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March 6, 2013
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Essential news for the global engineering community

  Today's Tech Buzz 
  • 3D printing presents an array of possibilities -- and challenges
    3D printing holds not just the potential for new and more efficient methods of manufacturing certain existing products but also poses the challenge of imagining entirely new products. The technology can also greatly speed some processes, such as producing dental crowns, but it does have its limitations. "3D printing is not suited to making most of the products that we use today. You cannot print a Stradivarius just as you can't print an iPad," observed Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen. Reuters (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Sensors, meters at heart of IBM's smart building
    Meters that gather energy consumption data every 15 minutes and devices that sense when a room is vacant and turn off lights are part of an IBM Smart Building initiative for energy savings. IBM reports that the project at its Living Lab tech center in Dublin was able to cut annual energy consumption by 20%. (U.K.) (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Spotlight on Transportation 
  • Teen fascinated by Coanda effect wins Sikorsky prize
    Ethan Chu, 16, has won the Igor Sikorsky Youth Innovator Award for his ideas on developing a more environmentally friendly helicopter. Chu says he was inspired by the Coanda effect behind the performance of tail-boom strakes on many helicopters. His design takes advantage of that effect by channeling turbine exhaust along the rotor blades and around the dome-shaped fuselage to provide additional lift and lower fuel consumption. AIN Online (3/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Engineer takes snowmobiling to new levels
    A lot more thought goes into the design of snowmobiles today than in the days when Polaris engineer Bill Miller began riding the machines in Michigan when he was 4. Today's models are a good deal more capable and comfortable than early models and safer as well, as engineers try to anticipate every eventuality. "We're always thinking about what could go wrong. If an occupant hits a rock in a trail or goes off trail or the steering posts get bent, you want the system to bend but not break ... so that the driver still has input control over the vehicle," Miller said. (3/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Innovations & Trends 
  • Robot bartender can mix nearly any drink
    Peristaltic pumps normally used for measuring out precise liquid volumes for medical purposes are the key technology behind Bartendro, a robotic bartender. The device from Party Robotics can be hooked to 15 beverage bottles to mix dozens of drinks. "The most challenging part was figuring out how to dispense liquids to be consumed in a safe and sanitary manner," said Pierre Michael, one of Bartendro's inspired creators. (3/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Plants on toxic grounds may yield harvest of useful materials
    Garden plants might one day be used to provide usable materials from grounds polluted by industrial waste. The toxic metal ions extracted could be processed to yield metallic nanoparticles useful for multiple applications. "If we can make high-quality nanoparticles during the bioprocessing steps which follow the harvesting of the plants, we have a unique driver for economic land transformation," said Louise Horsfall of Scotland's University of Edinburgh. NBC News (3/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • The design of cleaner two-stroke engines
    Two-stroke engines in outdoor power equipment are designed to produce less emissions, writes Steve Maxwell. Two-stroke engines usually require oil and gasoline to be combined, leading to the production of dirty exhaust. However, some manufacturers have figured out how to make them cleaner. Echo, for instance, uses an angled internal port and a "squish band" to curb emissions, Maxwell notes. Ottawa Citizen (Ontario) (3/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Leadership & Development 
  • What you should learn from BP and Boeing's woes
    Boeing's grounded Dreamliners and BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster hold important lessons for CEOs, writes Ben W. Heineman Jr. Strong leadership is needed not only to ensure the company fulfills its obligations, but also to keep tabs on suppliers, Heineman argues. Executives "must ensure that their corporations take full operational responsibility and accountability for the safety and quality of the goods and services provided not just by them, but also by third party suppliers," he writes. Harvard Business Review online/HBR Blog Network (3/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  ASME News 
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