From energy efficiency and grid storage to 3-D printing and advanced materials, 2012 was a year rife with exciting new technologies and innovations that promise to impact every facet of manufacturing.

Carrying these developments and driving them into the mainstream is a field of some of the most aggressively innovative and forward-looking companies the industry has seen.

Harnessing the potential of such global trends as infrastructure, health and wellness, and alternative energy, these companies have emerged as new tech leaders by matching pressing social and economic needs for new technologies with the business prowess and R&D investment needed to bring them to life.

As we close out this year and review the progress it has brought us, emerging technology research firm, Lux Research, has pulled together a list of the 10 most compelling companies that led the way during this busy year of innovation.

This list was drawn from 1,380 companies across 15 different technology domains profiled in 2012. According to Lux, the profiles are based on primary and secondary research, rating each on a 10-metric scorecard and providing critical analysis of their prospects.

Each firm receives a "Lux Take" that ranges from "Strong Caution" to "Strong Positive," to provide a bottom-line assessment of its prospects, with a "wait and see" rating for companies that still face too much uncertainty for a definitive call.