Chemists and computer scientists have created people-sized "molecules" at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by using chemical data, NIST software, special eyewear, and floor-to-ceiling displays. Such a three-dimensional immersion allows researchers to understand molecular behavior in minutes instead of the weeks required using traditional techniques. The materials being studied are the inexpensive smart gels, which can expand or contract to external stimuli. Applications include an artificial pancreas that might release insulin inside the body in response to high sugar levels. But scientists must know more about the molecular behavior of the gels before they can be applied for specific products. To learn more, go to http://nist.gov.
Most machine design engineers will survey existing component manufacturers for standard linear guide products, limiting what they can do with their designs. Using extruded aluminum profile guides can customize machine designs while shrinking the bill of materials.
Practically all electronic devices today contain metals that may
be coming from conflict-ravaged African countries. And political pressures will increasingly influence how these minerals are sourced and used in products.
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