Manufacturing & Prototyping

Engineers Develop Ultrastiff, Ultralight Material

Engineers at MIT and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a new ultrastiff, ultralight material. The material is based on the use of microlattices with nanoscale features, combining great stiffness and strength with ultralow density. The actual production of such materials is made possible by a high-precision 3-D printing process called projection microstereolithography.By using the right mathematically determined structures to distribute and direct the loads — the way the arrangement of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal beams do in a structure like the Eiffel Tower — the lighter structure can maintain its strength."We found that for a material as light and sparse as aerogel [a kind of glass foam], we see a mechanical stiffness that’s comparable to that of solid rubber, and 400 times stronger than a counterpart of similar density. Such samples can easily withstand a load of more than 160,000 times their own weight,” said Associate Professor Nick Fang. SourceAlso: See other Materials and Coatings tech briefs.

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

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Thin Films Self-Assemble in One Minute

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have devised a technique whereby self-assembling nanoparticle arrays can form a highly ordered thin film over macroscopic distances in one minute.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Photonics, Optics, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Coatings & Adhesives, Composites, Nanotechnology, News

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Solar Panel and System Design to Reduce Heating and Optimize Corridors for Lower-Risk Planetary Aerobraking

New approach features aggressive load reduction to reduce risk. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland This innovation presents a spacecraft aerobraking approach that reduces heating and optimizes corridors, which reduces overall risk. This is accomplished by combining solar panel aspect ratio and edge features with simple spacecraft packaging optimization and integrated thermal-analysis techniques that also allow specifying a more benign temperature corridor.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs, TSP

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Low-Cost, Very Large Diamond-Turned Metal Mirror

Reliable plating and diamond-turning technologies produce visible quality mirrors for applications such as semiconductor manufacturing. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama This innovation is a method for fabricating a low-cost, lightweight, large-aperture mirror by constructing only the mirror substrate by electroforming on a master form machined from plastic foam. Electroformed tubes of the same NiP alloy are installed in the foam mirror substrate master. Installing electroformed NiP tubes in the plastic mirror master before plating on the plastic foam mirror substrate allows the mirror faceplate and the back surface of the mirror to be plated onto the ends of the connecting tubes in the foam plastic. Removal of the foam after plating is complete results in a very stiff and lightweight mirror substrate made only of a single material. The low cost of the electroformed mirror substrate is made possible by very fast production of a master surface made of plastic foam that can be rapidly machined with modern, high-speed machining technology to very good mechanical tolerances in only a few hours.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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Very-High-Load-Capacity Air Bearing Spindle for Large Diamond Turning Machines

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama Large-load-capacity oil hydrostatic bearings generate prohibitive amounts of heat in large sizes when run at speeds useful for diamond turning of optical components. The viscosity of air is more than three orders of magnitude less than the thinnest oil; therefore, the frictional heating of large-diameter air bearings is very small and very manageable. A formidable manufacturing problem with large air bearings is that the extremely low viscosity of air requires that the thickness of the bearing film is also very small. This very small bearing clearance of 5–8 micrometers means that the required accuracy of geometry and dimensions of air bearing components is extremely difficult to achieve.

Posted in: Manufacturing & Prototyping, Briefs

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New Algorithms Enable Self-Assembling, Printable Robots

In two new papers, MIT researchers demonstrate the promise of printable robotic components that, when heated, automatically fold into prescribed three-dimensional configurations.One paper describes a system that takes a digital specification of a 3-D shape — such as a computer-aided design, or CAD, file — and generates the 2-D patterns that would enable a piece of plastic to reproduce it through self-folding.The other paper explains how to build electrical components from self-folding laser-cut materials. The researchers present designs for resistors, inductors, and capacitors, as well as sensors and actuators — the electromechanical “muscles” that enable robots’ movements.“We have this big dream of the hardware compiler, where you can specify, ‘I want a robot that will play with my cat,’ or ‘I want a robot that will clean the floor,’ and from this high-level specification, you actually generate a working device,” said Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.SourceAlso: Learn about Self-Assembling, Flexible, Pre-Ceramic Composite Preforms.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission, Sensors, Software, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Mathematical/Scientific Software, Machinery & Automation, Robotics, News

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New Rotary Sensor Keeps Conveyor Belts Running Smoothly

Rotary sensors can help determine the position of a moveable body in relation to an axis. They are essential to the smooth running of car engines in the automotive industry, for example. In factories, goods and products are transported from one processing station to the next via conveyor belt. For the transfer from one belt to the next to run smoothly, it must take place precisely at a specific position, which means knowing the relative position of objects on the conveyor belts as they move towards each other. This can be determined from the angle of rotation, which refers to the position of a moveable body to an axis.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Photonics, Optics, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Industrial Controls & Automation, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Sensors, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, News

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