Engineers Find a New Way to Punch Holes Through Steel

Electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) are usually associated with warfare. The idea is to use a blast of energy to fry the enemy’s computers and telecommunications gear. One common way proposed to do this is with an atomic bomb. In a less extreme fashion, however, EMPs have peaceful uses. They are already employed industrially to shape soft and light metals, such as aluminium and copper. Now a group of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology in Chemnitz, Germany, has found a way to use an EMP device to shape and punch holes through industry’s metallic heavyweight–steel. This could transform manufacturing by doing away with the need to use large, heavy presses to make goods ranging from cars to washing machines

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