Consider laser welding for applications using electronic components. Other joining methods can shake embedded components, causing damage. Lasers shine through a transmissive material on top, often natural, into an opaque black material that heats up and melts the natural. The bottom piece often contains carbon black to create opacity that absorbs the laser beam. When two black parts are required, a laser-transmissive black dye is used for the top piece. A new glass-filled nylon compound is designed specifically for laser welding. Luvotech J-3/15/LW BK from Techmer Lehvoss LLC, Clinton, Tenn. is a 15% glass-filled nylon 6. Laser welding requires a pair of materials, one transparent to laser energy and the other laser-absorbing. The first commercial application is a black automotive under-hood part. Techmer is also developing laser-weldable PBT.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
Researchers at MIT's d'Arbeloff Laboratory are developing shoulder- and hip-mounted robotic arms to help workers in aircraft manufacturing perform difficult or complex assembly tasks that would normally require two people.
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