Author Archives: John Tomory

  1. Has The War on Drones Gone Too Far?

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    As drones become more and more common place, both on the battlefield and in peaceful skies. People all over the world are taking a stand on how governments should and could implement their usage.  In the small town of Deer Trail, Colorado they are even taking up arms against the would-be spy drones! With local legislation still to be voted upon local residents are signing up for what they are calling “A Drone Hunting Ordnance.” If voted upon the ordnance will allow local residents to shoot down drones within 1000 feet of their homes.

    If this trend continues and spreads our skies could be littered with gunfire and falling drones. Has Deer Trail gone too far? That’s up for individuals to decide but for now drones are going to continue to become a part of the scenery and only time will tell how they are used and how people will react to them.


  2. In Honor of Veterans Day

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    In observance of Veterans Day, Tech Steel and Materials would like to thank all members of our armed forces, and their families, both past and present, for their sacrifice to our great nation.


  3. US Navy Launches Largest Destroyer Ever!

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    Due to the government shutdown last month, the United States largest Naval Destroyer ever built the USS Zumwalt, was launched without fanfare last week. With its angular features and its carbon fiber superstructure the USS Zumwalt is the first in a new line of destroyer models. The USS Zumwalt (named after late Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt) is a massive naval vessel over 610 feet long, which also features a unique hull design that makes the ship nearly undetectable to radar. Designed for shore bombardment the ship is loaded with an “Advanced Gun System” capable of firing rocket-propelled warheads nearly 100 miles from their target.

    The ship line also features the most advanced computers and electronics on board, cutting the destroyers sailor staffing needs nearly in half. While the ships will not be formally handed over to the United States until 2015, the government contract with General Dynamics calls for two more of the vessel type to be placed into production.




    Source: Yahoo News

  4. Aircraft Carrier Sells for a Penny!!!!


    Just recently the USS Forrestal sold for one cent in a bid for it to be scrapped. Yes I said 1 cent! If you do the math and figure out the scrap value of this ship, this sale shows the issues facing the economy of this country. The country wide average return for scrap metal is 33 cents a pound.

    The Forrestal class aircraft carrier weighs nearly 102,000 tons, or 204,000,000 pounds. At .33 cents a pound, the value of this ship just in standard metal scrap (not counting the higher grades of metals used in the manufacture of a ship of this type, coppers, Inconel and other corrosion resistant grades) the value is roughly $67,320,000.00 dollars.


    The questions this leaves me to ask are, why didn’t the US government sell this for greater value and where can I get on the list to buy the next aircraft carrier going up for scrap?

    Had I known about this offering, I’d have paid at least a dollar for the whole ship!


  5. Specialized tools for EVA activities made from MP35N AMS 5844

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    Did you ever have a need for a specialized tool for your project, replacement parts for your car, or just to make your job easier? Think about how tough it would be in space. There is no automotive parts store close by, to purchase one that’s for sure.  For construction purposes specialized sockets were crafted for astronauts to complete their tasks assembling the International Space Station (ISS).

    Source: NASA

    Source: NASA

    Some of these tools consisted of, 12 point sockets constructed from MP35N AMS 5844, Socket Extensions on various lengths from 3 inches to 18 inches made from 455 Stainless AMS 5617, and aluminum ratchets. These tools were used on various missions including STS-37,49,51 and 57.




    Some of the fasteners used to assemble these complex space craft also were designed from super alloys. One of the most commonly used is A286 AMS 5737. This alloy is used in the Shuttle’s umbilical, as well as the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB’s)

    Source: NASA

    Source: NASA


  6. World’s First Open Source, Wireless Controlled, Aluminum 6061-T6 Laser


    The EVO laser from Wicked Lasers is the World’s first open source, variable intensity, controlled laser on the market.  Machined from Aluminum 6061-T6, This Mil-Spec Type III hard anodized case is nearly indestructible and contains a class 3B laser with 100mW max power. Powered with 2 AA batteries this laser will last up to 120 minutes. This laser hosts several modes such as, Variable Power modes, Momentary, Strobe and Continuous Wave modes, Standby and Secure Lock/Unlock modes. This laser is powerful enough to pop balloons and start campfires.

  7. Can a sword of the ancients, stand up to the metallurgy of today?

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    Sometimes it takes a little channel surfing to learn something new, which happened to me last night. After watching The Big Bang Theory, I happened upon a PBS broadcast of, Secrets of the Viking Sword.

