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Axis Motion Software

National Instruments (Austin, TX) released NI Motion Assistant 2.0 interactive software for prototyping single- and multi-axis motion control systems. Motion profiles from CAD and drafting programs can be imported using a DXF file format, and the software facilitates the implementation of profiles in NI CompactRIO programmable automation controllers or generation of code for PCI/PXI plug-in motion controllers. After saving a motion profile as a DXF file in a CAD or drafting program, the software can be used to import the profile and save motion-specific commands in an XML file format without writing additional code. Also featured is smart contouring and a graphical, point-and-click interface with 3D visualization capabilities for creating motion control applications using stepper, servo, and piezo actuators.

Posted in: Products, Motion Control

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DC Gear Motors

Nidec Copal USA Corp (Torrance, CA) offers the MG16 series of sub-miniature brush DC motors with high torque planetary boxes. The 8-model series is RoHS compliant and measures 16 mm. Available gear ratios include 60:1, 120:1, 240:1, and 500:1 with two excitation voltage levels of 6 VDC and 12 VDC. Performance ranges from 4.86 oz-in rated torque at 164 rpm and 22.6 oz-in starting torque for the 6-volt model with a 60:1 ratio, to 28 oz-in rated torque at 21 rpm and 146 oz-in started torque for the 12-volt model with a 500:1 ratio. Maximum gear motor weight for the 500:1 gear ratio is 1.24 oz. All models can operate from 0°C to 50°C ambient temperature range. Options include an encoder.

Posted in: Products, Motion Control

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Glass Molding Makes High-Quality Aspheres Cost Effective

High-resolution digital imaging, low-light-level biomedical devices, and automotive sensing are just a few of today’s hot technologies demanding both low-cost and high-performance optical systems. Critical in this effort is the mid- and high-volume requirement for aspheric optical components. Unfortunately, CNC polishing methods are expensive and take too long to produce each component, which has pushed precision glass molding to the front of asphere manufacturing technologies.

Posted in: Features, ptb catchall, Photonics, Articles

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New Metals, Optics, Tools, and Processes Focus on Satellite Imaging

Lightweight, aspheric, reflective optical designs commonly are designed and built for demanding space-based remote sensing, targeting systems, and aerial reconnaissance. Traditional designs utilizing low expansion optical glasses steadily are giving way to metals such as aluminum, beryllium, and AlBeMet, and ceramics such as silicon carbide. These materials can be produced in extremely lightweight, yet robust and athermalized, designs by virtue of their superior tensile strength, fracture toughness, and the ability to compose support structures and mirrors from identical materials.

Posted in: Features, ptb catchall, Photonics, Articles

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Thermal Light Valve Brings IR Imaging to the Masses

Technology uses MEMS structure with refractive properties sensitive to thermal radiation and reads out signal with inexpensive laser diode and CMOS sensor. RedShift Systems, Waltham, Massachusetts The desire to “see” in complete darkness or through obscurants such as smoke or fog has driven the development and adoption of thermal imaging technology. Thermal imaging is the translation of a scene’s heat signature — the 8-μm to 14-μm or long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) energy an object emits — into a visible image or data that can be interpreted by a computer.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, ptb catchall, Photonics, Briefs

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Optically Driven Deformable Mirrors

There is no wiring on the back sides of these mirrors. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Optically driven deformable mirrors may eventually supplant electrically driven deformable mirrors in some adaptive-optics and active-optics applications. Traditionally, the mirror facets in electrically driven deformable mirrors are actuated, variously, by means of piezoelectric, electrostrictive, microelectromechanical, liquid-crystal, or thermal devices. At least one such device must be dedicated to each facet, and there must be at least one wire carrying a control or drive signal to the device. If a deformable mirror comprises many (e.g., thousands) of facets, then wiring becomes a major problem for design, and the problem is compounded in cases of piezoelectric or other actuators for which high drive voltages are required. In contrast, in optically driven mirrors, the wiring problem is eliminated.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, ptb catchall, Photonics, Briefs

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Automatic Alignment of Displacement-Measuring Interferometer

Corrections are derived from fluctuations associated with circular dithering of a laser beam. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A control system strives to maintain the correct alignment of a laser beam in an interferometer dedicated to measuring the displacement or distance between two fiducial corner-cube reflectors. The correct alignment of the laser beam is parallel to the line between the corner points of the corner-cube reflectors: Any deviation from parallelism changes the length of the optical path between the reflectors, thereby introducing a displacement or distance measurement error.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, ptb catchall, Photonics, Briefs

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