Tech Universe: Tuesday 20 September

By Miraz Jordan

Airbus owners EADS are experiment with 3D printing of parts too complex to be manufacturers. Photo / Supplied
Airbus owners EADS are experiment with 3D printing of parts too complex to be manufacturers. Photo / Supplied

AIR PARTS: UK firm EADS own Airbus. They're experimenting with using 3D printing to make make complex shapes that can't be manufactured with conventional techniques. Their additive-layer manufacturing machine can make intricate forms from high-grade metal. Software works out which elements of a part need to bear weight or resist stress and places material just where it's needed. This means the parts can be made more lightweight, leading to greater fuel efficiency. It's not what you put in but what you leave out that's important. Technology Review has details.

HUGELY TOUCHING: You may think the touchscreen surface on your smartphone or tablet are pretty cool, but Visual Planet's touchfoil technology turns any surface of almost any size into a touchscreen. Well, any size is up to around four metres. The transparent film is only millimetres thick and rolls for storage or transport. The touchfoil is a transparent nanowire embedded polymer that senses pressure, such as from a finger or the wind, and translates it to a computer interface.

It's not the newest tech around, but it's still impressive. Singularity Hub has more and video here.

A QUIET LIFE: Electromagnetic fields are all around us, what with cellphones and WiFi and whatnot. The town of Green Bank, West Virginia in the USA is becoming a haven for people who want to escape the radiation that surrounds them. Nearby radio telescopes put Green Bank in a 'quiet zone', where wireless is banned. Around five per cent of Americans believe they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity — exposure to electromagnetic fields makes them physically ill, with symptoms like headaches and chronic pain. WiFi pollution's only going to get worse till something else replaces it too. BBC has details.

KIDDIPAD: A school district in Maine, USA, is giving an iPad to every one of its 250 kindergarten kids. One goal is to improves the kids reading levels, and tests in the next couple of months will show whether the iPads have helped or not. Meanwhile the school district is making sure the kids have plenty of outdoor time and time with adults, rather than just abandoning them to a gadget. More attention is
certain to bring good results. New England Cable News has details.

BLOODWORK: Scientists have had some success with creating artificial tissue in the laboratory, but that tissue still needs a blood supply. Now researchers think they can print artificial blood vessels using their BioRap 3D printer and multiphoton polymerization. Brief but intensive laser impulses help molecules to crosslink, creating an elastic solid of biomolecules. You kind of expect Leonard McCoy to pop up any moment here. Fraunhofer Institute has more details.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz

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