Features

An Inside Look at Electromechanical Power-Off Braking Options

Making the right choice between spring set and permanent magnet brakes can impact safety, durability, maintenance, and performance.

Power-off brakes are designed to hold or stop motion in the absence of power. Adding an electrical current releases the brake, freeing the load for motion. Given the safety ramifications of keeping a system locked in place until it is powered up, motion control system designers tend to specify power-off brakes more often than power-on brakes. There are, however, two different failsafe brake technologies: one uses compression springs to hold its load in place, and the other uses permanent magnets. Each has specific strengths and weaknesses, and knowing the difference can impact safety, durability, cost, and performance.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Electronic brake controls, Springs, Magnetic materials
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Smart Cameras Get Smarter

How Actionable Data Drives Today’s Imaging Technology

Cameras are the eyes of the modern world. The devices equip today’s cars and machines, and real-time imaging capabilities support law enforcement, businesses, and homeowners. Thus far, cameras have been just that: simple cameras, eyes without a brain. Their sole purpose has been, primarily, to output images. Nowadays, however, cameras are “smarter.” In this article, we will review how imaging technology’s ability to intelligently process data will support new insights and applications.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Artificial intelligence, Data acquisition and handling, Imaging and visualization
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Delivering Industrial Reliability in Scientific Lasers

Industrial-strength design and production methodologies improve the quality and productivity of scientific lasers.

Scientific laser users have long relied on state-of-the-art performance (e.g., higher peak power, shorter pulse duration, wider wavelength tuning) to achieve groundbreaking results. Unfortunately, this high performance has often been emphasized at the expense of ease-of-use and reliability. Recently, however, this paradigm has dramatically changed, and some of the latest scientific lasers — including complex ultrafast amplifiers — now deliver both cutting-edge performance and exceptional reliability. This advance is sometimes referred to as “The Industrial Revolution in Ultrafast Science.”

Posted in: Articles, Features, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Amplifiers, Lasers, Reliability
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Energy Harvesting's Emerging Role in a 'Smarter' World

When most individuals hear “energy harvesting,” they often think of alternative energy sources like wind and solar power. There is a distinct difference, however, between alternative energy and energy harvesting, or EH, approaches, based on the amount of power each can generate.

Posted in: Articles, Sensors, Sustainable development, Alternative fuels, Energy conservation, Off-board energy sources, On-board energy sources
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Choosing the Right Hardware for Testing in Harsh Environments

Testing in rugged applications often includes testing in extreme temperature ranges, which can add constraints to hardware. Cold-start engine testing, for example, uses a test cell that can drop to -40 °C and requires continuous data acquisition such as temperature, pressure, and other various measurements. Placing hardware that is not built to withstand this range into harsh environments can cause components within the hardware to work incorrectly and result in incorrect data or damage to the hardware.

Posted in: Articles, Test & Measurement, Cold weather, Hardware, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Human Spaceflight Takes a Giant Leap

NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025, and to Mars in the 2030s. While robotic explorers have studied Mars for more than 40 years, NASA’s path for the human exploration of Mars begins in low Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts on the ISS are proving many of the technologies and communications systems needed for human missions to deep space, including Mars. The ISS also advances understanding of how the body changes in space, and how to protect astronaut health.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Human factors, Life support systems, Medical, health, and wellness, Spacecraft
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Suiting Up for the Future

NASA is developing the next generation of suit technologies that will enable deep-space exploration by incorporating advancements such as regenerable carbon dioxide removal systems and water evaporation systems that more efficiently provide crewmembers with core necessities such as breathing air and temperature regulation. Mobility and fit of a pressurized suit are extremely important in keeping astronauts productive, so NASA is focusing on spacesuit designs to help crews work more efficiently and safely during spacewalks.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Oxygen equipment, Thermal management, Spacesuits
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Modified Monitor Provides Glasses-Free 3D for Pilots and Gamers

NASA technology enables monitors that switch between 2D and 3D imaging.

When flying the increasingly crowded skies, pilots need to have an arsenal of information: altitude, airspeed, fuel level, distance to their destination, and the location of other planes in the sky. All of this information is presented in a series of two-dimensional instruments, panels, and readouts, meaning the pilot has to mentally assemble the information and translate that into the 3D world to better understand the relationship among air, ground, and traffic. NASA has long been interested in making it as easy as possible for pilots and astronauts to have the best information available to ensure safe flights, knowing that humans are imperfect creatures.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff, Aerospace, Aircraft displays, Imaging and visualization
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Precise Measurements on Earth Enable Further Exploration in Space

Measurement is the first step to success. If you can’t measure something accurately, it can’t be understood or improved. That is especially true for the spacecraft rockets and engines designed to operate under extreme temperatures and pressures at liftoff, or space stations the size of a six-bedroom house that must support people living and working in space for years.

Posted in: Articles, Test & Measurement, Measurements, Test equipment and instrumentation, Spacecraft
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Next-Generation Infrared Technologies Solve High-Speed Automotive Testing Challenges

Higher-speed IR cameras can improve design phase testing.

Product research and development on internal combustion engines, brake rotors, tires, and high-speed airbags are just a few of the areas that truly benefit from high-speed, high-sensitivity thermal characterization testing. Unfortunately, traditional forms of contact temperature measurement such as thermocouples are not practical to mount on moving objects, and non-contact forms of temperature measurement such as spot guns — and even current infrared (IR) cameras — are simply not fast enough to stop motion on these high-speed targets in order to take accurate temperature measurements.

Posted in: Articles, Test & Measurement, Optics, Test equipment and instrumentation, Thermal testing
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