    The show followed the construction and forging of what was known as an Ulfberht sword. The Ulfberht sword was considered the most advanced weapon the Viking people ever used in combat and was a terror at the time. While the weapon looked and acted like many other swords of the era, the Ulfberht was unique for the time period due to its creation method. The sword could bend at harsh angles without breaking, the blades kept their edge even during long periods of use and it was lighter and longer than most swords common to the region.  All of these advancements were due solely to the weapons advanced forging and forming processes.  The manufactures of the time used the advanced Crucible method of ore smelting.

    Crucible smelting is commonly used process today, wherein a clay pot is used to hold iron ore, then it’s sealed and heated to very high temperatures. This allows for the steel within to be smelted with less slag and which helps to make the core metal harder and less brittle. The process as we know it came from regions within Iran about 1000 years ago, which makes the finding of such weapons among the Vikings so interesting.

    It shows that the Vikings would have needed to have open trade with the Middle East of that time and gives researchers more insights about the Vikings themselves. This process is not only difficult to master,  it was also very uncommon to be trained to outsiders of Middle Eastern cultures! So from this we learn that the Vikings were far more advanced metalworkers than historians first thought and that the Vikings not only had friendly trade with the Middle East, they even shared cultures openly.

    While the show aired, I found it to be very interesting and I’m in no way a history buff. But after watching a modern blacksmith craft a sword in the same manor, while learning about the Vikings, I couldn’t turn away from the show. It was very entertaining overall and I would tell anyone out there with even the slightest interest in Vikings, weapons smithing, swords or even odd ball historic facts to check it out.

    It was worth the watch.


  8. Snakes on…Mars!

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    On Earth snakes can be found almost everywhere. They live in trees, they swim in rivers and oceans and have been found in the worlds harshest deserts. But now researchers at the SINTEF Research Institute of Norway are hoping that snakes will one day reach Mars. But not the snakes we commonly think about, instead of reptiles SINTEF wants to send robotic snakes!



    The belief is a robotic snake could travel places that the Curiosity rover couldn’t. Aksel Transeth of SINTEF says, “Biological snakes can climb rocks and slide through small holes.” He goes on to state, “The snake robot could travel to cliffs and look underneath overhangs. It could find a crevasse, crawl down it and extract a sample, which itself could tell us how Mars evolved as a planet.”

    However currently snake robots face many mobile challenges on Earth and those issues will only be greater on Mars because the robots would be facing colder temperatures and less gravity then on Earth. While this is all speculation at this point SINTEF says it could have a prototype robot built within months and have high hopes that snake robots could reach Mars as soon as 2020.


  9. Alloy Steel helps create the world’s fastest tracked recon vehicle.

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    Howe & Howe Technologies in Maine produce some of the world’s most extreme vehicles devised by man.  Their now famous product is the Ripsaw.  This revolutionary tracked vehicle utilizes Alloy Steel Tubing in its hull, providing structural strength and reliability. There are 2 variants of the Ripsaw, the MS1 (UGV) unmanned ground vehicle and the MS2 Manned model.  Either model has a Duramax 650hp V8,  that delivers 900 ft-lbs. of torque. The MS1 variant is controlled by a remote console within a M113 command vehicle, complete with a live video feed.



    Carrying a hefty price tag of $200,000 to $750,000 dollars this 9,000 pound tracked vehicle is not something you are going to have in your garage for next summer at the beach but when you can go from 0 to 65 miles per hours in 3 seconds, wouldn’t you want to? Oh and by the way, Ripsaw has an amphibious sister, Tiptide, a smaller ATV cousin Mini-Rip and a handful of other family members created by Howe and Howe Technologies all utilizing alloy steel in new ways.


    [source: Howe and Howe Technologies]

  10. The Evolution of the Howitzer Leads to Forgings.

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    How do you take one of the worlds most advanced howitzers and make it more maneuverable, more durable and more cost effective? The answer lies within the M777 A2 from BAE Systems. Its predecessors, comprised mostly from steel, although powerful, was slow moving across the battlefield.


    To keep pace with the United States armed forces, BAE designed the M777 A2 using 6AL-4V titanium forgings and castings that make the M777 A2 more lightweight allowing it to be transported more quickly and by many alternative means than before. The lightened howitzer can now be carried by helicopter, Osprey (VTOL), Transport fixed wing aircraft and ship. It can also be towed by any 4X4 vehicle weighting 2.5 tons or more.


