A self-healing system for concrete developed in Europe was inspired by a Dutch researcher’s trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. As concrete ages, water seeps into cracks, which widen as the water freezes and thaws. In the new approach, specific organic mineral precursor compounds plus spore-forming alkaliphilic bacteria are incorporated into concrete during the manufacturing process. They produce calcite particles up to 100-μm in size that are shown to seal micro- to even larger-sized cracks. Erik Schlangen, a professor at Delft Technical University in The Netherlands said he got the idea after seeing deposits of calcite near geysers at Yellowstone. The improvement in crack resistance is said to more than compensate for a 10 percent loss in compressive strength due to incorporation of the bacteria, says Schlangen. The approach will also reduce the amount of raw materials used in concrete.
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.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
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