MIT’s breakthrough liquid 3D printer creates furniture in vats of goo like Westworld

May 15, 2017 by  
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Remember those 3D-printed humanoid figures that emerge from white, viscous ooze in HBO’s Westworld ? MIT is doing exactly that – with furniture. They call it Rapid Liquid Printing, and it takes digital manufacturing to a whole new level where printed objects can grow and change on their own. Rapid Liquid Printing forgoes the layered approach and instead injects 3D-printed substances into a vat of gel that provides support as the shape hardens. Essentially, you could print a large piece of furniture into the gel, let it set, and pull it out fully formed in a matter of minutes. Related: MIT’s self-assembling chair is really cool, but totally useless (for now) The process was created in collaboration with Steelcase and MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, and it can utilize stronger materials than traditional 3D-printing , which is often weak and limited. Although it is only being used in a limited way right now, imagine how it could change the future of 3D-printing. Could our very own Westworld be far behind? + MIT Self Assembly Lab Via Apartment Therapy Images via MIT

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MIT’s breakthrough liquid 3D printer creates furniture in vats of goo like Westworld

Amazing plastic bottle architecture withstands earthquakes in Taipei

May 15, 2017 by  
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Plastic bottle architecture is fantastic at turning a problem into an eco-friendly opportunity. The amazing EcoARK in Taipei , Taiwan is one such example. Built from 1.5 million recycled plastic bottles, this massive pavilion is surprisingly strong enough to withstand the forces of nature—including fires and earthquakes! Designed by architect Arthur Huang, the nine-story $3 million USD pavilion is powered by solar energy and was built to the mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.” Constructed for use as an exhibition hall during the 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo, the EcoARK pavilion continues to spread its message of sustainability for seven years strong. Though Taiwan is home to one of the world’s most respected recycling programs, the country consumes a whopping 4.5 million PET bottles a year. To spread awareness about plastic waste, the Far Eastern Group , one of the world’s largest producers of PET products, commissioned architect and Miniwiz founder Arthur Huang to design and build the eco-friendly EcoARK. As the world’s first building of its kind, EcoARK is an incredible architectural feat. The key to the EcoARK design lay with polli-bricks, a hollow building block made of recycled PET developed by Miniwiz. The polli-bricks were manufactured from over a million recycled plastic bottles melted down into PET pellets and re-engineered into a new bottle-like shape. The blow-molded polli-bricks feature interlocking grooves that fit tightly together like LEGOs and only require a small amount of silicon sealant. Once assembled into flat rectangular panels, the polli-bricks are coated with a fire- and water-resistant film. The EcoARK’s curved and transparent facade is made up of these modular panels screwed and mounted onto a structural steel frame. Although the EcoARK weighs half as much as conventional buildings, it’s resistant to earthquakes and typhoons, and can withstand sustained winds up of to 130 kilometers per hour. Related: Basurama transforms landfill trash into playgrounds in Taipei Use of recycled plastic bottles isn’t the only eco-friendly feature of the EcoARK. The pavilion was built with low-carbon building techniques to maintain a zero-carbon footprint during operation. The building stays cool without air conditioning thanks to natural ventilation. The air inside the polli-bricks also provides insulation from heat and rainwater is collected and reused to cool the building. The polli-bricks’ transparency allows natural light to illuminate the interior during the day. Solar – and wind-powered systems generate the electricity needed to power 40,000 LEDs that light the building up at night. + Miniwiz Images © Lucy Wang

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Amazing plastic bottle architecture withstands earthquakes in Taipei

