Articles

From NASA to NASCAR: Space-Age Technology Finds Its Way into Auto Racing

Although it may not be obvious to the untrained eye, a number of technical innovations developed for aerospace and defense applications have found their way into the sport of auto racing. Take thermal barriers and driver “cool suits,” for example. Heat coming from the engine, transmission, exhaust system, oil coolers, etc., can cause temperatures inside the fully-enclosed cockpit of a modern stock car to reach 140- 160°F. Because of its close proximity to the exhaust headers, the metal floorboards beneath the gas pedal can heat up to 330°F or more — hot enough to fry an egg...or a driver’s foot.

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How a Supercomputing Innovation Accelerated a Business

Larry Lukis Founder and CTO Proto Labs, Inc. Maple Plain, MN Proto Labs is a quick-response custom manufacturer that provides design engineers with prototypes of plastic parts faster than anyone in the world. Our Protomold division produces prototypes (and short run production parts) by injection molding, and our First Cut Prototype division produces prototypes by CNC machining plastic stock.

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Protecting AC Motors From Destructive Shaft Currents

The use of variable-frequency drives (VFDs) to control AC motors has increased dramatically in recent years. In addition to low operating cost and high performance, they save energy. Today, the challenge facing system designers and engineers is to minimize damage to AC motors from shaft current.

Posted in: Features, Motion Control, Articles

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Getting on the Right Motion Bus

As modern machines have become more advanced, the complexity involved in motion control has escalated. Today, servos have replaced cams and gears on machines and multiple axis of synchronized motion control have become commonplace. Distributed motion control requires busses able to handle rigid jitter and timing demands including:

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Integrated Motor Control Meets Aviation Needs

The trend in aircraft design is toward more efficient brushless DC motors. A integrated motor drive module for brushless DC motors from International Rectifier (El Segundo, CA) reduces the effort of programming the motor control and simplifies certification. Because the device is configured for sensorless field oriented control, the elimination of Hall sensors improves reliability while reducing component count. It enables the aircraft to achieve greater fuel economy and lower maintenance costs.

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Fiber Optic Communications Systems

Communications and, more recently telecommunications, are needs deeply engrained in human history. These needs have significantly evolved over time enabling today’s content-rich (text, music, images and video, etc), real-time and multi-location exchanges through electrical, optical or, more broadly, electromagnetic signals conveyed by different media. Among the more versatile is optical fiber.

Posted in: Features, ptb catchall, Photonics, Articles

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NASA-Inspired Shape-Sensing Fibers Enable Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) is a new class of surgical procedures in which the operation is performed with surgical instruments inserted through small incisions in the body. In contrast to open surgery, in which the organ or tissue is exposed through large incisions in the body, MIS procedures generally allow for faster recovery time, less pain and trauma, reduced risk of infection, and shorter hospital stays.

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