Articles

Industry Roundtable: Design and PLM Software

As traditional Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software expands with more simulation capabilities and wider enterprise data management, software vendors are meeting customers’ demands with solutions that encompass the entire product development process, from initial design through end of life. In our annual poll of executives at leading CAD software companies, we learned how CAD continues to evolve, and what some of the important trends are for 2014.

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Moving Magnet Voice Coil Actuators Offer Controllable Movement for High-Duty-Cycle Applications

There are two types of voice coil actuators: moving coil and moving magnet. The materials of construction are similar, since they both use rare earth magnets, steel, copper wire, and basic insulation materials. There is a tendency to want to say one type is better suited for certain applications; however, there are many different sizes and shapes of voice coil actuators, making it difficult to make blanket statements about which type of actuator works better, and where.

Posted in: Features, Motion Control, Articles

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Testing Today’s Most Complex Consumer Device: The Ubiquitous Smartphone

We’ve come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell’s famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here” were spoken and the telephone was born. The simplicity of use of today’s smartphones, tablets, and similar smart devices belies the underlying complexity of creating a device that can connect virtually anywhere, at anytime. While there are other consumer electronic devices that have increased in complexity and capability, the majority of the smartphone’s complex structure is completely hidden from the user. At the same time, “when can I upgrade” is a common mantra of users. The fast-paced and high-volume production required in this environment continues to add complexity to mobile device testing, and has necessitated the rethinking of traditional test methods.

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Camera Systems Rapidly Scan Large Structures

Thermography designed to protect aircraft from effects of aging finds use in power stations, manufacturing plants, and ships. Aging aircraft are an increasing concern. Commercial and government vehicles are being flown past their originally intended service life in order to save money. The answer, however, isn’t merely to build more aircraft. NASA’s Aircraft Aging and Durability (AAD) Project is taking a proactive approach to extending the life of aircraft even before age is a concern. The project targets young aircraft, and develops technologies and materials to mitigate the effects of aging as early — and for as long — as possible.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff

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Speed2Design: A Chance of a Lifetime

I recently had the chance to spend a day at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with the ten winners of the Speed2Design contest sponsored by Littelfuse, a Chicago-based circuit protection company. The prize was a behind-the-scenes tour of the center, including technical conversations with the engineers working on robotics and rovers, astronaut training, and International Space Station (ISS) research. Having been to NASA facilities multiple times, I had a “been there, done that” attitude at first, but was quickly as amazed and awed as the winners by the technologies and facilities at NASA Johnson.

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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.

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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.

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