DE’s top 10 engineering stories of 2013

Crowd-funding, 3D printing and flying contraptions captured the attention of Canadian engineers this year.

Comments Off on DE’s top 10 engineering stories of 2013 December 19, 2013
Mike McLeod

As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to take a look back at some of Design Engineering’s most popular stories of 2013. The following lists DE’s most read news items of the past year in reverse order:

10. Canadian human-powered helicopter wins Sikorsky Prize
Toronto’s AeroVelo made DE’s list of the most popular stories again this year, this time for making aviation history (again) by winning the 30-year-old Sikorsky prize, a feat many aerospace experts thought impossible.



9. UofT grads light world’s most energy efficient light bulb
LED lightbulbs are becoming more common but a team of University of Toronto engineering grads made headlines with the NanoLight, an LED replacement that burns brighter than incandescent but consumes a fraction of the watts and without the overheating issue of most LED bulbs.




8. 3D printed gun smuggled into Israeli parliament
Canada’s own 3D printed rifle, the Grizzly, grabbed its share of attention but this story about an Israeli news team sneaking a plastic, additive manufactured “Liberator” pistol past security to within feet of Israeli prime minister, made the potential dangers of 3D printed weapons palpable.



7. Canadian military currently testing a stealth snowmobile
If you need a James-Bond inspired snowmobile, who better than a Canadian company to make it. Ontario-based CrossChasm Technologies grabbed some possibly unwanted attention with its $620,000 Loki stealth snowmobile that the DND began testing for covert Arctic operations.



6. Scientists release plans for open-source 3D metal printer
Plastic is fine, but for manufacturing purposes, 3D printing in metal may be truly transformative. Announced earlier this month, this Reprap-inspired additive manufacturing unit prints in steel and costs less the $2,000 to build from off-the-shelf components.



5. Canadian tech creates superior hockey stick
Kickstarter Canada’s launch in 2013 wouldn’t be complete without a hockey-related innovation. Toronto-based startup, Colt Hockey, delivered with the Colt, an “unbreakable” composite hockey stick clad in nano-tech metal.



4. Ontario repeals ‘Industrial Exception’ from Professional Engineering Act
Update: Ontario abandons repeal of Engineering Act’s industrial exception
Ontario’s plan to require manufacturing employees performing engineering tasks to hold a P. Eng. designation starting this year, followed by the 11th-hour repeal of the repeal only days before the deadline, caught many on both sides of the debate by surprise and pushed this pair of stories into the top 10 this year.



3. Canadian $100 3D printer blows past crowd-funding goal
3D printing seems to have hit its tipping point in 2013, which proved good timing for a Saskatchewan inventor and his Peachy Printer. The $100 3D printing machine garnered more than $350,000 in start-up investment on Kickstarter Canada’s crowd-funding site.



2. Canadian open source two-seat airplane may cost only $15,000
Mechanical engineers love a good DIY project. Add in the fact that you can fly the end result for relatively little money and you’ve got the free schematics for this one-seater sport plane that Canadian inventor hopes to make available through a Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.



1. Festo to fly BionicOpter at Hannover
By far, German automation giant, Festo, and its dragonfly robot caught the imagination of DE readers this year. DE’s story on the tiny mechanical flying machine garnered more than 30,000 unique page views, pushing it to the number one spot for 2013.