Articles

Industry Roundtable: Analysis & Simulation Software 2013

In our annual poll of executives at leading analysis and simulation software vendors, we found that high-performance computing is changing the way software is written and sold, and that in a competitive economic market, simulation is not just an advantage, but a necessity. In today’s environment of doing more with less, designers and engineers are constantly pressured to increase productivity, especially in small- and medium-sized businesses where a few people perform the tasks of many. As a result, simulation becomes not only a productivity tool, but also a competitive advantage, and as some of our executives put it, a competitive necessity.

Posted in: Articles

Read More >>

Vote for NASA Tech Briefs’ 19th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards

It’s that time of year when we ask NASA Tech Briefs readers to vote for the annual Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards. Each month, our editors choose a Product of the Month that has exceptional technical merit and practical value for our design engineering readers.

Posted in: Articles

Read More >>

Elemental Scanning Devices Authenticate Works of Art

A scanner used to analyze spacecraft components can help identify a real Van Gogh. Are the shoes you’re wearing really made of leather? Is the table nearby made of wood? How can you be sure? These questions may seem trivial in everyday life, but knowing the precise chemical makeup of spacecraft components is a crucial part of quality control and can help ensure a successful mission. And learning that the paint on a canvas was produced using modern materials could be what prevents a museum from spending $10 million on a forgery.

Posted in: Articles

Read More >>

3D Visualization Technologies: Seeing a World of Opportunity

Industries as diverse as architecture, engineering, construction, advertising, and medical have all incorporated an array of 3D visualization technologies into their design, development, and production processes. A rapidly expanding library of 3D modeling tools, 3D content, and 3D printing materials have made design more cost-effective and expedited the product-to-market process. But how exactly do 3D visualization technologies work? Taking a closer look at the science behind the innovation reveals a striking convergence in which state-of-the-art research processes meet a growing understanding of visual communication.

Posted in: Imaging, Articles

Read More >>

Precision Electronics and Laser Optics Expand Thermal Applications

Thermal imagers allow a user to see an object’s heat signature, and heat provides an entirely different set of performance data than the visible spectrum available to the naked eye. A fully radiometric camera will calculate a temperature value for every pixel seen on screen. The technician uses the thermal colors on screen to look for differences in temperature, between previous states or like components, without actually coming into direct contact with the device under test.

Posted in: Imaging, Articles

Read More >>

Optimizing Closed-Loop Control in Hydraulic Motion

Performing closed-loop control of hydraulic servo systems is often more challenging than controlling servomotor systems. The main reason is that hydraulic systems use compressible oil to move the actuator. Because of this, a hydraulic system can be modeled as a mass between two springs, where the piston and the load is the mass, and the oil on both sides of the piston represents the two springs. In contrast, servomotor systems are easier to control because there is basically only the inertia of the motor and the connected load to be dealt with.

Posted in: Features, Motion Control, Articles

Read More >>

2013 Create the Future Design: Aerospace & Defense Category Winner

Microwave Extraction of Water for Space Propellant Edwin Ethridge, Ph.D. NASA (retired), Huntsville, AL Space exploration is extremely expensive because very large rockets are required to put small payloads into space. Large reductions in launch mass will come from production of inspace rocket propellant from in-space water. Vast quantities of water are present at the lunar poles, on Mars, comets, and some asteroids. Using the in-space resource of solar energy, in-space water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen for propellant. Molecular water can even be used for the reaction mass ejecta with ion engines for missions to Mars and beyond.

Posted in: Features, Articles

Read More >>