the timing and story topic come together well, as in the case of this feature. With summer in full swing in the northern hemisphere at the time, this story about standards for amusement rides and devices received a lot of attention, and landed at number four on our list.

5. Plastics and the Circular Economy

The phrase “circular economy” certainly had a great deal of buzz surrounding it in 2021, as the world ramped up efforts to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Standards for the recycling of plastics, as well as for biodegradable plastics and plastics in the marine environment are just a few examples of how standards are helping to “close the circle.”

6. The (Mis)Use of Ordinary Linear Squares Regression

SN’s Data Points column has long been a reader favorite, generating numerous letters to the editor and sparking enthusiastic debate among members of the standards community. So it was particularly gratifying this year when the Mar/Apr installment came in as the number six most-read article of the year.

7. Calling All Robots

From manufacturing to warehousing to the medical field, robots have quickly gone from the realm of science fiction to being a physical presence in everyday life, making society more efficient and productive. This story tracing the robot revolution and the accompanying reorganization of ASTM’s committee on robotics, automation, and autonomous systems (F45), was a popular one with readers.

8. Like a Glove: Standards for Leather

Occasionally a story is simply interesting to readers, and this quirky SN Online story about standards for leather – from jackets to gloves to military equipment – was just such a story, receiving enough traffic to make it the eighth most popular story of 2021.

9. PPE Efforts Accelerate

This story reminded us all that even though the world began to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, we still aren’t out of the woods. Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks will be needed for the foreseeable future, and standards are continuing to evolve to meet the needs of society.

10. Exoskeletons Come to the Medical Field

Another SN Online-only story rounds out the Top 10, with this feature focusing on one of the most intriguing aspects of the robotics revolution: exoskeletons for medical applications such as rehabilitation.