Mechanical/​Mechatronics

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

Briefs : Materials
Solar-Powered Device Generates Electricity Through Ion Transport

By binding photosensitive dyes to common plastic membranes and adding water, chemists have made a new type of solar power generator. The device is similar to familiar silicon...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Orangutank Robotic Pipe Traveler

The Orangutank™ is a remote-controlled, tethered robotic platform for traveling from one pipe to another using a network of vertical pipes for support. It combines specialized robotic grippers to provide...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Self-Learning Robot Hands Adapt to Grasp Objects

Anew grasp system with robotic hands works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects, learning by trial and error. The robot features two hands based on human hands in terms of...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Method Creates Wood Substance Stronger Than Titanium

A new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and ten times tougher. The wood substance could be comparable to steel or titanium alloys; it is also comparable to carbon fiber, but much less expensive.

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Technique for Chemically Combining Soft Materials

Every complex human tool has contained multiple materials wedged, tied, screwed, glued, or soldered together. But the next generation of tools, from autonomous squishy robots to flexible...

Briefs : Aerospace
Robotic Gripper for Satellite Capture and Servicing

The robotic gripper was developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as part of a robotic satellite servicing mission. The gripping device can be used to autonomously or remotely grasp and...

Briefs : Motion Control
Controllable Dry Adhesive for Efficient Climbing Robot

A small robot with the ability to hoist large loads could have countless applications, not only as a small, inexpensive, disposable, mobile sensor in the realms of search and rescue,...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Pressure Sensor Mechanism

The Pressure Sensor Mechanism is designed to measure or monitor tactile pressure. It is based on passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sensor tags and is applicable to a variety of systems. As RFID sensors transmit information wirelessly, they eliminate many challenges associated with traditional wired systems...

Briefs : Energy
High-Voltage Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a variable-frequency, alternating current (AC) power system to enable turbo-electric and hybrid electric...

Briefs : Energy
Aluminum as a Fuel

Batteries and combustion engines each have distinctive benefits and limitations. Batteries have simple construction and operate silently; however, their energy density (i.e., the energy per unit volume) is poor, and...

Briefs : Propulsion
Non-Catalytic Ignition System for High-Performance Advanced Monopropellant Thrusters

Anon-catalytic pyrotechnic ignition system was developed for advanced green monopropellant systems operating with hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN)-based monopropellant AF-M315E. This technology will provide increased performance and new operating regimes for...

Briefs : Motion Control
Thruster-Based Attitude and Translation Control with Minimum Pulse-Count Disturbance Rejection

Thruster-based control typically requires a substantial engineering effort in order to mitigate an important issue: the control system tends to use many thruster pulses to accomplish what a single thruster pulse could do instead. This fundamental...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
New Depth Sensors Could be Sensitive Enough for Self-Driving Cars

A new approach to time-of-flight imaging that increases its depth resolution 1,000-fold has been presented by the MIT Camera Culture group. That type of resolution could make...

Briefs : Transportation
Efficient Packaging Process for One-Piece Deployable Thin Membrane

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is building a small CubeSat that uses an 85-m2 solar sail deployed from a central location to capture the push of photons...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Spring Plunger Locking Mechanism for Use in Hand-Actuated Tools

In designing a hand-actuated microspine gripper, a ratcheting locking mechanism was required that had discrete points of locking engagement. The mechanism had to actuate...

Briefs : Propulsion
Flexible, Gravity-Fed Heat Pipe

The advent of cryocooler technology ushers in an era where a cryogenic environment is created and maintained locally. It is no longer necessary to transport cryogen from a factory where it is produced to the...

Briefs : Medical
Low-Cost Mechanical Device for Minimally Invasive Surgery

A new type of mechanical instrument was developed to perform complex, minimally invasive procedures, also known as laparoscopic surgery. The technology could lead to less trauma for...

Briefs : Medical
Cell Processing Cartridge for Miniature Cytometer

Portable flow cytometers, especially in handheld or briefcase sizes, have not been available. One reason is the need to support complex, high-pressure fluidics and process cells using a centrifuge and mixing device. A need existed for point-of-care and/or point-of-analysis flow cytometry.

Briefs : Motion Control
Gimbal for Steering Propelled CubeSats

NASA is preparing for the next generation of CubeSats that are propelled and will make directional maneuvers. The new gimbal mount provides a seat for the motor, and controls the position of the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Shape Memory Alloy Art (SMA-Art) Shapes

Shape memory alloys (SMAs) have the unique ability to recover large deformations in response to thermal, mechanical, and/or magnetic stimuli. This behavior occurs by virtue of a crystallo-graphically...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Simplified Method for Uniformly Distributing Flow Within a Fluid Layer of a Multi-Layer Heat Exchanger

In multi-layer and multi-fluid plate and fin heat exchangers, fluid ports are required to be located on the side of the heat exchanger....

Briefs : Aerospace
Stretchable Mesh for Cavity Noise Reduction

NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed a landing gear cavity modification that reduces noise produced during aircraft approach and landing. The modification is an innovative stretchable...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Algorithm Boosts Speed of 3D Printers

A major drawback to 3D printing is the slow pace of the process, which ensures details are reproduced accurately. The pace of 3D printing is one of the factors that has prevented the technology from finding a broader audience. A new algorithm was developed that boosts the speed at which the printers...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Inexpensive Method for Manufacturing Supercapacitor Electrodes

Supercapacitors can store and deliver energy faster than conventional batteries. But to realize advanced applications, supercapacitors need better electrodes, which connect the...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Conductive, High-Toughness Oxides Deposited by Plasma Spray-Physical Vapor Deposition (PS-PVD)

Oxide coatings deposited in Glenn Research Center's Plasma Spray-Physical Vapor Deposition (PS-PVD) facility can be processed to be mechanically tough (erosion-resistant) and electrically conductive at room temperature. The electrically conductive...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Hydraulically Amplified Actuators

Soft robots are made from soft materials that react to applied voltage with a wide range of motions. Such soft robots contain tremendous potential for future applications, as they adapt to dynamic...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
SolidSense: Gas Analyzer on a Chip

The SolidSense sensor platform measures all EPA-regulated gas emissions (nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons), in addition to ammonia, with high accuracy and sensitivity. The chip-scale gas...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Modular Fixturing for Assembly and Welding Applications

Researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have developed new modular fixtures for holding metal in place during the assembly and welding of cylindrical and conical sections...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
On-line Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) System for Friction Stir Welding (FSW)

Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a relatively new solid-state welding process, and many industries are now relying on this technique to produce advanced structures. Industries employing this technique include, but are not limited to, aeronautical, motor vehicle,...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Low-Cost, Long-Lasting Valve Seal

This technology is designed to protect against leaks in solenoid, check, manual, and relief valves, as well as disconnects and regulators.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a new,...