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March 27, 2014
TMD Staff

Powerful muscles from fishing line, sewing thread

An international team led by The University of Texas at Dallas has discovered that ordinary fishing line and sewing thread can be inexpensively converted to powerful artificial muscles. The new muscles can lift a hundred times more weight and generate a hundred times higher mechanical power than the same length and weight of human muscle. Per weight, they can generate 7.1hp/kg, about the same mechanical power as a jet engine.

The muscles are powered thermally by temperature changes, which can be produced electrically, by the absorption of light, or by the chemical reaction of fuels. Twisting the polymer fiber converts it to a torsional muscle that can spin a heavy rotor to more than 10,000rpm. Additional twisting, so that the polymer fiber coils like a heavily twisted rubber band, produces a muscle that dramatically contracts along its length when heated, and returns to its initial length when cooled. If coiling is in a different twist direction than the initial polymer fiber twist, the muscles instead expand when heated.

Compared to natural muscles, which contract by only about 20%, these new muscles can contract by about 50% of their length. The muscle strokes also are reversible for millions of cycles as the muscles contract and expand under heavy mechanical loads.

Visit to learn more about the research at The University of Texas at Dallas.


Educational institution contest to win materials testing system

ADMET is accepting entries from educational institutions for a contest to win an eX5M Manual Mechanical Force/Stress Testing System. ADMET has launched the contest to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary and it is open to all schools of any size, including secondary schools, technical schools, colleges, and universities. The materials testing system, valued at up to $5,000, will be equipped with a digital indicator and include the necessary grips and fixtures for the planned application. All entries must be received by May 31, 2014 with the contest winner announced on June 30.

For more information, or to download a contest application form, visit


Software platform enabling MRI-guided, catheter-based procedures

MRI Interventions Inc. and Siemens Healthcare are co-developing and commercializing a next-generat

ion software platform that will enable minimally invasive catheter-based procedures under real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guidance. The software platform, to be used in combination with companion MRI-guided catheters, will enable procedures to be performed under MRI guidance instead of fluoroscopic guidance. This shift to MRI-guided procedures is significant because MRI provides superior visualization of soft tissue, MRI provides continuous 3D visualization, and MRI eliminates all radiation exposure for the patient and physician.

The new software platform will serve as the software component of MRI Interventions’ ClearTrace system, which integrates software, reusable hardware, and disposable catheters to enable real-time, MRI-guided catheter interventions.;


Sustainable manufacturing system considers human component

Engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a new approach toward sustainable manufacturing that begins on the factory floor and tries to encompass the totality of manufacturing issues – including economic, environmental, and social impacts. This approach, they say, builds on previous approaches that considered various facets of sustainability in a more individual manner. Past methods often worked backward from a finished product and rarely incorporated the complexity of human social concerns.

“We want to consider a whole range of issues every step of the way,” said Karl Haapala, an OSU assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, “so that sustainability is built into the entire manufacturing process.”

With every decision, the method considers manufacturing techniques, speed of the operations, environmental impacts, materials, energy used, and waste. Decisions can be based on compliance with laws and regulations, and the effects of different approaches on worker safety and satisfaction.

Learn more about OSU by visiting