Friday, June 24, 2016

Vantablack: The Darkest Material Ever Made

That's dark.

That's initial image of the vantablack looks entirely like a special effect.

Vantablack is the lest light-reflective material (coating, really) ever. The video suggests its usefulness inside telescopes, which makes sense. I'm curious, however, where else it could be found useful.

Apparently vantablack is also superhydrophobic.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

the Pykrete Dome - worlds biggest icedome - a movie by Bart van Overbeeke - Structural Ice

That's a big igloo.

Check out the ice/wood pulp structure up there. There aren't many details in the video ('fiber-reinforced ice', sure but which fiber?) , but there are more over on the accompanying website.

And the construction video (below) look like a load of fun.

A forging series

This forging series comes to us from Terry McInerney of Impact Forge in Columbus, IN.

Terry spoke at our ASM teacher material camp at the University of Indianapolis as part of the Forging Foundation's outreach through the camps. Terry spoke to the advantages of forged parts and brought with him a number of finished products. I asked Terry if it would be possible to have a full forging series to show my students (and campers) the process from start (the billet, the cylinder on the left above) through to the finished product (the far right) and the flash (the 'waste' that is 'cut' off in the final forging step - the ring and punched center on the farthest right).

Terry was kind enough to send me two sets of the series - one for my classroom and one to travel with (though the 40+ pound series is a bit daunting for anywhere that requires a flight.)

Terry had the following to say about this series...
In each box is a complete progression of a Ford Explorer wheel hub. One billet, preform, blocker, finished part, perimeter flash, and pierced slug. These parts are forged at 2300 degrees f in a 2500 ton mechanical press, then trimmed and pierced in a 300 ton trimming press. The material is 1045V, quite normal for hubs. The [V] represents vanadium added [for grain refinement] during the heat treatment process. A finished hub is normall around 38 to 43 RC. The parts in the condition you see are microalloy material and have been rapidly air quenched on a special cooling conveyor to reach the desired hardness. They are then shipped to the customer for machining and assembly.
Big, big, big thanks to Terry McInerney and to Impact Forge for the donation to our program.

Man Slams World's Tallest Glass Bridge With a Sledgehammer

<br /> I'm not interested in walking on that bridge.

It doesn't matter how many of the identical panels that British reporters try to destroy. It only matter that I might actually look downward, in which case I would be messing up those beautiful, glass panels because I'd wet m'self.

Desperate fear of heights, doncha know?

The clouds might help, but the video below makes me think they really wouldn't help too much.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Kinetics are important

See, it's true because oxidation is just something losing electrons...and burning involves something oxidizing by combining with oxygen.

It's funny, see?

It's also relevant to material science for when we do the iron wire demo and see that oxidation happens more quickly at high temperatures.

Source - XKCD

This is pure snow! It's everywhere! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?

So, the gag and some background.

XKCD is a webcomic. It's geeky and typically pretty outstanding. Sometimes, however, it's even better than that. Ever now and again Randall Munroe, XKCD's creator, expands the boundaries of the stories that he wants to tell, pushing beyond the limits of the standard three- or four-panel webcomic format.

In comic 1608, a glimpse of which is shown above, Randall published what looked like a single panel, coin-gathering game with the lead character on a hoverboard. If the player, however, ignored the 'rules' and headed outside of the game board, the world became much more interesting, including references to dozens of other XKCD strips, Star Wars movies, Lord of the Rings, and lots, lots more.

Somewhere to the left of the origin area was a Washington Monument, 'climeable' with your avatar's hoverboard. At the top of the monument was the scene shown above, with two characters climbing the Monument with conventional ropes and one of them commenting that the top of the Monument is solid aluminum, and they're going to be rich.

See, I get that because of my material science time and learning. I've posted about the Washington Monument's cap before, and the aluminum cap certainly would've been enough aluminum to make any man rich - when it was first installed.

I, as always, recommend XKCD in its entirety (though there are occasional NSFW moments). There's also a parallel website called for when you (or I) don't get the gags. You can also get a full-comic image of 1608 on ExplainXKCD, too.

The post title is also a gag for those of you in the know.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Boeing says it created lightest metal ever

Apparently strong, lightweight materials matter when building airplanes?

Either that or the Boeing engineers just want to dominate their kids' egg drop challenges at school.

From a article about the microlattice...
The microlattice weighs only about one tenth as much as carbon fiber, and is actually slightly lighter than air itself, said Bill Carter, the director of the Sensors and Materials Laboratory at HRL.

It will likely first be used on space rockets that Boeing plans to build in about five years, and it should make its way into commercial planes about five years after that, said Carter. He said the cost of manufacturing will have to come down a little more before it is economically feasible to use on cars.

ALON® Optical Ceramic - An advanced transparent polycrystalline material

I teach, admittedly, a simplified version of material science. That's partially because my students aren't quite ready for more advanced versions but also because I'm not always aware of just how much more there is to material science.

For example, when we study ceramics and glasses, one of the things I explain is that glass is amorphous, and one indicator of that is the fact that it's transparent to visible light. Ceramics, on the other hand, are generally crystalline, and that's why they're opaque.

