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Metal Fabricating
Thursday | 21 August, 2008 | 8:19 am

Smashing success

Discovery Channel

By John Loos

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The second season of the hit Discovery Channel series "Smash Lab" premiered Aug. 5, challenging its team of engineers and fabricators to create a car that could withstand the impact of being driven off a cliff.

The second season of the hit Discovery Channel series "Smash Lab" premiered Aug. 5, challenging its team of engineers and fabricators to create a car that could withstand the impact of being driven off a cliff. In subsequent episodes, airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EDT, the team attempted to create a car that could withstand a severe front-end collision as well as a snow plow for the most treacherous snowfall conditions.

Now narrated by Ben Bailey, host of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy-award winning show "Cash Cab," "Smash Lab" continues to take everyday technologies and apply them in unusual, large-scale ways in an attempt to solve extreme engineering problems. Past shows have attempted to bomb-proof planes with special bubble wrap, save cars stranded on train tracks with specialized airbags and find crime-fighting applications for special kinds of quicksand.

Metal mash
The "Smash Lab" team is made up of two engineers and two fabricators. The engineers are Chuck Messer, a designer of prosthetics, as well as surgical equipment for robotically assisted heart surgery, and Deanne Bell, the former host of the PBS teen series "Design Squad," whose credentials range from designing forward-looking infrared radar and laser radar optical navigation to product development for CAD software.

On the fabricating end, there’s Nathaniel Taylor, developer of RadioRobot, a prototype lab for electronic and mechanical art, and Gadget, a welder since age 14 who also holds world records for fabricating the world’s largest popcorn popper, espresso machine and playable electric guitar.

Television shows spotlighting extreme fabrication and engineering are gaining in popularity and in breadth of audience. "Smash Lab" continues a trend set across various cable channels established by such shows as the Discovery Channel’s "Big!" in which engineers attempted to establish world records through the design and building of enormous versions of regular objects, and "American Chopper", a Learning Channel show that spotlights the wild bikes and personalities of custom motorcycle fabricator Orange County Choppers. The latter has even spawned a series of video games.

"Smash Lab's" second season has seven planned episodes, airing through Sept. 15. FFJ

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Last modified on Thursday | 12 June, 2014 | 10:17 am

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