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.
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.
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.