I have been writing about engineering plastics for more than 20 years, and I never had heard about any relationship between crystallinity and shish-kebabs. That is, until I saw the May 18 issue of Science magazine. It contains an article indicating that polyolefins crystallize into shish-kebab shapes (I couldn’t make this stuff up).More importantly, the researchers who wrote the article say they know how to manipulate the shape of these “shish-kebabs” so that the polymer structure becomes much stronger. "Our discovery is pertinent to the relatively strong and stiff plastics," says Julia Kornfield, chemical engineering professor at Caltech. "For example, it will allow manufacturers to make polymers for complex and beautifully shaped body panels with equal or better quality than currently available—and cheaper and faster." The lead author of the paper is Shuichi Kimata, a former postdoctoral researcher in Kornfield's Caltech lab. He linked Kornfield's group at Caltech with Yoshinobu Nozue's group at Sumitomo and collaborators at the University of Tokyo. The title of the Science paper is "Molecular Basis of the Shish-Kebab Morphology in Polymer Crystallization." What’s the path to commercialization? What’s the timetable? Or is this just an academic tease? Stay tuned.
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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