Manufacturing & Prototyping

PLC-Based Robotic Controls Versus OEM Robotic Controls

As more manufacturing facilities and distribution centers discover the benefits of robotic material handling solutions, the decision of how best to control the robot must be made. While robot original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offer their own tightly integrated controller, recent developments have enabled control by a Programmable Logic Controller, or PLC. For facilities where PLC-based controls are already used in other machine control applications, the benefits of using one for the robot as well may be a wiser choice than the OEM controller. Let’s review PLC-based robotic control to help you determine if it’s the best choice for your application.

Posted in: Articles, Industrial Controls & Automation, Motion Control, Robotics

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Editor’s Choice

For 20 years, I’ve been interacting with engineers in all different industries as the Editorial Director of NASA Tech Briefs. I’ve talked with our readers about their work and the products they use. Many of them are CAD users, and many of them are unhappy with some aspect of their CAD software.

Posted in: UpFront, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Software

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3D Printed Jet Engine Debuts

Researchers at Monash University in Australia have produced a 3D printed jet engine. Professor Xinhua Wu, head of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing (MCAM), is leading initiatives to develop 3D printing. The Centre is working to provide answers for manufacturers seeking new manufacturing processes that make components lighter and cheaper than traditional ones, but without any reduction in performance.

Posted in: UpFront, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Propulsion

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Lunar Cold Trap Contamination by Landing Vehicles

Software and methods are developed to assess the magnitude and distribution of lunar surface contamination caused by the engine exhaust of a landing vehicle. John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida The emerging interest in lunar mining poses a threat of contamination to pristine craters at the lunar poles, which act as cold traps for water, and may harbor other valuable minerals. Lunar Prospector type missions will be looking for volatile (molecular) compounds that may be masked by the exhaust gases from landing vehicle engines. The possible self-contamination of the landing site could negate the scientific value of the soil samples taken in the vicinity of the landing site. Self-contamination may also lead to false-positive readings of resources available on the lunar surface. This innovation addresses the software and methods needed to assess the magnitude and distribution of lunar surface contamination caused by the engine exhaust of landing vehicles on known or planned descent trajectories.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Software

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Product of the Month: March 2015

Instron, Norwood, MA, introduced the AVE 2 strain measurement system that conforms to testing standards such as ISO 527, ASTM D3039, and ASTM D638. The video extensometer utilizes patented measurement technology, and adapts to the normal fluctuations of indoor environmental conditions. It can be adapted to any testing machine that uses a ±10V analog input. Designed to reduce errors from thermal and lighting variations, the device uses the real-time 490-Hz data rate while achieving a 1-micron accuracy. It allows for testing under multiple environmental conditions and can be used for strain measurement with Digital Image Correlation (DIC). The device measures both modulus and strain-to-failure of most materials including plastics, metals, composites, textiles, films, and bio-materials.

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Measuring Instruments

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Your Turn to Create the Future

The 13th annual Create the Future Design Contest (www.createthefuturecontest.com), sponsored by COMSOL and Mouser Electronics, and produced by Tech Briefs Media Group, is open for entries. The contest recognizes outstanding innovations in product design worldwide, awarding a Grand Prize of $20,000 USD. There is no cost to enter.

Posted in: Articles, UpFront, Manufacturing & Prototyping

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Hubble Spinoffs: Space Age Technology for the Masses

By Bruce A. Bennett Over the plast 25 years, some of the sophisticated technology developed for the HST has been successfully spun off and commercialized to improve life on Earth.

Posted in: Articles, Features, Cameras, Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Medical, Photonics, Semiconductors & ICs, Software

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