CO2-Based Plastic Nears Production
Engineering Materials 9/8/2014 7 comments Bayer MaterialScience is using CO2 to produce a precursor for high-quality polyurethane foam at its pilot plant in Leverkusen. The transition to full-scale manufacturing is expected in 2016.
NASA Invents Multi-Metals 3D Printing
Engineering Materials 9/3/2014 20 comments NASA's JPL and Caltech have achieved the mind-boggling feat of 3D printing multiple metals in a single end-part, grading from one alloy to another. They've also developed a method for combining metals with carbon fiber composites in end-production parts.
Video: Autonomous Military Robots Complete Mission
Engineering Materials 9/2/2014 3 comments More and more robots are becoming more autonomous all the time. Now Lockheed Martin has completed a demo mission with two completely autonomous robotic vehicles performing resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.
ASTM Proposes New Standards for Metal 3D Printing
Engineering Materials 8/29/2014 6 comments 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 13 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 25 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.
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.
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 22 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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+.
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.
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.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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