A single automaker will spend as much as $2 billion each year perfecting dies to press sheet steel into body parts for new car models. Sometimes manufacturers must redesign a die as many as 10 times before discovering the mold that forms the proper shape. A new technique, however, promises to assure that the die of the future needs to be cast but once. The technique was described at the American Crystallographic Association meeting in Arlington, VA. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) used an advanced measurement technique, known as in-situ ultrasmall-angle X-ray scattering, to study the evolution of complex defect structures in deformed metals. They designed a special sample holder called a tensile stage for deforming samples in the x-ray beam. Thus engineers can study minute details about the formation of defects while the metal is being stretched and probed by the x-rays. NIST is devising a theoretical model connecting the observed defect structures with the mechanical properties of various materials. It's the first step toward developing new computer models that could help manufacturers slice die costs. Phone NIST's Gabrielle Long at (301) 975-5975 or Lyle Levine at (301) 975-6032.
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.
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!
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