Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Over 24 hours from April 4 to 5, six top French design studios conceived and presented new product concepts for urban environments during the Small Spaces Design Hackathon, presented by Cut&Paste in partnership with Hewlett-Packard. In dense city neighborhoods, homes are small and office space is at a premium, so urban dwellers must be more creative in how they use their space. The design concepts were presented at Cyclone Le Studio as part of ZED, HP’s creative popup space.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Power Management, PCs/Portable Computers, Imaging, Displays/Monitors/HMIs, Software, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE), Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Energy, Lighting, Test & Measurement, Monitoring, News

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Optical Inspection System Finds Defects in Ultra-High-Speed Manufacturing

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM in Germany have developed an optical inspection system called WIRE-AOI that can detect defects in strip products such as pipes, rails, and wires in real time. The system detects micro-defects that zoom past it at 10 meters per second, and are no thicker than a human hair. Workers then see the processed defects depicted graphically on a monitor, and can remove the corresponding pieces.

Posted in: Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Optics, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, News

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Robonaut 2 Gets its Space Legs

Thanks to a successful launch of the SpaceX-3 flight of the Falcon 9/Dragon capsule on Friday, April 18, the lower limbs for Robonaut 2 (R2) are aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Safely tucked inside the Dragon resupply vehicle, R2’s legs are to be attached by a station crew member to Robonaut’s torso already on the orbiting outpost.Jointly developed by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates in cooperation with General Motors, R2 showcases how a robotic assistant can work alongside humans, whether tasks are done in space or on Earth in a manufacturing facility.The R2 now consists of a head and a torso with two arms and two hands. With the addition of the newly developed climbing legs, the robot can augment its chief role: to help astronauts by taking over some of their duties on the space station.Making use of toe-like fixtures—called “end effectors” that take the place of feet—R2 can use sockets and handrails to move about. With legs, the robot can lend a hand, or two, to the crew while secured to the station by at least one leg.“We’ll go from being the first humanoid robot in space to being the first mobile humanoid robot in space,” said Ron Diftler, Robonaut Project Manager within the Robotic Systems Technology Branch at the NASA Johnson Space Center. “Being mobile significantly adds to our capability.”SourceAlso: Read a "Who's Who at NASA" Q&A with a Robonaut 2 robotics engineer.

Posted in: Aerospace, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News

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Aircraft Engine Coating Could Triple Service Life and Save Fuel

Researchers at University West in Sweden are using nanoparticles in the heat-insulating surface layer that protects aircraft engines from heat. In tests, this increased the service life of the coating by 300%. The hope is that motors with the new layers will be in production within two years. The surface layer is sprayed on top of the metal components. Thanks to this extra layer, the engine is shielded from heat. The temperature can also be raised, which leads to increased efficiency, reduced emissions, and decreased fuel consumption.

Posted in: Materials, Ceramics, Coatings & Adhesives, Motion Control, Power Transmission, Energy Efficiency, Energy, Aerospace, Aviation, Nanotechnology, News

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Pocket-Sized Anthrax Detector Aids Global Agriculture

A credit-card-sized anthrax detection cartridge developed at Sandia National Laboratories and recently licensed to a small business makes testing safer, easier, faster and cheaper.Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, is commonly found in soils all over the world and can cause serious, and often fatal, illness in both humans and animals. The bacteria can survive in harsh conditions for decades. In humans, exposure to B. anthracis may occur through skin contact, inhalation of spores or eating contaminated meat.The new device, which is more like a pocket-sized laboratory, could cost around $5-7 and does not require a battery, electric power, or other specialized tools to operate.SourceAlso: See other Sensors tech briefs.

Posted in: Green Design & Manufacturing, Sensors, Detectors, Defense, News

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Versatile Adhesive Mimics Gecko Feet

A team of University of Massachusetts Amherst inventors created a new, more versatile version of their invention, Geckskin. The technology adheres strongly to a wider range of surfaces, yet releases easily, like a gecko’s feet.“Imagine sticking your tablet on a wall to watch your favorite movie and then moving it to a new location when you want, without the need for pesky holes in your painted wall,” says polymer science and engineering professor Al Crosby. Geckskin is a ‘gecko-like,’ reusable adhesive device that they had previously demonstrated can hold heavy loads on smooth surfaces such as glass.Unlike other gecko-like materials, the UMass Amherst invention does not rely on mimicking the tiny, nanoscopic hairs found on gecko feet, but rather builds on “draping adhesion,” which derives from the gecko’s integrated anatomical skin-tendon-bone system. SourceAlso: See other Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, News

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Nanomaterial Extends Lithium-Sulfur Battery Lifespan

A new nanomaterial could extend the lifespan of lithium-sulfur batteries, and therefore the driving range of electric vehicles.Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers added the powder to the battery's cathode to capture problematic polysulfides that usually cause lithium-sulfur batteries to fail after a few charges.Metal organic frameworks — also called MOFs — are crystal-like compounds made of metal clusters connected to organic molecules, or linkers. Together, the clusters and linkers assemble into porous 3-D structures. During lab tests, a lithium-sulfur battery with PNNL's MOF cathode maintained 89 percent of its initial power capacity after 100 charge-and discharge cycles. Having shown the effectiveness of their MOF cathode, PNNL researchers now plan to further improve the cathode's mixture of materials so it can hold more energy.SourceAlso: Check out other Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: Batteries, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Materials, Metals, Nanotechnology, News

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