News

Space Station Crew 3D Prints Student-Designed Tool

The tool created by student Robert Hillan was printed on the International Space Station. (NASA) A college student who won a NASA design challenge recently had the tool he designed 3D-printed on the Additive Manufacturing Facility on the International Space Station. The Multipurpose Precision Maintenance Tool was printed by astronaut Jeff Williams onboard the station.

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Bacteria Helps Make Chemicals from Wood Waste

(Photo: Colourbox) The present-day chemical industry is based on oil. Many chemical products – from plastics through to detergents and solvents, to medication and crop protection products – have their origins in oil and its constituents. A research team has demonstrated an alternative manufacturing method for a major basic chemical product, succinic acid, which can be manufactured in a cost-effective, environmentally friendly and safe manner using bacteria.

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New Technology “Prints” Customized Pills

The drug tablet consists of three components: a casing, a non-drug-containing polymer, and a polymer containing the drug in a specially designed shape (shown in photo) that determines the rate of release of the drug. (Photo: National University of Singapore) Researchers have found a way to make personalized medicine cheaper and easier through a tablet fabrication system that 3D prints a myriad of pills in just one tablet. While there are existing tablet-production methods, they can only fabricate tablets that release drugs with a limited type of profiles. The new fabrication method can be applied at individualized settings where physicians could produce customized pills on the spot for patients, or in mass production settings by pharmaceutical companies.

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Researchers Keep Hydrogels Hydrated

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a way to prevent hydrogels from dehydrating. The water-based technique could lead to longer-lasting contact lenses, stretchy microfluidic devices, flexible bioelectronics, and even artificial skin.

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New Method Combats Virtual Reality Sickness

Views of the virtual environment before and after subtle, dynamic FOV modification. (Photo: Ajoy Fernandes and Steve Feiner) Researchers have developed a method of combating virtual reality (VR) sickness that can be applied to consumer head-worn VR displays such as the Sony PlayStation VR. The approach dynamically, yet subtly, changes the user’s field of view (FOV) in response to visually perceived motion.

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Soft Actuator Provides Gentle Strength for Robots

Compliant electrodes are attached to each side of the membrane and cause it to stretch when voltage is applied. A membrane switches from its more compact state to its stretched state when voltage is applied to its electrodes. (©Alejandro Posada) Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart developed a motion system that is compliant and can be integrated in robots thanks to its space-saving design. The device consists of a dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA), which is a membrane made of hyperelastic material like a latex balloon with flexible electrodes attached to each side. The stretching of the membrane is regulated by means of an electric field between the electrodes.

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Technique Controls Autonomous Vehicles in Extreme Conditions

Georgia Tech researchers are using an electric-powered autonomous vehicle to help driverless vehicles maintain control at the edge of their handling limits. (Photo: Rob Felt) Researchers have devised a novel way to help keep a driverless vehicle under control as it maneuvers at the edge of its handling limits. The new technology is being tested by racing, sliding, and jumping one-fifth-scale, fully autonomous auto-rally cars at the equivalent of 90 mph. The technique – model predictive path integral control (MPPI) – was developed to address the nonlinear dynamics involved in controlling a vehicle near its friction limits.

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