Features

Machined Parts Accelerate Design Tests for NASA

Machined aluminum parts and glass-filled nylon parts made with selective laser sintering Proto Labs, Inc. Maple Plain, MN 877-479-3680www.protolabs.com University student Mel Du was searching for a source to manufacture metal parts for a student research challenge project he was working on for NASA. The project centered on designing, building, and testing an asteroid-sample retrieval and containment device for a simulated space mission. As part of the development stage, the team at San Antonio, TX-based Trinity University produced several prototypes on the school’s in-house, production-model, fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace

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Control Solutions Synchronize Operation of Space Launch System Heavy Transporters

Control panels, embedded PCs, automation software, and servomotors and drives Beckhoff Automation Savage, MN 952-890-0000www.beckhoffautomation.com Large NASA production facilities, such as the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, are among the largest manufacturing facilities in the world, with more than 1,870,000 square feet of floor space for assembly and manufacturing space that NASA shares with commercial aerospace and U.S. government contractors. A major activity at MAF is the assembly of core stage components for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket program. The most powerful rocket ever built, the SLS will be capable of carrying the highest payload mass in history. When fully assembled, the SLS measures 322 feet high with a launch weight of 5.5 million pounds, and a payload capacity of 77 tons. NASA uses Wheelift® Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMTs), manufactured by Doerfer Companies of Waverly, IA, to move the rocket components.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace

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Anti-Creep Mechanism Enables Ultra-Precise Motor Table Positioning

Motion control is essential for the digitization and automation of high-tech equipment, but bearings remain basic to frictionless movement. Bearing Engineers, a bearing distributor, recently changed its name to Motion Solutions (Aliso Viejo, CA) to better reflect their evolution into a custom designer of motion solutions for high-tech electromechanical systems. Developing custom solutions has lead to developing lines of proprietary products that the company manufactures in-house.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Motion Control

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Vibration Sensors Add New Touch to Prosthetics

The sense of touch is complex, and an instructor at the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) has the technology to prove it. Yon Visell, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his students designed an apparatus that captures the unique vibration patterns associated with touch-specific actions, from gripping a coffee mug to tapping on a flat surface. The findings could support new applications in prosthetics, robotics, and virtual reality.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Sensors

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Solar Orbiter Instrument Filters Powered by Brushed Motor

maxon RE 13 brushed DC motors maxon precision motors Fall River, MA 508-677-0520 www.maxonmotorusa.com In 2018, the European Space Agency (ESA) will send the Solar Orbiter into space. A joint project of the ESA and NASA, the Solar Orbiter will be an important milestone in the exploration of the Sun. An American rocket will take the probe into space, and it will travel for three years until it can begin its work.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace

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Customized Drone Maps Glaciers

Using a custom-designed drone, a researcher from The Ohio State University mapped glaciers and wetlands in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Despite a discovered drop in glacier growth, the findings from the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) revealed a slightly more optimistic picture of the region’s water supply, which relies in part on the ice formations.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Applications, Imaging, Photonics

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Super Pressure Balloon Provides NASA with Valuable Data

Super pressure balloon Raven Aerostar Sioux Falls, SD 605-336-2750 www.ravenaerostar.com A super pressure balloon (SPB) designed by Raven Aerostar, and the largest SPB ever built, surpassed 31 days amid the stratosphere’s harsh elements as part of a NASA mission, demonstrating the scientific balloon’s extended flight duration and ability to maintain constant altitudes. The balloon carried a two-and-a-half-ton NASA payload.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aerospace

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