It turns out things are much more subtle than that. Check out Surmet's ALON (aluminum oxynitride.) From the wikipedia article...
AlON is optically transparent (≥80%) in the near-ultraviolet, visible and midwave-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is 4 times harder than fused silica glass, 85% as hard as sapphire, and nearly 15% harder than magnesium aluminate spinel. Since it has a cubic spinel structure, it can be fabricated to transparent windows, plates, domes, rods, tubes and other forms using conventional ceramic powder processing techniques. AlON is the hardest polycrystalline transparent ceramic available commercially. Combination of optical and mechanical properties makes this material a leading candidate for lightweight high-performance transparent armor applications such as bulletproof and blast-resistant windows and for many military infrared optics. AlON-based armor has been shown to stop multiple armor-piercing projectiles of up to 50 cal. It is commercially available in sizes as big as 18x35-inch monolithic windows.
There is so much to learn...for my students and for me, too.

Friday, June 3, 2016

How Plastic Bottles are Recycled into Polyester

There's a whole lot of labor involved in recycling.

And it looks like it's largely done by hand in nations with lower worker payments and laxer labor laws than the US.

But then again, what else are we going to do with all our old water bottles?

Hydraulic Press | Prince Rupert Drops | Remake | Safe Tails

When it comes to hydraulic press YouTube channels, I'm more of a Hydraulic Press Channel guy than I am a PressTube guy. I'm particularly fond of the destruction of a hockey puck and of the vicious clay creatures that are stopped from wanton murder at the end of each video.

But I am willing to watch the derivative PressTube when they come up with something creative to destroy. In today's video, the PressTube folks destroy a Prince Rupert drop...or two...or ten. And, in the process, they also make some pretty big dents in a chunk of lead.

AISI/SAE Steel - numbering system

I spend a decent amount of my summer talking to industry folks. Sometimes they're materials engineers, sometimes metallurgists, sometimes polymer engineers, forgers, welders, failure engineers.

No matter what they're titles, they're typically far more knowledgeable about industrial materials than I am. They throw around all sorts of acronyms that I have to take note of and look up later.

Sometimes I save reference materials here just so I can look them up later.

Today's reference material is about the AISI (American Iron and Steel Institute) / SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) steel numbering system. See, the wikipedia article - while thorough - is a little too thorough for me.

Instead, I like the simplicity of the Engineering Toolbox's reference chart...
10XXCarbon steelsPlain carbon, Mn 1.00% max
11XXResulfurized free machining
12XXResulfurized / rephosphorized free machining
15XXPlain carbon, Mn 1.00-1.65%
13XXManganese steelMn 1.75%
23XXNickel steelsNi 3.50%
25XXNi 5.00%
31XXNickel-chromium steelsNi 1.25%, Cr 0.65-0.80%
32XXNi 1.75%, Cr 1.07%
33XXNi 3.50%, Cr 1.50-1.57%
34XXNi 3.00%, Cr 0.77%
40XXMolybdenum steelsMo 0.20-0.25%
44XXMo 0.40-0.52%
41XXChromium-molybdenum steelsCr 0.50-0.95%, Mo 0.12-0.30%
43XXNickel-chromium-molybdenum steelsNi 1.82%, Cr 0.50-0.80%, Mo 0.25%
47XXNi 1.05%, Cr 0.45%, Mo 0.20-0.35%
46XXNickel-molybdenum steelsNi 0.85-1.82%, Mo 0.20-0.25%
48XXNi 3.50%, Mo 0.25%
50XXChromium steelsCr 0.27-0.65%
51XXCr 0.80-1.05%
50XXXCr 0.50%, C 1.00% min
51XXXCr 1.02%, C 1.00% min
52XXXCr 1.45%, C 1.00% min
61XXChromium-vanadium steelsCr 0.60-0.95%, V 0.10-0.15%
72XXTungsten-chromium steelsW 1.75%, Cr 0.75%
81XXNickel-chromium-molybdenum steelsNi .30%, Cr 0.40%, Mo 0.12%
86XXNi .55%, Cr 0.50%, Mo 0.20%
87XXNi .55%, Cr 0.50%, Mo 0.25%
88XXNi .55%, Cr 0.50%, Mo 0.35%
92XXSilicon-manganese steelsSi 1.40-2.00%, Mn 0.65-0.85%, Cr 0-0.65%
93XXNickel-chromium-molybdenum steelsNi 3.25%, Cr 1.20%, Mo 0.12%
94XXNi 0.45%, Cr 0.40%, Mo 0.12%
97XXNi 0.55%, Cr 0.20%, Mo 0.20%
98XXNi 1.00%, Cr 0.80%, Mo 0.25%

...with its couple of examples:

Example AISI/SAE No. 1020

  • the first digit indicates that this is plain carbon steel.
  • the second digit indicates there are no alloying elements
  • the last two digits indicates that the steel contains approximately 0.20 percent carbon

Example AISI/SAE No. 4340

  • the first two digits indicates a Nickel-Chromium-Molybdenum alloy steel
  • the last two digits indicates carbon content roughly 0.4 percent

Ikea plans mushroom-based packaging as eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene

Styrofoam cases?

Air-filled bags?

Starch 'peanuts'?


Well, not exactly mushrooms...more like something called mycelium which is certainly mushroom-adjacent. It's certainly a fungus-based product.

And apparently if you grow it just right, let it grow into the right shape, bake it to make sure the final product doesn't grow mushrooms in the process of shipping, you can use mycelium - as produced by a company called Ecovative - to protect your widgets during shipping.

And Ikea ships a whole lot of stuff across the oceans. They're not quite ready to ship entirely in fungus-based packaging, but they're looking into it.