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Washington Beat 475

DN Staff

May 6, 1996

3 Min Read
Washington Beat

Car crash-testers seek better scenarios

How can you tell how crashworthy a car is? Many crash tests have been tried, but experts are far from fully satisfied with any of them. That was clear at a session on crashworthiness research during the annual government/industry meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers in Washington, DC. Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) described new tests they are considering, including smashing one car into another, slamming a deformable barrier into a car, and ramming a car into a pole. In NHTSA's standard test a car plows head-on into a fixed barrier. NHTSA hopes to develop tests that measure the degree of protection against side impacts and against ejection of passengers in collisions. The agency also seeks better ways of determining the protection a car provides in oblique impacts, which are much more frequent--though usually less injurious--than head-on smash-ups. NHTSA engineers are studying how various types of windows might withstand impact by passengers. They are testing standard tempered glass, bilaminates, and rigid plastics.

NASA begins flight testing thrust-vectoring nozzle

Flight tests are underway to find out if a new thrust-vectoring concept really will improve aircraft performance and control. The National Aeronautics and Space Administra- tion (NASA) has hooked thrust-vectoring nozzles to F-15 research aircraft at its Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA. Researchers will test the system aboard the twin-engine planes for about 100 hours over the next two years. The nozzles can turn up to 20 degrees in any direction to give an airplane thrust control in both the pitch and yaw directions. NASA engineers say the new concept could bring significant gains in performance of both civil and military aircraft flying at both subsonic and supersonic speeds.

Modeling technology promises fresh class of design tools

The time designers spend defining free-form surfaces will shrink markedly before long. That prediction arose at the first annual Symposium on Frontiers in Engineering, which the National Academy of Engineering hosted. David C. Gossard, president of New Technologies Inc., Andover, MA, de- scribed his research on new CAD tools that provide a seamless link between shape definition and shape analysis. The system en- ables rapid creation of geometric models of mechanical assemblies with sheet-metal components. The tools operate, in fact, with any components modeled by a free-form surface and a uniform thickness. Product designers work with a complete surface throughout this CAD process, rather than building the surface from curve fragments. Gossard's approach automatically creates transition surfaces that blend between elevations in features. No longer would you need to define and specify fillets. "The natural physics of a lamina is used to define smooth free-form surfaces with minimal user input," Gossard says of his product modeler. He uses a specialized finite-element method to generate complex surfaces that fuse interactively defined 3-D features.

Inventions by NIST researchers listed in free catalog

Seeking inventions? The National Institute of Standards & Technology has come out with the 1996 edition of inventions by its researchers. The catalog provides the title and docket number of more than 100 NIST inventions. It also gives detailed descriptions of those items available for licensing. A separate section contains inventions available for use without a license. Among entries are analytical instruments, electronic systems, and biotechnology processes. You can get copies of NIST Inventions from Marcia Salkeld, Industrial Partnerships Program, Bldg. 820, Rm. 213, NIST, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-0001. Phone: (301) 975-4188. FAX: (301) 869-2751.

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