Tech Universe: Monday 11 November

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

PRINT AND RUN: Take an ordinary inkjet printer and some off-the-shelf materials and you too could print a working electronic circuit in just a few seconds. A team of researchers has worked out how to print arbitrary-shaped conductors onto rigid or flexible materials without needing special equipment, apart from some silver nanoparticle ink. Circuits can be printed on resin-coated paper, PET film or glossy photo paper. Once printed, the circuits can be attached to electronic components with conductive double-sided tape or silver epoxy adhesive. Now, what about the inkjet heads clogging up?

BURNER GUNS: 3D printing isn't just about melting plastic. Direct Metal Laser Sintering creates metal parts by building up layers of metal based on 2D cross-sections. A laser heats and fuses layers of powdered metal to eventually create the required structure which can then be polished or further treated. To demonstrate the strength and accuracy of the process Solid Concepts 3D printed a metal gun that was successfully test fired numerous times, including hitting several bulls eyes from around 30 metres.

The pressure in the barrel chamber exceeds 20,000 psi every time the gun is fired. Whole new possibilities arise for well-funded crime syndicates to make their own disposable weapons.

UNSUITABLE BULLETS: Travelling to dangerous places on business and need a stylish suit that's bullet proof? The Canadian Garrison Bespoke suit may meet your needs. It's a lightweight suit that looks stylish yet uses a patented fabric whose embedded nanotubes harden to block force from penetrating through. Bullets barely make a dent and vital organs are protected. The suit material is 50% lighter than Kevlar. It's costly, but there are bound to be plenty of buyers.

UNDERWATER FUN: The OpenROV is a submarine-like robot that you control with your laptop. The 2.5 Kg device runs on open source software and open hardware and includes a video camera that sends realtime images to the surface via ethernet so you can explore underwater. It can travel about 1 metre per second and is powered by 8 onboard C batteries. That's underwater exploration to enjoy.

FUN CUBED: Moss toy robots use carbon steel ball joints and neodymium magnets moulded into the corners of cubes to fit modules together, no wiring required. Different coloured faces on the modules send, receive or pass through power or data. Modules may include sensors such as distance, brightness or microphone, connectors, wheels or battery. Use Bluetooth modules to communicate with a smartphone or computer. The whole robot is powered with a rechargeable lithium polymer battery. It's a snap.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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