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Each city has its symbol, but few tower as high as Huntsville, Alabama’s. When you think of NYC you see the Statue of Liberty. When you think of St. Louis you see the Arch. How many cities have a lunar vehicle as their benchmark? Between the Alabama Bicentennial celebration and the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, the Space and Rocket Center will undoubtedly be the backdrop of countless events. Read more.


Texas has hundreds of bridges, most of which are concrete. After some time, bridges deteriorate or may get damaged, and a University of Texas at Arlington researcher is working with the Texas Department of Transportation to inspect, evaluate and monitor bridges to ensure their safety for years to come. Nur Yazdani, a professor in UTA's Department of Civil Engineering, recently was awarded a three-year contract to inspect and evaluate new and existing concrete bridge components using non-destructive methods. He will also determine the true load capacity of bridges to ensure that the posted capacities represent what the bridges are capable of supporting. Read more.


Creaform, a specialist in portable and highly accurate 3D measurement technologies, is extending its expertise in non-destructive testing (NDT) to the aerospace industry.

The company will partner with major aircraft manufacturers who will beta test a new surface inspection metrology solution to ensure it meets aviation maintenance requirements prior to its release in October 2017. With this expansion of access to its inspection solutions, the company believes airlines can more efficiently perform the evaluations of in-service aircraft safety, doing so more quickly and cost-effectively.

In May, Creaform announced it had seen its flagship HandySCAN 3D scanning series certified by aerospace giant, Airbus. It was added to the Airbus Technical Equipment Manual (TEM), which is referenced in the Airbus Structure Repair Manual (SRM). Airbus aligned with Creaform to apply the HandySCAN 300 and HandySCAN 700 models to a range of its aircraft, including the A320, A330/ A340 and A300/310.

Well-known for its NDT solutions for the oil and gas industry, Creaform is now stepping up its interest in supporting the aerospace sector.

“As predictive maintenance becomes more prominent, aviation maintenance professionals and aircraft MRO providers are increasingly on the lookout for innovative methods that enable quicker and safer decisions to be made on the outcome of part defects,” said Steeves Roy, NDT Product Manager at Creaform. “The mapping of external surface defects on aircraft parts, which can prove difficult to obtain using traditional methods – namely hail damage, bird impacts and lighting strikes on the fuselage and wings – can be assessed with 3D scanning.

“When paired with advanced inspection tools, such solutions cut down on the operator’s impact on measurements, shortens time to get the final report, and reinforces decision-making.”


Northern Coalfields (NCL), a Coal India subsidiary, will soon use drones for survey and ground profiling of four mines of its ten mines with director general of civil aviation (DGCA) already clearing its use. NCL’s chairman and MD TK Nag said that after getting clearance from the DGCA, the CIL subsidiary is at present waiting for the defence and home ministries’ nod to use drones in its mining operations. “Technology is crucial to our mines and we are constantly in the process of upgrading these mines,” Nag said, adding that operator independent truck dispatch system (OITDS) has been introduced in five mega projects having rated capacity of 10 million tonne or more, and laser scanner for survey and monitoring is also being used in the mines. NCL was also using simulator for training dumper operators, Nag said. NCL has large opencast mines with 3 mt to 20 mt production capacity. There are seven mines having 4 mt and above rated production capacity. All these mines are operated with draglines & shovel-dumper combination. The CIL subsidiary has been given a target of producing 110 mt by 2019, maintaining a CAGR of 6.52%. In FY18, the company expects to achieve 7% year-on-year growth rate with 90 mt of production, up from 84.10 mt in FY17, which clocked a 5% y-o-y growth.

“If we have to increase on our production, we will have to adopt more technology into our mining system. Our plan is to procure higher capacity draglines, shovels, dumpers, dozers and introduce digital drive in draglines and shovels. We will provide online real-time monitoring interface facility for monitoring vital data of equipment and payload as well as monitor vehicle health. Proximity warning device, rear view camera, audio visual alarm, tail gate protection or anti-collision device would also be installed to facilitate operational efficiency,” Nag said. Non-destructive testing facility has been adopted to ensure structural stability of mines and equipment, the CMD said.

While all these comes under the Rs 2,600-crore mine expansion plan, the company has estimated that it has resources of sustained production of 100 mt a year for 45 years.


A partnership led by WMG at the University of Warwick is using a stream of neutrons from a nuclear reactor in a project to examine safety critical welds in cars made with boron steel.

Press-hardened boron steel is an ultra high-strength steel used across a variety of industries, including automotive, where it provides high strength and weight-saving potential, allowing for stronger yet lighter cars, with increased passenger safety.

In the automotive industry, a major joining method for boron steel components is resistance spot welding, with several thousand welds being made on a single car.

Spot welding exposes the boron steel sheet to very high temperatures, causing the metal to exceed melting temperature and then rapidly solidify on cooling. This results in a heat-affected zone, where the surrounding material contracts and its microstructures are altered.

WMG’s Dr Darren Hughes said: “Automotive manufacturers and designers want to understand the exact effects spot welding has on boron steel, as the heat-affected zones can exhibit reduced hardness, which can in turn reduce the components’ strength.

“However, most conventional scanning methods will struggle to penetrate such a strong and challenging material so we decided to seek out a partnership with a research facility that could give us access to more powerful means of conducting non-destructive testing – a directed beam from neutrons beams generated by a nuclear reactor.”

The WMG research team formed a collaboration between the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, Tata Steel, and EPSRC. The partnership has now begun to use neutrons generated from ILL’s reactor in its SALSA (Strain Analyser for Large-Scale Applications) beamline to examine the welds in boron steel.

WMG Research Fellow Dr Neill Raath, the lead researcher on the project, said: “Our study determined for the first time a strong correlation between reduced hardness in heat-affected zones of boron steel spot welds and increased residual stress. The findings have indicated the need to develop new welding methods that do not have the same damaging impact on mechanical properties as spot welding, especially because there is nothing that can be done to avoid tempering when spot welding is used on boron steel.

“Our study has shown the need to apply alternative welding methods that can lengthen the lifetime of the widely-used boron steel to its full potential. With several thousand welds being made on a single car, future work on minimal-heat input welding techniques and post-spot welding treatments will enable the boron steel components of cars to maintain their hardness and avoid residual stress.

“The next step is to use the same technology to develop methods that can evade this issue. This will include magnetic pulse welding, which does not use heat and as such does not cause a heat-affected zone, and post-welding heat treatment, which reverses the reduction in hardness caused by spot welding. This will be of particular importance to industries that use boron steel such as the automotive industry.”

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