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Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(04):22-26. doi:10.1115/1.2009-APR-1.
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This article discusses how researchers are reducing friction in MEMS devices using a very old solution in a new size. In the mid-1990s, the idea that microscale engines could soon be propelling flying skateboards did not seem so far-fetched, because MEMS devices were quickly moving from the laboratory to the marketplace. Researchers had been making the progress needed to produce millimeter-scale turbines to overcome the dilemma. By the mid-1990s, researchers at MIT had built the first air bearing on the microscale. Beginning in the early 2000s, Ghodssi and a research team at Maryland’s MEMS Sensors and Actuators Laboratory that included Matthew McCarthy and Mike Waits began investigating just how to incorporate ball bearings into MEMS devices. Ghodssi is also interested in using ball bearings to support rotating MEMS involved in precision applications. The bearings can provide low-friction support to devices such as sensors that need to rotate just a few degrees at a time.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(04):27-29. doi:10.1115/1.2009-APR-2.
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This article focuses on nanotechnological innovations that need to be commercialized before nanotechnology can transform industries, such as energy or biotech. Till date there has been a disconnection between the advances in the lab and commercialization of the nanotechnological breakthroughs. Scientific innovations, especially in fields, such as nanotechnology and clean energy technology, have several barriers within the commercialization cycle. The two biggest barriers to turning university discoveries into commercialized ideas are infrastructure and business development. Texas has the potential to build on its research strength to become the center of the nascent nanotechnology industry, and all that is needed now is an institutional structure that facilitates the collaboration of ideas leading to greater commercial opportunities. Nano World Headquarters’ (NWHQ) target tenants are the startup companies that focus on nanomaterial commercialization. NWHQ facilities and equipment are staged for growth opportunities within the nanomaterials market, starting with aerospace, defense, energy, electronics, catalysis, and consumer products.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(04):30-33. doi:10.1115/1.2009-APR-3.
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This review discusses growth of mass customization since the mid-1990s of the commercial and engineered products. Almost all types of durable consumer products, including clothing, footwear, household furnishings, toys, vehicles, and electrical and electronic devices can now be customized by the buyer at the time of purchase. Mass customization is when something is efficiently customized on demand—not in advance—and it does not cost a heck of a lot more to make than it would if one were making it for everyone at once. Designers who use Shapeways create their models using the free Google Sketchup or the Rhino modeling programs, though Shapeways also offers its own Shapeways Creator program. These simple design tools—along with 3D printing techniques—have played a big role in bringing mass customization methods to the fore. Future prospects shows that the Internet will facilitate a new wave of mass customization, where customers will create and trade designs for physical products in the same way they trade music files.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(04):34-38. doi:10.1115/1.2009-APR-4.
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This article highlights the best results yielded by applying the laws of motion on a record-setting pitcher. Newton's three laws of motion, as first articulated in Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), form the basis for classical Newtonian mechanics and provide the relationships between forces acting on a body and the consequent motion of the body. These laws govern the relationships of objects present in our physical universe, including the human body. According to Marshall, pitchers of all ages would be very well served by learning and applying the three laws of motion correctly, as the forces generated by the body can be very destructive if bad habits are learned and repeated. Kinesiologists study Newton’s laws with respect to human movement. According to Marshall, the laws of motion can be converted to laws of force application that explain how athletes should apply force to projectiles, including themselves. According to Marshall, the traditional pitching techniques are almost always taught with a minimal understanding of the underlying biomechanics, and frequently just copy the most popular pitchers of the era.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(04):40-43. doi:10.1115/1.2009-APR-5.
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This article focuses on one of the particular patents that have impacted five companies over a span of 10 years. In early 2000, DeMarini sold the Eggiman patent to Wilson Sporting Goods and his company joined forces with Wilson, which itself was faced with a new competitor for the DeMarini double-walled bat. The Eggiman double-walled bat leaf spring design was different from and had advantages over previously known bats. But, because of the existence of these two prior patents, Eggiman’s patent could not cover every possible configuration of an insert within a bat frame or, in the case of the Worth EST bat, the transposition of the frame and the insert. To win a patent, some requirement that is not found in prior technologies must be claimed in the patent application. If that same requirement is not present in a competitor's product, however, there is no patent infringement. Make a contrast of “improvement patents” with disruptive technologies that can be more broadly covered via a patent.

Topics: Patents , Design , Springs
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(04):44-47. doi:10.1115/1.2009-APR-6.
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This paper discusses that it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that the Founding Fathers brought about the American Revolution and then faded into some sort of oblivion. The work described here occurred a quarter of a century before Robert Fulton demonstrated the Clermont, the boat that led to his being regarded as the inventor. Steamboat development was a logical evolution of Newcomen’s engine, which had been reduced to practice around 1710. Fitch and Rumsey both used some variant of the Newcomen engine, although each started with a different concept. Franklin’s report had the effect of setting back development by several years because he argued convincingly that paddle wheels would not work. Rumsey’s death in 1792, shortly after having delivered a lecture to Britain’s Society of Mechanic Arts, ended the exchange, although the controversy goes on to this day. The Rumseian Society that was formed in the 1780s to rise funding was re-established in 1906 and exists today in Shepherdstciwn, where a replica of Rumsey's boat has been constructed. The steamboat was finally raised to financial success in August 1807 by Fulton.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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