Feeds

German electropulse energy drill bitchslaps lasers

Could revolutionise carmaking, shark armaments

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Remorseless German boffins, seeking a more efficient way to make holes through hardened steel, have spurned such antique technologies as the cutting laser. They are now employing our old friend the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) as a high-tech energy drill which leaves no burrs and doesn't get blunt.

The boffins in question, of course, are those of the renowned Fraunhofer Institutes - birthplace among many other things of the mp3. In this case they had turned their minds to the problem of drilling holes in car bodywork, parts of which are made from quite heavy steel. Even worse, the steel members are usually shaped in presses, which makes them harder and so more difficult to drill holes through.

Unfortunately the holes must be drilled for such purposes as cable runs. Using actual drills is an option, but the bits wear out fast on hard steel and they leave sharp burrs on the edges of the holes as well. Lasers are a possibility, but they use vast amounts of energy and take a long time to make a hole.

Enter the electromagnetic pulse, better known to Reg readers as a possible military weapon of the future - and to certain alarmist US politicians as a terrifying terrorist menace. For around 40 years, the electropulse bomb - or possibly a high-powered microwave raygun - has been just a few years away.

The ability of electropulse tech to actually deliver a useful electronic warfare effect at any distance from the kit remains to be seen: but Fraunhofer boffins already have it working close up in a Volkswagen factory, not just scrambling circuitry but blasting holes through press-hardened steel.

“The new method was previously used primarily to expand or neck aluminum tubes," says Dr Verena Kräusel of the Fraunhofer Institut für Werkzeugmaschinen und Umformtechnik. "We’ve modified it to cut even hard steels. Whereas a laser takes around 1.4 seconds to cut a hole, EMP can do the job in approximately 200 milliseconds – our method is up to seven times faster.”

According to Dr Kräusel, the pressure exerted on the metal by the electromagnetic pulse drill is equivalent to balancing three cars atop one another supported on a single fingernail.

"The researchers develop now the coils for various cutting geometries," add Fraunhofer spokespersons.

Evil billionaires of the world take note. The laser is, quite literally, no longer on the cutting edge. New choices in headmounted energy-weapon armament for one's execution-pool denizens may be on offer soon. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?