Manufacturing & Prototyping

3D Printed Tensegrity Object Can Change Shape

Researchers at Georgia Tech 3D printed an object made with tensegrity, a structural system of floating rods in compression and cables in continuous tension. (Credit: Rob Felt)

A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a way to use 3D printers to create objects capable of shape change. The objects use tensegrity, a structural system of floating rods in compression and cables in continuous tension. The researchers fabricated the struts from shape memory polymers that unfold when heated. The technology could someday be used in applications ranging from space missions to biomedical devices.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control
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Fabrication of BSA 14-23 Superhydrophobic Sponges as Efficient Oil and Organic Liquid Absorbents

This approach is fast, simple, inexpensive, widely applicable, and scalable.

Oil spills have become an environmental problem due to the growth of offshore oil exploration, production, and transportation. There are several methods that have been used to clean up oil spills such as chemical dispersants, water skimming, and using absorbent materials. Although skimming is the most common method for cleaning large spills, this method is time-consuming, expensive, and poorly separates oil and water. Chemical dispersants can be used to break up oil slicks into droplets that can be easily dissipated in water, but the mixture of oil and dispersants can be toxic and damage marine ecosystems. Thus, the use of oil sorbents can be an effective method to ease oil collection, and sorbents have a high capacity for removing oil from a targeted site.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Suspended Platform Improves Efficiency in Large-Scale Manufacturing

The platform enables access to large, external surfaces with minimum footprint and maximum system rigidity.

The Flying Carpet is a platform of any shape, size, or material that is suspended by a four-point cable system. The platform can serve as a movable scaffolding and worker positioning system that enables workers to maneuver themselves, parts, and tools throughout a large work volume for tasks such as ship repair and aircraft paint removal with up to 20 times improved efficiency over hand-built scaffolding. The Flying Carpet is a cable-supported platform that uses single-axis jog-, velocity-, and force-control modes.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Positioning Stage

Assembly of optic-electronic devices requires precision alignment of optical fibers with lasers or sensors, and then bonding. A worker looking through a microscope at the end of a fiber conventionally executes this precision alignment and bonding process.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes

These multi-functional composite materials have applications in body armor, radiators, chemical sensors, computers, and electronics.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted much attention due to their extraordinary mechanical and unique electronic properties. CNTs are being studied for applications in high-strength/low-weight composites and other applications. In order to alter the CNT properties for particular applications, chemical functionalization may be necessary. Development of multifunctional composite materials may require functionalization of a collection of CNTs to allow the tubes to be dispersed more easily in a host matrix.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Carbon Fiber and Fiber Metal Laminate Composites Reinforced with Metallic Glass

This new class of composites has applications in aerospace, automotive, sporting goods, military, and defense.

Carbon fiber (CF) and carbon fiber composites have gained widespread use in recent years due to their unique combination of high strength and stiffness-to-weight ratio. To improve their mechanical properties, CF is sometimes used as a laminate, usually with aluminum, to improve the impact and residual strength properties of the CF. By bonding sheets of CF and aluminum, it was noticed that fatigue crack growth rates could be reduced in the laminates, as compared to monolithic sheets of either material. These composites have been referred to as CF metal laminates (CFMLs), and they are generally comprised of thin sheets of metal alloys (not always Al) and plies of fiber (not always carbon fiber) reinforced with polymeric materials.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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3D-Printed Soft Robot ‘Walks’ on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments.

A team at the University of California San Diego has demonstrated a more flexible option: a soft robot that lifts its legs over obstacles and operates on a variety of terrains. The 3D-printed quadrupedal technology may someday support search-and-rescue missions requiring intelligent navigation capabilities.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Automation, Robotics
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What's New on Tech Briefs: Brickmaking on Mars a 'Smashing' Success

With support from Congress and the President, NASA aims to send a manned mission to Mars by 2040. Establishing a human presence on the Red Planet, however, will require permanent shelters.

And lugging a pile of bricks on the nine-month, 35-million-mile trip is out of the question.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling
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A New Material for Mars Habitats? Mars Itself

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a compaction technique that may someday be used to turn Mars soil into building blocks for the Red Planet. The scientists' new method of applying pressure offers construction possibilities as NASA plans manned Mars missions in the upcoming decades.

Posted in: News, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials
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What's New on TechBriefs.com: 3D Printing's Next Frontier

In 1983, when Chuck Hull was spending nights and weekends building the first 3D printer, he couldn’t have imagined that someone would eventually use the apparatus to build a toaster from ashes.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling
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