Special Coverage

Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water

4D Printing of Load-Bearing and Predictable Structures

Moveable and shape-changing components are created using multi-material 3D printers.

Research is being performed in adding a fourth dimension to 3D printers — the dimension of time. This technique, called 4D printing, creates moveable and shape-variable objects, such as flat components, that can be folded into three-dimensional objects at a later point, or even objects that can change their shape as a function of external influences.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

RFID System for Management of High-Risk Materials

This system safeguards the management of sensitive items in storage, transportation, and disposition.

For years, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has been used in a variety of applications, from passports to inventory tracking. Homeland security concerns have heightened the need for sensitive, real-time tracking of thousands of radioactive and hazardous material packages to ensure accountability, safety, security, and worker and public health.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

Wireless Damage Location Sensing System

The wireless, passive SansEC sensor detects package tampering, medication levels, temperature, and spoilage.

NASA Langley Research Center researchers have developed a wireless, open-circuit SansEC (Sans Electrical Connections) sensor that can be used for pharmaceutical applications without the need for physical contact. Many attributes of a container can be monitored, such as liquid or powder levels, temperature of contents, and changes caused by spoilage. Tampering can also be detected. The unique design of this thin-film sensor allows many of these properties to be measured with the sensor external to the container/package. Fill levels can be measured without the need to open the container. At the core of the technology is the NASA award-winning SansEC sensor, which is damage-resilient and environmentally friendly to manufacture and use. The sensors use a magnetic field response measurement acquisition device to provide power to the sensors and to acquire physical property measurements from them.

Posted in: Briefs, Sensors

Improved Two-Step Replication Process for Producing Precision Optical Mirrors

Production of precision optical mirrors by replication requires molds or mandrels of the complementary shape. For example, replicating a concave mirror requires a convex mandrel. Convex shapes are difficult to fabricate and test since they do not focus light. Convex mandrels are therefore costly when they are available. Their sizes are limited to 1-2 meters. Two-step or double replication is well known in the art. In the traditional method, a specific polymer resin system with fillers is used to replicate an existing concave mirror (designated as “mother”) to produce a convex intermediate designated as “daughter.” The same material is then used to replicate the daughter, creating a third-generation concave that is designated as “granddaughter.”

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) Coating of High-Precision Components Produced by Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is being used as a means of coating various substrate materials with a variety of metallic and ceramic oxides for corrosion and thermal protection. The technology necessary to develop a state-of-the-art, low-cost method of polishing and coating a one-piece combustion device using electro-polishing (EP) and ALD was demonstrated in this work. By combining material components made using Selective Laser Melting (SLM) with the process of EP and the application of uniform thin-film coatings using ALD, a complete, scalable manufacturing process can be developed by which high-precision, complex components can be produced at a fraction of their current cost. SLM technology has shown the potential to reduce production costs by 70% or more for complex propulsion component fabrication compared to traditional manufacturing techniques.

Posted in: Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping

Machine Vision System

This system rapidly recognizes and locates surface shapes in range images.

A number of instruments have been built to obtain range images — a two-dimensional array of numbers that gives the depth of a scene along many directions from a central point in the instrument. Instead of measuring the brightness of many points in a scene, as in a television camera, these instruments measure where each point is in a three-dimensional space. Both range images and the more conventional intensity images from digital cameras have been used in the computer vision research community to determine the pose of observed objects or surface shapes. “Pose” refers to a complete description of an object's position and orientation. For a rigid object, this requires six numbers — such as X, Y, Z, pitch, yaw, and roll — or six equivalent coordinates. The previous methods for pose estimation all suffer from either a lack of generality or from time inefficiency.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging

Ensuring Part Quality in Industrial Metal Additive Manufacturing

Concept Laser
Grapevine, TX
For more info click here

Now that metal additive manufacturing (AM) is creating fully functional industrial parts, many OEMs are taking a closer look at how the technology might support their individual production goals. Interest has also been piqued by the commitment to AM of some major companies. “I think the news about the GE Leap engine fuel nozzle really resonated throughout industry,” said Doug Hedges, President and COO of Sintavia LLC, a metal AM service provider for aerospace, defense, and other industries. “That got everyone's attention, and certainly increased the pace of inquiries for us.” The nozzle, produced internally at GE, was the first 3D-printed part certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly inside a commercial jet engine.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Metals

Lock-In Imaging System for Detecting Disturbances in Fluid

The aircraft-based technology can detect irregular motion of transparent air.

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed an aircraft-based turbulence and vortex detection system. Turbulence and vortices in the front-flight path are very dangerous for airplanes. Especially when an airplane is approaching the airfield to land, the altitude near the airfield is very low, and the vortices and air turbulence near the ground can cause the airplane to become unstable. Because the vortices and turbulence are just an irregular motion of transparent air, visual detection is very difficult. The NASA Langley invention is designed to detect the irregular motion of transparent air in the front-flight path from a few hundred meters to kilometers.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging

Using Formal Methods for Engineering Embedded Systems

Between 1985 and 1987, a radiation therapy device called the Therac-25 was involved in at least six incidents in which the device delivered massive overdoses of radiation. The patients involved suffered radiation burns and symptoms of radiation poisoning. Three of those patients eventually died, all because of a latent software bug. A race condition had gone undetected. It was a test case no one had thought to define.

Posted in: Articles, Software

Reducing Inaccuracies in Force/Haptic Feedback Systems

This novel algorithm automatically compensates for the errors introduced by physical factors, enabling the control system to adjust the applied force accurately.

Researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have developed a new technology to reduce inaccuracies in force/haptic feedback devices and systems. Used at NASA in aircraft simulations for force feedback pilot controls, these systems involve a servomotor applying precise force to a specific point based on very accurate measurements. However, because the force instrumentation often cannot be placed directly at the point of interest, a mechanical assembly is used, linking the force transducer to the target point. Unfortunately, this mechanical assembly introduces inaccuracies due to its own forces of gravity, friction, and inertia.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components

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