The introduction of new materials, new manufacturing methods (like 3D printing), and advanced computational models have changed the way designers and engineers go about their work. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Drexel University hope to develop new computational tools that combine computing, materials, and manufacturing advancements to better account for the complexity of new products that are manufactured in non-traditional ways using advanced materials.
The idea of a magical item that bestows invisibility on the user is older than characters famous for using such cool toys, such as Harry Potter or Bilbo Baggins. The notion of invisibility still captures the imagination, though, to be honest, I suspect invisibility would be put to less than benevolent uses by most people.
While the object in question is neither a cloak, nor does it provide actual invisibility, researchers at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering still refer to their creation by the pop culture reference. The object in question is actually a circle with holes of seemingly random shapes and sizes punched in it, surrounding a larger circular hole in the center. Continue reading
3D printing is enabling all sorts of advancements in design and prototyping, and now some German engineers are leveraging the technology to produce low-cost, potentially disposable robotic spiders.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation in Stuttgart hope to use selective laser sintering (SLS) to create small, low-cost robots that look and walk like spiders. Using elastic drive bellows that generate pressure and pump fluid into the devices’ legs, the robotic arachnids can crawl and jump very much like the real thing.
The Fraunhofer team can generate interchangeable, modular parts for the robots using the 3D printers, increasing flexibility and lowering cost significantly. Thin layers of polyamide powder are applied and melted in place, allowing the group to produce “complex geometries, inner structures and lightweight components.” Leg modules can even be designed with variable load-bearing characteristics. According to the Fraunhofer website: Continue reading
If you’re looking for cutting-edge innovation from the garages and basements of the world, Kickstarter is the place to be. The project funding platform allows engineers, designers and other creative types to describe their project, set funding goals and pledge rewards, and then rake in the cash needed to make their ideas a reality.
From a multi-function camera tripod plate system to iPod Nano watch kits to a Maryland school that wanted to purchase a Makerbot 3D printer, there are thousands of niche projects collecting millions of dollars via the site. DE reported on one such project this summer, a PadPivot Stand that was prototyped using Quickparts’ rapid prototyping services.
Of course, the more people perusing the site, the better the chances of securing funding. To that end, Kickstarter recently announced it had reached the milestone of 1 million backers. Continue reading