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
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
With major product releases coming from big names like Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung, and big investments by companies like Facebook, 2015 could be the year that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) finally pop. Here's take a look back at some of the technologies that got us here (for better and worse).
Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.