Government Dollars at Work

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I’m not going to get into too many political discussions on this blog. I’ll leave that to my husband Jason Busch with his blog. But on a recent trip to NASA with our four-year-old, I couldn’t help but smile when our tour bus driver began discussing his pet subject, commercializing NASA innovations. Needless to say, my ears immediately perked up.

No matter your politics or views on where/how US tax dollars are spent, if you haven’t been to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida, I’d highly recommend a visit. Whether listening to the Astronaut Encounter (in our case we heard 5 time shuttle astronaut John Blaha) or the tour bus driver there is something inspirational for everyone.

When our bus driver mentioned a piece of legislation enacted in the early 60’s requiring NASA to work with the private sector to commercialize discoveries from the space program, I couldn’t wait to log-on to see what metals related innovations were discovered 50 miles above the earth. I didn’t have to look hard to find the following:

  1. Conductive fibers to replace metal wiring. These fibers are used in thermal blankets, aerospace wiring, electromagnetic interference shielding, and medical patient apparel. They are much lighter and less messy than copper.
  2. Failure analysis on military helicopter metal parts. Through a partnership with NASA and the Marshall Space Flight Center, failed helicopter parts such as rotors, engine parts, fasteners etc are analyzed through a high power microscope and facility to identify the root cause of failure. These failures can then be traced to various processes such as heat treatment, machining, formed, and fitted etc.
  3. Stronger than titanium with cooling properties similar to plastic, Liquidmetal used for flash drive casings as well as a new breed of baseball bat.
  4. And my personal favorite, Zipnut elminates the need to thread a nut onto a bolt

Innovation is certainly alive and well. We’ll continue to write about metals related inventions. If you have a new metal-related product offering, drop us a line, we’d love to hear about it!

–Lisa Reisman

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