NASA Debuts Anti-Flat Metal Spring Tire

With a slew of electric vehicles hitting the market, manufacturers are scrambling to follow up with high-tech tires. So far, the likes of Harvard and Michelin have come up with airless and self-healing wheels. While both aren’t yet commercially available, NASA is already lifting the bar with its titanium tire.

Instead of atoms deforming as the spring is moved, they instead re-arrange themselves as the tire is stressed. It’s known as a “shape memory alloy,” and means that the tire can be deformed virtually limitlessly, and still snap back to its original shape.

In short, the tire can never get a flat. As NASA’s brainchild, the tire mainly adheres to space explorations. Still, it could hypothetically exist on regular vehicles with some tweaks.

You can’t exactly use a metal wheel on the highway and expect much grip, but a metal frame could… be coated with a higher-friction material to give a tire that’s grippy and deformable for off-roading.

With NASA, I don’t imagine anything comes as a steal — but if it saves me a tire change, I’ll take it.

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Artificial Muscles Can Lift Massive Amounts Of Weight

Current technology such as implantable batteries are opening doors for enhancing the human body. On the other end of the spectrum, engineers are working on artificial intelligences capable of honing skills humans aren’t. To practice building more human-like robots, scientists at Harvard and MIT created a soft muscle that can lift 1,000 times its own weight.

The simple objects are constructed out of metal or plastic “skeletons” that are covered in either a liquid or air, and then sealed in plastic or fabric “skins.” The muscle pulls taught when a vacuum is created inside the skin, and goes slack when the vacuum is released.

The invention, inspired by traditional Japanese origami, are highly durable and easy to make. In fact, developers claim it takes only 10 minutes and less than a dollar to produce a single muscle. The secret to their resilience lies in a simple concept: folding and pressure.

“Vacuum-based muscles have a lower risk of rupture, failure, and damage, and they don’t expand when they’re operating, so you can integrate them into closer-fitting robots on the human body,” [said] Daniel Vogt, a research engineer at the Wyss Institute.

Looks like muscular robots may be a lot less squishy that we pictured.

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Modified Metal Can Purify Water In Minutes

Modern day-technologies have come as far as being able to detect water pollution in large scales. Filtering lakes and rivers, on the other hand, is a different story. Researchers at the Edith Cowan University in Australia have recently come up with a potential solution. By modifying the atomic structure of iron, they created a metal that can purify water in minutes.

Associate Professor Laichang Zhang from ECU’s School of Engineering was able to change the atomic structure of iron to form what is known as metallic glass.

A thin strip of the iron-based metallic glass… can remove impurities such as dyes or heavy metals from even highly polluted water in just minutes.

The material is not only cheaper to produce — it doesn’t create iron sludge, which iron powder does. The metallic glass is also reusable up to 20 times, whereas most wastewater treatments are disposed of immediately. Apparently, the product is already in demand.

“We have already had significant interest from companies in both China and Australia who are keen to work with us to develop this technology, including Ausino Drilling Services, whose clients include Rio Tinto and the Aluminum Corporation of China.”

Researchers are targeting use towards the mining and textile industries, both of which produce large amounts of water. Now that’s rock and roll — or should I say heavy metal?

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Metal 3D Printer Is Better Than Laser Technology

We all know the power of 3D printing. If it can produce replacement limbs for animals and even mimic brain tissue, what can’t it do? The answer is simple but equally as frustrating. 3D printing doesn’t come cheap, nor is it very fast. But this metal 3D printer, which is 100 times quicker and costs 20 times less, could change that.

Desktop Metal just developed a new metal 3D printer that is reportedly faster, safer and cheaper than existing systems.

The parts go into a “de-binding bath” that separates a substantial portion of the binding polymer. The parts then go into a sintering furnace. When the product is heated to just below the melting point, the binding agent burns off and a highly dense, sintered metal is produced.

The impressive gadget doesn’t use metal powders or laser technology, making it safer to install. But the excitement doesn’t stop there. It’s reportedly better than NASA and Boeing’s laser-melted printer.

The mass production system is built for speed and definitely delivers. It is faster than machining, casting, forging or other techniques, and each production printer can produce up to 500 cubic inches of complex parts per hour.

The entire system costs around $120,000, which is a steal compared to a $1 million laser machine. Desktop Metal is still taking baby steps, but I’m expecting nothing less than an explosion in the industry.

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