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.

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Designing Self-Propelled, Chemically Active Sheets

Researchers have created a two-dimensional, shape-changing sheet that moves autonomously in a reactant-filled fluid. The integrated system utilizes a chemical reaction to activate the fluid...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
High-Voltage Power Line Multi-Sensor System

Government infrastructure facilities such as water treatment facilities, power plants, laboratories, and the like may be targets for terrorist attacks. Similarly, oil pipelines, power grids,...

Briefs : Medical
Portable, Wearable, Ultrasound Transducer

Researchers have developed a new ultrasound transducer that could dramatically lower the cost of ultrasound scanners to as little as $100. Conventional ultrasound scanners use piezoelectric crystals...

Briefs : Aerospace
Seal with Integrated Shroud to Protect from Exposure to Extreme Environments

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have designed a superior seal assembly that is durable and highly dependable in extremely harsh environments. This...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) Aircraft with Vectored Thrust for Control and Continuously Variable Pitch Attitude in Hover

Most fixed-wing VTOL unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) take off vertically, then transition to horizontal flight. This is a new type of UAV that has unique capability. It can vary its hover position from “nose up”...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Large-Volume Extruder for 3D Printers

A low-cost 3D bioprinter was built by modifying a standard desktop 3D printer with a syringe-based, large volume extruder (LVE). The extruder works with most open-source fused deposition modeling (FDM)...

Briefs : Materials
Contaminant-Free Steel

For many highly stressed engineering applications like bearings and gears, contaminated steel parts can lead to devastating outcomes such as an emergency shutdown or the end of a mission. Ensuring that these critical...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Ricocheting Radio Waves Monitor the Tiniest Movements

Infrared motion detectors can cover only a limited amount of space, a person has to be within the detector's line of sight to be detected, and lights can go off when a person remains...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Spanwise Adaptive Wing

NASA's Glenn Research Center developed a novel means of articulating the outboard portion of an aircraft wing to create the optimal geometry for given flight conditions. The Spanwise Adaptive Wing (SAW) concept employs...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
Magnetic, 3D-Printed, Moving Structures

Soft, 3D-printed structures have been created whose movements can be controlled with a wave of a magnet, much like marionettes without the strings. The structures that can be magnetically manipulated...

Briefs : Test & Measurement
Pilot-Assisted Check Valve for Low-Pressure Applications

Check valves are traditionally designed as a simple poppet/spring system where the spring is designed to equal the force created from the sealing area of the valve seat multiplied by...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Membrane-Enhanced Lamina Emergent Torsion (M-LET) Joints

Lamina emergent compliant mechanisms (including origami-adapted compliant mechanisms) are mechanical devices that can be fabricated from a planar material (a lamina) and have motion...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Large-Scale Robotic Inkjet Printing System

Painting of surfaces having numerous facets and/or curved surfaces is a time-consuming process that requires the application of several coats (layers) of paint. Such surfaces are often found on...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Soft Robotic “Sleeve” Fits Around the Heart to Help it Beat

Researchers have developed a customizable soft robot that fits around a heart and helps it beat, potentially opening new treatment options for people suffering from heart...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Control of the Diameter and Chiral Angle Distributions During Production of Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

Pulsed laser vaporization (PLV) production of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) on traditional Co/Ni catalyst was explored with...

Briefs : Nanotechnology
Materials Move in Response to Light

In biology, there are many examples where light induces movement or change — think of flowers and leaves turning toward sunlight. Magnetic elastomeric composites were developed that move in different...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
3D Printer Creates Complex Biological Tissues

A technique was developed that uses a specially adapted 3D printer to build therapeutic biomaterials from multiple materials. The advance could be a step toward on-demand printing of complex...

Briefs : Electronics & Computers
Composite Material Cools Itself Down Under Extreme Temperatures

A material, inspired by nature, can regulate its own temperature and could be used to treat burns and help space capsules withstand atmospheric forces. The research used a network of multiple microchannels with active flowing fluids (fluidics) as a method and proof-of-concept to...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
3D Inks Can Be Erased Selectively

3D printing allows for the efficient manufacture of complex geometries. A very promising method is direct laser writing in which a computer-controlled focused laser beam acts as a pen and produces the...

Briefs : Imaging
Method and Means to Analyze Thermographic Data Acquired During Automated Fiber Placement

Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) machines can be susceptible to tow-tape defects such as gaps and overlaps. These can reduce strength between 7% and 32%....

Briefs : Transportation
Optically Transparent Polyimide Aerogels

Innovators at NASA's Glenn Research Center have expanded their growing portfolio of aerogels to include a new optically transparent polyimide aerogel. Aerogels — low-density, highly porous,...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Device Measures Laser Power in Real Time

Lasers play roles in many manufacturing processes, from welding car parts to crafting engine components with 3D printers. To control these tasks, manufacturers must ensure that their lasers fire at...

Briefs : Propulsion
Modular, Multi-Mode-Propulsion, Unmanned Aerial Concept

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle concept for long-range, distributed aerial presence and delivery applications. This aircraft concept is capable...

Briefs : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Optical Gyroscope-on-a-Chip

Gyroscopes are devices that help vehicles, drones, and wearable and handheld electronic devices know their orientation in three-dimensional space. Originally, gyroscopes were sets of nested wheels, each spinning...

Briefs : Robotics, Automation & Control
High-Performance Cageless Bearings with Minimal Frictional Loss

The global bearings market is expected to grow significantly due to increasing commercial and industrial machinery and manufacturing activity. Bearings are used in virtually...

Briefs : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS)

Glenn's revolutionary Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitters (SMARS) device is fabricated from nickel-titanium-halfnium (NiTiHf), nickel-titanium-zirconium compositions, or a combination. These compositions contain a secondary, nanometer-sized precipitate phase that is produced through processes of...

Briefs : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Ducted Fuel Injection for Soot Reduction

Typical direct-injection engines, such as diesel engines, can produce soot due to fuel-rich combustion conditions. Filters and catalytic converters are currently used to reduce soot and harmful...

Briefs : Semiconductors & ICs
Ultralight Gloves Provide Realistic Haptic Feedback

Engineers and software developers are seeking to create technology that lets users touch, grasp, and manipulate virtual objects while feeling like they are actually touching something in...

Briefs : Aerospace
SHEAth-based Rollable LEnticular-Shaped and Low-Stiction (SHEARLESS) Composite Booms

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed the SHEARLESS composite boom with a final cross-section shape that is lenticular and is flexible enough to...

Briefs : Photonics/Optics
Device Detects Subatomic-Scale Motion

It is relatively easy to measure small movements of large objects, but is much more difficult when the moving parts are on the scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter. The ability to accurately...

Technology Leaders

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

Testing and Inspecting 3D-Printed Parts

Upcoming Webinars: Photonics/Optics

Optical Coating Design

Upcoming Webinars: Aerospace

Advanced Quality Planning and Production Part Approval Process...

Upcoming Webinars: Electronics & Computers

How to Avoid PCB Re-spins when IC’s Change or are Obsoleted

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping

CNC Machining: How to Reduce Costs and Accelerate Production

On-Demand Webinars: Automotive

Non-Contact Strain and Displacements Measurements in the Automotive Industry