This week in engineering and design learned about suitX’s lightweight and affordable exoskeleton called Pheonix, NASA’s most portable potty competition, and a 3D printed drone that can survive high temperatures.
suitX, the robotics company out of University of California, Berkeley’s Human Engineering Lab has launched its first exoskeleton after years of development. The Phoenix is a relatively lightweight and affordable device that can help people with mobility disorders walk again. The wearable robot is adjustable according to size and can be put on and removed piece by piece. Its battery can power four hours of continuous walking, with a maximum speed of 1.1 mph, and up to eight hours of intermittent movement. Best of all, the Phoenix weighs only 27 pounds and costs $40,000.
Also this week, we learned that NASA is looking for some help making the solar system’s most portable port-a-potty. Specifically, they are looking for people to create an “in-suit waste management system” that can handle six days’ worth of bathroom needs. The specifics of going number two in space have long been resolved. Astronauts at the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth for months, have some noisy contraptions with vacuums, fans, hoses and bags that take care of business. But those space toilets won’t fit in a pressurized spacesuit — and they certainly aren’t hands-free. The deadline for the competition is December 20th, with up to three designs being awarded, and up to $30,000 total in prize money.
3D PRINTING NEWS
This week we learned about the drone 3D printed with embedded electronics flying where others can’t, all thanks to Stratasys FDM technology. 3D Printed drones are not new, and embedded electronics are not a first, but the temperatures involved in printing this particular drone were very high due to 3D printing ULTEM 9085, the material requires a print chamber temperature of a minimum of 160°C and an extruder temperature in the region of 300°C. The end result was an incredibly tough quadcopter that can, in principle, survive in temperatures that exceed the limits of commercially available drones. Additionally, the project has determined some best practices to be employed if engineers should wish to embed electronics hardware mid-print.
This week also is the official start of December which means holiday season and the impending first heavy snow in New England. As we prepare to bunker down for another white winter, we can’t help but explore Thingiverse’s perfectly curated list of snowflake ornaments. Tis the season to print decorations, fa la la la la, lala la laaa!
Recently a section of road in the center of the Japanese city of Fukuoka has reopened just DAYS after a sinkhole opened up outside a busy railway station and threatened to topple nearby buildings. Sinkholes are no laughing matter, but we can’t help but wonder as we watch the time lapse video of the repair work on the sinkhole, how long that would take to get fixed here in the United States.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
We are big fans of Smarter Every Day, and even bigger fans of Nikola Tesla. So when we found this video we knew we had to feature it. Watch as a handheld Tesla coil gun is recorded at 28,000 frames-per-second.