When you turn Ojarumaru Man on, he says something (in Japanese) about the firefly on his hat and waves his tiny, 9-gram plastic arm up and down through 60 degrees of motion. Because of O-Man's peaceful, Zen-like demeanor, engineers wanted a completely silent method of actuation that would be cost-competitive with an inexpensive, single-speed motor. (In fact, the original design called for a traditional electromagnetic motor, but engineers rejected it because it was too noisy.) In this simple application, engineers mounted Oman's arm to the output shaft of a Nano-Muscle RS-70-CE actuator, which runs off of two AA batteries and uses shape memory alloys (SMAs) as the motive force. SMAs undergo a solid-state phase change when their temperature drops below a specific transition point, providing constant power output across the entire stroke length and a force-to-weight ratio on the order of 15 kgf/m2.
Nanomuscle offers a new commercial development kit for its RS-70-CE actuator for $199.95 or toy development kit for $179.95. For details, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/3849-563
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
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