This week, Sandia National Laboratories is hosting the seventh annual Western National Robot Rodeo and Capability Exercise, a challenging five-day event that draws civilian and military bomb squad teams from across the country to see who can most effectively defuse dangerous situations with the help of robots. The competition provides an opportunity to practice using robots and new technology in a low-risk, but competitive environment.
More than 2,500 attendees turned out for the 2013 RAPID Conference and Exposition, almost doubling last year’s attendance and reflecting widespread excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing, according to event organizer SME. It included attendees from nearly 30 countries and the U.S.
Surprisingly large amounts of discarded trash end up in the ocean. A recent paper by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) shows how trash is accumulating in the deep sea, particularly in Monterey Canyon. Inspired during a fisheries study, the researchers counted over 1,500 observations of deep-sea debris, the frequency of which surprised them.
Once a science-fiction fantasy, three-dimensional printers are popping up everywhere from the desks of home hobbyists to Air Force drone research centers. The machines, generally the size of a microwave oven and costing $400 to more than $500,000, extrude layer upon layer of materials to create 3-D objects with moving parts. But experts warn this cool innovation could soon turn controversial.
Once uncommunicative industrial robots and machine tools are now beginning to talk turkey, thanks to a prototype application developed by a team of partner companies led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). This application was successfully demonstrated and tested by manufacturing researchers at NIST.
Surrounded by engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, NASA chief Charles Bolden on Thursday inspected a prototype spacecraft engine that could power an audacious mission to lasso an asteroid and tow it closer to Earth for astronauts to explore. Once relegated to science fiction, ion propulsion is preferred for deep space cruising because it's more fuel-efficient.
As markets for miniature, hybrid machines known as MEMS grow and diversify, NIST has introduced a long-awaited measurement tool that will help growing numbers of device designers, manufacturers and customers to see eye to eye on eight dimensional and material property measurements that are key to device performance.
An engineer in Finland has designed a new evaluation model that allows developers to determine how fatigue sets in with various welded steel materials. By considering the differences between traditional welds and structural joining technologies and newer more advanced methods, he model allows for the development of lighter structures, and as a consequence, more energy-efficient ships.
After China reported quarterly economic growth of 7.7% this week, global markets reacted by falling, wiping out billions of dollars in stock. The reason? Growth came in under the 8% expected by forecasters. The plunge highlighted complaints about the possible inaccuracy of Beijing's official data and the intense, possibly excessive importance traders attach to a handful of Chinese economic indicators.
The University of Connecticut and Pratt & Whitney this week celebrated the opening of a new Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center at UConn, one of the most advanced additive manufacturing laboratories in the nation. Located on UConn’s Depot Campus in Storrs, the center features the latest in 3D manufacturing equipment and rapid prototyping technologies.
The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in America last year. But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it, and the high cost of using the robotic system. Is it time to curb the robot enthusiasm?
GE and Lufkin Industries Inc. announced this week a joint agreement whereby GE will acquire Lufkin Industries Inc., a leading provider of artificial lift technologies for the oil and gas industry and a manufacturer of industrial gears, for approximately $3.3 billion. The move accelerates GE’s growth in artificial lift with solutions for a wider variety of well types.
Driving a car at low engine speed causes torsional vibrations that passengers perceive as a hum. A new type of centrifugal pendulum has been developed in Germany that helps reduce these vibrations. This device might be useful as automakers increasingly use engines with fewer cylinders which are prone to this phenomenon.
Have you ever had a fighter jet fly over your home and the noise of the aircraft booms loud enough to rattle the windows? Imagine working on an aircraft carrier or air base, up close to the engines as they take off or land. Several U.S.-based research teams, with the support of the Office of Naval Research, have been tasked with finding a way to reduce that deafening noise as part of a three-year project.
Singapore company Hoestar PD Technology is working with that country’s leading research organization, A*STAR, to deploy wireless piezoelectric sensors that will track vibrations and stresses that affect the health of machinery such as motors, pumps and generators. The size of a coin, the sensors increase productivity by saving time, reducing manual checking, and offering precision at detecting defects.
Innovnano, a manufacturer of high performance ceramic powder, has produced highly pure 4YSZ (4 mol% yttria stabilised zirconia), a thermal barrier coating material with exceptional properties for withstanding extreme temperature variations found in demanding operating environments. The patented manufacturing process delivers resilient coatings for improved turbine efficiency.
Metallized Carbon Corporation has announced the availability of carbon-graphite ball valve seats for use in valves designed to handle hot liquids or hot gases. The ball valve seats are available in more than 150 grades of Metcar’s proprietary carbon/graphite material.
A century after Western explorers first crossed the dangerous landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic, researchers funded by the National Science Foundation have successfully deployed a self-guided robot that uses ground-penetrating radar to map deadly crevasses hidden in ice-covered terrains. Deployment of the robot—dubbed Yeti—could make Arctic and Antarctic explorations safer by revealing unseen fissures buried beneath ice and snow that could potentially claim human lives and expensive equipment.
Engineers at Harvard University have already shown that their unusual “soft” robots can already stand, walk, wriggle under obstacles, and change colors. Now, using small explosions produced by a mix of methane and oxygen, these researchers have designed a soft robot that can leap as much as a foot in the air.
Electric rocket engines known as Hall thrusters, which use a super high-velocity stream of ions to propel a spacecraft in space, have been used successfully onboard many missions for half a century. Erosion of the discharge channels walls, however, has limited their application to the inner solar system. A research team at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found a way to effectively control this erosion by shaping the engine's magnetic field in a way that shields the walls from ion bombardment.
Engineers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korea Railroad Research Institute have designed a wireless technology that can be applied to high capacity transportation systems such as railways, harbor freight, and airport transportation, and logistics. The technology supplies 60 kHz and 180 kW of power remotely to transport vehicles at a stable, constant rate.
The Navy’s fifth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), Milwaukee, will be the first to benefit from new high-power density waterjets aimed at staving off rudder and propeller damage experienced on high-speed ships. Developed by Rolls-Royce Naval Marine in Walpole, Mass., the new Axial-Flow Waterjet Mk-1 can move nearly half a million gallons of seawater per minute, providing more thrust per unit than current commercial waterjets.
Young engineers who weren't even born when the last Saturn V rocket took off for the moon are testing a vintage engine from the Apollo program. The engine, known to NASA engineers as No. F-6049, was grounded because of a glitch during a test in Mississippi and later sent to the Smithsonian Institution. Now, NASA engineers are using to get ideas on how to develop the next generation of rockets for future missions to the moon and beyond.
In the past week, researchers with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS) project, the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project and the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) project each announced they had achieved these various milestones. In each case, the successes were based on innovative drilling technologies and promise to open new scientific vistas for Antarctic research.
A team of researchers have built a new type of nuclear reactor that is reliable enough to be used on space flights. The prototype, which has been used to generate 24 W of electricity, relies on heat pipe technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1983. The fluid-based cooling system requires no moving parts and the reactor itself is based on a simply closed-loop Stirling engine.