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.

Dr. Ajay Koshti, Lead Nondestructive Evaluation Engineer, invented NASA Flash Infrared Thermography Software. Koshti also worked as a Non-Destructive...

News: Test & Measurement
3D Printer Heads to International Space Station

The first 3D printer is soon to fly into Earth orbit, finding a home aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The size of a small microwave, the unit is called Portal. The hardware serves as a testbed for evaluating how well 3D printing and the microgravity of space combine. The soon-to-fly 3D...

News: Photonics/Optics
Researchers Equip Robot with Novel Tactile Sensor

Researchers at MIT and Northeastern University have equipped a robot with a novel tactile sensor that lets it grasp a USB cable draped freely over a hook and insert it into a USB port.

The sensor is an adaptation of a technology called GelSight, which was developed by the lab of Edward Adelson,...

News: Electronics & Computers
Researchers Control Surface Tension of Liquid Metals

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technique for controlling the surface tension of liquid metals by applying very low voltages, opening the door to a new generation of reconfigurable electronic circuits, antennas and other technologies. The technique hinges on...

News: Imaging
'Squid Skin' Metamaterial Yields Vivid Color Display

The quest to create artificial "squid skin" — camouflaging metamaterials that can "see" colors and automatically blend into the background — is one step closer to reality, thanks to a color-display technology by Rice University's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP).

The new full-color...

News: Motion Control
Untethered Soft Robot Walks Through Flames

Developers from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have produced the first untethered soft robot — a quadruped that can stand up and walk away from its designers.

The researchers were able to scale up earlier...

News: Energy
Researchers Create See-Through Solar Concentrator

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy.

The device is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones, and any other device that has a...

Articles: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Products of Tomorrow: September 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...

NASA’s next-generation launch vehicles will be enabled by high-performance composite materials and innovative manufacturing methods. As such, NASA uses...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Ohmic Contact to N- and P-Type Silicon Carbide

Electrical ohmic contacts can be simultaneously formed on silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors having donor and acceptor impurities (n- and p-type doping, respectively). This implies that such contacts can be formed on SiC layers in one process step during the fabrication of the semiconductor...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Flap Edge Noise Reduction Fins

Aircraft noise is a significant problem with both economic and public health implications, especially for communities near airports. As a result, increasingly stringent constraints are being placed on aircraft carriers worldwide to reduce this noise. The current disclosure focuses on airframe noise generated at or...

Briefs: Materials
Toughened Uni-piece Fibrous Reinforced Oxidation-Resistant Composite (TUFROC)

TUFROC has an exposed surface edge design and an appropriate materials combination for a space vehicle that will survive the mechanical stresses induced in the initial ascent, and will subsequently survive the extreme heating and mechanically stressful environment of...

Briefs: Materials
High-Efficiency Tantalum-Based Ceramic Composite Structures

High-efficiency tantalum-based ceramic (HETC) composite structures are suitable for use in thermal protection systems. These composite structures have high-efficiency surfaces (low catalytic efficiency and high-emittance), thereby reducing heat flux to a spacecraft during planetary...

Briefs: Materials
Use of Solvent-Free Conditions/Dry Mixing for Functionalizing Carbon Nanotubes

Two methods have been developed for functionalizing carbon nanotubes in solvent-free conditions. In one method, purified single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and a diazonium salt are added to a metal vial, which is loaded with a stainless steel ball bearing. The...

Briefs: Materials
Synthesis of Novel Copoly(alkyl ether imide)s With Unique Surface Properties

Copoly(alkyl ether imide)s were synthesized for the purposes of tailoring surface chemistry. Alkyl ether oligomers with amine end groups were synthesized from the hydroxyl-terminated species, and subsequently reacted with aromatic dianhydrides and diamines to make the...

A self-healing advanced composite system was designed and optimized using minimum self-healing (SH) agent (~0.02%) deposited in microscopically ordered arrays through...

Briefs: Materials
Multi-Species Turbulent Mixing Under Supercritical-Pressure Conditions

A model describing supercritical-pressure, multi-species turbulent mixing has been developed to simulate situations prevailing in diesel, gas turbine, and HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition) engines. It is also a situation occurring in atmospheric planetary...

Briefs: Materials
A Model of Reduced Oxidation Kinetics Using Constituents and Species

Elementary-reaction chemical kinetics of hydrocarbon oxidation consists of hundreds to thousands of species and thousands of reactions. As such, it is impossible to use it in models and codes involving turbulence because computations are unfeasible due to lack of memory and...

Briefs: Software
Determining Radiation Shielding Capability of the Earth’s Atmosphere from FAA Radiation Data

The FAA, using its CARI-6 program, provides galactic cosmic radiation dosage rates for any location on the Earth from ground up to 60,000 ft (≈18,300 m). One way to protect astronauts from galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) on a Mars mission is to use...

News: Electronics & Computers
Water Splitter Runs on AAA Battery

Scientists at Stanford University have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis. The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use...

News: Defense
Researchers Create Energy-Absorbing Material

Materials like solid gels and porous foams are used for padding and cushioning, but each has its own advantages and limitations.

A team of engineers and scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has found a way to design and fabricate, at the microscale, new cushioning materials...

Researchers have engineered a high-precision modular inspection system that can be adapted on a customer-specific basis and integrated into the production process. Before a...

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are implementing a printing process that transitions from one metal or alloy to another in a single object. JPL scientists have been...

Melanin — and specifically, the form called eumelanin — is the primary pigment that gives humans the coloring of their skin, hair, and eyes. It protects the body...

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego are asking what might be possible if semiconductor materials were flexible and stretchable without sacrificing...

News: Imaging
NASA Engineer Set to Complete First 3D-Printed Space Cameras

By the end of September, NASA aerospace engineer Jason Budinoff is expected to complete the first imaging telescopes ever assembled almost exclusively from 3D-manufactured components.

Under his multi-pronged project, funded by Goddard’s Internal Research and Development (IRAD)...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Advanced Composite Thrust Chambers for In-Space Propulsion

Radiation-cooled, bipropellant thrust chambers are being used for in-space propulsion. To increase the performance of radiation-cooled engines, improved chamber materials are needed that will allow higher operating conditions (pressure and temperature), better resistance to oxidation,...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Integrally Woven Fiber Architecture for Composite Turbine Blades

Composite turbine blades are currently fabricated by laying up multiple layers of fibers in the form of either unidirectional prepregs or thin woven cloth. Composites formed in this manner have poor through-thickness strength. It is also difficult, if not impossible, to form...

Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Assembly and Packaging to Mass-Produce Carbon Nanotube Vacuum Microdevices and Circuits

Field-emission electron sources using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are being targeted for low-power vacuum microelectronic applications for harsh-environment operation (high temperature, pressure, and corrosive atmosphere). While CNTs have demonstrated excellent...

Videos