Ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, paired with an alloy of cobalt and chromium, has been the material of choice for longer-lasting orthopedic implants--such as joint replacements for hips and knees. But even joints made from this material last only a decade, prompting industry to search for better materials. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (Gaithersburg, MD) along with four companies--Biomet Inc., and Zimmer Inc. (Warsaw, IN), Johnson & Johnson Professional Inc. (Raynham, MA), and Osteonics Corp. (Allendale, NJ)--designed a device to speed up the screening for new material combinations. Presently, it takes about six months for conventional equipment to simulate the natural wear of artificial hips. The new accelerated wear machine completes a screening in about a week. The device evaluates different material combinations, debris production, and changes in surface texture--resembling the wear implants are exposed to in the body. Researchers will now use the device to study how alternative materials hold up under the effects of motion, environment, and a variety of stress-loading cycles that represent the physical routines of different people. If interested in either the consortium or the device, call: (301) 975-6799.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
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