Chinese tool makers are gaining ground in precision aluminum tooling, according to a presentation this morning at the annual technical conference of the Society of Plastics Engineers. For starters, aluminum billet is cheaper in China than the United States, according to Peter Mooney, president of Plastics Custom Research Services. Then mold makers laminate billets and precision machine the shapes for molds. As a result, it’s less expensive to make machined aluminum molds for complex shapes. The tools are particularly important for rotational molding.
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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