Manufacturing & Prototyping

Very Large Inflatable Antenna Structures

This methodology enables production of very large, but lightweight, structures in space. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia Future space exploration past Earth orbit has a significant need for manufacturing in space beyond simple assembly of prefabricated parts. The next generation of very large aperture antennas will exceed the size achievable with conventional folding mesh technologies and new concepts are needed to support football-field-size structures. Technologies to address the problem have been developed using the formation of polyurethanes in a vacuum environment. Large inflatable structures can be stabilized by the formation of polyurethane foams of controlled density. For use in a vacuum environment, the availability of oligomeric precursors is important. Low-molecular-weight components would immediately evaporate, changing the stoichiometry of the reaction and potentially contaminate a space environment, but high-molecular-weight precursors have a much more limited range of properties.

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Products of Tomorrow: April 2016

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

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Linear Motor

Nippon Pulse America (Radford, VA) released the SL083 scaleless linear motor with a built-in linear encoder for positioning applications that would benefit from the repeatability, reliability, and robustness of a linear motor, with up to 5 μm in resolution. The motor consists of a tubular stainless steel shaft and a non-contact forcer. It requires no lubrication, and features a non-critical air gap that eliminates variation in the force. The housing is made of non-magnetic aluminum.

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Panel-Mount Piezo Drives

The Ndrive QLe digital, panel-mount nanopositioning piezo drives from Aerotech (Pittsburgh, PA) are designed for use with the Aerotech Automation 3200 (A3200) motion controller. The drives enable coordinated motion between piezo stages and servo axes at higher rates than other controller/drive products. Featuring a dual-core, 456-MHz, floating-point DSP, the drives feature position latching and single-axis or multi-axis position synchronized output (PSO) to generate pulses based on actual position feedback.

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Encoders

Celera Motion (Bedford, MA) introduced the MicroE Veratus™ Series encoders incorporating VeraPath™ technology. All interpolation, automatic gain control (AGC), and signal processing is performed in the sensor head that measures 35 × 13.5 × 10 mm. Interpolation in the sensor head provides resolution from 5 μm to 20 nm for linear applications, with speeds up to 5 m/s. The encoders feature multiple mounting configurations, industry-standard analog and digital incremental encoder outputs, built-in limits, flexible index selection, and status LED in the sensor head.

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Brushless DC Motors

Crouzet Motors (Vista, CA) introduced brushless DC motors with CANopen® technology. The new communications protocol allows design engineers to connect multiple brushless motors to the various components in a system. The CANopen interface permits connection of up to 127 brushless DC motors with a single, shielded, two-wire cable. Data may be transmitted at speeds up to 125 kBd at distances over 550 yards. At lower baud rates, the transmission distance can exceed three miles, making communications flexible to virtually any location. Under the communications protocol, motors can be controlled separately or together.

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Lead Screw Assembly

The Micro Series ZBM anti-backlash lead screw assembly from Haydon Kerk Motion Solutions (Waterbury, CT) can be customized to specific applications that require unique geometry and custom materials such as Kerkite® composite polymers. The anti-backlash nut utilizes a special nut thread system that, when combined with a radial force, provides simple backlash compensation. The nut is suited for applications in which smooth motion is required and space is at a premium. For Free Info Visit http://info.hotims.com/61060-305

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