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Engineering

The Smart fender created using IDEE (Photo: Fraunhofer)

Cars are becoming increasingly complex to produce, with the relatively short intervals between the introductions of new models leaving automakers scrambling to keep up. In an effort to reduce production costs, shorten production times, and quickly introduce new materials and assembly techniques, the European Union launched the Pegasus Project in 2006. The main thrust of the collaborative project has been the creation of the Integrated Design and Engineering Environment (IDEE). It’s a CAD/CAE/CAM software system that lets auto designers draw on an intelligent database, that will figure out the best way for them to implement new designs.  Read More

Steven Roberts' Microship micro-trimaran

Are you “mediagenic, geeky, youthful, and insanely adventurous”? Those are the qualities that Steven Roberts is seeking in the new owner of his custom pedal/wind/solar-powered micro-trimaran, the Microship. A self-described “technomad,” Roberts is a huge fan of high technology and self-propelled solo adventuring, and the quirky little boat is clearly the lovechild of those two passions. It has a host of high-tech features, yet is intended for escaping the rat race and living simply. Ironic? Maybe, but it comes with a great story.  Read More

Researchers have found that localized heating through a microscope tip can modify the prop...

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology have documented a major breakthrough in the production of nanocircuitry on graphene, a material that many envision as the successor of silicon for our electronics needs. Using thermochemical nanolithography (TCNL), the team found that the electrical properties of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) can be easily tuned to reliably produce nanoscale circuits in a single, quick step.  Read More

The pen assembly machine from Keyence

On display at the Design Engineering and Manufacturing Solutions Expo in Tokyo, this pen assembly machine is an impressive example of robotic multi-tasking and dexterity – albeit perhaps not that practical. So if you happen to work on a pen assembly line, you might now be redundant thanks to this robot. Or maybe not...  Read More

Artists rendering a String Transport system

Trains might be a reasonably cheap transport option - but rail infrastructure is very costly to build. Monorail, maglev systems and high speed rail are more expensive again - and prices really skyrocket when you have to build bridges, tunnels and winding mountain routes, or cover difficult terrain. Which is why Anatoly Unitsky's String Transport Systems look like they've got so much potential. The system uses solid steel/concrete rails, reinforced with extremely high tension steel wires, to provide an efficient and smooth rail system anywhere between 3 to 30 meters above the ground. It's earthquake, hurricane and terrorist-proof, and capable of supporting vehicle speeds over 500 kmh, too, making it a genuine high-speed rail alternative, for a fraction of the price of road or ground rail alternatives. Fascinating stuff!  Read More

The five pieces show the transformation in stages from wedding dress to fashion garment an...

Aiming to address the issue of “throwaway fashion” and its impact on the environment as landfill, students at Sheffield Hallam University have combined fashion design with engineering to create a dissolvable wedding dress. This truly "wear once" garment can be converted into five different fashion pieces before being dissolved in water leaving no environmental footprint.  Read More

Honda's Bodyweight Support Assist selected for NY innovation exhibition

Some of you may recall our piece on Honda's Body Support Assist prototype last year. As a quick update to that story, those of you in the New York area will get a chance to see it in person as a part of the "Why Design Now?" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution.  Read More

As the electric current of the strontium barium niobate crystal was altered, the noisy ima...

Noise in images is generally held to be a bad thing, but engineers from Princeton University have used a nonlinear material to steal energy from image noise to reveal hidden or obscured objects. The engineers see the technology as potentially paving the way for improvements to radar systems, sonograms and stenography offering the possibility of allowing pilots to see through fog and doctors to look inside the human body without surgery  Read More

The structure of sea shells has inspired scientists to create a new material with similar ...

Seashells have done an exemplary job of protecting their inhabitants for around a hundred million years, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that scientists and chemists have now replicated their unique structure in a manmade material. Taking inspiration from shells, researchers from the University of Manchester and the University of Leeds have successfully reinforced calcium carbonate, or chalk, with polystyrene particles such as those used in disposable drinking cups. Their achievement could lead to stronger building and bone replacement materials, or other practical applications.  Read More

A mussel displaying its byssus (Image courtesy Matt Harrington)

If you’ve ever gone down to the seashore and tried to pull mussels off rocks (and hey, who hasn’t?), then you’ll know how tenacious their holdfasts can be - although they can be tugged back and forth, it’s almost impossible to actually remove them. Recently, scientists at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces analyzed how the delicious mollusks are able to to achieve such a feat of natural engineering. What they discovered could find its way into human technology.  Read More

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