Manufacturing & Prototyping

Access our comprehensive library of technical briefs on manufacturing and prototyping, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

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Briefs: Materials
A promising, more durable fuel cell design could help transform heavy-duty trucking and other clean fuel cell applications.
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Briefs: Materials
New Solid-State Battery Design Charges in Minutes
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a new lithium metal battery that can be charged and discharged at least 6,000 times — more than any other pouch battery cell — and can be recharged in a matter of minutes.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Inspired by a small and slow snail, scientists have developed a robot prototype that may one day scoop up microplastics from the surfaces of oceans, seas, and lakes.
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Briefs: Materials
Reporting on their work in the proceedings of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, the mini-bug weighs in at eight milligrams, while the water strider weighs 55 milligrams. Both can move at about six millimeters a second.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Inventors from NASA Langley and NASA Ames have created a new type of carbon fiber polymer composite that has a high thermal conductivity.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Recognizing the need for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) to support long-duration human missions to the Moon and Mars, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Sidus Space have developed a novel three-dimensional print head apparatus using regolith-polymer mixtures as a building material.
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Briefs: Electronics & Computers
A multi-institutional project led by a Penn State researcher is focused on developing an all-in-one semiconductor device that can both store data and perform computations. The project recently received $2 million in funding over three years as part of the new National Science Foundation Future of Semiconductors (FuSe) program.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have created software and hardware for a 4D printer with applications in the biomedical field.
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Briefs: Lighting
A research team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed “supramolecular ink,” a new technology for use in OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays or other electronic devices.
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Briefs: Materials
A technique enables manufacturing of minuscule robots by interlocking multiple materials in a complex way.
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Briefs: Wearables
Researchers at The Ohio State University have fabricated the first wearable sensor designed to detect and monitor muscle atrophy. This new study published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering suggests that an electromagnetic sensor made out of conductive “e-threads” could be used as an alternative to frequent monitoring using MRI.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
A first-of-its-kind robotic glove is lending a “hand” and providing hope to piano players who have suffered a disabling stroke. Developed by researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, the soft robotic hand exoskeleton uses artificial intelligence to improve hand dexterity.
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Briefs: Software
Innovators at NASA’s Johnson Space Center have designed a circumferential scissor spring mechanism, that when incorporated into a hand controller, improves the restorative force to a control stick’s neutral position. The design also provides for operation on a more linear portion of the spring’s force deflection curve, yielding better feedback to the user.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Inventors at the NASA Langley Research Center have developed a novel method to model and ingest point-wise process data to evaluate an additive manufacturing build and its file for issues by highlighting potential anomalies or other areas where the build may have issues with fusion of the material.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Using kirigami, the ancient Japanese art of folding and cutting paper, MIT researchers have now manufactured a type of high-performance architected material known as a plate lattice, on a much larger scale than scientists have previously been able to achieve by additive fabrication.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Recent experiments by a team from the West Virginia University focused on how a weightless microgravity environment affects 3D printing using titania foam, a material with potential applications ranging from UV blocking to water purification. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces published their findings.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
A new method for metal 3D printing aims to make more efficient use of resources by allowing structural modifications to be “programmed” into metal alloys during 3D printing, fine-tuning their properties without the “heating and beating” process that’s been in use for thousands of years.
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Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Harvard researchers have realized a key milestone in the quest for stable, scalable quantum computing, an ultra-high-speed technology that will enable game-changing advances in a variety of fields, including medicine, science, and finance.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a simplified, tool-less automated tow/tape placement (ATP) system. This invention enables several benefits that mitigate limitations associated with conventional ATP systems. Read on to learn more.
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Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Developed by a team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a self-assembling nanosheet could significantly extend the shelf life of consumer products. And because the new material is recyclable, it could also enable a sustainable manufacturing approach that keeps single-use packaging and electronics out of landfills.
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Briefs: Materials
Researchers have unveiled a remarkable new material with potential to impact the world of material science: amorphous silicon carbide (a-SiC). Beyond its exceptional strength, this material demonstrates mechanical properties crucial for vibration isolation on a microchip. It is therefore particularly suitable for making ultra-sensitive microchip sensors.
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Briefs: Imaging
The NIST camera is made up of grids of ultrathin electrical wires, cooled to near absolute zero, in which current moves with no resistance until a wire is struck by a photon. In these superconducting-nanowire cameras, the energy imparted by even a single photon can be detected because it shuts down the superconductivity at a particular location (pixel) on the grid. Combining all the locations and intensities of all the photons makes up an image.
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Briefs: Medical
Using 3D Bioprinting to Create Eye Tissue
The research team from the National Eye Institute printed a combination of cells that form the outer blood-retina barrier — eye tissue that supports the retina’s light-sensing photoreceptors. The technique provides a theoretically unlimited supply of patient-derived tissue to study degenerative retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.
Briefs: Wearables
A stretchable system that can harvest energy from human breathing and motion for use in wearable health-monitoring devices may be possible, according to an international team of researchers.
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Briefs: Design
The ventilators are simpler and cheaper to make than those currently available.
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Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
A Molecular-Sized, More Efficient Electronic Sensor
Australian researchers have developed a molecular-sized, more efficient version of a widely used electronic sensor, in a breakthrough that could bring widespread benefits.
Briefs: Materials
Macquarie University engineers have developed a new technique to make the manufacturing of nanosensors far less carbon-intensive, much cheaper, more efficient, and more versatile — substantially improving a key process in this trillion-dollar global industry.
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Briefs: Materials
Using a new type of dual-polymer material capable of responding dynamically to its environment, researchers have developed a set of modular hydrogel components that could be useful in a variety of soft robotic and biomedical applications.
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Briefs: Sensors/Data Acquisition
A team at ETH Zurich has developed an ultrasonically actuated glass needle that can be attached to a robotic arm. This lets them pump and mix minuscule amounts of liquid and trap particles.
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