The U.S. Navy program to improve the reliability and seaworthiness of its Hovercrafts is moving forward. As first reported by Design News, Navy engineers are changing the technology used to attach the rubber-pleated skirts that contain high-pressure air that moves the craft above water. Newly developed fasteners can be replaced with regular tools, speeding replacement of damaged skirts. The new TineLok system has one or more tines that work in conjunction with longitudinal bolt thread channels to prevent counter rotation and loosening. The skirt manufacturer, Avon Rubber, has sent a purchase order for the first Navy Hovercraft replacement program. Orders to cover the rest of the fleet are expected to begin in May. There are 100 skirts on each Hovercraft and maintenance costs will be cut 25 to 30 percent. The first fasteners are all stainless: the nut, the tine and bolt. Tests are also being conducted on plastic versions that cut weight by 75 percent. Nuts and bolts are made from PEEK and the tine is made from glass-reinforced nylon. Rod is being machined for the sample run. The Army is looking at the technology for some of its weapons systems. It may also have applications for fastening of lighting in various applications.
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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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