Features

Designing for 3D Printing

3D printing has progressed over the past decade to include multimaterial fabrication, enabling production of powerful, functional objects. While many advances have been made, it still has been difficult for non-programmers to create objects made of many materials (or mixtures of materials) without a more user-friendly interface.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Simulation Software, CAD, CAM, and CAE, Rapid prototyping, Additive manufacturing

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Camera-Equipped Vehicles ‘See the Light’ in Cities

Imagine if every police car, bus, and garbage truck gathered important infrastructure data as they made their usual routes through the city.In different field tests around the world, re searchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cam bridge, MA) mounted a camera-and-sensor system to the tops of vehicles. As the cars traveled up and down streets, sophisticated software recognized and recorded the presence and strength of street lights. The software estimated pole heights and distinguished between the street lamp’s output and other points of illumination.

Posted in: Articles, Automotive, Optics, Imaging and visualization, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Intelligent transportation systems

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Developing a Laser System to Decrease the Rate of Neurodevelopment Issues

A fairly new biomedical imaging modality, optoacoustic imaging is based on the use of laser-generated ultrasound. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it is a hybrid method that has emerged over the past two decades, combining the high-contrast and spectroscopic-based specificity of optical imaging with the high spatial resolution of ultrasound imaging.

Posted in: Articles, Diagnostics, Imaging, Medical, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Imaging and visualization, Lasers, Medical equipment and supplies, Nervous system

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SPIE Photonics West 2017 Preview

The SPIE Photonics West 2017 technical conference and exhibition returns to The Moscone Center in San Francisco, January 28 through February 2, offering attendees the opportunity to explore the latest innovations in lasers, photonics, optics, optoelectronics, biophotonics, biomedical optics, 3D printing, and more. As in the past, the event will once again kick off with BiOS, the world’s largest biomedical optics conference, before transitioning into the Photonics West conference and exhibition. Last year’s event hosted more than 20,000 attendees and put the products and services of over 1,300 exhibitors on display. More than 4,800 technical papers will be available to conference participants throughout the week (http://spie.org/photonicswest.xml).

Posted in: Articles, Photonics, Lasers, Optics, Career and professional development, Product development, Additive manufacturing

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NASA's Software Answers Big Questions About Space and Earth

NASA-developed software tools provide modeling and simulation methods that tackle some of the toughest science and engineering challenges in aerospace, space exploration, and our knowledge of Earth. Simulating the SLS Sound Suppression Water SystemNASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) for deep space exploration consists of four RS-25 liquid rocket engines and two five-segment solid rocket boosters (SRBs). At ignition, the SRBs create a significant over-pressure event, known as the Ignition Over-Pressure (IOP) event. The IOP event experienced in the first space shuttle flight (STS-1) in 1981 damaged the space shuttle orbiter and motivated significant design changes to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The RS-25 liquid rocket engines aboard the SLS, along with the SRBs, also create a very significant acoustic environment that, if not mitigated, can harm the SLS launch vehicle. An Ignition Over-Pressure/Sound Suppression (IOP/SS) water system was developed to reduce the amplitude of both the IOP event and the acoustic environment caused by the firing of the RS-25 engines and the SRBs.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Water, Acoustics, Booster rocket engines, Liquid propellant rocket engines, Launch vehicles

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Top Prizes Awarded in the Create the Future Design Contest

Top prizes in the 2016 Create the Future Design Contest were awarded on November 11 in New York City. The Grand Prize winner, and winners in seven categories, took home awards for their innovative design ideas.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Design processes, Cartography, Child restraint systems, Trailers

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Temperature Sensors Cement the Integrity of Bridges

Thermal profilers, developed with NASA, ensure structural integrity of cement as it cures.The Obama administration wanted to foster partnerships with small- to medium-sized manufacturers through its Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, wherein Federal agencies around the country are asked to mentor local businesses. One of the communities selected was the Cleveland-Youngstown region of Ohio, resulting in a call to Glenn Research Center. The Adopt a City program was launched, in which eight companies were identified to receive 40 hours each of assistance from experts at Glenn.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Sensors, Collaboration and partnering, Cooperative programs

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Choosing Stepper- or Servo-Driven Actuators to Replace Air Cylinders

Pneumatic (air) cylinders are widely used in industrial automation due to their low per-axis cost and high-speed/force capabilities. They have a long history of being popular workhorses in the automation industry. However, there are many reasons to use electric actuators in place of air cylinders: reduced machine downtime, reduced energy consumption, increased precision, and increased speed. In addition, electric actuators can be powered by servo or stepper motors, in conjunction with a control device, to provide linear motion. Advantages of Electric Linear ActuatorsReduced downtime. Electric linear actuators (whether screw- or belt-driven) are very low-maintenance. Regreasing may be the only regular maintenance necessary, and many screw-driven models are lubricated for the life of the actuator.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Motion Control, Sensors and actuators, Electric motors, Durability

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Vote for Tech Briefs 22nd Annual Readers' Choice Awards

Each December, we ask our readers to cast their vote for the annual NASA Tech Briefs’ Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards. Each month, our editors choose a Product of the Month that has exceptional technical merit and practical value for our design engineering readers.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Design processes, Product development

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High-Resolution Surface Measurement

Inspectors who are assessing the severity of defects and the dimensions of small features on precision machined surfaces are limited by the capabilities of existing measurement techniques. A new type of instrument has been developed that enables direct, non-contact inspection of precision surfaces in shop floor environments. By combining the resolution of optical techniques with the portability of a handheld gauge, the new technology gives inspectors an important tool for finding and quantifying critical features on machined components.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Fiber optics, Tools and equipment, Inspections

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