News

Earth's Architecture

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently launched a new AIA layer in Google Earth called "America's Favorite Architecture." Google Earth users can now see many newly created 3D models of the ballparks, bridges, buildings, and memorials that characterize architecture for Americans. By clicking on America's Favorite Architecture, users can view texturized 3D images of the nation's most popular landmarks created with Google SketchUp. Developed for the conceptual stages of design, Google SketchUp is a 3D software tool that combines a simple toolset with an intelligent drawing system that streamlines and simplifies 3D design. From simple to complex, conceptual to realistic, Google SketchUp enables you to build and modify 3D models quickly and easily. For more information, click here.

Posted in: Blog

Read More >>

3D Ultrasound

The same Duke University Pratt School of Engineering research team that first developed real-time, 3D ultrasound imaging has modified the commercial version of the scanner to produce an even more realistic perception of depth. The researchers created an updated version of the image-viewing software, making it possible to achieve a stereo display with no additional hardware. Paired images now seem to pop out of the screen when viewed with special glasses. "To our knowledge, this is the first time it's been made possible to display real-time stereo image pairs on a clinical scanner," said Stephen Smith, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke. "We believe all 3D scanners could be modified in this way with only minor software changes." The new imaging capability can improve the early diagnosis of certain kinds of birth defects of the face and skull and improve surgeons' depth perception during ultrasound-guided medical procedures. Click here for the full story.

Posted in: Blog

Read More >>

NASA News

NASA's Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program has awarded a one-year, $100,000 contract to Clarkson University, DEM Solutions Inc., and Jenike & Johanson to provide a new generation of Discrete Element Modeling (DEM) for designing equipment to move and store bulk solids. NASA has specialized needs in modeling of bulk solid systems, such as designing equipment to operate in lunar or Martian environments. Researchers at Clarkson will be working to overcome the limited computational intensive nature of the DEM software and establish a methodology to determine the particle properties to accurately model bulk granular materials. Examples of these materials are cryogenic insulation material used in storage tanks for the space shuttle fuel and geomaterials like lunar soil. For more information, click here.

Posted in: Blog

Read More >>

New on the Market

Kerk Motion Products (Hollis, NH) released the Linear Actuator, designed to accept NEMA size 17, 23, and 34 motors. Leadscrew driven, the unit does not need lubrication and is designed for electronics, semiconductor, and medical applications. For more information, click here. Parker-Hannifin (Milford, OH) released the InteractX version 2.2 of its OEM-friendly Windows(R)-based HMI software. In developing applications, copied objects are no longer offset when pasted into another panel. Features include fully rendered and scalable graphics, unlimited tag runtimes, and real-time data acquisition. For more information, click here. The single- and multi-turn wave springs from Rotor Clip (Somerset, NJ) are composed of flat wire with waves added for a spring effect. Providing lower work heights with the same force as conventional models, they can act as load-bearing devices. For more information, click here. Elmo Motion Control, Inc. (Westford, MA) released the ExtrIQ line of digital servo drives and analog servo amplifiers. With a temperature range of -40 to 70 degrees C, features include an operating voltage between 10 to 200 V, and a current carrying capacity of up to 200 Amps continuous and 400 Amps peak. For more information, click here.

Posted in: Blog

Read More >>

Train Breaks

Norfolk Southern Railway (NS, Norfolk, VA) and BNSF Railway Company (BNSF, Ft. Worth, TX) will begin testing a new braking system that may reduce the amount of time it takes to stop a train. The project, authorized by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), calls for NS and BNSF to equip and test certain locomotives and freight cars with electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes. ECP brakes have the potential to reduce stopping distances by as much as 50 to 70% over conventional air brake systems. ECP brakes utilize electronic signals to simultaneously apply and release breaking pressure throughout the length of a freight train. This differs from conventional brake systems in which each car brakes individually as air pressure moves in a series from car to car. The new brakes also perform electronic self-diagnostic checks to identify maintenance needs. For more information, click here.

Posted in: Blog

Read More >>

Current Attractions

Motion Control Technology is a bimonthly supplement to NASA Tech Briefs magazine, providing engineers the latest advances in motion control products. One section, Applications, highlights how a particular motion control component is utilized by an end-user. Here is one of the technologies featured in the April issue's Applications section: Hydraulic Safety Catchers Protect Spallation Neutron Source Shutter Operation At full power, the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), part of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN), will produce the world's most intense pulsed neutron beams for neutron scattering research methods. Part of the neutron delivery system consists of shutters composed of tungsten and steel, weighing 18 and 30 tons and measuring two meters thick each. They are raised and lowered vertically by stainless steel hydraulic cylinders. Employed at each shutter are two specially designed hydraulic release stainless steel Sitema Safety Catchers designed by Advanced Machine & Engineering (AME, Rockford, IL). The safety catchers are designed to prevent gravity fall of a vertical load by absorbing kinetic energy, and use high-pressure filtered tap water. They develop holding force by self- intensification created by the load as it travels downward. For more information, click here.

Posted in: Blog

Read More >>

Amoebic Locomotion

Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA) have successfully constructed a new method of robotic propulsion based on the movement of amoebas. Called "Whole Skin Locomotion" (WSL), the mechanism works similarly to a pseudopod, or cytoplasmic "foot," of an amoeba. With its elongated cylindrical shape and expanding and contracting actuating rings, the WSL can turn itself inside out in a single continuous motion, mimicking the motion of the cytoplasmic tube an amoeba generates for propulsion. "Our preliminary experiments show that a robot using the WSL mechanism can easily squeeze between obstacles or under a collapsed ceiling," said Dennis Hong, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, who led the project. The mechanism, which can use all of its contact surfaces for traction, can even squeeze through holes with diameters much smaller than its normal width. For more information, click here.

Posted in: Blog

Read More >>