MIT unveils new solar 3D printer that can build houses on other planets

April 27, 2017 by  
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Some people dismissed 3D-printing in its early days as a novelty, but these days the technology is coming into its own and researchers at MIT have just taken it to the next level. They’ve created a robot that can print the entire basic structure of a building. This is particularly exciting because it could change the way we construct buildings, making the process faster and less costly. Using the new technology, a builder could customize a structure to fit the desires and site requirements of any space. Along with allowing for a wider variety of materials and a variation in material density, it could mean that someday we can construct buildings that we wouldn’t be able to today using traditional methods. Related: A 10K tiny house 3D-printed in 24 hours The technology includes a vehicle with one large robotic arm with a second smaller, more precise arm at the end. The truck also has a scoop, so that the truck can help prepare the building area and pick up building materials on its own, meaning you could create rammed-earth walls using on-site materials with the same system that you use to print the structure. MIT says the system can be powered electrically with solar panels, which means it could be used in remote areas or even on other planets. MIT showed the technology off by building a 12-foot high, 50-foot wide dome out of foam-insulation framework. The entire structure was completed in just 14 hours. “The construction industry is still mostly doing things the way it has for hundreds of years,” said engineering graduate Steven Keating, who worked on the project. This robot is intended to move things into the future. + MIT

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MIT unveils new solar 3D printer that can build houses on other planets

MIT researchers unveil ultralight material 10 times stronger than steel

January 10, 2017 by  
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Researchers at MIT have found a way to make one of the world’s strongest materials even stronger . Graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon that gets its strength from a unique honeycomb structure, was made even more durable by compressing and fusing it into a 3D sponge-like configuration. The ultralight material has a density of just five percent, but could be as much as 10 times stronger than steel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIcZdc42F0g A two-dimensional sheet of graphene measures one atom in thickness but is known as one of the strongest materials in the world. Using a combination of heat and pressure, a team of MIT researchers led by Markus Buehler, head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), was able to produce an even stronger version which resembles the form of some corals and microscopic creatures called diatoms, both of which have enormous surface area by volume but are lightweight due to their porous structure. Similarly, the 3D form of graphene has shown to be even stronger than its two-dimensional form. Related: New graphene super batteries charge up in seconds and last virtually forever “Once we created these 3D structures, we wanted to see what’s the limit—what’s the strongest possible material we can produce,” said Zhao Qin, a CEE research scientist and one of the study’s co-authors. “One of our samples has five percent the density of steel, but 10 times the strength.” The potential applications for graphene are nearly endless. The super-strong, lightweight material can be used in ultra-fast charging supercapacitors to create batteries that last essentially forever, can improve the energy efficiency of desalination processes , and can even help solar panels convert more energy into usable electricity. Graphene is very expensive, though, so researchers are continuing to work on ways to enhance its value by bolstering its strength. The research results were published this week in the journal Science Advances. Via MIT Images via Melanie Gonick/MIT and Zhao Qin

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Scientists figured out how to make water freeze at boiling temperatures

November 30, 2016 by  
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When water, in its liquid form, is confined within carbon nanotubes, it takes on some amazing new properties. Researchers at MIT have discovered that water trapped inside carbon nanotubes can actually freeze at the high temperatures that would normally bring it to a rolling boil . Previous research has long shown that the boiling and freezing points of water change when it is confined to small spaces, but those temperature variations usually hover around 10C. The introduction of carbon nanotubes has changed the game significantly. Carbon nanotubes are tube-like structures with a diameter measured in nanometers, which are equal to one-billionth of a meter or about 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. The carbon nanotubes used during the MIT experiments were just slightly larger in diameter than the width of a few water molecules. Because water confined within the carbon nanotubes can take on a solid frozen state at a much higher temperature than in other vessels, the discovery could lead to inventions such as ice-filled wires, which could exist at room temperature. Related: MIT uses carbon nanotubes to boost lithium battery power 10x In order to better understand how water molecules behave when trapped in such small spaces, the research team used carbon nanotubes of different diameters, noting that even a tiny fraction of difference in size translated into different phase change temperature points. Nanotubes ranging from 1.05 nanometers to 1.06 nanometers resulted in a difference of tens of degrees around the apparent freezing point, something that surprised the research team. Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT, is one of five contributing authors on the research . “If you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can actually distort its phase behavior,” he said. “The effect is much greater than anyone had anticipated.” The research was recently published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Via New Atlas Images via Cloudzilla/Flickr and MIT

