Spiber x

A new coat, made from biotech spider silk

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Topmix permeable concrete

Topmix Permeable is a fast draining concrete pavement solution that rapidly directs stormwater off streets, parking surfaces, driveways and walkways. This minimises the cost and long-term maintenance for local authorities and developers of stormwater management. [website]

Computational Hydrographic Printing

Hydrographic printing is a well-known technique in industry for transferring color inks on a thin film to the surface of a manufactured 3D object. It enables high-quality coloring of object surfaces and works with a wide range of materials, but suffers from the inability to accurately register color texture to complex surface geometries. Thus, it is hardly usable by ordinary users with customized shapes and textures.

We present computational hydrographic printing, a new method that inherits the versatility of traditional hydrographic printing, while also enabling precise alignment of surface textures to possibly complex 3D surfaces. In particular, we propose the first computational model for simulating hydrographic printing pro- cess. This simulation enables us to compute a color image to feed into our hydrographic system for precise texture registration. We then build a physical hydrographic system upon off-the-shelf hardware, integrating virtual simulation, object calibration and controlled immersion. To overcome the difficulty of handling complex surfaces, we further extend our method to enable multiple immersions, each with a different object orientation, so the combined colors of individual immersions form a desired texture on the object surface. We validate the accuracy of our computational model through physical experiments, and demonstrate the efficacy and robustness of our system using a variety of objects with complex surface textures.

Sunfire: Alternative fuels from air, water an renewable energy

Sunfire, a pioneer in the field of high-temperature fuel cells and reversible electrolysers, announced that the company succeeded in producing synthetic diesel from air, water and green electrical energy for the first time. The cleantech company has built a unique demonstration rig for power-to-liquids, which was inaugurated by the German Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka in November 2014. Recently, the plant reached its full operating condition and now produces synthetic diesel fuel with excellent eco-friendly properties. On behalf of the project partner Audi, an independent laboratory confirmed that the outstanding characteristics of the fuel are superior to the properties of fossil fuel. sunfire, one of the top 100 companies in clean technologies worldwide, is supported by several corporate venture capital companies and funds, including Bilfinger Venture Capital, Total Ventures, KfW and Electranova Capital, a venture capital funds financed by Allianz and EDF.

Electrostatics robot grippers

A glimpse of the new disruptive technology introduced by Grabit, ‘Electroadhesion’ for the material handling industry. Electroadhesion can introduce a “stickyness” in just about anything that you can turn on and off whenever you want. It’s sort of like duct tape that comes with a toggle switch. The flexible bits are electrodes that generate alternating positive and negative charges, inducing opposite (i.e. attractive) charges in whatever they’re close to (anything at all, conductive or not), causing them to stick. Like geckotape, electrostatics depend on a lot of surface contact to adhere well, which is a problem if you’re trying to attach to surfaces that aren’t flat. Grabit’s “fingered” gripper is compliant enough to get around that issue.

At SRI International, in Menlo Park, California, researchers have developed a robot that is capable of climbing up almost any kind of wall, smooth, flat, or otherwise. Here, Harsha Prahlad, an SRI research engineer, explains the system, which operates under a principle known as electroadhesion.

Liquid Body Armor

the new advancement in lightweight body armor is the result of research that Army and University of Delaware scientists began more than a decade ago. ARL Inside explores the development and testing of shear thickening fluid, a nanotechnology invention that, when applied to fabric like Kevlar, for example, prevents pointed weapons like spikes or ice picks from penetrating between its yarns, and generally helps to hold yarns and fibers in place during attacks from pointed weapons or projectiles. Someday, researchers say, this liquid could be used to treat Soldier uniforms, particularly sleeves and pants, which are not protected by ballistic vests, and have to stay flexible.

Magnetorheological fluid used in Liquid Body Armor.