Manufacturing & Prototyping

Unified Approach Improves the Accuracy of Five-Axis Machine Tools

Ph.D. students Jennifer Creamer and Le Ma work in Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Precision Motion Control Laboratory. (Credit: Missouri S&T) Five-axis machine tools are computer-numerically controlled (CNC) machines that can move, cut, or mill a part on five different axes at the same time. Because of inherent geometric errors, manufacturers must make adjustments when calibrating these machines. Several different approaches exist to help compensate for the errors, but none of them provides a complete picture. Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology set out to find a way to eliminate that piecemeal approach and develop a new way to capture complicated geometric errors and automatically generate compensation tables.

Posted in: News, Industrial Controls & Automation, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Motion Control, Machinery & Automation

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Metallic Glass Shatters Gear Limitations

Gears play an essential role in precision robotics, and they can become a limiting factor when the robots must perform in space missions. In particular, the extreme temperatures of deep space pose numerous problems for successful gear operation. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, technologist Douglas Hofmann and his collaborators aim to bypass the limitations of existing steel gears by creating gears from bulk metallic glass (BMG).

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Metals, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Robotics

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Researchers Spin Artificial Spider Silk

Researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Karolinska Institutet has, step by step, developed a way of "spinning" artificial spider silk.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Spinoff: Wireless Platform Integrates Sensors with Smartphones

The platform, developed using NASA nanotechnology, paved the way for interchangeable smartphone sensors.In 2007, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a call for a sensor that could equip a smartphone with the ability to detect dangerous gases and chemicals, Ames Research Center scientist Jing Li had a ready response. Four years earlier, she led a team that wrote a paper on the use of carbon nanotube sensors for gas and organic vapor detection.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Nanotechnology, Sensors

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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

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New Fabrication Technique Creates More Efficient Plastic Solar Cells

Schematic of a sequentially cast ternary (SeCaT) solar cell. (Peter and Ryan Allen) Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new strategy for fabricating more efficient plastic solar cells. The work has implications for developing solar cells with a wider absorption range and increased efficiency.

Posted in: News, Solar Power, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Manufacturing processes

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Technique Could Lower Costs of Making Bioplastics and Biofuel

Ulrica Edlund, professor of polymer technology. While abundant in nature, cellulose is difficult and expensive to find in pure or high-quality form. A Swedish research team has developed an efficient, accurate, and non-destructive way to detect the occurrence and purity of cellulose. The technique can be applied in mixtures of biopolymers as well.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Biofuels, Biomaterials, Plastics

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