Tech Briefs

Mechanical/​Mechatronics

Access our comprehensive library of mechanical and mechatronics technical briefs, from engineering experts at NASA and government, university, and commercial laboratories.

Latest Tech Briefs

Briefs : Aerospace
Fluid-Filled Frequency-Tunable Mass Damper

Innovators at Marshall Space Flight Center developed the fluid-filled Frequency-Tunable Mass Damper (FTMD) technology that allows for significant distribution of loads while also providing a simple mechanism that allows for the capability to change its frequency of mitigation with negligible impact on...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lateral Kevlar Suspension Device (LKSD)

The Lateral Kevlar Suspension Device (LKSD) is made up of a support ring that has three spring-loaded tension assemblies equally spaced around the support ring. Connected to these tension assemblies is a band that supports a separate ring capable of holding a cylindrical shaped load.

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Lightweight Sensing and Control System for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Monitoring

A new sensing and control system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) allows for semi-autonomous flight. Pilots need not leave the ground to conduct routine monitoring and surveillance quickly and cost-effectively. Such systems are particularly useful during long flight...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Rose-Inspired Device Collects and Purifies Water
Rose-Inspired Device Collects and Purifies Water

A new device, inspired by a rose, inexpensively collects and purifies water. The device is a new approach to solar steaming for water production — a technique that uses energy from sunlight...

Rose-Inspired Device Collects and Purifies Water
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
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
3D-Printed Liquid Lab-on-a-Chip
3D-Printed Liquid Lab-on-a-Chip

Researchers have 3D-printed an all-liquid device that, with the click of a button, can be repeatedly reconfigured on demand to serve a wide range of applications from making battery materials to screening drug...

3D-Printed Liquid Lab-on-a-Chip
Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Ultrathin Transistors for Faster Computer Chips
Ultrathin Transistors for Faster Computer Chips

For decades, microchip transistors have become smaller, faster, and cheaper; however, miniaturization has reached a natural limit, as completely new problems arise when a length scale of only a...

Ultrathin Transistors for Faster Computer Chips
Briefs : Aerospace
Aircraft Vertical Takeoff and Landing
Aircraft Vertical Takeoff and Landing

NASA’s Langley Research Center developed an inexpensive, long-endurance, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It is capable of flying for 24 hours, landing in a 50 × 50...

Aircraft Vertical Takeoff and Landing
Briefs : Defense
Neural Lander Uses AI to Land Drones Smoothly

Landing multi-rotor drones smoothly is difficult. Complex turbulence is created by the airflow from each rotor bouncing off the ground during a descent. This turbulence is not well understood nor is it easy to compensate for, particularly for autonomous drones. That is why takeoff and landing are...

Briefs : Internet of Things
High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer
High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer

A high-sensitivity and low-noise MEMS accelerometer was developed using multi-layer metal structures composed of multiple metal layers. The accelerometer achieves 1 μG level resolution that has...

High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise MEMS Accelerometer
Briefs : Internet of Things
Miniature Stretchable Pump
Miniature Stretchable Pump

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over rigid robots: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects, and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber, or other stretchable polymers,...

Miniature Stretchable Pump
Briefs : Motion Control
Automated System Generates Robotic Parts
Automated System Generates Robotic Parts

An automated system designs and 3D-prints complex robotic parts that are optimized according to an enormous number of specifications. The system fabricates actuators — devices that mechanically...

Automated System Generates Robotic Parts
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images
Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images

Supersonic flight over land is generally prohibited because sonic booms created by shockwaves disturb people on the ground and can damage property. Armstrong innovators are working to...

Schlieren System Captures Brilliant Shockwave Images
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
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 : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Smartphone App Programs Robots
Smartphone App Programs Robots

A smartphone app was developed that allows a user to easily program any robot to perform a mundane activity such as picking up parts from one area and delivering them to another. The app, called VRa, uses...

Smartphone App Programs Robots
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Software Applications for the Control and Management of the Amine Swingbed Experiment

The Swingbed software applications provide for the control, command, fault detection, fault recovery, and telemetry monitoring aspects of the Amine Swingbed experiment. These software components are the Swingbed Loader Computer Software Configuration Item...

Briefs : Transportation
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 : Software
Software Accelerates Engine Development for Hypersonic Flight
Software Accelerates Engine Development for Hypersonic Flight

A numerical modeling tool allows for a better understanding of rotating detonation engines (RDEs).

Software Accelerates Engine Development for Hypersonic Flight
Briefs : Test & Measurement
Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces
Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces

At the scale of bridges or buildings, the most important force that engineered structures need to deal with is gravity. But at the scale of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) — devices like...

Measuring Stickiness of Microscale Surfaces
Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Cost, Human-Friendly Robot Designed with Artificial Intelligence
Low-Cost, Human-Friendly Robot Designed with Artificial Intelligence

Robotics has traditionally focused on industrial applications in which robots require strength and precision to carry out repetitive tasks. These robots flourish in highly...

Low-Cost, Human-Friendly Robot Designed with Artificial Intelligence
Briefs : Materials
Origami-Inspired Material Softens Impact Forces
Origami-Inspired Material Softens Impact Forces

Landing is stressful on a rocket’s legs because they must handle the force from the impact with the landing pad. One way to combat this is to build legs out of materials that absorb some of...

Origami-Inspired Material Softens Impact Forces
Briefs : Materials
Surface Treatment Could Improve Refrigeration Efficiency
Surface Treatment Could Improve Refrigeration Efficiency

Unlike water, liquid refrigerants and other fluids that have a low surface tension spread quickly into a sheet when they come into contact with a surface. For many industrial...

Surface Treatment Could Improve Refrigeration Efficiency
Briefs : Medical
Fiber-Based Artificial Muscles
Fiber-Based Artificial Muscles

While different approaches have been used to create artificial muscles — including hydraulic systems, servomotors, shape-memory metals, and polymers that respond to stimuli — they all have limitations such...

Fiber-Based Artificial Muscles
Briefs : RF & Microwave Electronics
Antenna Near-Field Probe Station Scanner

Antenna characterization techniques are often expensive and time-consuming. NASA’s Glenn Research Center developed a highly versatile and automated system to perform characterization of single or multiple small circuit antennas, printed on-wafer or on other substrates, by measuring the antenna’s...

Briefs : Wearables
Soft, Wearable Health Monitor with Stretchable Electronics
Soft, Wearable Health Monitor with Stretchable Electronics

A soft and conformable health monitor can broadcast electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, respiratory rate, and motion activity data as much as 15 meters to a portable recording...

Soft, Wearable Health Monitor with Stretchable Electronics
Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Soft, Multi-Functional Robots
Soft, Multi-Functional Robots

In the future, soft, animal-inspired robots may be safely deployed in difficult-to-access environments in which rigid robots cannot currently be used such as inside the human body or in spaces that are too...

Soft, Multi-Functional Robots
Briefs : Data Acquisition
Miniature Spring Performance Tester
Miniature Spring Performance Tester

In order to qualify miniature springs, manufacturers of these systems rely on commercially available testers that are designed for large-scale springs (>0.5" diameter). Commercially available spring...

Miniature Spring Performance Tester