What are the biggest trends in product design? Someone asked me that at dinner. I gave this response: 1) lightweighting (what else could I say after the big stories this year on the Chevy Volt and Dreamliner), 2) miniaturization, and related issues concerning thermal conductivity of plastics, and 3) a move back toward styling. This came to mind because of the great new looking washers and dryers from Whirlpool and, more recently, the Nokia Classic 6500.The renewed emphasis on styling is due, in part, to the enormous success of Apple with the Mac, the iPod and iPhone. What do you think are the biggest trends?
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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