Stay updated on advancements in mechanical components and mechatronics systems. New technologies in MEMs, fluid systems, and propulsion are driving breakthroughs in transportation, electrification, autonomous driving, and manufacturing.

R&D: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Five-Fingered Robot Gets a Grip

Intricate tasks that require dexterous in-hand manipulation — rolling, pivoting, bending, and sensing friction — are a challenge for today's robots. A University of Washington team of computer scientists...

NASA tested a 3D printed rocket engine turbopump with liquid methane – an ideal propellant for engines needed to power many types of spacecraft for NASA’s journey to Mars. During the full-power...

Tactile handles forklifts, industrial trucks, and motorized carts are being developed that employ pressure sensors to detect the direction in which a user is pushing or pulling the...

Many machines such as turbines, oil drills, health monitors, and nuclear reactors require internal sensors to monitor physical states such as temperature. Researchers are...

A low-energy nuclear reaction imaging technique designed to detect the presence of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium in cargo containers arriving at U.S. ports was...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Lightweight, Reusable Payload Launch and Transportation Latch

This innovation addresses the problem of automatic engagement and disengagement of payloads from their transport vehicle when lifted by a crane or other material handling device. The prior state-of-the-art is in material handling devices that require personnel to activate the latch,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Advanced Magnetostrictive Regulator, Valve, and Force-to-Angle Sensor

Typical aerospace rocket engines use valves to control the flow and pressures of propellant and pressurants. These typical valves are designed to operate with a mechanical, electromechanical, or pneumatic operator. They all have at least one, and often multiple, penetrations...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Circular Cross-Section Blades for a Sampling Device

To date, there are solutions that can collect samples by being deployed from a distance from a low-gravity body or using a touch-and-go approach. To increase precision collection of samples...

The Deployable Extra-Vehicular Activity Platform (DEVAP) is a staging platform for egress and ingress attached to a lunar, Mars, or planetary surface habitat...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Structural Assembly Incorporating Integral Thermal Heat Spreader for Cold Plate Cooling

In a structural cold plate, typically there is a structural member such as a honeycomb panel or a brazed sandwich assembly that provides the structural strength, and at least one cold plate that cools equipment attached to the structural member. The cold...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Clamshell Sampler

The Clamshell mechanism, with one quick action, acquires and retains a sample from a small body surface while minimizing sampling energy. The sampler has two quarter-sphere buckets that are driven into the small body...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Shape Memory Alloy Rock Splitter

A working prototype of a non-explosive, static rock splitter for space exploration using shape memory alloys (SMAs) as the driving member also has terrestrial applications. The static, compact,...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Passive, Low-Insertion-Force/High-Retention-Force Cam Plug Design for Sample Tube Sample Caging

AMars “sample caching rover” mission designed to collect, document, and package samples for future collection and return to Earth was recommended as the highest-priority mission for 2013–2022 by the 2011 Planetary Decadal Survey. A key premise...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Design Support and Analysis Tool for Pyrotechnically Actuated Valves

This software predicts flow through the initiator of a Primer Chamber Assembly Valve. These valves exhibited a potential failure mode for specific operating conditions where dual simultaneous firings of the initiator occurred. The software tool was able to identify a fluid...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Two-Phase Thermal Switch

There is a wide range of spacecraft thermal management applications that require variable conductance devices such as thermal switches. These switches are used to help maintain the heat source (electronics)...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Micro Cylindrical Ion Trap Micro Mass Spectrometer Instrument System

The goal of this work was to advance the development of new, extremely small (≈2 cm3), low-power (≈3 W), and low-cost micro mass spectrometer instrument systems (μMSIS) through the application of microelectro-mechanical system (MEMS) design and fabrication, and...

News: Imaging
Imaging Breakthrough Reveals Mars' Surface

Using an image stacking and matching technique, researchers from University College London revealed unprecedented detail of the Martian surface. The Beagle-2 lander, ancient lakebeds, and NASA’s MER-A rover tracks were shown at a resolution up to five times greater than previously achieved.

Testing has started at NASA on a concept called the Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS), a propellant-less propulsion system that would harness solar wind to travel...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Constraint Force Equation (CFE) Solver for Multi-Body Dynamics and its Implementation in POST2

Existing aerospace flight trajectory programs simulate the motion of aerospace vehicles by modeling external forces and moments acting on each body, but lack provisions for determining reaction forces and moments exerted by one body on another through...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Cyclops: the Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS)

The Space Station Integrated Kinetic Launcher for Orbital Payload Systems (SSIKLOPS), also known as “Cyclops,” deployed the largest satellite ever from the International Space Station (ISS) on November 28, 2014. The satellite, SpinSat, a Naval...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Vacuum-Jacketed Cryogenic Flex-Through

A vacuum-jacketed, cryogenic flex hose was designed with an integrated flange to be able to pass through a vacuum chamber wall. This design increases the quality of the cryogenic fluid at the exit of the hose (i.e., more liquid, less vapor) by extending the hose vacuum-jacket through the chamber wall, where...

A hermetically sealed, normally closed (NC) zero-leak valve has been developed. Prior to actuation, the valve isolates the working fluid in the upstream volume from the...

There are difficulties related to storing enough gas to propel a CubeSat within an onboard tank. Currently, a CubeSat requiring a large volume of gas for extended...

This technology is based on a model-scale experiment simulating a test facility where an engine exhaust is discharged into a duct....

Magnetic gears transmit rotary motion like mechanical gears but instead of teeth they use magnetic attraction and repulsion between rotating magnets. Magnetic gears have several advantages...

News: Green Design & Manufacturing
Graphene-Based Device Improves Water Filtering

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report, lack of access to safe, clean water is the biggest risk to society over the coming decade. A new graphene-based filter built by Monash University and the University of Kentucky allows water and other liquids to be filtered nine times...

Nanoparticles can be found in everything from drug-delivery formulations to high-definition televisions. They’re also expensive and a pain to make. Researchers at USC have created a...

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) will carry an electrostatically dissipative Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), or “strand-based,” 3D printed part made of...

UC Berkeley scientists released a free Android app that taps a smartphone’s ability to record ground shaking from an earthquake, with the goal of creating a worldwide seismic...

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