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.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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