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Engineering Materials
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ASTM Proposes New Standards for Metal 3D Printing
Engineering Materials 
8/29/2014  Post a comment
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Video: 1,000 Swarming Robots Self-Assemble
Engineering Materials 
8/28/2014  6 comments
The biggest robot swarm to date is made of 1,000 Kilobots, which can follow simple rules to autonomously assemble into predetermined shapes. Hardware and software are open-source.
Update: Converting Plastics to Energy Could Boost US Reserves
Engineering Materials 
8/27/2014  14 comments
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
Survey: Engineers Uncertain About CAFE Materials Choices
Engineering Materials 
8/25/2014  4 comments
This year's Dupont-sponsored WardsAuto survey of automotive designers and other engineers shows lightweighting dominates the discussion. But which materials will help them meet the 2025 CAFE standards are not entirely clear.
Report: Metamaterials Will Partly Depend on Additive Manufacturing
Engineering Materials 
8/20/2014  8 comments
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX Reveals 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Parts
Engineering Materials 
8/19/2014  9 comments
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Injection-Moldable Composite Beats Metal Specs
Engineering Materials 
8/15/2014  15 comments
A new thermoplastic composite for high-speed, high-volume injection molding has tensile strength that's close to, and sometimes better than, either lay-up composites or metals.
Lawrence Livermore & MIT 3D-Print New Super-Light, Super-Strong Materials
Engineering Materials 
8/14/2014  9 comments
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Update: Intelligent Composites for Structural Monitoring
Engineering Materials 
8/5/2014  5 comments
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
Good News & Bad News About Ocean Plastics
Engineering Materials 
7/28/2014  20 comments
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
GE Aviation, Lockheed & Optomec Star in Metal 3D Printing Project
Engineering Materials 
7/25/2014  2 comments
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
Will Robots Give Jobs or Take Them Away?
Engineering Materials 
7/21/2014  42 comments
Lots of people who write about robots say they give us jobs, instead of taking them away from humans. Based on the evidence in some recent studies, I'm not so sure.
Robot Can Detect Gas Pipe Leaks
Engineering Materials 
7/18/2014  21 comments
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
3D-Printed Rocket Engine Fires Up
Engineering Materials 
7/14/2014  19 comments
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
Fast, Cheap, Stretchable Electronics Made With Sewing Machine
Engineering Materials 
7/11/2014  11 comments
Purdue researchers have used a commercial sewing machine to quickly create stretchable electronics from conventional thin wire and a silicone elastomer used for making special-effect movie masks.
Video: Wear Your Own Pair of Robot Arms
Engineering Materials 
7/10/2014  53 comments
Researchers at MIT's d'Arbeloff Laboratory are developing shoulder- and hip-mounted robotic arms to help workers in aircraft manufacturing perform difficult or complex assembly tasks that would normally require two people.
3D-Printed Steel Building Structures
Engineering Materials 
7/2/2014  22 comments
Structural engineers have developed a design method for 3D printing structural steel elements to be used in construction projects. Complex, individually designed pieces can be created far more efficiently, and costs and waste will be reduced.
10 Nautical Robots Brave the High Seas
Engineering Materials 
7/1/2014  13 comments
Some of the latest nautical robots take a variety of forms. They can look like small boats, tiny four-wheeled vehicles, or realistic fish. One design from Sandia Labs will be able to transform itself from a swimming robot to one that flies through the air or uses wheels on land.
Consumer-Grade 3D-Printable Metal Casting Resin
Engineering Materials 
6/26/2014  12 comments
MadeSolid is offering a 3D-printable casting resin for making small metal parts for things like jewelry. It costs a lot less than previous alternatives and can be used with multiple consumer-grade printers -- an industry first.
SABIC & Kringlan Develop Carbon Composite Wheel
Engineering Materials 
6/25/2014  11 comments
SABIC and Kringlan Composites are developing a thermoplastic carbon composite wheel with a matrix based on SABIC's ULTEM resin. Kringlan says its process is geared toward high volumes, short cycle times, and in-house recycling of production waste and end-of-life materials.
Slideshow: igus's 3D-Printable Bearings Material
Engineering Materials 
6/20/2014  5 comments
igus is offering its tribological, integrated lubricant polymer in a filament for 3D-printing custom bearings, bushings, and prototypes. The Tribo-Filament is compatible with any filament fusion printer that has a heated nozzle and print bed, and uses ABS filaments.
