Manufacturing & Prototyping

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

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
A technology uses a combination of WiFi signals and accelerometer technology to track devices in near-real-time.
WiFi-Based Technique Measures Speed and Distance of Indoor Movement
Briefs : Motion Control
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Researchers have developed a self-contained wheel unit that combines a wheel and an electric motor.
Self-Contained Wheel Unit
Briefs : Automotive
Continuous Fiber Composite for Use in Gears
Continuous Fiber Composite for Use in Gears
This lightweight material brings strength and durability to complex shapes.
Continuous Fiber Composite for Use in Gears
Briefs : Aerospace
Shape Memory Alloy Art (SMArt)
Shape Memory Alloy Art (SMArt)
This hands-on, educational tool highlights the properties of SMA wire.
Shape Memory Alloy Art (SMArt)
Briefs : Power
Metallization for SiC Semiconductors
Metallization for SiC Semiconductors
This technology provides simultaneous ohmic contacts and the process to make them.
Metallization for SiC Semiconductors
Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
This optical switch controls the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently.
Photonic Switch Increases Speed and Efficiency of Light Through Optical Fibers
Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Technique Uses X-Rays to Detect Defective Computer Chips
Technique Uses X-Rays to Detect Defective Computer Chips
This method also reverse-engineers computer chips to detect the chip’s purpose.
Technique Uses X-Rays to Detect Defective Computer Chips
Briefs : Energy
Device Creates Electricity from Snowfall
Device Creates Electricity from Snowfall
The nanogenerator also acts as a weather station.
Device Creates Electricity from Snowfall
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
The method could impact optical imaging, vision correction, and disease diagnosis.
Method Speeds 3D Printing of Millimeter-Sized Imaging Lenses
Briefs : Automotive
Washable Sensor Can Be Woven Into Materials
Washable Sensor Can Be Woven Into Materials
The device could impact composites manufacturing and health monitoring.
Washable Sensor Can Be Woven Into Materials
Briefs : Transportation
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
The technology can be used in commercial motors, robotic systems, and hybrid and electric vehicles.
Precision Low-Speed Motor Controller
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
The algorithm speeds up the planning process that robots use to adjust their grip on objects.
Algorithm Gives Robots a Faster Grasp
Briefs : Materials
Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging
Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are employed to locate cancerous tumors and aid in the development of treatment plans, while nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machines are used to...

Diamond Technology Enables Low-Cost Medical Imaging
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics
Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics

Contact lenses that can monitor the wearer’s health and correct eyesight use embedded electronics. These, and other curved devices such as solar cells and electronics, could be...

Method Produces Three-Dimensional, Curved Electronics
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Wind Event Warning System
Wind Event Warning System

NASA Langley Research Center developed a wind event warning technology that provides a practical early warning system (5-10 minutes) for a severe change in the wind vector. Events such as gusts, shear, microbursts,...

Wind Event Warning System
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Printed Electronics for Electrified Tattoos and Personalized Biosensors
Printed Electronics for Electrified Tattoos and Personalized Biosensors

A fully print-in-place technique for electronics could enable technologies such as high-adhesion, embedded electronic tattoos and bandages with patient-specific...

Printed Electronics for Electrified Tattoos and Personalized Biosensors
Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Passive Smart Container
Passive Smart Container

Although Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is being used widely for pallet and box-level tracking in the commercial sector, significant technology gaps remain for tracking dense quantities at the item...

Passive Smart Container
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission
Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission

Engineers at the University of Illinois have found a way to redirect misfit light waves to reduce energy loss during optical data transmission. In a study,...

Researchers Turn off Backscattering, Aim to Improve Optical Data Transmission
Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras
Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras

UCLA engineers have made major improvements on their design of an optical neural network — a device inspired by how the human brain works — that can identify objects or process...

Optical Neural Network Could Lead to Intelligent Cameras
Briefs : Imaging
Facial Recognition Technology Works in the Dark
Facial Recognition Technology Works in the Dark

Thermal cameras like forward looking infrared (FLIR) sensors are actively deployed on aerial and ground vehicles, in watch towers, and at check points for surveillance purposes. More recently,...

Facial Recognition Technology Works in the Dark
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Smart Electronic Skin for Robots and Prosthetics

Humans use the sense of touch to accomplish almost every daily task such as picking up a cup of coffee or shaking someone’s hand. Without it, humans can even lose their sense of balance when walking. Similarly, robots need to have a sense of touch in order to interact better with humans but...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Undercooled Metal Technology for Flexible Electronics
Undercooled Metal Technology for Flexible Electronics

Undercooled metal technology was developed that features liquid metal (in this case, Field's metal, an alloy of bismuth, indium, and tin) trapped below its melting point in polished,...

Undercooled Metal Technology for Flexible Electronics
Briefs : Imaging
3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets
3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets

Systems such as magnetic data storage devices and MRI body scan machines rely on magnets made from solid materials. Now, using a modified 3D printer, scientists have made magnetic devices from...

3D Printing of Magnetic Liquid Droplets
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps
Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps

A set of five tiny fundamental parts can be assembled into a wide variety of functional devices including a tiny “walking” motor that can move back and forth across a surface or...

Tiny “Walking” Motor Moves in Discrete Mechanical Steps
Briefs : Materials
High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics
High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics

3D printers that build small parts layer by layer from melted plastic can take up to an hour to produce a pocket-sized piece. This process is far too slow for the mass-production of...

High-Speed 3D Printer for High-Performance Plastics
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Immersion Precipitation 3D Printing for Porous Structures
Immersion Precipitation 3D Printing for Porous Structures

Materials with controlled porosity have found diverse applications in separation, catalysis, energy storage, sensors and actuators, tissue engineering, and drug delivery. Multiple...

Immersion Precipitation 3D Printing for Porous Structures
Briefs : Materials
Invisible Tags Write, Read, and Erase Using Light
Invisible Tags Write, Read, and Erase Using Light

A method was developed that enables information to be contained in simple plastic foils with a thickness of less than 50 μm, which is thinner than a human hair. Organic luminescent molecules...

Invisible Tags Write, Read, and Erase Using Light
Briefs : Materials
Dynamic Microstructures Move by Light and Temperature
Dynamic Microstructures Move by Light and Temperature

3D printing via direct laser writing involves a computer-controlled focused laser beam that acts as a pen and creates the desired structure in the printer ink — a photoresist. In this...

Dynamic Microstructures Move by Light and Temperature
Briefs : Automotive
Manufacturing Process for Aluminum Alloys
Manufacturing Process for Aluminum Alloys

An advanced manufacturing process was developed to produce nano-structured rods and tubes directly from high-performance aluminum alloy powder in a single step. Using a Solid Phase Processing...

Manufacturing Process for Aluminum Alloys
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
New Airplane Wing Assembled from Tiny Identical Pieces
New Airplane Wing Assembled from Tiny Identical Pieces

A radically new kind of airplane wing, assembled from hundreds of tiny identical pieces, can change shape to control the plane’s flight, and could provide a significant boost in...

New Airplane Wing Assembled from Tiny Identical Pieces