ETH Zurich

This 3D-printed camp stove is extra-efficient and wind-resistant

Posted by | 3d printing, Camping, ETH Zurich, ETHZ, food, Gadgets, hardware, Outdoors, science | No Comments

I love camping, but there’s always an awkward period when you’ve left the tent but haven’t yet created coffee that I hate camping. It’s hard not to watch the pot not boil and not want to just go back to bed, but since the warm air escaped when I opened the tent it’s pointless! Anyway, the Swiss figured out a great way to boil water faster, and I want one of these sweet stoves now.

The PeakBoil stove comes from design students at ETH Zurich, who have clearly faced the same problems as myself. But since they actually camp in inclement weather, they also have to deal with wind blowing out the feeble flame of an ordinary gas burner.

Their attempt to improve on the design takes the controversial step of essentially installing a stovepipe inside the vessel and heating it from the inside out rather than from the bottom up. This has been used in lots of other situations to heat water but it’s the first time I’ve seen it in a camp stove.

By carefully configuring the gas nozzles and adding ripples to the wall of the heat pipe, PeakBoil “increases the contact area between the flame and the jug,” explained doctoral student and project leader Julian Ferchow in an ETH Zurich news release.

“That, plus the fact that the wall is very thin, makes heat transfer to the contents of the jug ideal,” added his colleague Patrick Beutler.

Keeping the flames isolated inside the chimney behind baffles minimizes wind interference with the flames, and prevents you having to burn extra gas to keep it alive.

The design was created using a selective laser melting or sintering process, in which metal powder is melted in a pattern much like a 3D printer lays down heated plastic. It’s really just another form of additive manufacturing, and it gave the students “a huge amount of design freedom…with metal casting, for instance, we could never achieve channels that are as thin as the ones inside our gas burner,” Ferchow said.

Of course, the design means it’s pretty much only usable for boiling water (you wouldn’t want to balance a pan on top of it), but that’s such a common and specific use case that many campers already have a stove dedicated to the purpose.

The team is looking to further improve the design and also find an industry partner with which to take it to market. MSR, GSI, REI… I’m looking at you. Together we can make my mornings bearable.

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This edible sensor could help keep food fresh

Posted by | AgTech, biodegradable, ETH Zurich, food, Gadgets, science, TC | No Comments

 Making sure fresh food is kept at the right temperature during transit is a harder problem than one might think — but the Swiss are on the job. Not only did they create robo-fruit to mix in with the real ones, but another research team has created a biodegradable temperature sensor that sticks to food all the way from its starting point to the inside of your mouth. Read More

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Smile, you’re in augmented reality dentistry

Posted by | augmented reality, dentistry, ETH Zurich, Fundings & Exits, Gadgets, Health, Ivoclar Vivadent, Kapanu, Startups, TC | No Comments

 For someone getting major dental work or reconstructive surgery, it can be hard to visualize what they’ll look like afterwards. You can do casts and make wax molds, but that’s a bit… 19th century, isn’t it? A Swiss startup brings the, in retrospect, obvious solution of augmented reality to the problem, giving patients a virtual view of the smile they could soon have. Read More

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Researchers 3D print a soft artificial heart that works a lot like a real one

Posted by | artificial heart, Bio, ETH Zurich, Gadgets, Prosthetics, robotics, science, TC | No Comments

 The science of prosthetics has been advancing by leaps and bounds over the last few years, and research into soft robotics has been especially complementary. The same techniques that go into making a robot arm that flexes and turns like a real one can go into making more complex, subtle organs — like the heart, as Swiss researchers have demonstrated. Read More

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Project recreates cities in rich 3D from images harvested online

Posted by | artificial intelligence, Computer Vision, ETH Zurich, Gadgets, Maps, science, TC | No Comments

 People are taking photos and videos all over major cities, all the time, from every angle. Theoretically, with enough of them, you could map every street and building — wait, did I say theoretically? I meant in practice, as the VarCity project has demonstrated with Zurich, Switzerland. Read More

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