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
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
Conventional wisdom holds that MIT, Cal Tech, and Stanford are three of the country’s best undergraduate engineering schools. Unfortunately, when conventional wisdom visits the topic of best engineering schools, it too often leaves out some of the most distinguished programs that don’t happen to offer PhD-level degrees.
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