    6AL-4V Titanium although stronger, is more expensive.  The Navy Metalworking Center (NMC) implemented a new manufacturing process and technologies that reduced the part count in the howitzer, this also reduced manufacturing costs and material waste.




    What does this mean for the howitzers? A 42% reduction in basic system weight, a 25% reduction in size, resulting in a smaller combat profile, making it more difficult to detect, and retention of its 30km firing range.

  11. Return-to-Flight Shuttle redesign, The SRB Bolt Catcher.

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    The 113th space shuttle flight (STS-107) launched from the Space Launch Complex at Kennedy Space Center January 16th 2003, on a scientific mission to collect research on several projects. This marked the orbiter Columbia’s 28th launch.




    On February 1st 2003, Columbia and her crew were lost on re-entry. The Columbia Accident investigation Board, determined the failure was caused by a foam strike on a leading edge of the orbiter’s wing during its ascension phase. During re-entry the damaged wing, exposed to the heat of re-entry, slowly overheated and came apart ultimately leading to the complete loss of the vehicle and her crew.



    The investigation after the accident revealed that the bolt catcher, a piece connecting the main fuel tank and the solid rocket boosters, may have failed during separation leading to the loss of the shuttle. A redesign was recommended.

    The two piece construction of the pre-Columbia design consisted of a flange, made from 2219 Heat Treated and cold worked aluminum, and a dome, spin formed from 2219. The assembly was welded and heat treated to Military standards. The cylindrical wall of the dome was 0.125 inches thick. The interior of the dome contains a honeycomb of 5052 alloy to collect the pieces of bolting material separated by pyrotechnics during the separation phase.

    The re-designed one piece structure was machined from 7050 Aluminum with a higher strength (64 KSI vs. 42 KSI). The wall thickness of the dome was increased to 0.250 inches. The mounting fasteners were re-evaluated as well, leading to a replacement from A286 alloy (180 KSI) to MP35N (260 KSI).



  12. The Boeing 787-9 Rolls Out

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    Over the weekend Boeing announced the completion of its first 787-9 Dreamliner, which is slated to be delivered to Air New Zealand in 2014. The 787-9 line is 20 feet longer than its predecessor the 787-8, which allows the 787-9 to hold 40 more passengers. As with all of Boeings newer planes, the 787-9 has been designed to use 20 percent less fuel then other planes its size.

    Source CNN

    Source: CNN


  13. An Icon of space travel, spurs of a new alloy.


    The Space Shuttle’s iconic, orange colored, external tank originally weighed in at 76,000 pounds. Made of aluminum 2219 alloy, it contained 535,000 gallons of liquid fuel, hydrogen and oxygen. At 154 feet tall, its height dwarfed the Wright Brother’s first flight by over 30 feet. Considered by many to be the structural backbone Shuttle System, It connect all four pieces of the launch stages together, the Orbiter, and two solid rocket boosters or SRB’s. This tank was designed to withstand over 7 Million pounds of thrust at launch.

    Shuttle-Main Tank


    In 1983, a redesign was introduced for the STS-6 Shuttle mission; this redesign decreased the weight of the tank by 10,000 pounds. Each pound removed in weight resulted in an increase in payload for the Orbiter. In 1986 Lockheed Martin Laboratories in Maryland took up the mission to develop a new high strength, and lower density replacement for the 2219 alloy. Design characteristics should maintain the weldability and fracture resistance of its predecessor but yield a lighter alloy. The result of this is the family of Aluminum-Lithium alloys called Weldalite®. The 2195 alloy was chosen for its 30 percent strength increase and 5% reduction in density.



  14. The Next Wave of Space Exploration Is Here!

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    As long as the NASA space program has been in action, NASA as used expendable rockets to get into space. However SpaceX, one of the world’s foremost private space exploration companies, has developed a reuseable propulsion rocket for space exploration. This rocket known as “The Grasshopper” (or the officially titled Falcon 9 test rig) has been tested and tried. However not only is the Grasshopper the first reuseable rocket for space exploration it is also the ONLY rocket capable of hovering and maneuvering sideways!

    In the video clip provided below you can see the Grasshopper maneuver during a test fight.


    As the Grasshopper reaches its test altitude it begins to go through its sideway maneuvering. This functionally will allow for easier maneuverability and emergency diverts in space, while cutting costs for space exploration across the board.

