A bright future is seen for advanced ceramic fibers and fiber coatings for high-temperature ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). But first design engineers must have better access to the information they need to select the new materials. So concludes a panel of the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems of the National Research Council. Classified projects have generated most data on the tough, stable CMCs. Much of the information probably can be made public now, the report says. It urges creation of a database of CMC properties. Still, technical shortcomings must be overcome before CMCs can be widely used in thermostructural applications. The panel notes that fiber coatings for non-oxide composites have demonstrated adequate performance in short-life applications, such as rocket nozzles. However, fiber-coating technologies for long-life applications, such as turbine engine components, have yet to be demonstrated in component testing. Advances have been further impeded by the high cost of coated fiber. The panel thinks costs will drop through mass production as designers employ CMCs in a larger number of applications.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.