Utron Inc. has developed a combustion gas chamber to quickly compress metallic powders into small parts, and eventually mass-produce small and big components based on the process. It's one of many efforts by powder-metallurgy scientists to take talcum, powder-size grains of metals and turn them into pressed parts. Current methods use pressure and heat to slowly press out small batches of parts. Making large parts in this fashion requires long exposure to heat, with possible undesirable molecular changes resulting. With the combustion gas chamber process, Utron hopes to mass-produce parts "on millisecond time scales," according to Dr. Arul Mozhie, Utron senior scientist. The Utron process evolved from pulsed power and high-pressure combustion technologies developed for hypervelocity launch and other defense applications. The process uses high-pressure pulses, produced by the controlled combustion of propellants, to consolidate the tiny copper and steel powders Utron made using a higher momentum flux gas medium. The work was pursued under a contract awarded by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. FAX (703) 369-5298
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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