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.

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Smart Crucibles and Heat Pipes

Near-net-shape vacuum plasma spray (VPS) forming techniques were developed to produce advanced components with internal features such as smart heat pipes and crucibles. The initial results demonstrated the ability to incorporate features such as channels and a porous layer within the wall of a smart crucible.

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Products of Tomorrow: November 2014

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...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
2014 Create the Future Design Contest

The 2014 Create the Future Design Contest – sponsored by COMSOL, Inc., Mouser Electronics, and Tech Briefs Media Group (publishers of NASA Tech Briefs) – recognized innovation in product design in seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics,...

Michael Zach, Anirudha Sumant, and Jonathan Moritz
EChem Nanowires
Stevens Point, WI

NanoFab Lab … In a Box!™ is a shoebox-sized kit that allows high...

Epoxies are versatile polymer systems that are “go-to materials” for electrical, electronic, and microelectronic systems, especially in applications where outstanding electrical insulation...

News: Motion Control
Engineers Harvest and Print Parts for New Breed of Aircraft

Student interns and engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center rapidly prototyped and redesigned aircraft using 3D-printed parts. The aircraft was custom-built by repurposing surplus Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). By lengthening the wings, the team was able to improve aerodynamic...

News: Energy
Solar Material Converts 90 Percent of Captured Light into Heat

A multidisciplinary engineering team at the University of California, San Diego developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants designed to absorb and convert to heat more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures. The new material can also...

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have invented a 2-in-1 electric motor that increases the range of electric vehicles. The engine integrates...

Because of the difficulty of monitoring turbine engines in operation, most manufacturers test turbine blades either after flight or rely on simulated tests to give them the...

A computer model that accurately predicts how composite materials behave when damaged will make it easier to design lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Innovative computer...

News: Electronics & Computers
Researchers Develop Thinnest Electric Generator

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and the Georgia Institute of Technology made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity and the piezotronic effect in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), resulting in a unique electric generator and mechanosensation...

News: Transportation
3D-Printed Power Inverter Enables Lighter Electric Vehicles

Using 3D printing and novel semiconductors, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have created a power inverter that could make electric vehicles lighter, more powerful, and more efficient.

At the core of this development is wide bandgap material...

Electronic devices with unprecedented efficiency and data storage may someday run on ferroelectrics — remarkable materials that use built-in electric polarizations to read...

News: Electronics & Computers
Fast-Charging Batteries Have 20-Year Lifespan

Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 percent in only two minutes.

The new-generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.

In...

News: Motion Control
Underwater Robot Skims for Port Security

MIT researchers unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a football, with a flattened panel on one side that it can slide along an underwater surface to perform ultrasound scans.

Originally designed to look for cracks in nuclear reactors’ water tanks, the robot could also...

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers have discovered a way to create a highly sensitive chemical sensor based on the crystalline flaws in graphene sheets. The...

News: Materials
New Material Steals and Stores Oxygen from Air

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have synthesized crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations.The stored oxygen can be released again when and where it is needed.

Depending on the atmospheric oxygen content, temperature, or pressure, it takes...

Terahertz (THz) frequency radiometers, spectrometers, and radars are promising instruments for the remote sensing of planetary atmospheres such as Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Plasma Reduction of Lunar Regolith for In-Space Fabrication

The in situ production of vital gases and raw materials on the lunar surface is an integral part of NASA’s exploration vision. Development of processes for extraction of oxygen and metallics from the lunar regolith will be vital not only for life support on the lunar surface, but also...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Method for Determining Self-Reacting Friction Stir Weld Schedules

This invention establishes a process to define a viable self-reacting friction stir weld (SR-FSW) schedule (parameter settings) for a given material combination. The focus of this process results in a SR-FSW schedule that is insensitive to intentional changes or normal process...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Flexible, Lightweight Vacuum Shell for Load-Responsive Multilayer Insulation for High Thermal Performance

Better thermal insulation is needed to insulate cryogenic propellants used by NASA for launch vehicles, spacecraft, and orbiting fuel depots. In particular, cryotank insulation during in-air pre-launch and launch ascent stages currently uses...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Bulk Separation and Manipulation of Carbon Nanotubes by Type

The utility of this invention is to extract metals (semi-metals) or semiconductors from bulk nanotube samples. The bulk material is a mixture of the two. These materials can then be used to clone a particular type of nanotube, place a particular type in a device, generate smart...

Briefs: Materials
PICA-on-Edge

The current baseline ablator material for the Advanced Development Program (ADP) for the thermal protection system (TPS) of the Orion heat shield is phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA). PICA is a low-density, low-strength material that must be isolated from mechanically and thermally induced deformations and strains of the...

Briefs: Materials
Layered Composite Thermal Insulation System for Non-Vacuum Applications

Ambient air insulation systems for low-temperature (sub-ambient) applications are difficult to achieve because of moisture ingress and environmental degradation, as well as thermal stress-cracking. Most currently accepted methods for externally applied outdoor environments...

Briefs: Materials
White, Electrically Dissipative Thermal Control Coating

A highly reflective, white conductive coating system was developed using various layered coatings to maximize the structural, electrical, and optical reflectance properties for spacecraft radiators. The top layer of the system contains a highly reflective white pigment within a dissipative...

Briefs: Materials
Ultra-High-Temperature Ceramic Composites with SiC Reinforcements

Future-generation materials for use on space transportation vehicles require substantial improvements in material properties, leading to increased reliability and safety, as well as intelligent design to allow for current materials to meet future needs. Ultra-high-temperature...

Briefs: Materials
Cathode Discharge Catalytic Systems for Hydrogen Recovery from Methane

In the process of recovery and regeneration of cabin atmosphere to supply oxygen to facilitate extended-duration manned missions, including expeditions to Mars or a return to the Moon, one of the byproducts of this reaction is waste methane, which is vented into space. This...

Briefs: Materials
Beneficiation of Planetary Regolith by Pneumatically Enhanced Tribocharging of Granular Material

Liberation of oxygen from the mineral ilmenite (FeTiO3), which may be found on the Moon, Mars, or asteroids, is inefficient due to the abundance of other minerals in the excavated regolith that are present but not needed during the...

News: Electronics & Computers
3D Printer That Could Build a Home in 24 Hours Wins Global Design Competition

New York, NY – Contour Crafting, a computerized construction method that rapidly 3D prints large-scale structures directly from architectural CAD models, has been awarded the grand prize of $20,000 in the 2014 "Create the Future" Design Contest.

Contour...

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