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.
Listen to a podcast on the new Hovercraft fastening technology.
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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