Manufacturing & Prototyping

Linear Actuator Has Long Stroke and High Resolution

There are potential applications in precise measurement and precise fabrication. The term “precision linear actuator, direct drive” (“PLADD”) refers to a robust linear actuator designed to be capable of repeatedly performing, over a lifetime of the order of 5 to 10 years, positioning maneuvers that include, variously, submicron increments or slews of the order of a centimeter. The PLADD is capable of both long stroke (120 mm) and high resolution (repeatable increments of 20 nm). Unlike precise linear actuators of prior design, the PLADD contains no gears, levers, or hydraulic converters. The PLADD, now at the prototype stage of development, is intended for original use as a coarse-positioning actuator in a spaceborne interferometer. The PLADD could also be adapted to terrestrial applications in which there are requirements for long stroke and high resolution: potential applications include medical imaging and fabrication of semiconductor devices.

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Installing a Test Tap on a Metal Battery Case

A mechanical fitting and relatively simple and safe method of installing it on the metal case of a battery have been devised to provide access to the interior of the battery to perform inspection and/or to measure such internal conditions as temperature and pressure. A metal boss or stud having an exterior thread is attached to the case by capacitor-discharge stud welding (CDSW), which takes only 3 to 6 milliseconds and in which the metallurgical bond (weld) and the heat-affected zone are limited to a depth of a few thousandths of an inch (a few hundredths of a millimeter).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Further Development of Scaffolds for Regeneration of Nerves

Scale-up toward clinically significant dimensions has been partially completed. Progress has been made in continuing research on scaffolds for the guided growth of nerves to replace damaged ones. The scaffolds contain pores that are approximately cylindrical and parallel, with nearly uniform widths ranging from tens to hundreds of microns. At the earlier stage of development, experimental scaffolds had been made from agarose hydrogel. Such a scaffold was made in a multistep process in which poly(methyl methacrylate) [PMMA] fibers were used as templates for the pores. The process included placement of a bundle of the PMMA fibers in a tube, filling the interstices in the tube with a hot agarose solution, cooling to turn the solution into a gel, and then immersion in acetone to dissolve the PMMA fibers. The scaffolds were typically limited to about 25 pores per scaffold, square cross sections of no more than about 1.5 by 1.5 mm, and lengths of no more than about 2 mm.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Medical

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Crashworthy Seats Would Afford Superior Protection

Adjustments enable optimization of support for different body sizes and shapes. Seats to prevent or limit crash injuries to astronauts aboard the crew vehicle of the Orion spacecraft are undergoing development. The design of these seats incorporates and goes beyond crash-protection concepts embodied in prior spacecraft and racing-car seats to afford superior protection against impacts. Although the seats are designed to support astronauts in a recumbent, quasi-fetal posture that would likely not be suitable for non-spacecraft applications, parts of the design could be adapted to military and some civilian aircraft seats and to racing-car seats to increase levels of protection.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, TSP, Briefs, TSP, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Medical

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Droplet-Based Production of Liposomes

A process for making monodisperse liposomes having lipid bilayer membranes involves fewer, simpler process steps than do related prior methods. First, a microfluidic, cross-junction droplet generator is used to produce vesicles comprising aqueous-solution droplets contained in single-layer lipid membranes. The vesicles are collected in a lipid-solvent mix that is at most partially soluble in water and is less dense than is water. A layer of water is dispensed on top of the solvent. By virtue of the difference in densities, the water sinks to the bottom and the solvent floats to the top. The vesicles, which have almost the same density as that of water, become exchanged into the water instead of floating to the top. As there are excess lipids in the solvent solution, in order for the vesicles to remain in the water, the addition of a second lipid layer to each vesicle is energetically favored.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Medical

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Modal Vibration Analysis of Large Castings

Massive objects can be tested in situ, without precisely controlling boundary conditions. The art of experimental modal vibration analysis (MVA) has been extended to apply to large castings. This extension was made to enable the use of experimental MVA as a relatively inexpensive, simple means of assessing the internal structural integrity of tread shoes of crawler transporters used to move spacecraft to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. Each tread shoe is made from cast iron and weighs about a ton (has a mass ≈907 kg). The present extended version of experimental MVA could also be applied to other large castings. It could be especially useful to manufacturers as a means of rapidly discriminating against large castings that contain unacceptably large concentrations of internal defects.

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Structural/Radiation-Shielding Epoxies

Pendant aliphatic groups are incorporated as integral parts of molecular structures. A development effort was directed toward formulating epoxy resins that are useful both as structural materials and as shielding against heavy-ion radiation. Hydrogen is recognized as the best element for absorbing heavy-ion radiation, and high- hydrogen-content polymers are now in use as shielding materials. However, high- hydrogen-content polymers (e.g. polyethylene) are typically not good structural materials. In contrast, aromatic polymers, which contain smaller amounts of hydrogen, often have the strength necessary for structural materials. Accordingly, the present development effort is based on the concept that an ideal structural/heavy-ion-radiation-shielding material would be a polymer that contains sufficient hydrogen (e.g., in the form of aliphatic molecular groups) for radiation shielding and has sufficient aromatic content for structural integrity.

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