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MIT and NASA unveil "morphing" airplane wing that could revolutionize aviation

November 7, 2016 by  
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NASA and MIT just unveiled a new “morphing” aircraft wing that could revolutionize aviation . The flexible wing designed by NASA’s MADCAT team could be used to create super-efficient plans that use much less fuel. An Airbus aviation expert uninvolved with the research said the approach pioneered by MADCAT ” is a philosophical revolution, opening the gate to disruptive innovation .” Wing shape greatly impacts how efficiently an aircraft can operate, and according to NASA , rigid wings aren’t always the most efficient. They describe the search for a better wing as the quest for the holy grail. MADCAT, comprised of researchers and students from MIT ; University of California, Davis; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Cruz; Cornell University; and NASA may have found that long-awaited green wing. Related: Meet Maxwell, NASA’s zero-emission 14-motor electric airplane According to MIT, the wing is made of “a system of tiny, lightweight subunits” that robots could assemble. The subunits are covered by overlapping parts reminiscent of scales or feathers. The wing components are made from advanced carbon fiber composite materials. Computers and motors can help change the shape of the wing for better efficiency even while an aircraft is flying. The new wings could also be manufactured using much simpler and more streamlined processes. NASA is dedicated to green aviation “by dramatically reducing its environmental impact; improving efficiency, while maintaining safety in more crowded skies; and paving the way for revolutionary aircraft shapes and propulsion,” according to a statement on the morphing wings. The MADCAT team is still working on the design of the groundbreaking wing, but they’ve already experimented with the concept at a Modesto, California test airfield. The journal Soft Robotics published the innovative work earlier this year. + MIT News + NASA Images via Kenneth Cheung/NASA

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Ebola mutated to become even deadlier during recent outbreak

November 7, 2016 by  
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Ebola is a terrifying disease, and a new analysis of the virus’s genome has revealed some chilling information: during the 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa, Ebola mutated to become even deadlier than before. According to two new papers in the journal Cell (published here and here ), a series of mutations allowed the virus to more easily infect human cells. This particular strain, the research teams say, has never been seen before in humans or animals. It’s believed this new strain was able to develop due to the unusual nature of the recent outbreak. In the past, Ebola outbreaks have been fairly short-lived, making it difficult for the virus to mutate. However, this particular epidemic involved tens of thousands of new infections, allowing the virus to adapt better to its human hosts. Perhaps that’s part of why it was so difficult to control – in the end, it infected a staggering 28,616 people across 10 countries, killing 11,310 of them. Related: The first ebola victim might have been infected by bats When it’s not causing disease in humans, Ebola generally resides in an animal “reservoir” – what type of animal harbors the disease is unknown, but it’s suspected to be fruit bats. This makes it difficult for the disease to develop human-specific adaptations. The West African Epidemic essentially allowed the virus refine its ability to infect us. The two teams of researchers, hailing from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Nottingham , both independently conducted their studies using publicly available Ebola gene sequences to track changes to the virus. The key change appears to be in the gene that encodes Ebola’s glycoprotein , a protein that affects cell-to-cell interactions. This makes it easier to spread between humans and other primates. Related: New IBM-designed macromolecule could be a ‘magic bullet’ in the fight against viruses It’s unclear whether this new, more infectious Ebola virus still exists. Some people could possibly continue to harbor it in their bodies long after they recover from the infection. However, it’s unlikely that it escaped back “into the wild,” given that the new mutation makes it much harder for the virus to infect non-primate animals. Further research into this unique strain will give scientists more information on how to handle the virus in future outbreaks. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and NIAID

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Tokyo factory is transformed into an industrial-chic Blue Bottle Coffee cafe