Automotive Lightweighting Groups Get Serious
Engineering Materials 
6/16/2014  7 comments
Industry trade groups, materials manufacturers, and software companies are getting serious about helping automotive manufacturers with vehicle lightweighting. This spring, four different consortia and partnerships were formed.
Ford & Heinz Test Tomato-Based Plastic
Engineering Materials 
6/13/2014  13 comments
Ford and Heinz are testing bioplastics that use waste tomato fiber. Researchers have made some composites and are evaluating their properties, with the goal of making a strong, lightweight composite that can be used in a car's non-structural components.
Climb Glass Walls Like a Gecko With DARPA Tech
Engineering Materials 
6/12/2014  8 comments
For the first time ever, a human has scaled a glass wall using an adhesive inspired by gecko feet. The DARPA-funded research that developed the polymer microstructure technology on handheld paddles is part of the agency's Z-Man program to help soldiers in urban environments.
10 Robots You Don't Want to Mess With
Engineering Materials 
6/10/2014  76 comments
Our current crop of military robots includes small, tank-like unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), more specialized types like large autonomous vehicles, and both large and small winged robots, one carrying its own fuel cell.
Memory Polymers Are Stronger, Cheaper & Recyclable
Engineering Materials 
6/6/2014  7 comments
Stronger, lighter, cheaper, self-healing, and recyclable, too? IBM says they're all true about its new family of industrial thermoset polymers.
3D Print Plastic & Electronics in One Pass
Engineering Materials 
6/5/2014  4 comments
Stanford University grad students have developed open-source technology that 3D prints conductive traces and plastic in one pass. Their startup is selling a liquid syringe extruder that plugs into a filament fusion printer, a plug-in replacement dual extruder, and a dual-extrusion 3D printer.
Lockheed & RedEye Team to 3D-Print Rocket Fuel Tanks
Engineering Materials 
6/2/2014  21 comments
Lockheed Martin and RedEye have 3D-printed two huge rocket fuel tank prototypes, the biggest of which is 6.75 ft. long. The project took much less time than traditional manufacturing methods, at about half the cost.
Slideshow: Airbus Launches All-Composite, All-Electric Plane
Engineering Materials 
5/27/2014  79 comments
Airbus Group's all-electric, all-composite training aircraft took its first public flight last month during the company's E-Aircraft Day in Bordeaux, France. The experimental aircraft was designed and built as a technology demonstrator for small planes used to train pilots.
BASF Reveals More BMWi3 Materials
Engineering Materials 
5/20/2014  9 comments
The BMW i3's carbon fiber composite breakthroughs include contributions from several suppliers. BASF, which already announced its carbon composite rear seat pan, recently said more of its plastics and composites play a role in several parts of the car, some of which are firsts in a production vehicle.
3D Printing Needs to Open Up
Engineering Materials 
5/19/2014  13 comments
The prototyping-based models 3D printing has used for 30 years must change if the industry is to continue growing and shift to production parts, says a new Lux Research study.
Slideshow: Plastics Showcased at Aircraft Interiors Expo
Engineering Materials 
5/16/2014  15 comments
At the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014 show in Hamburg, many companies got a chance to showcase their plastics for a variety of applications in aircraft interiors. Some introduced new materials. Others announced new applications or qualifications for their products.
Slideshow: Proto Labs Buys 3D Printing Service Bureau
Engineering Materials 
5/13/2014  18 comments
Not long after 3D printing leader Stratasys bought two service bureaus, rapid prototyping service bureau extraordinaire Proto Labs has embraced the technology by buying a service bureau focused solely on additive manufacturing. Before this acquisition, Proto Labs has concentrated on CNC machining and injection molding.
Aerospace-Grade Composites Will Repair Themselves
Engineering Materials 
5/12/2014  35 comments
Wouldn't it be cool if fiber-reinforced composites could repair themselves? Engineers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology think they've found a way to do it.
Shrimp Club Inspires Stronger Aerospace Composite
Engineering Materials 
5/9/2014  6 comments
The carbon-fiber-reinforced composite is both stronger and resists impact better than similar materials typically used in aircraft.
Slideshow: Recyclable 3D Printing Material Beats ABS & PLA
Engineering Materials 
5/8/2014  4 comments
What if you could get a 3D printing filament that's strong like ABS, but easier to use like PLA, and more flexible than both? Better yet, what if it was also recyclable? Startup independent 3D printing materials company MadeSolid offers that material: PET+.
RoboClam Digs Deep to Monitor Ocean Floor
Engineering Materials 
5/5/2014  6 comments
A robotic razor clam -- actually a digging robot -- burrows into sand with high efficiency.