  15. So Small it Fits in the Palm of Your Hand

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    The world’s smallest drone is already in use in Afghanistan and many people wouldn’t be able to see if they knew that they were looking at. The drone is so small it could fit in the palm of your hand. The Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Aircraft System from Prox Dynamics, measures just 4 inches long, 1 inch high and has only a 4 inch rotor span.


    Built to fly up to a 1000 meters from its handler, the drone has been designed to handle the rugged nature of the combat environment. With its onboard digital camera the Black Hornet can take both motion and still images. It has been in use by the British Brigade Reconnaissance Force and has become so popular within the British soldiers that the British military has already placed a $31.3 million dollar order for 160 units.

    As the new face of warfare, drones this small will quickly become more commonplace due to their light weight, reliability and lifesaving capacity.



  16. Man vs. Submarine

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    Did you know all it takes to destroy an American nuclear submarine is a disenfranchised worker and a box of rags?  Well that’s what happened to the USS Miami on May 23rd, when Casey James Fury decided he didn’t want to be at work that day. Using a box of rags Fury set fire to, he managed to do unrepairable damage to the vessel. The careless act of arson cost the US Navy nearly 400 million in repairs and the ship itself. The fire also injured seven people.

    After initial repairs began damage estimates skyrocketed to nearly four times the initial cost. “The type of damage was unlike anything we’d seen in recent memory,” Rear Admiral Richard Breckenridge, director of undersea warfare, said on a Navy Live blog post. “The anticipated scope of work is four times greater than any previous submarine repair due to damage,” the post continued.

    The USS Miami was one of 42 Los Angeles-class Submarines. The submarines crew commonly consisted of 12 officers and 98 enlisted personnel. The Sub was also capable of carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles and Mark 48 torpedoes, none of which were onboard when the fire was started.

  17. Will Myth Meet Science?

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    For hundreds of years people all over the United States have reported sightings of the elusive creature called Sasquatch, more commonly known as Bigfoot. During that time period, Bigfoot has been described as a large hairy ape-like creature that stands between 2-3 meters tall and weighing around 500 pounds. With feet that range nearly 24 inches in length.

    The creature is considered a myth due to the lack of true physical evidence of its existence. However Jeffery Meldrum of Idaho State University believes that he has found a form of technology that will help prove the creatures existence. He intends to use Drones!

    In the post 9/11 world drones have become common place in military and weather applications however Jeffery Meldrum feels this technology will be instrumental in the creatures discovery. He has been quoted by the Mountain Express as saying, “These unmanned drones, I believe, are the next step in proving the nature of these creatures.” This initiative is called “The Falcon Project” which will use a 45-foot-long drone to survey the landscape looking for the beast.

    Tech Steel has had a great deal of experience supplying the military market with materials ranging from titanium to aluminum when it comes to drones, but has never heard of drones being used in this capacity. All we can say is happy hunting.


  18. Chinese Drone Warfare a real possibility.

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    China’s security forces planned on using new drone technology to kill or capture a Mekong River drug lord.  This has never been done before in China. The Chinese government planned on calling in a drone strike on his remote hideaway. Although the attack didn’t happen, the plan called attention to the nation’s use of drones. Chinese aerospace firms have developed several types of drones, some that even have a resemblance to the United States’ Predator, Global Hawk, and Reaper models. Although China’s military posture is entirely defensive, China’s move into large scale drone deployment, demonstrates its growing military sophistication, and could challenge U.S. military dominance in the Asian-Pacific region.


    China’s drones, like most new Chinese equipment, remain untested in battle.  Early Chinese drones were used for reconnaissance, in 1979, in Vietnam. The new UAV’s in China’s array span from simple propeller driven models to high-concept, and stealthy, like the “Dark Sword”. (Similar to the U.S. Avenger) Similar models to the US’s Reaper, called the Wing Loong, or Pterodactyl have reportedly been exported to countries in the Middle East and central Asia.


    These drones also carry a greatly reduced price tag, compared to the U.S. Reaper at $30 million each.  The Xiang Long BZK-005 has a reported 6,437 kilometer range and is roughly the size of a medium fighter jet.  Full deployment may still be some time away, a crash in 2011, however points to rumored problem with guidance systems.  Further s could see China competing with the world’s two largest drone producers, The United States and Israel.




    What impact could this have on the United States’ drone production and ?  This month a Northrop Grumman made, X-47B took off for the first time from the deck of the USS. George H.W. Bush. The drone then completed a “Touch-and-go” on the deck the following day.



    With the US adding several firsts to the history of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’s history, the continued and deployment of cutting edge drones is sure to continue far into the future.