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Just Thinking (Stuff) Up

Alfred Spada

Yes, I will admit it. I love big, expensive, Hollywood blockbuster movies. You know, the ones that debut Memorial Day and 4th of July and often involve aliens and/or end of the world destruction.

One such movie, Armageddon, starred Bruce Willis as an oil driller who was tasked with blowing up an asteroid hurtling toward Earth. Our hero’s goal was to fly to the Asteroid in a space shuttle, land on the giant rock and drill a hole deep enough to insert a nuclear bomb that would blow the asteroid up from the inside.

While many scenes in this movie are memorable, one particular scene that sticks out is when Bruce Willis’ character, Harry Stamper, argues with NASA about the merits of their plan to save the world. His quote:  

“And this is the best that you-that the government, the U.S. government could come up with? I mean, you’re NASA for crying out loud, you put a man on the moon, you’re geniuses! You’re the guys that’re thinking (stuff) up! I’m sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking (stuff) up and somebody backing
them up!”

I was reminded of Harry Stamper’s quote as I reviewed two of our articles this issue—our Casting of the Year feature on p. 20 and our prototype bicycle article on p. 28. When you read these two features and see the inventiveness that has led to the successful engineered cast components, you might wonder if the companies involved have people just sitting around thinking (stuff) up.

Our Casting of the Year is a team effort between Honda of America and Cleveland-based Alotech. They have developed cast aluminum connecting joints used in the crush zone of the space frame of the new Acura NSX automobile. This is the first high-production success of the recently-developed ablation casting process that combines traditional sand casting with rapid component cooling through the use of a water soluble binder.

“The NSX body designers were amazed at the amount of design freedom they could get from ablation casting as well as mechanical properties,” said Philip Vais, Honda R&D America.

In our article, “On the Fast Track,” cyclist Kim-Niklas Antin is just wondering if he can help advance his life’s passion. With the establishment of his not-for-profit ideas2cycles project, he is trying to utilize the latest technology and production methods to advance bicycle design and manufacturing. This has included the use of additive manufacturing techniques to produce cast magnesium and aluminum components for bicycle frames. Antin’s only goal is to push creative thinking in the bicycle world.

While the quest for profits often overtakes just sitting around and thinking (stuff) up, try to find some time for the latter. For Honda, Alotech and Antin, it has paid off.