Using the octopus as inspiration, researchers in Germany have built a silent propulsion system for boats and water sport devices. The actuator works by sucking water into an elastomer ball, which is then contracted by a hydraulic piston. The most compelling feature is that the designers can produce the system in a single step with a 3-D printer.
At the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Tampa, Fla. last week, National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist Myles Steiner announced a world record of 31.1% conversion efficiency for a two-junction solar cell under one sun of illumination. The achievement edges the previous record of 30.8% by Alta Devices.
Stratasys, a leading maker of 3-D printers, is buying another 3-D printer manufacturer, MakerBot, for $403 million in stock. Stratasys Ltd. says the acquisition will enable it to offer affordable desktop 3-D printers. MakerBot's owners will receive 4.76 million newly issued Stratasys shares and are eligible for another 2.38 million through the end of 2014 if certain performance targets are met.
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.
3-D printing can now be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand. The printed microbatteries could supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications, including many that have lingered on laboratory benches for lack of a battery small enough to fit the device, yet provide enough stored energy to power them.
Researchers in Germany have developed a method that can reduce engine friction and wear even during production of engine components. The new surface finishing methods that the team from five different Fraunhofer Institute locations produce a nanocrystalline layer which offers much improved tribological properties of the metal. The advance, they say, can help to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
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.
A rabbit sculpture, the size of a typical bacterium, is one of several whimsical shapes created by a team of Japanese scientists using a new material that can be molded into complex, highly conductive 3D structures with features just a few micrometers across. The new resin holds promise for making customized electrodes for fuel cells or batteries, as well as biosensor interfaces for medical uses.
A University of British Columbia engineer and a team of U.S. researchers have made a breakthrough utilizing spray-on technology that could revolutionize the way optical lenses are made and used. Nearly all lenses—whether in an eye, a camera, or a microscope—are presently curved, which limits the aperture, or amount of light that enters. The new spray-on lens is flat, and can be affixed to a glass slide.
In a medical first, doctors used plastic particles and a 3D laser printer to create an airway splint to save the life of a baby boy who used to stop breathing nearly every day. Because of a birth defect, the Kaiba Gionfriddo’s airway kept collapsing, causing his breathing to stop and often his heart, too. Doctors in Michigan had been researching artificial airway splints but had not implanted one in a patient yet.
Northwestern University researchers have recently developed a graphene-based ink that is highly conductive and tolerant to bending, and they have used it to inkjet-print graphene patterns that could be used for extremely detailed, conductive electrodes. The resulting patterns are 250 times more conductive than previous attempts to print graphene-based electronic patterns and could be a step toward low-cost, foldable electronics.
Something unique is happening in Fremont, California, a nondescript suburb of 217,000 tucked in the high-tech region between San Francisco and Silicon Valley: manufacturing. From Tesla Motors, making cutting-edge cars, to Solaria, making solar panels, manufacturers are drawn to Fremont by incentives including a five-year waiver on business taxes, an expedited regulatory process, proximity to Silicon Valley firms and a skilled labor force.
Researchers in Europe have developed a new experimental system to gain accurate information on mechanical values and properties of any microelectromechanical (MEMS) device through electrical measurement. The technique works by applying a current across the device with a varying frequency and analyzes the harmonic content of the output voltage of the component parts.
Ripening fruit, vegetables, and flowers release ethylene, which works as a plant hormone. Ethylene accelerates ripening, so other unripened fruit also begins to ripen—fruit and vegetables quickly spoil and flowers wilt. researchers in Japan have now introduced a new catalytic system for the fast and complete degradation of ethylene. This could keep the air in warehouses ethylene-free, keeping perishable products fresh longer.
Paper, a light and foldable raw material, could be a cost-efficient and simple basis for electronic devices if a practical solution for depositing conductive structures could be found. Researchers in Germany say they have done this by creating targeted structures by printing and heating a catalyst on a sheet of paper. The solution was created with a conventional inkjet printer.
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.
Researchers in Spain report they have produced self-compacting concrete with ash from the boiler combustion of olive pruning residue pellets. The plasticity and cohesion of this type of concrete, they say, means no compaction is needed when used in construction, which helps reduce cost. It also has slightly higher compression strength than conventional concrete.
Scientists at Princeton University used off-the-shelf printing tools to create a functional ear that can "hear" radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability. Standard tissue engineering involves seeding types of cells onto a scaffold of a polymer material called a hydrogel. But this method is not useful for complex 3D shapes, which is why researchers turned to 3D printing methods.
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.
Kevin Keener, a professor of food science at Purdue University, looks for new ways to kill harmful bacteria, and has determined that exposing packaged liquids, fruits, and vegetables to an electrical field for just minutes could remove all traces of foodborne pathogens. His method uses electricity to generate a plasma, or ionized gas, from atmospheric gases inside the food package.
An advance in micromotor technology akin to the invention of cars that fuel themselves from the pavement or air, rather than gasoline or batteries, is opening the door to broad new medical and industrial uses for these tiny devices, scientists said here today. Their update on development of the motors—so small that thousands would fit inside this "o"—was part of the American Chemical Society national meeting.
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.
People who are hard of hearing can quickly drift into social isolation. Worse, they can also get into dangerous situations, for example when driving or crossing the road. For many of them, their hearing is so damaged that a standard hearing aid is no longer enough. A new device developed by researchers in Europe is intended to improve patients’ hearing and can be implanted during outpatient surgery.
As a possible method for accelerating transmission of large data, researchers are studying the adoption of gigabits per second (Gbps) wireless communications operating over the 60 GHz radio frequency (RF) band. But mobile applications have not been developed yet because the 60 GHz RF circuit consumes hundreds of milliwatts of DC power. A new chip developed at KAIST in Korea, however, consumes as little 67 mW of power thanks to newly developed components.