News reports drone on constantly these days with more and more negative information. I don’t get the same kind of vibe when I talk to design engineers every day for my writing about materials and fastening technology for Design News. Most incredible to me are reports on advances in medical technology by American inventors and engineers. The most recent was an interview I had with Dave Danitz, the vice president of research and development at Novare Surgical Systems In California, which recently developed and brought to market an instrument called RealHand that allows laparoscopic surgery through a single port—and even through natural orifice such as a mouth. The result is a dramatic reduction in the risk of infection.
Invented by Danitz, the RealHand is a fully mechanical instrument up to 45 centimeters in length in which jaws at the distal end move inside the human body in reaction to movements of a surgeon’s hands on a handle. Small articulating links connect the jaws to the shaft and the handle to the shaft, which can vary in length from 24 to 45 centimeters. There are no electronics in the device.
Although introduced just six months ago, a number approaching 100 surgeons use the tool.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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