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Automotive

Caterham Cars gives bicycle technology a try

Caterham Cars has lasted over six decades by delivering a series of lightweight sports cars known for their unique look and giant fun factor. By sometime next year, buyers of the company's iconic Caterham Seven may have the option of an even lighter-weight model incorporating the butted tube technology used in bicycles.Read More

Electronics

Thinnest, lightest, solar cells ever created outperform their bulky glass brethren

Using gossamer-like layers of flexible polymers, researchers at MIT have created the thinnest and lightest solar cells ever made. Just one-fiftieth the thickness of a human hair, and capable of producing up to 6 watts of power per gram, these cells are so thin and light that they can be supported on the surface of a soap bubble without breaking it. With such impressive credentials, the prototype cells have the potential to add solar power to everything from paper-based electronics through to all manner of mobile devices and exceptionally lightweight wearables. Read More

Bicycles

Litelok offers lightweight flexible bike security

It's kind of ironic that while many cyclists ride lightweight bikes, they still carry heavy-duty U-locks that weigh several pounds. In most cases, however, lighter cable locks can easily be defeated with a set of bolt cutters. That's why Prof. Neil Barron, a former aeronautical engineer, has created the Litelok. It's light and flexible like a cable lock, but reportedly stands up to over five minutes of attack from tools such as bolt cutters, jacks and hack saws. Read More

Military

Canada's next-generation military smart gun unveiled

Looking every bit like a weapon from a science fiction movie, the latest integrated assault rifle prototype being developed for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is packed with some very smart weapons technology. Along with the ability to fire new lightweight telescoped ammunition, and a secondary effects module that adds either a three-round 40 mm grenade launcher or a 12-gauge shotgun, there is also a NATO-standard power and data bus to allow the attachment of smart accessories, such as electro-optical sights and position sensors that connect to command and control networks.Read More

Materials

New alloy of steel created that's as strong and light as titanium

By altering metal alloy at a nanoscale level, researchers at the Graduate Institute of Ferrous Technology (GIFT) at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea have created a new material that has the strength of steel and the lightness of titanium alloy. Made from an amalgam of steel, aluminum, carbon, manganese, and nickel, the new alloy promises to be low-cost and readily available due to its mix of common minerals. Read More

Military

Next generation armor inspired by animal scales

We've seen scientists examine everything from the structure of sea sponges to the clubbing ability of mantis shrimps in the search for next generation lightweight armor systems. Researchers at Northeastern University’s College of Engineering believe that fish scales could hold the key to creating armor that's both impervious and lightweight. They eventually aim to combine the properties of fish, snake and butterfly scales into a single protective armor system.Read More

Tiny Houses

Leaf House Version.3: A tiny house for sub-zero temperatures

Back in 2012, we reported on Version.2 by Canadian small living firm Leaf House, which is headed by Laird Herbert. Now Herbert is back with a new and improved tiny home that he intends to use as a case study for small living in cold climates. Version.3 is designed to take temperatures of -50 °C (-58 °F) in its stride, and also packs a number of other benefits over its predecessor, including increased interior space and decreased weight. Read More

Robotics

Multi-delta design enables lighter, more economical robotic arm

The design of a standard robot arm is, more or less, a mechanized representation of an idealized human arm, replete with elbow and wrist joints. Such designs tend to be unwieldy in confined spaces, and unsuitable for many industrial production line processes. As a result, delta arms – a series of interconnected parallelograms which restrict movement to the X, Y or Z directions and do not rotate – have become popular for use in tight workspaces. But, when faced with a requirement for both flexibility and compactness, a design that incorporates the best of both types is required. That's where the double-delta robot comes in.Read More

Automotive

Affordable, lightweight ceramic/aluminum brake rotors developed

When it comes to making cars more energy-efficient – whether they're battery- or gas-powered – getting their weight down is one of the best things you can do. Unfortunately, the cast iron brake rotors currently used in most vehicles are quite heavy. Lighter ceramic rotors certainly do exist, although their high price mostly limits their application to expensive sports cars. Soon, however, ceramic-coated aluminum rotors may be a cost-effective lightweight alternative for economy cars. Read More

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