Tech Briefs Interview: NASA’s Kathy Lueders

At the annual meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in Detroit on January 14, 1959, NASA’s first Administrator, Dr. T. Keith Glennan, said: “I can imagine a remote future when spaceflight, in some form, might become nearly as commonplace as air travel is today.”

Posted in: Articles, Aviation


Testing Devices Garner Data on Insulation Performance

A NASA-developed instrument tests insulation for everything from racecars to refrigerators. According to James Fesmire, senior principal investigator of the Cryogenics Test Laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, “When we talk about cryogenic tanks and deep spacecraft protection, we can easily talk about hot water heaters and engine compartments for NASCAR at the same time.”

Posted in: Articles, Measuring Instruments


NASA, Then and Now

Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s predecessor. Born on March 3, 1915, NACA changed the face of U.S. aviation, establishing a legacy of innovative aeronautical research that continues at NASA today.

Posted in: Articles, UpFront, Aviation


Tissue-Building Technique Could Someday Build Organs

A new instrument developed at Brown University could someday build replacement human organs the way electronics are assembled today. In this case, the parts are 3D microtissues containing thousands to millions of living cells. The device is called “BioP3” for pick, place, and perfuse. Because it allows assembly of larger structures from small living microtissue components, future versions of BioP3 could be used to manufacture organs such as livers, pancreases, or kidneys.

Posted in: Articles, UpFront


Google Glass for Industrial Automation

A new concept uses Google Glass for operating machinery, with all of the benefits delivered by wearable computing in an industrial environment. With Google’s Web-enabled glasses, status or dialog messages can be projected via a head-up display directly into a person’s field of vision. Online information and communication is also possible with this innovative device, and error messages can be acknowledged using a touchpad.

Posted in: Articles, Optics, Machinery & Automation


Energy Efficiency in Machine Tools

Discussions of the efficient use of energy have become more frequent in many sectors of industry. Machine tools comprise numerous motors and auxiliary components whose energy consumption can vary strongly during machining. The main spindle drive, for example, and the coolant system work near their rated power during roughing with a high stock removal rate, while the power consumption during finishing is significantly lower. There is a very close interdependence between the individual components and subassemblies of a machine tool and aspects of productivity and quality. From a detailed examination of manufacturing processes to the power consumption of individual components, potential for savings can be evaluated and measures can be defined for the efficient use of energy.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles, Energy Efficiency, Motors & Drives, Machinery & Automation


Robust Gimbal System for Small-Payload Manipulation

This is a low-mass, small-volume gimbal unit. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Spaceborne gimbal systems are typically bulky with large footprints. Such a gimbal system may consist of a forked elevation stage rotating on top of the azimuth motor, and occupy a large volume. Mounting flexibility of such a system may be limited.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP, Motors & Drives