SpaceX Hand Gesture CAD Navigation

Here’s another example of art imitating life and life imitating art. A lot of people regard Elon Musk, founder of Tesla car company and SpaceX rocket company, as the inspiration for at least some of the aspects of Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies (Musk had a cameo in Iron Man 2 where they talk about building an electric plane before the race in Monaco). Now they’ve flipped the script and Elon has invented a new way to navigate 3D CAD models that is similar to what Tony Stark uses to design the Iron Man suits in the movies. The best way to wrap your mind around the concept is to think of touchscreen interaction in three dimensions. Hopefully this makes creating and interacting with CAD models significantly more intuitive for everybody. I have full confidence that the open-source community could actually make something similar to this using an Xbox Kinnect and an Arduino microcontroller. We here at Flux Auto think the power of 3D modeling and digital manufacturing should be in as many hands as possible. Pun not originally intended, but we’ll go with it since it works really well here.

Source: SpaceX on YouTube

Multimatic’s In-Wheel Suspension ’32 Ford

Multimatic-32-Ford-coupe via Multimatic.comMany people are calling Mulimatic Inc.‘s new ’32 Ford demo car “The world’s most advanced Hot Rod” or “The world’s best handling ’32 Ford.” These are bold claims which I’m sure plenty of people would like to contend, but today we’re going to talk about the unique suspension system that Multimatic has come up with. They call it their In-Wheel Suspension and as the name suggests, all of the components that guide the wheel travel are housed inside of the wheels. If you think about how much wheel travel a street car or race car needs, maybe 3 to 5 inches compression and 1 or 2 inches of droop, that range of motion can easily fit inside the diameter of modern 17 to 20 inch wheels.

What Multimatic has done is mounted the wheel to a hydraulic cylinder that controls its stroke. There are no control arms, pivots or even ball joints of any kind. As the wheel moves through it’s travel, hydraulic fluid is displaced which travels through lines to what is pretty much a remote coilover that’s mounted to the firewall. A spring mounted valve gives the suspension its spring rate and damping is adjusted very much like a traditional shock. The entire system allows for compact and flexible packaging for oddly shaped chassis. Having a single point of force transfer probably also means the chassis can be lighter since it doesn’t have to have hard mounting points for all the control arms and links.

As for whether or not the Multimatic has built the best handling ’32 Ford in the world remains to be seen. Though interesting from a packaging standpoint, the in-wheel suspension may have some major drawbacks. I would say the first one is maintaining the temperature of the hydraulic fluid. There’s a lot of energy being transferred and that will heat up the fluid which will change its viscosity and damping characteristics. I’m also curious about how good the handling of the car can be with a linear “axle path.” With this system, you can’t do things like camber or toe gain with loading. Without having driven the car, my guesses could be totally unfounded. Either way, Multimatic has built a cool hot rod and the In-Wheel Suspension system is a pretty fascinating concept to wrap your brain around.

Source: AutoFocus Canada on YouTube

3D Printing a 1927 Miller 91 Race Car

The CIDEA company released this fascinating video documenting the build of a quarter scale model of a 1927 Miller 91 Race Car. They showcase the four currently used methods of 3D printing plastic parts from CAD models. There’s definitely a lot more out there than just a desktop MakerBot (they are awesome, too). This is what the future of manufacturing and innovation is going to look like. It’s going to be awesome for people who like to make things.

Source: CIDEAS on YouTube via

TCI Engineering’s 1935-1940 Ford Chassis

The folks over at Rod Authority are starting up a 1936 Ford 5-window project car. This is footage that they took at Total Cost Involved Engineering as the artisans there assembled the performance chassis that will be the foundation of their new project. Who says quality craftsmanship in America is dead? Head over to the Project Flat Out page to keep up with the build.

Source: TCI Engineering on YouTube

The Troy Hartman Jetpack

X-Games Skysurfing gold medalist and professional aerial stuntman Troy Hartman has created his own take on powered human flight. We still don’t have the technology to do a direct propulsion jetpack like The Rocketeer, but microturbines are now good enough for aerodynamic lift. Swiss pilot Yves Rossy decided to attack the problem with a rigid wing that he strapped to his back. Rossy’s goal was to be able to use his body as the control surface to steer his version of the jetpack. Hartman’s approach uses a traditional skydiving parachute for lift and steering while wearing two turbines on his back for power. Where Rossy is a human airplane, Hartman’s design is more akin to a human ultralight. Footage from Hartman’s phase 2 testing looks pretty promising. His design looks like it would be cheaper, safer and more intuitive to use for the average person who doesn’t have years of experience as a pilot.

Source: Troy Hartman on YouTube