Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Electrically Conductive, Optically Transparent Polymer/Carbon Nanotube Composites

A templated growth process provides uniform-sized carbon nanotubes.

NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have developed a novel method for making carbon nanotubes that are very uniform in size. A template is used to guide the carbon nanotube growth so that all nanotubes are uniform in size. The carbon nanotubes can be used as-grown, uniformly dispersed, and aligned within the template or isolated from the template for use as carbon nanotubes. The solution-based process uses sugar as a carbon source, does not require vacuum, and is thus simple and low-cost in nature.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fabrication, Composite materials, Conductivity, Nanomaterials
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Space Vehicle Heat Shield Having Edgewise Strips of Ablative Material

Edgewise strips of PICA ablator eliminate gaps in the capsule heat shield.

An alternate heat shield concept for the Orion space vehicle is to use interlocking blocks of Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA). The blocks are independent from one another and there is a defined gap inches between the blocks. That gap poses serious problems to the vehicle and crew if gases flow between the PICA blocks. This invention is a simple yet robust invention for PICA block gap filler. Strips of preconditioned PICA blocks are positioned edgewise to fill gaps between PICA blocks to provide a gap filler substance that allows thermal expansion, and satisfies mechanical strain between the PICA tiles and substructure.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Thermal management, Thermal management, Product development, Insulation, Spacecraft
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Mechanically Strong, Thermally Stable, and Electrically Conductive Nanocomposite Structure and Method of Fabricating Same

This technology can be used in automobiles, launch vehicles, advanced aerospace vehicles, aircraft, and spacecraft.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a method for producing multifunctional, structural, thermally stable nanocomposites with aligned carbon nanotubes. The invention improves upon current state-of-the-art graphite fiber composites by providing the same lightweight and mechanically strong characteristics, but also adds thermal stability and electrical conductivity. Thus, the invention can be used to provide a new class of mechanically strong, thermally stable, and electrically conductive nanocomposites.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Fabrication, Composite materials, Graphite, Materials properties, Nanomaterials
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Improved Cast Stainless Steel Alloys

Applications include chemical/petrochemical production systems, gas turbine engines, and high-performance alloys.

At high temperatures, currently available cast stainless steel alloys used for engine component applications do not have the long-term stability of their original castings, and are lacking in their ability to resist deformation and cracking from extreme temperature changes. There is a need for high-strength, oxidation-resistant, and crack-resistant cast alloys for use in internal combustion engine components such as exhaust manifolds and turbocharger housings, gas-turbine engine components such as combustor housings, and other components that must function in extreme environments for prolonged periods of time.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Casting, Advanced high-strength steels, Alloys, High-strength low-alloy steel, Engine components, Durability, Durability
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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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3D-Printed Soft Robot ‘Walks’ on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments.

A team at the University of California San Diego has demonstrated a more flexible option: a soft robot that lifts its legs over obstacles and operates on a variety of terrains. The 3D-printed quadrupedal technology may someday support search-and-rescue missions requiring intelligent navigation capabilities.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Automation, Robotics
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Advancing Bioabsorbable Scaffolds with Polymer Technology

In this White Paper, you will find information on:

Bioabsorbable scaffolds and the next revolution in endovascular therapy Advances in polymer technology to treat coronary artery disease Challenges to creating bioresorbable stents
Posted in: White Papers, Materials, Medical
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A New Path for Lamination Adhesives: Leaping Time Barriers and Erasing Steps

Automotive manufacturers, particularly in North America, primarily use two-component waterborne, reactive hot-melt, and solvent-borne adhesives for laminating thermoplastic olefin, polyvinyl chloride and leather skins to polyethylene and polypropylene foams — for applications like interior door panels, consoles and instrument panels.

Posted in: White Papers, Automotive, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Automotive, Transportation
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High Performance Long Fiber Reinforced Composite Materials

Long fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites are the go to material for structural components in applications that push the envelope of what plastics can do, even replacing metals.

Posted in: On-Demand Webinars, Materials
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Will Mars habitats be built from Martian soil?

This week’s Question: Today’s lead INSIDER story described a potentially new way of building Mars habitats. What do you think? Will Mars habitats be built from Martian soil?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials
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