November 7, 2016 by  
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Topped with a triangular roof, the Blue Bottle Coffee Nakameguro Cafe comprises a cafe on the first floor, as well as a tasting room and a workshop—two kinds of spaces new to Blue Bottle. Wooden countertops, an open floor plan , plants, and transparency temper industrial elements, such as the tall ceilings and concrete surfaces. The coffeehouse serves a community gathering space for workshops or coffee sampling sessions. The Blue Bottle Coffee teams from Japan and the U.S. occupy the upper two floors. Related: Tokyo’s first multistory building made of 100% wood overcomes rigid fire regulations “Since this neighborhood is located far from the station, the streets are lined with many unique and small-sized shops,” writes the architect. “In order to continue the sense of small scale into the space, floors are divided in a stepped-floor style, while utilizing the existing openings formerly used for loading/unloading and storing. Horizontal pivot windows installed on the front glass façade help defining the boundary between the interior and the surrounding environment, while establishing a visual relationship of “see and be seen” so that people become aware of each other’s presence wherever they are in the space.” + Schemata Architecture Office Images via Schemata Architecture Office , by Takumi Ota

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Tokyo factory is transformed into an industrial-chic Blue Bottle Coffee cafe

MIT fuses spinach leaves with nanobionics to create bomb-sniffing salad

November 1, 2016 by  
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Popeye ate his spinach to gain strength, but MIT researchers have given the tender green leaves a new superpower. Now, spinach leaves can detect dangerous explosives and even send an email notification when they sense trouble. (Really.) MIT researchers working in the field of “plant nanobionics” unlocked this science fiction-worthy ability by embedding nanomaterials into spinach leaves, right in the spot where photosynthesis occurs. The resulting modified spinach has a special superpower: the ability to detect nitroaromatic compounds, a common ingredient in landmines and other explosives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4WsCMLnfvo By turning spinach leaves into explosive-sensoring devices, MIT researchers have taken the first leap toward a practical, handheld device capable of sniffing out deadly landmines. In the lab, the setup involves monitoring the nanomaterial -modified spinach leaves with an infrared camera. When the plant drinks up groundwater contaminated with nitroaromatic compounds, the leaves emit a fluorescent signal which the camera can detect. Specific patterns of light appear, revealing the presence of dangerous explosives. Related: Spinach proteins could be the key ingredient in producing hydrogen fuel The camera, in turn, can be connected with a tiny computer and programmed to send an email to the user when explosives are found. In essence, this means the team has unlocked a way for plants and humans to communicate and, specifically, a way for leafy salad greens to help keep humans safe in more ways than one. “This is a novel demonstration of how we have overcome the plant/human communication barrier,” said Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and the leader of the research team. Strano also theorizes similar plant-based systems can be used to warn people about pollutants as well as environmental conditions such as drought. “Plants are very good analytical chemists,” he said. “They have an extensive root network in the soil, are constantly sampling groundwater, and have a way to self-power the transport of that water up into the leaves.” The results of the study were just published in the journal Nature Materials. Via The Verge Images via MIT/YouTube screenshot and Christine Daniloff/MIT

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Twisting ribbons of plants transform a badly burned Maryland building into an interactive public artwork

October 20, 2016 by  
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https://vimeo.com/181187568 Located in Frederick’s downtown historic district, Sky Stage is a temporary artwork that uses vegetation and a digitally designed structure to breathe life into the damaged building . The organizers removed the plywood boards that formerly blocked public access to the historic stone building, which has no roof. Artist Heather Clark and MIT’s Digital Structures research group used computer algorithms to engineer a complex two-story-tall wooden lattice that forms the structural base for twisting ribbons covered in drought-resistant plantings. State-of-the-art green roof technology was used to create the spiraling vegetated bands that weave through the building’s open doors and windows. Related: Floating bridge transforms a crumbling historic Boston bridge into a moving event space A timber seating area was constructed next to the two-story structure to form an open-air theatre that accommodates 140 people. Trees integrated into the wooden benches soften the stone background and provide relief from the sun. Rainwater collected from an adjacent roof is stored in a cistern and reused to irrigate the plants and trees. The Frederick Arts Council and AmeriCorps will oversee the day-to-day operations of the theater as well as future creative endeavors for the public including plays, music acts, children’s story time, art classes, dance, history, literature, and film. The Sky Stage will be open through July 2017. + Sky Stage Images via Heather Clark

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