A powerful laser developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory could improve the manufacturing of some airplane components, hip implants, and other metal products. The Lab and Metal Improvement Co. Inc. have signed a license agreement and cooperative research deal to adapt the laser technology to peen, or surface treat, metal. Historically, metals have been peened by bombarding the material with metal balls as small as salt or pepper grains to induce compressive stress that prevents metal fatigue and reduces corrosion. Metal Improvement has found that while conventional peening reaches a depth of about 1/100 of an inch to instill compressive strength, the laser peening method extends some four times deeper. "Laser peening was developed in the 1980s, but never went into production because of high cost and slow lasers," says Jim Daly, senior vice president for Metal Improvement. Livermore's neodymium-doped glass laser achieves 600 watts of average power and is capable of firing 10 pulses per second, compared with one pulse every two seconds from the best commercial lasers. One of the first industries where Daly sees the new laser having an impact is the aviation industry, for peening jet engine components like rotors, disks, blades and shafts. Aviation industry studies have shown that engine blades, which can cost $30,000 to $40,000 apiece, last three to five times longer when treated with the laser peening process. Another plus of the laser peening technique is that it has the potential to increase the resistance of airplane blades to objects like birds, ice, or stones that can damage the edge of a blade. Another use of laser peening beyond safer aircraft could be in the medical industry, for example, in the treatment of the surface of hip joint implants. Other industrial applications foreseen are: oil tools, such as drill collars and mud pumps; marine engines and shafts; rocket engine parts; and the chemical and power-generation industries. Commercial products manufactured with the laser peening process are expected to be two to four years away from introduction. For more information, contact Stephen Wampler, LLNL, at (510) 423-3107.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
The increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices -- smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- results in more complex devices under test, the demand for radio frequency test equipment is starting to intensify.
Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers. Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.
Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
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.