Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Soft Robotic Gripper Manipulates Objects Without Training

An engineering team at the University of California San Diego has designed and built a gripper that can pick up and manipulate objects without needing to see them and without being trained. The gripper is unique because it brings together three different capabilities. It can twist objects, it can sense objects, and it can build models of the objects it’s manipulating. This allows the gripper to operate in low light and low visibility conditions, for example.

Posted in: INSIDER, Mechanical Components
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Origami Techniques Expand Compacted Spacecraft

Origami has once again inspired engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Besides aesthetic beauty, the Japanese tradition of paper-folding addresses a persistent problem faced by JPL engineers: how do you pack the greatest amount of spacecraft into the smallest volume possible?

Posted in: INSIDER, Aerospace, Joining & Assembly, Motion Control
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Webb Telescope Actuators Move with Microscopic Accuracy

The James Webb Space Telescope will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. With a 21-foot diameter, the telescope’s primary mirror is six times larger than the one used by the Hubble Space Telescope. In order for such a large mirror to travel into space, it has to be broken up into multiple segments; in this case, 18 of them. But for the 18 to act as one primary mirror, they have to be adjusted while in orbit.

Posted in: INSIDER, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Positioning Equipment, Optical Components, Optics
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Electromagnetic Actuator Decouples Linear and Rotary Motions

A lightweight module for rapid, accurate, and versatile positioning of semiconductor chips features a novel electromechanical actuator that can move objects both linearly and rotationally. The technology was developed by researchers at the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (A*STAR SIMTech) and National University of Singapore (SIMTech-NUS) Joint Lab.

Posted in: INSIDER, Industrial Controls & Automation, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Positioning Equipment
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3D Printed Tensegrity Object Can Change Shape

A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a way to use 3D printers to create objects capable of shape change. The objects use tensegrity, a structural system of floating rods in compression and cables in continuous tension. The researchers fabricated the struts from shape memory polymers that unfold when heated. The technology could someday be used in applications ranging from space missions to biomedical devices.

Posted in: INSIDER, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control
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Mechanical Actuators Bend as They “Breathe”

Extreme temperatures can severely strain a mechanical component because its material may have trouble enduring the heat without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT developed a new material that expands and contracts as it lets oxygen in and out. The result is a new way to make actuators that could be used in extremely hot environments.

Posted in: INSIDER, Materials, Mechanical Components, Motion Control
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