Make's Sean Michael Ragan reviews an old-school Dymo Metal Embossing Tapewriter he found cheap on eBay and finds it to be an eminently satisfying piece of kit. There are modern versions but they'll cost you lots more, and this thing is pretty much indestructible so there's no reason not to buy a cheapo one on eBay.
But in terms of construction quality and durability, the Tapewriter is as far removed from those cheap plastic embossers as a Mercedes is from a Kia. It’s 10″ long, weighs almost two pounds, and is made almost entirely from cast aluminum, with steel fittings here and there, and all held together with machine screws. The only polymer in the thing, as far as I can tell, is a rubber friction coating on the internal tape drive wheels...
Embossed aluminum is pretty much the ultimate labeling material. Without wanting to be morbid, there is a reason why military services around the world choose it for personnel identification tags. Secured with mechanical fasteners, instead of adhesives, an embossed aluminum label will stand up for years against water, extremes of heat and cold, prolonged direct sunlight, and any organic solvent you care to throw at it. This is a true “industrial-grade” labeling tool, and if you can snag a used one for a reasonable price, you can expect a lifetime of use from it.
This chamber, currently under construction at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, will be able to reproduce the temperature, pressure, and chemical conditions on the surface of Venus. Scientists will use it to find materials and lander designs that can withstand the 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures on that planet.
In a story on the chamber for WIRED, Dave Mosher points out that a similar chamber already exists. The trouble is, it's too small to fit a life-size model of a Venusian lander. The new chamber will be big enough to test out equipment at the size it will be used. Better yet, the new chamber could also be used to replicate conditions on other moons and planets, as well.
Thanks to its thick walls, it can simulate all conditions experienced during a trip to Venus: launch, the cold vacuum of space and even atmospheric entry.
In the future, operators could simulate conditions found in Jupiter’s outer atmosphere, the Martian equator and even vents near volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io. Seven- and 10-foot-wide additions to the first chamber (below) could also make room for prototypes designed for ultra-cold conditions on the moons Europa, Ganymede and Titan.
Gerber is one of my favorite multitool companies; I like the fact that they're always experimenting with clever (but rarely gimmicky) ways to extend the functionality of pocket tools. Case in point: this forthcoming "Steady" tool, which incorporates a tripod with a standard camera screw-mount. I really miss carrying multitools wherever I go, but the combination of insane, overreaching anti-knife laws in the UK and frequent, expensive airport checkpoint confiscations (I forget stuff sometimes!) has put my multitool in dry-dock beside my desk. The Steady is due in 2012 -- maybe by then we'll live in a world that acknowledges that banning edges from public places isn't necessary or sufficient for safety.