Materials & Manufacturing

Browse innovative developments in materials and manufacturing that significantly impact military, medical devices, automotive, and industrial manufacturing. Advances in plastics, metals, and composites are transforming 3D printing and rapid prototyping.

INSIDER: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
'Snap' Design Mimics Venus Flytrap

A team led by physicist Christian Santangelo at the University of Massachusetts Amherst uses curved creases to give thin shells a fast, programmable snapping motion. The technique – inspired by the natural "snapping systems" like Venus flytrap leaves and hummingbird beaks – avoids the need for complicated...

After a 2013 wildfire led to the loss of 19 elite Arizona firefighters, Langley...

A hybrid technology mixes traditional electronics with flexible, high-performance electronics and new 3D printing technologies. The system takes a razor-thin silicon integrated...

One of the largest composites manufacturing robots created in America will help NASA build the biggest lightweight composite parts ever made for space vehicles. The robot will...

INSIDER: Test & Measurement
'Electron Camera' Reveals Nature's Fastest Processes

Using a method known as ultrafast electron diffraction (UED), a scientific instrument from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory reveals nature's fastest processes, including the rapid motions of atoms and molecules.

INSIDER: Software
Simulations Reveal Material with Record-Setting Melting Point

Using advanced computers and a computational technique to simulate physical processes at the atomic level, researchers at Brown University have predicted that a material made from hafnium, nitrogen, and carbon would have the highest known melting point: 4,400 kelvins (7,460 degrees...

Manufacturers in the process industries need to adjust to smaller batches and different types of product in the same plant. Plants based on the “Lego principle”...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Electrochemically Enhanced Mechanical Polishing of Optics

Optical component fabrication using metals or ceramic materials involves many grinding and/or machining and polishing steps to achieve the proper form to the tolerances of imaging or photonic focusing instruments. These instruments range from infrared sensors, through visible and...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Expendable Cooling System for Venus Lander Concept

This innovation is a concept for a novel thermal architecture that would enable a day-long surface mission on Venus. A Venus lander mission could last much longer than a few hours on the surface of the planet by absorbing heat from the Venus environment, and from the electronics within the...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Rapid Quench Furnace for Processing Powder in an Inert Environment

Ongoing work in the development and characterization of sensory materials requires the development of shape memory alloy (SMA) powder or particles. These are embedded in structural material so that the progression of localized damage that occurs during fatigue crack growth will...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Field Excavator with Embedded Force Measurement

The Centaur 2 (C2) platform is a compact vehicle with four independently steered and actuated wheel pods, allowing the vehicle to pivot in place and tilt in two directions. It is designed to...

Deep space missions, like the ones going to outer planets and those that rely on solar photovoltaic power, need extremely large solar arrays to produce that power for...

Existing technologies [Loop Heat Pipe (LHP) and passive Thermal Control Valve (TCV)] are integrated and made to work together to provide a passive variable thermal link. The...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Surface Densification of Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator

PICA (phenolic impregnated carbon ablator) was developed for the forebody heat shield of the Stardust Return Capsule. Conventional thermal protection system (TPS) materials of the time (primarily carbon phenolics) had high densities and thermal conductivities, yielding a TPS mass...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Low-Density Flexible Ablators

NASA has developed a class of low-density, flexible ablators that can be fabricated into heat shields capable of being packaged, stowed, and deployed in space. Several flexible versions have been developed by infiltrating a pyrolyzing silicone resin into flexible, low-density felts made of carbon, polymer, or...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Solar-Powered Carbon Dioxide Conversions with Thin-Film Devices

A nanomaterial thin-film device provides a low-cost, facile fabrication pathway to commercialize the technology to the sustainable energy market. Metal oxide thin films have been fabricated to a photoelectrochemical cell by solar energy. The prototype device uses both low energy...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Fiber Metal Laminates Made by the VARTM Process

Fiber metal laminates (FMLs) are multicomponent materials utilizing metals, fibers, and matrix resins. Tailoring their properties is readily achievable by varying one or more of these...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method to Produce Copper Nanowires for Interconnect Applications

Copper replaced aluminum nearly two decades ago as interconnect material in integrated circuit manufacturing due to its better electrical conductivity. The size of the interconnect wire has been steadily decreasing as Moore’s law has been progressing through various feature size...

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft...

NASA Spinoff: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Custom 3D Printers Revolutionize the Space Supply Chain
NASA Technology

Like a desert caravan, a space flight crew has to bring with it everything it will need over the course of its journey into an utterly barren environment. This has...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Product of the Month: August 2015

Microchip Technology, Chandler, AZ, offers the PAC1921 high-side current/power sensor with both a digital output and a configurable analog output that can present power, current, or voltage over a...

Products: Test & Measurement
Surface Measurement

AMETEK Taylor Hobson (Leicester, UK) offers the Surtronic Duo surface measurement system, which consists of the Surtronic R-Series roundness and form tester (for bearing parts) and the Surtronic S-100 portable roughness...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Carbon Monoxide Monitors

The AQM-103 series of carbon monoxide monitors from OMEGA Engineering (Stamford, CT) are designed to measure CO concentration, humidity, and air temperature. The CE-compliant devices feature a large LCD display that...

Products: Test & Measurement
Electronic Micrometer

Paul N. Gardner Co. (Pompano Beach FL) introduced the Fowler Xtra-Value II electronic micrometer with a choice of measuring range, and an LCD with an inch/metric switchable resolution. A switchable resolution of...

Products: Test & Measurement
Source Measure Unit

Yokogawa Corporation of America (Sugar Land, TX) introduced the GS820 multi-channel source measure unit (SMU) that features isolated 2-channel source and measurement functions. The unit sources up to 50 Volts and 0.6 Amps...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Digital Transceiver

The V616 digital transceiver from Innovative Integration (Camarillo, CA) supports one or two plug-in modules, each featuring four independent channels of DDC, two DUC, and one spectrum analyzer embedded in the Xilinx...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Vector Network Analyzer

Keysight Technologies (Santa Rosa, CA) announced a new capability that adds a high-performance spectrum analyzer to the PNA and PNA-X Series of microwave vector network analyzers (VNAs). This capability reduces test...

Products: Test & Measurement
Gas Monitor

The GSM-60 from ENMET, LLC (Ann Arbor, MI) is a microprocessor-based gas monitor designed for use in industrial process, aerospace, pharmaceutical, and semiconductor applications. The system incorporates an internal sample draw...

Products: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Moisture Analyzer

The MS-70 400-Watt halogen moisture balance from Tovatech (Maplewood, NJ) is designed for quality control when testing materials such as plastic resins, where moisture content specifications are tight. The thermogravimetric...

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