3D-Printed Bioplastics Coming Soon
Engineering Materials 
4/25/2014  27 comments
Bioplastics formulator and manufacturer Sierra Resins and distributor 3D Printlife are working together to introduce a new biofilament for 3D printers.
Solar Impulse 2 Flies New Materials
Engineering Materials 
4/24/2014  26 comments
Solar Impulse 2 -- a 100% solar-powered airplane -- has been completed. It features several advanced materials, some developed specifically for next year's attempted around-the-world flight.
Composite Rocket Fuel Tank Will Explore Deep Space
Engineering Materials 
4/23/2014  8 comments
NASA and Boeing developed a huge, carbon composite cryogenic fuel tank for deep space missions, and started testing it last month. The 18-ft cryotank will enable heavy-lift launch vehicles to send both humans and robots into deep space.
Turtle Inspires 3D-Printed Car Frame
Engineering Materials 
4/22/2014  6 comments
German engineering firm EDAG Group showed a single-piece, 3D-printed car body design inspired by a turtle at the Geneva Motor Show. It came about after an assessment of how additive manufacturing could be applied to making industrial components, modules, and complete vehicle bodies.
Stratasys Expands 3D Printing Materials Options
Engineering Materials 
4/21/2014  6 comments
Stratasys is buying assets of a key player in materials testing and R&D for its FDM filament printers, and there's a new polypropylene material for the PolyJet series of 3D printers.
Video: 3D-Printed Drone Flies High
Engineering Materials 
4/16/2014  8 comments
3D printing has met up with drones in a 3D-printed UAV. University of Sheffield engineers printed the prototype drone in 24 hours from ABS plastic using Fused Deposition Modeling.
3D Pictures of Huge, Self-Assembled DNA Structures
Engineering Materials 
4/15/2014  5 comments
Some of the biggest self-assembled building blocks and structures made from engineered DNA have been developed by researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute. The largest, a hexagonal prism, is one-tenth the size of an average bacterium.
3D Printing High-Strength Carbon Composites Using PEEK, PAEK
Engineering Materials 
4/14/2014  6 comments
Arevo Labs' end-production 3D printing technology for carbon composites includes a high-temperature, filament fusion printer head design and firmware for use with the company's new carbon fiber and nanotube reinforced high-temperature matrix polymers like PEEK.
Stratasys Buys 3D Printing Service Bureaus to Expand End Production
Engineering Materials 
4/11/2014  3 comments
Stratasys will buy Solid Concepts and Harvest Technologies and combine them with its RedEye service business. The plan takes aim at end-production manufacturing and will create one of the biggest commercial 3D printing and AM service bureaus.
World Industrial Robot Demand Falls
Engineering Materials 
4/10/2014  9 comments
The International Federation of Robotics reports that global sales of industrial robots decreased by 4% in 2012 over 2011. The biggest hit was electrical/electronics manufacturing, down by 13%; but by region, the Amerficas did well.
Slideshow: New Carbon Composites for Volume Car Production
Engineering Materials 
4/9/2014  21 comments
At the JEC Europe 2014 composites show in Paris, many companies showcased their carbon fiber composite products, especially for volume automotive manufacturing. Some companies touted their contributions to BMW's all-carbon composite body-in-white. Others introduced automotive products and processes.
Report: Biochemicals, Bio-Based Materials Capacity to Jump
Engineering Materials 
4/1/2014  1 comment
A report forecasts a big capacity increase for bio-based materials and biochemicals, including those that go into bioplastics. These are mostly based on first-generation feedstocks like corn and sugarcane, but second-generation cellulosic feedstocks continue to grow slowly.
Report: Biofuels in Transition to Next-Gen Feedstocks Will Slow Growth
Engineering Materials 
3/31/2014  8 comments
The biofuels industry is about to make the transition to next-generation, non-food-based feedstocks. The bad news is, this transition will slow capacity growth by a lot. But that means growth slows, not that capacity declines.
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Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Engineers at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have designed biobatteries on commercial tattoo paper, with an anode and cathode screen-printed on and modified to harvest energy from lactate in a person’s sweat.
A Silicon Valley company has made the biggest splash yet in the high-performance end of the electric car market, announcing an EV that zips from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and costs $529,000.
The biggest robot swarm to date is made of 1,000 Kilobots, which can follow simple rules to autonomously assemble into predetermined shapes. Hardware and software are open-source.
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