Mechanical & Fluid Systems

Quantitative Real-Time Flow Visualization Technique

This technique enables real-time monitoring of pressure fields and flow measurement. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio There is a need for experimental techniques that have low cost and rapid turnaround. It is also necessary to obtain quantitative information from such a method. Previous methods are either lacking in quantitative information such as dye or smoke injection, or require considerable set-up and cost such as PIV (particle image velocimetry). A method was developed for visualizing the pressure contours for a turbine cascade in real time to enable rapid evaluation of new concepts. A method for quantitative 3D flow visualization also was developed.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components


Thin-Film Evaporative Cooling for Side-Pumped Lasers

This technology has applications in advanced lidar systems for weather satellites; in welding, cutting, and marking; and in test and measurement. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia A highly efficient way to cool solid-state crystal lasers was developed. This thin-film evaporative cooling technique offers higher optical efficiencies and monochromatic quality than traditional conductive cooling techniques. Developed for use in side-pumped 2.0- micron laser systems used in light detection and ranging (lidar) instruments, the thin-film cooling design concept also has broad utility for diode-pumped solid-state laser (DPSSL) systems, especially those with high heat flux or challenging packaging requirements.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components


MEMS Micro-Translation Stage with Large Linear Travel Capability

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama A MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) micro-translation stage (MTS) with large linear travel capability was developed that uses capacitive electrostatic forces created by stators arranged linearly on both sides of a channel, and matching rotors on a moveable shuttle for precise movement of the shuttle. The device, which is essentially a linear motor built from silicon base with microfabrication techniques, will be able to rapidly translate across large distances using only three-phase power. The moveable shuttle can be as small as 100 mm and can house a variety of elements including lenses and mirrors. The shuttle can be tailored to travel distances as small as 10 mm and as large as 300 mm, with as little as 10 mm between adjacent shuttle stops.

Posted in: Briefs, Mechanical Components


Planar and Non-Planar Multi-Bifurcating Stacked Radial Diffusing Valve Cages

This technology is applicable in systems and devices where high-pressure-differential valves are used. A valve cage consists of a stackable planar structure design with paths that are azimuthally cut out and connected radially. The pattern causes the flow to move azimuthally and impinge on each other when moving to the next path, thereby reducing the fluid momentum and energy that reduces the erosion capability. The maze-like structure is easy to machine with standard machining techniques.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Mechanical Components, Mechanics


Products of Tomorrow: April 2015

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. This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. If you are interested in licensing the technologies described here, use the contact information provided. To learn about more available technologies, visit the NASA Technology Transfer Portal at

Posted in: Articles, Products, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, Optical Components, Optics


Magnetic Encoders

POSITAL (Hamilton, NJ) introduced new models of IXARC magnetic encoders that combine incremental and absolute rotation measurement capabilities in a single, compact package. Absolute encoders provide a control system with a report of the rotational angle and rotation count at a specific point in time; incremental encoders provide a signal pulse each time the encoder shaft rotates by a specified angle. The hybrid encoders are based on the company’s magnetic measurement technology, and offer shock, dust, and moisture resistance. The hybrid incremental and absolute rotary encoders have communications interfaces that support both measurement modes: RS-422, HTL, or TTL for incremental readings; and SSI for absolute measurements. Available multi-turn versions can count up to 64,000 revolutions, while incremental measurements have resolutions as high as 16,384 pulses per revolution. For Free Info Visit

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control, Measuring Instruments


Planetary Gearbox

GAM (Mount Prospect, IL) offers the SPH inline planetary gearbox with helical gears for dynamic and cyclic applications, as well highspeed and continuous duty applications. It is available in six frame sizes with nominal torque ratings from 15 to 900 Nm. The face width of the gears provides more tooth contact and greater overall torque density. The gears are case-hardened, which imparts strength deeper into the gear. With several output configurations available, machine integration is simplified. For Free Info Visit

Posted in: Products, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Motion Control


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