Light Friday: The Making of a Dodge Viper

Plus: Self-Healing Electric Wires, Debunking Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories, and a Chainsaw-Wielding Industrial Robot.


After being closed for more than two years during bankruptcy proceedings, Chrysler’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit reopened last month and will soon roll out its first Dodge Viper. The car will serve as a “halo vehicle” to boost the company’s image, and as such, it’s receiving much more time and craftsmanship than would be applied in typical auto assembly.

The New York Times offers an inside look at the Viper construction process, which involves almost no automation. At most plants, workers typically spend an average of less than a minute on each vehicle, while at Conner they devote a half-hour.

Check out this time-lapse video that showcases the extraordinary work that goes into making the Viper:

Self-Healing Electric Wires

Faulty or broken wiring is an all too common problem, but a new innovation in materials may make it much easier to resume operations after a breakdown by employing self-repairing wires.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed wires made of a liquid-metal core and polymer sheath that can be reconnected at the molecular level when damaged, allowing them to be used to create complex 3-D structures and reducing the need for wiring maintenance in high-stress environments.

“The researchers started out with a cylindrical length of a commercially-available self-healing polymer, then used solid wire to bore tiny tunnels through its core, running from one end to the other,” Gizmag explains. “Those tunnels, known as microfluidic channels, were then filled with the same gallium/indium liquid metal used in the previous stretchy wire. Because the wire’s conductive core is a liquid, it stretches along with the elastic housing, keeping the electrical current constantly flowing.”

When the wire is cut in two, exposed liquid metal at the severed ends oxidizes, causing a thin film to form over the metal and keeping the liquid contained—similar to a blood clot. Pressing the two ends together makes the polymer facings meld on a molecular level and the film dissolves, turning the wires into one continuous wire and allowing conductivity to resume.

Here’s a clip showing the wire healing process at work:

Why the Moon Landing Couldn’t Have Been Faked

The 1969 moon landing was one of the greatest achievements in human history—a marvel of technology, manufacturing, engineering, design, and sheer determination. However, some people still cling to the misguided notion that the moon landing was faked in a movie studio.

Filmmaker S.G. Collins employs his decades of experience in the film industry to dispel the various conspiracy theories about the moon landing, using detailed and expert knowledge to explain that the technical skill and technology to fake the moon mission didn’t exist at the time, and it was simply easier to actually go to the moon than to fake it.

Using Robots to Build a Stool

Carving a basic wooden stool may not seem like much, but it’s a lot more impressive when a chainsaw-wielding robot does it.

Designers at the imm cologne furnishing show attached a chainsaw to a six-axis industrial robot and programmed it to hew a chair out of a solid block of wood. The resulting pieces of stackable furniture are known as 7Xstools, and highlight the sophisticated programming than enables massive automation machinery to make precise and accurate motions.

The following video shows the robot carving the special stool in the blink of an eye:

Have a great weekend, folks.

 

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