Cool Gadgets & Smart Materials

To inspire new thinking and help our customers develop an optimal solution—together, we share, explore, and integrate new ideas and emerging technologies into the product design and development process.

Cool Gadgets

Tension Indicating Bolt

When the bolt is tightened properly you see dark blue liquid at the top, but when the bolt loosens the internal red plunger is exposed.

Piezo Power Strips

Piezo strips generate a voltage differential through the conversion of physical energy to electrical energy. This allows physical work to drive electrical components.

Universal Joint

This joint creates a bend in any rod using two hinges that are perpendicular to one another.

Staple-Free Stapler

When pushing the stapler, a cutting arm cuts a tab out of the paper. Next that tab is folded through a slot cutter which pulls the tab up through the slot.

Music Box

The teeth across the drum are calculated lengths which play a corresponding note when activated. As the drum rotates, the bumps activate the lengths and produce a song.

Push-Push Switch

The lens of this light doubles as the engagement for the push-push switch.

Magic Loops

A complicated web of wires allows the user to change the shape of the mechanism. The four hemispheres change the radius independently of one another.

Living Hinge Lens

Three separate lenses were molded as one piece to prevent visible misalignment during installation and to reduce cost. All hinges are also part of the unified piece.

Infinite Train Wheel

Gear rotation turns a pin on the large gear that is mated with a slot below. This creates a smooth oscillating motion - fast in the middle of the cycle and slow at each end.

Engine Model

This clear model allows users to see the functionality and synchronization of the different parts in a 4-cylinder engine.

Geared Hinge

This hinge uses square stock tubing and two plates with geared edges. The gears work together to cut down on wear while keeping a no-pinch system in place.

Bionic Wrench Cam

The user's linear squeezing force rotates a cam around the tool end forcing the pins that hold the wrench bars towards one another to shrink the inner diameter.

One-Directional Dampers

The damper sits in a small slot oriented to push against teeth in one direction. It is also pushed away when traveling in the opposite direction allowing for easy movement.

Smart Materials

Temperature Sensitive Fabric

Manufactured materials can drastically change color at different temperatures. The color change indicates when the optimal temperature for an application has been reached.

Velostat Resistive Sensor

This opaque, volume conductive, carbon-impregnated polyolefin can be used as a resistive pressure sensor when sandwiched between two metal plates.


Aerogel is the least-dense solid on earth and roughly 98% air. It has remarkable heat insulation properties and excellent compressive strength.

Board-Free LED

The LEDs and the accompanying circuit are assembled prior to injection molding which allows for the entire piece to be molded in one step.

Fiberglass/Balsa Sample

In beams, bending strength is a measure of the materials behavior in tension and compression. The thin fiberglass section bends easily while the thick balsa section is stronger.

Neodymium Magnets

Materials in which the magnetic dipoles of the substructure are aligned. This alignment creates an interaction with any other object that also has aligned magnetic dipoles.

Switchable Magnet

Uses multiple permanent magnets to create a completely mechanical magnet that can be turned off.

Bi-Directional Bending

This material can bend along the X and the Y axes. A long rectangle can be rolled up completely for storage or unrolled to create a pole with reasonable strength.

Elastic Magnets

This material combines two useful material properties: magnetism and high elasticity.

Hand-Moldable Plastic

Quickly make plastic prototypes by simply heating it up and molding it before it sets. It can be reheated and remolded repeatedly.