Materials

New Blood Pressure Connectors Prevent Misconnects

Fittings make quick connections easier and safer, even in low-light situations. Healthcare professionals use medical devices in a variety of settings and situations from urgent to routine. In an emergency, any sort of confusion, hindrance, or hesitation concerning the most minor detail or part of a device can mean a matter of life or death. As a result, there is a constant battle among medical device manufacturers to develop products with superior ergonomics, risk-free designs, and the ability to meet extensive technical requirements—all while maintaining a reasonable profit margin. In response to these concerns, Value Plastics has developed a new line of quick connect fittings. Their BPL Series of tubing connectors incorporates a number of features that are not only aimed at meeting engineers’ needs but also designed to ease users’ stress and frustration that can arise from use in critical situations.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Drug Delivery & Dispensing, Materials / Adhesives / Coatings, Mechanical Components, Materials, Plastics, Medical, Briefs, MDB

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Using Pre-Melted Phase Change Material to Keep Payloads in Space Warm for Hours Without Power

Adding phase change material (PCM) to a mission payload can maintain its temperature above the cold survival limit, without power, for several hours in space. For the International Space Station, PCM is melted by heaters just prior to the payload translation to the worksite when power is available. When power is cut off during the six-hour translation, the PCM releases its latent heat to make up the heat loss from the radiator(s) to space. For the interplanetary Probe, PCM is melted by heaters just prior to separation from the orbiter when power is available from the orbiter power system. After the Probe separates from the orbiter, the PCM releases its latent heat to make up the heat loss from the Probe exterior to space.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Fibrillar Adhesive for Climbing Robots

This material can be used to hang items on walls without the need for drilling holes, as surgical sutures, or to attach and maneuver components during assembly. A climbing robot needs to use its adhesive patches over and over again as it scales a slope. Replacing the adhesive at each step is generally impractical. If the adhesive or attachment mechanism cannot be used repeatedly, then the robot must carry an extra load of this adhesive to apply a fresh layer with each move. Common failure modes include tearing, contamination by dirt, plastic deformation of fibers, and damage from loading/unloading. A gecko-like fibrillar adhesive has been developed that has been shown useful for climbing robots, and may later prove useful for grasping, anchoring, and medical applications.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Transformers: Shape-Changing Space Systems Built With Robotic Textiles

These easy-to-fabricate textiles can be used in robotics and smart habitats/shelters. Prior approaches to transformer-like robots had only very limited success. They suffer from lack of reliability, ability to integrate large surfaces, and very modest change in overall shape. Robots can now be built from two-dimensional (2D) layers of robotic fabric. This expands on ideas of electronic fabrics for electronic textiles, and incorporates sensors, actuators, power, and communications. The 2D solution is easier/cheaper to fabricate, packs more compactly, and ensures a wider range of shape change than 3D modules.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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Adjusting Permittivity by Blending Varying Ratios of SWNTs

High, intermediate, and low permittivity values can be tailored for specific applications. A new composite material of singlewalled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) displays radio frequency (0 to 1 GHz) permittivity properties that can be adjusted based upon the nanotube composition. When varying ratios of raw to functionalized SWNTs are blended into the silicone elastomer matrix at a total loading of 0.5 percent by weight, a target real permittivity value can be obtained between 70 and 3. This has particular use for designing materials for microwave lenses, microstrips, filters, resonators, high-strength/low-weight electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, antennas, waveguides, and low-loss magneto-dielectric products for applications like radome construction.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs

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Polyolefin-Based Aerogels

These aerogels can be used for thermal insulation and radiation shielding in apparel, aircraft, race car insulation, and military and recreation tents. An organic polybutadiene (PB) rubber-based aerogel insulation material was developed that will provide superior thermal insulation and inherent radiation protection, exhibiting the flexibility, resiliency, toughness, and durability typical of the parent polymer, yet with the low density and superior insulation properties associated with the aerogels. The rubbery behaviors of the PB rubber-based aerogels are able to overcome the weak and brittle nature of conventional inorganic and organic aerogel insulation materials. Additionally, with higher content of hydrogen in their structure, the PB rubber aerogels will also provide inherently better radiation protection than those of inorganic and carbon aerogels. Since PB rubber aerogels also exhibit good hydrophobicity due to their hydrocarbon molecular structure, they will provide better performance reliability and durability as well as simpler, more economic, and environmentally friendly production over the conventional silica or other inorganic-based aerogels, which require chemical treatment to make them hydrophobic.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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An Integrated, Layered-Spinel Composite Cathode for Energy Storage Applications

The composite cathode can be used in rechargeable Li-ion batteries in hybrid electric vehicles, laptops, medical devices, and military vehicles. At low operating temperatures, commercially available electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries do not fully meet the energy and power requirements for NASA’s exploration activities. The composite cathode under development is projected to provide the required energy and power densities at low temperatures and its usage will considerably reduce the overall volume and weight of the battery pack.

Posted in: Materials, Briefs, TSP

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