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Engineering

Space

Mouthy sea urchin inspires engineers to take a bite out of other planets

The sea urchin may be a restaurant delicacy, but it's also well equipped to satisfy its own appetite. The spiny invertebrate has a rock-crushing mouth so powerful that a herd of them can destroy a kelp forest or devastate a coral reef. Now its dinner manglers have inspired a team of engineers and marine biologists at the University of California, San Diego, to create a claw-like manipulator for robotic rovers tasked with collecting soil samples on other planets.Read More

Materials

Sweet technique inspired by bonbons yields better polymer shells

Inspired by a centuries-old technique used by chocolatiers to create chocolate shells for bonbons and other sweets, engineers have developed a new technique for making polymer films that are both uniform and predictable. According to the researchers, the new theory and method can not only allow confectioners to precisely control the thickness of bonbon casings, but can be more generally applied to create polymer shells for everything from drug capsules to rocket bodies.Read More

Motorcycles Feature

Up to a second faster per corner? Motorcycle Innovation's futuristic front end

Front suspension on a motorcycle has always been a matter of compromise. Telescopic forks have stuck around for nearly a hundred years because they're the least bad solution we've found so far - but an Australian team believes it's finally built the front end that could relegate forks to the history books. It might look bizarre, but the Motoinno system is lighter, it maintains constant geometry, it turns tighter and you can dial in whatever rake, trail, and degree of brake dive you want at the turn of a spanner. It's so stable under braking and into a corner that Motoinno says it's up to a whole second faster through a single corner than the same rider on a GSX-R750. Too good to be true? Loz flew to Sydney to find out.Read More

Good Thinking

Greaseless ball bearings: A revolutionary spin on a design that's been around for ages

The humble ball bearing is a key component of nearly every device with moving parts, taking advantage of the vastly reduced friction you can achieve when rolling a ball between two surfaces as opposed to sliding them across one another. Now, a Japanese company has come up with a simple design that removes a key component from a typical bearing – the cage that keeps the balls separated as they roll around. Coo Space's Autonomous Decentralised Bearings don't need to be greased, and according to their inventor, this fact alone can reduce their friction by up to 90 percent compared with standard bearings. Read More

Automotive

Porsche working on variable-compression engine

While the fashion in high-tech automotive developments might lean towards hybrids and electric vehicles at the moment, there’s still plenty of scope to improve the good old internal combustion engine and one of the holy grails of such development is the creation of a viable variable-compression-ratio system. Now Porsche is working on just such an engine, revealed in the form of a newly-published patent, which will be able to alter its compression ratio. Read More

3D Printing

Uberblox: The Lego of the 3D printer age?

As cool and wonderful as Lego is, those plastic bricks can be tricky to handle if you want to step up from mere constructive play into serious custom-built prototyping. UberBlox hopes to fill that gap. It's a metal construction set and prototyping system with a single-connector locking mechanism and a variety of control boxes for accommodating whatever computer connection or automation needs a project might have.Read More

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