Manufacturing & Prototyping

Positioning Assemblies

UniSlide assemblies from Velmex (Bloomfield, NY) deliver movement in one, two, or three dimensions with linear motion. The systems also can be customized for specific requirements. They are compact, and the design allows for construction of multi-axis systems. They are available in an array of standard manual or motor-driven models and sizes, including linear assemblies, elevating tables, and XY tables. They can be customized with rapid/fine motion, thumbscrew locks, special finishes, way covers, revolution counters, position encoders, or other options. The assemblies are constructed of a hard aluminum alloy and PTFE bearings. Linear UniSlides have a maximum load capacity up to 400 pounds horizontally, and 100 pounds vertically. Straight-line accuracy with precision lead screws is 0.0015" per 10" or better of the screw motion. The elevating tables and XY tables can lift up to 100 pounds. For Free Info Visit

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Positioning Equipment


Precision Measurement and Inspection Ensure Quality of SLS Rocket Panels

Reverse engineering and inspection software Verisurf Software Anaheim, CA 714-970-1683 In spaceflight, the first eight minutes are critical. This is when the greatest opposing forces of thrust and gravity are impacting the launch vehicle. The new NASA Space Launch System (SLS) will weigh 5.5 million pounds at liftoff, or roughly the weight of eight fully loaded 747 jets. Everything comes down to weight and the integrity of design and fabrication to insure success. Today, it costs $10,000 to send one pound of payload into orbit; since the entire launch vehicle makes the trip to low-Earth orbit, its net weight is a big consideration. The lighter the launch vehicle, the greater the payload can be.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Lasers & Laser Systems, Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Mathematical/Scientific Software, Software


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


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


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


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


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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