Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Machinery & Equipment Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Thermal Stir Welding Process

Jeff Ding NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

The patented thermal stir welding process is a new solid-state (meaning the weld metal does not melt during welding) welding process invented at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The unique welding process de-couples the heating, stirring, and forging elements of friction stir welding, and allows for the independent control of each element of the weld process. An induction coil first heats the weld joint material to a desired plasticized temperature, at which time the weld joint material moves into a through-thickness stir rod that stirs the already plastic material. The stir rod can be independently controlled to rotate at a desired rotational speed or RPM. Upper and lower non-rotating containment plates, also independently controlled, compress or squeeze the plastic weld zone to consolidate the plasticized material as it is being stirred. The stir rod protrudes through the center of the upper containment plate, through the weld material thickness, and is captured by the lower containment plate.

Posted in: Articles, Mechanical Components, Adaptive control, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Welding
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Medical Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Prosthetic Leg Connector

Dave King Synergy Tech, Kelowna, BC Canada

This is a device to aid those who wear prosthetic limbs. The current state of the art is a multilayer system that consists of a cotton sock and a silicone rubber sock that fits over the limb. The prosthesis can attach to the silicone sock by means of a rod and ratchet device. In the case of an artificial leg, the user places the rod into a receptacle in the leg and steps into it. The ratchet then holds onto the rod. However, this can cause problems for patients who are physically weak or who suffer from tenderness in the remaining upper leg. That is enough to stop the patient from trying to use the prosthesis. This device replaces the silicone sock and allows for much easier “application” and better comfort.

Posted in: Articles, Medical, Ergonomics, Prostheses and implants, Silicon alloys, Pumps
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Safety & Security Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

LIFE PACK Hypothermia Prevention

Floatation Device Dwight and Jane Cushman, Village Memorial, Portland, OR

Even with floatation gear, when a person who is not prepared for the cold falls into cold water (temperatures of 52 °F or less), the shock of the cold alone can be fatal. Most people who die of hypothermia do so in the first few minutes from failure to breathe or to sustain their heart. The LIFE PACK floatation device is designed to offer protection from coldwater temperatures, and the wearer can hold a child hands-free in water.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Water, Thermal management, Flotation, Protective equipment
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Sustainable Technologies Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Aquaback Water Purification System

Bill Zebuhr, Scott Newquist, David Dussault, E. Andrew Condon, Steven Sahagian, Nicholas Wong, Michael Easton, William Burie, Charles Blanchard, and Nicole Sandoval, Aquaback Technologies, Tewksbury, MA

A highly efficient, low-cost, lowmaintenance, compact, modular vapor compression distiller is designed to be the water processing module in a wide variety of water processing systems to clean incoming water or reclaim waste water. The systems will enable recycling of most water for any use, including potable water, at a lower overall cost than any other technology or combinations of technologies, addressing water supply and disposal problems worldwide. Distillation provides the highest-purity water in a single operation, but until now, distillers have been too expensive to make or operate to be practical. Aquaback has optimized every aspect of distillation using the known vapor compression method to recycle over 99% of the heat of vaporization using a mass-manufactured, self-cleaning design.

Posted in: Articles, Green Design & Manufacturing, Water reclamation, Water treatment, Energy conservation, Compressors
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Transportation Category Winner (Winner of an HP Workstation)

Re-Thinking Automotive Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Ivan Batinic, ATPS, Inc., San Martin, CA

The ATPS system is a new approach to implementing vehicular Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) that is more economical and ecological than existing systems. A passive, non-electronic sending unit (inside the tire) eliminates RF electronics, thermal compensation issues, raising of the RF noise-floor, and wasteful consumption of limited lithium resources for batteries. The TPMS is comprised of two fundamental components per wheel/tire assembly: an in-tire transducer, and an external, statically mounted chassis sensing component. Signal processing is performed by direct 2- or 3-wire sensor interfaces.

Posted in: Articles, Transportation, Tire pressure monitoring systems, Sustainable development, Product development, Durability, Reliability
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Top Ten Most Popular Entries

Visitors to the Create the Future Design Contest Web site were invited to vote on their favorite entries. Here are the top ten most popular entries, winners of a SpaceMouse Pro 3D mouse from 3Dconnexion.

Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3)™ Daryl Oster, ET3 Global Alliance

This global transportation system is silent, low-cost, fast, secure, safe, and environmentally friendly. It uses car-sized magnetically levitated capsules that carry 6 people or 800 pounds of cargo.

Posted in: Articles, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Design processes, Product development, Technical review
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Lightening the Load of Recovery

A unique treadmill, invented by a NASA scientist, supports people trying to get back on their feet.

Ask the Denver attorney whose legs were smashed in a car accident. Ask the veterans rehabilitating from injuries sustained while defending the nation. Ask NBA star Blake Griffin, or NFL safety Jim Leonhard, both of whom endured leg injuries playing their sports. Ask U.S. soccer pro Charlie Davies, who returned to the field only a month after suffering life-threatening trauma in a car crash. All will tell you about the benefits of NASA-derived technology.

Posted in: Articles, Medical, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy, Medical equipment and supplies, Product development, Biomechanics, Injuries, Aerodynamics
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Determining Key Isotopic Ratios In The Field

On August 6th, 2012 the automatic Mars Science Laboratory rover named Curiosity landed on Mars. One of the scientific instruments on board is ChemCam, which has a pulsed laser capable of ablating a focused spot on a remote sample to create a glowing plasma plume of target material. Light from plasma is collected by rover’s telescope on a mast, and the optical spectra are then analyzed by an internal spectrometer. ChemCam can take thousands of spectra per day from a distance of about 7 meters, thus making chemical analyses on the surface of Mars with unprecedented speed. Operationally, the ChemCam data facilitates decisions of where the rover should be driven.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Photonics, Imaging and visualization, Remote sensing, Chemicals, Gases, Spacecraft
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LED Sensors and Controls Technology

It’s common knowledge that one of the easiest ways to save energy is to shut off lights when they are not in use. Even so, the lighting controls market accounts for a fraction of the overall lighting industry. The market is small, despite the benefits of control technology, because in the past energy consumption was not a high priority. In addition, frequently turning lights on and off reduces the lifetime of light bulbs by as much as three times. LED lighting eliminates traditional lifetime issues and is aligned to enable a rapid growth in the lighting controls market.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting
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Testing LEDs in a Climate Controlled Environment

Though they are a relative latecomer to the world of lighting technology, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are quickly making up for lost time. Since their invention in 1962, LEDs have been applied in a wide range of lighting applications, including traffic signals, automotive panel lighting, aviation lighting, remote controls, DVD players and other household appliances, just to name a few. LEDs’ functionality and longevity have led to a substantial and growing market share. In fact, a recent study presented at the University of Chicago says that LEDs will capture 60 percent of the global lighting market over the next decade. However, in order to reach that market share, LED lighting devices are subject to an important technical challenge – consistency in the brightness and quality of the light emitted from LED bulbs.

Posted in: Articles, Lighting
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